Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Minnesota Twins Prospects Preview

Top Twins prospect, Miguel Sano. (
Minnesota Twins prospect expert Seth Stohs, of Twins Daily, was kind enough to take some time and answer my questions about the Twins farm system.  We talk about Minnesota's top two prospects, prospects that Sox fans will see see in 2013 with the Twins, underrated/overlooked prospects, and Minnesota's minor league system as a whole.  Again, check out Seth's work over at Twins Daily and keep up with our AL Central rivals by following him on Twitter.

Pale Hose Prospectus: You, and many others, have 3B Miguel Sano as the top prospect in the Twins system. Can you give White Sox fans a little scouting report on Sano? How high is his ceiling? Are the Giancarlo Stanton comparisons warranted?

Seth Stohs: Sano has immense power potential. He had 28 homers in the Midwest League as a 19 year old. He is huge. He is about 6-4 and probably 240 pounds, very strong, very athletic. The question remains about whether he will be able to remain at 3B. I think he can, with a lot of work, but most think he'll move to RF or 1B at some point. He has Stanton-like power, no question. Will he make enough contact, we shall see.

PHP: The Twins spent the #2 overall pick last year on high schooler Byron Buxton from Georgia. You rank Buxton second in your top 30 list. From reports, it seems that Buxton can legitimately be a five-tool player. What else can you tell us about Buxton?

SS: Buxton is a tremendous athlete with tools that are off the charts. His speed is on par with the fastest players in baseball, including Bill Hamilton. He has tremendous range in centerfield and a very powerful arm. In high school, he pitched his team to the state champion with a 98 mph fastball. He is long and lanky, resembling BJ Upton, but he does have power and the belief is that he will develop more power. He will need to make more contact (although we shouldn't make too much of his first season in pro ball) to be able to hit for average. He has a chance to be pretty special, and there are a lot of people who have Sano and Buxton flip-flopped atop the Twins ranking.

PHP: Are there any prospects right now that Sox fans can expect to make an impact with the Twins in 2013?

SS: There are actually several prospects that the Twins and their fans will see in 2013. Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson will both be given a shot to be the Twins starting centerfielder on Opening Day. Both are tremendous athletes with great speed and range and very strong arms. Benson was hurt throughout 2012 which cost him his season. Hicks finally put up numbers that filled the stat line. Also, Oswaldo Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the month. He hit well in 2012 at Ft. Myers, but was even better when he moved up to AA New Britain. The right fielder is a pure hitter with power to all fields. We should see him sometime in the middle of the season. On the mound, Kyle Gibson returns from Tommy John surgery and it will be interesting to see how the Twins bring him back. Will he start the season in the bullpen? Will he start the season as a starter and be shut down late in the season like Stephen Strasburg? I guess we'll see. Late in the season, we might see recent acquisitions, RHPs Alex Meyer and Trevor May.

PHP: Are there any prospects that don't get a lot of attention that you really like?

SS: I love the power potential of 1B Kennys Vargas who looks the part of David Ortiz on the field. I've always been high on SS Daniel Santana as a speed, glove, range guy. I think that BJ Hermsen has been undervalued because he doesn't strikeout many batters or hit high velocities, but he is very smart and very successful. Finally, I'm intrigued by the Twins 2012 college relief pitcher draft picks. Some are very hard throwing (Zack Jones) and several will be given an opportunity to start (Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, Tyler Duffey). How they progress is what intrigues me the most.

PHP: Finally, how do you feel about Minnesota's farm system overall? John Sickels just ranked the system 7th overall, do you agree with that?

SS: I don't really pay attention to the other organizations as thoroughly, so I can't tell you if 7th is about right or not. That said, I haven't been this excited about a group of Twins prospects in at least a half-dozen years. The acquisitions or Alex Meyer and Trevor May to go along with guys like Gibson, JO Berrios and Hermsen give the Twins some pitchers to be excited about. Those 2012 picks are very exciting. But to have a Top 10 that starts with guys like Sano, Buxton, Arcia, Meyer, Hicks, Gibson, Berrios and Eddie Rosario is exciting, and there are a lot more players who look like potential role players in the big leagues too. The system is definitely much improved!

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Scouting Report: Kevan Smith

Kevan Smith (
Position:  C
Height/Weight:  6'4/240
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  June 28th, 1988
Hometown/School:  Harmony, PA - University of Pittsburgh

Smith was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in the 7th round in 2011.  He was originally recruited by Pitt to play quarterback and he did.  He started three games for the Panthers and then decided to switch to baseball.  In the three years at Pitt, he batted over .360 each year.  In his first year with the White Sox (2011), he batted .355/.448/.626 and slugged over 1.000 with Great Falls and Bristol.  Last year, he came back down to Earth with promotions to Kannapolis and Winston-Salem.  Still, he combined to hit .281/.338/.434 and had an OPS of .772 along with 10 HRs.  Those numbers earned him a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star roster.  While he has been hot in his first two years in the minors, remember that he did go to college and is 24-years old.

Obviously, Smith is very athletic having played QB on a BCS-level team.  Defensively, Smith allowed 11 passed balls last year and posted a .993 Fld%.  With Smith's background as a college QB, Smith possesses a strong arm which threw out 33% of base runners.  While Kevan Smith is older for the level he is playing at (A and A+ last year), Smith's production makes him an intriguing prospect.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Scouting Report: Rangel Ravelo

Rangel Ravelo (CPR Photography)
Position:  3B
Height/Weight:  6'2/210
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  April 24th, 1992
Hometown/School:  Hialeah, FL - Hialeah HS

Ravelo was taken by the White Sox in the 6th round back in 2010.  After batting .254 in 48 games with Bristol in 2010, Ravelo had a great season in 2011, batting .338/.381/.415 along with a .795 OPS combined with Bristol and Kannapolis.  Ravelo got off to another hot start in 2012, but cooled down later in the season.  Still, he batted .290/.343/.397 with an OPS of .739 in 76 games and was named a South Atlantic League All-Star.  However, in early July he left the team because of personal reasons and never returned.

Rangel Ravelo will be back with the White Sox this year according to FutureSox.  While Ravelo has put up some great numbers and a 1.9 SO/BB ratio, there are some concerns surrounding Ravelo (besides him leaving the team).  First, Ravelo has only hit 3 homers so far in his career (187 games).  Defensively, Ravelo committed 15 errors last year which leaves some to believe he will eventually move from third to first base.  If Ravelo can develop some power (usually the last tool to develop for prospects) and cut down on the errors, he can become a very nice prospect in the White Sox organization because it seems that the bat is there.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top 5 White Sox Pitching Prospects

Simon Castro (
1. Erik Johnson - RHP- Johnson seems to be the unanimous choice for the top pitching prospect in the Sox system.  Johnson was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft out of Cal.  Johnson only appeared in 2 games with Great Falls in 2011, but made 17 starts in 2012 with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem.  He only had a record of 6-5, but had a 2.53 ERA, a 1.202 WHIP, and a 8.5 KO/9 rate.

At 6'3/240+, Johnson has a body built for him to become an innings eater.  Johnson possesses two plus pitches in his arsenal; his fastball and slider.  Projections on Johnson seem to differ, I've seen reports that see him as a #4 starter and some as high as a #2 starter.  Either way, expect to see Johnson on the South Side in the next year or two.

2. Scott Snodgress - LHP - Snodgress was taken in the 5th round (2011) out of Stanford where he had an underwhelming career.  Snodgress worked out of the bullpen when he was with the Cardinal, but the White Sox gave him a chance to start.  Snodgress has made the most of the opportunity.  The 6'5 lefty posted a 7-3 record last year with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem along with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.248 WHIP, and a 8.2 SO/9 ratio.

His fastball is in the low-90s and his breaking ball, which he has been developing, has been superb.  Whether Snodgress can continue down the path of a starter or return to the bullpen remains unknown.  However, a 7-3 record in his first full year as a starter is great start.

3. Andre Rienzo - RHP - It seems that I've talked about Andre Rienzo more than any other player so far on this blog.  2012 was the Brazilian's best and breakout year which has seen him explode up the rankings in the White Sox organization.  His stats from last year with Winston-Salem, Birmingham, and a start with Charlotte: a 7-3 record, a 2.53 ERA, and a 1.161 WHIP.  He also put up some great numbers in the AFL this past fall except for one really, really bad inning.

He has a mid-90s fastball, a good curveball, and a developing curveball in his repertoire.  Of course, before his big year, Rienzo had to serve a 50-game suspension for PED usage which he denies.  Like Snodgress, whether Rienzo is a back-end starter or a reliever is unknown.

4. Simon Castro - RHP - Castro was part of the Carlos Quentin trade.  While with San Diego, Castro was considered to be one of the top prospects in the organization and a top 100 prospect overall.  After a disappointing 2011, Castro had a nice first year with the Pale Hose in 2012.  With Bristol, Birmingham, and Charlotte he recorded a 7-5 record, a 3.85 ERA, and a 1.291 WHIP.

Castro primarily uses his fastball/slider combination.  The 4-seam fastball can touch 95, but is usually in the low-90s and the slider, his best pitch, is big league ready right now.  He also works in a 83-85 MPH changeup.  Like Johnson, his projection varies from a back-end starter up to a #2 starter.

5. Chris Beck - RHP - Many thought Beck was going to be a mid-first round selection in the 2012 draft, Beck fell back to 76th overall after a mediocre year with Georgia Southern.  With Great Falls last year, Beck had a 4-3 record, a 4.69 ERA, a 1.562 WHIP, and a 8.0 SO/9 rate.

There was some concern that Beck may have lost some velocity on his fastball after bulking up, but he is back to touching 95 MPH.  He also has two pretty good breaking pitches in a slider and a changeup.  Most see Beck as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher with the Sox.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scouting Report: Jefferson Olacio

Position:  LHP
Height/Weight:  6'7/230
Bats/Throws:  Left/Left
Birthday:  January 16th, 1994
Hometown:  Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Olacio will be an intriguing prospect to follow over the next couple of years.  He signed with the Sox back in 2010 for $125,000.  His measurables are through the roof.  As a 19-year old, he possesses a great build at 6'7/230+.  Already his fastball reaches 94-95 MPH.

Olacio, like just about every other 19-year old, is extremely raw and it shows in his numbers.  Last year with Bristol and Kannapolis, he had a ERA north of 5.00, a 1.708 WHIP, a nice SO/9 at 8.3, but a 6.0 BB/9 rate.  Obviously those stats aren't good, but don't pay too much attention to them.  The potential is there and Olacio has plenty of time/room to improve his command.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Scouting Report: Marcus Semien

Position:  SS
Height/Weight:  6'1/190
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  September 17th, 1990
Hometown/School:  El Cerrito, California - California

Semien was drafted by the White Sox twice, once back in 2008 in the 34th round and then in 2011 during the 6th round.  Semien played his college ball at Cal where he was teammates with top White Sox pitching prospect Erik Johnson.

In 2011, Semien appeared in 60 games with Kannapolis in 2011 where he batted .253/.320/.376 while adding 3 HRs.  In 2012, Semien was promoted to Winston-Salem where he improved on his numbers and showed some pop.  Semien's numbers from last year include a .273/.362/.471 line, 14  HRs, 11 SB (5 CS), and a .137 improvement in OPS.

By reports, Semien's glove and range is solid for him to stay at shortstop.  Below is about the only excerpt about Semien I could find after his 2012 season.

John Sickels:
Another solid infielder, showed surprising pop in High-A and was very hot in the second half. Steady glove.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Composite 2013 White Sox Top 10 Prospects

Keenyn Walker ranks 6th.

With many of the national scouting/prospect/minor-league sites releasing their top prospect lists including the Pale Hose's.  Below is a composite ranking of these four lists (will update with Baseball Prospectus' list).  Below the player's name is the rankings from each of the four lists and the total of these rankings (lower numbers are better).  The four lists are from Baseball America, John Sickels, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospect Nation.  To nobody's surprise, Courtney Hawkins is the unanimous top prospect in the White Sox system.

1. Courtney Hawkins
Baseball America - 1
John Sickels - 1
FanGraphs - 1
Baseball Prospect Nation - 1

2. Trayce Thompson
BA - 2
JS - 3
FG - 4
BPN - 2
Total: 11

2. Carlos Sanchez
BA - 3
JS - 2
FG - 2
BPN - 4
Total: 11

4. Erik Johnson
BA - 4
JS - 4
FG - 3
BPN - 3
Total: 14

5. Scott Snodgress
BA - 6
JS - 5
FG - 6
BPN - 6
Total: 23

6. Keenyn Walker
BA - 5
JS - 6
FG - 5
BPN - 11
Total: 27

7. Andre Rienzo
BA - 7
JS - 8
FG - 7
BPN - 5
Total: 27

8. Chris Beck
BA - 10
JS - 10
FG - 8
BPN - 8
Total: 36

9. Keon Barnum
BA - 8
JS - 9
FG - 9
BPN - 12
Total: 38

10. Jared Mitchell
BA - 9
JS - 14
FG - 11
BPN - 7
Total: 41

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Top 5 White Sox Middle Infield Prospects

1. Carlos Sanchez (2B) - Sanchez is the obvious choice for the top spot on this list.  Sanchez exploded up the White Sox prospect rankings after a great 2012.  He started with Winston-Salem and ended the season in Charlotte.  Sanchez had his best year in 2012, batting .323/.403/.781 while swiping 26 bases.

If you follow the White Sox system, I'm sure you are familiar with Sanchez.  Therefore I'm not going to spend more time talking about him.

2. Joey DeMichele (2B) - As John Sickels put it, DeMichele "seems oddly overlooked."  DeMichele was drafted out of Arizona State in the 3rd round in 2012.  After a leading ASU in batting average (won Pac-10 hitting title his sophomore year), steals, and triples, DeMichele batted .275/.334/.479 with 7 homers last year in the minors.

According to reports, DeMichele has a high floor and a ceiling of being a solid everyday starter.

3. Marcus Semien (SS) - Semien was drafted in the 6th round by the Sox in the 2011 draft.  From reading pre-draft reviews of Semien, scouts were not in love with his bat.  Before 2012, he homered 13 times in his career with Cal and his first year in the minors.  Last year, he showed a lot of surprising pop, hitting 14 with Winston-Salem.  He also hit 5 triples and 31 doubles last year in the Carolina League.

The power outburst from Semien last year makes Semien one of the more intriguing prospects to watch in 2013.

4. Tyler Saladino (SS) - After a solid first two years in the White Sox organization, Saladino struggled mightily in 2012.  In his first two years in the minors, Saladino batted .305/.390/.437 (2010 with Bristol and Kannapolis) and .270/.363/.501 (2011 with Winston-Salem).  Last year, the 23-year old struggled with his promotion to Birmingham (and a little time with Charlotte) as he hit .236/.353/.315.  Saladino, despite gaining more plate discipline last year, had an OPS of .668 after having an OPS of .826 and .864 the years prior.  He lost almost all of his power (4 HRs in 2012 compared to 16 in 2011).

Hopefully 2012 was just a fluke for Saladino.  With his improved plate discipline and 2010 and 2011 years, Saladino stays on this list.

5. Micah Johnson (2B) - Johnson was taken by the Pale Hose last year in the 9th round.  Johnson played his college ball at Indiana where he was second team All-Big Ten in 2011.  The 22-year old hit .273/.375/.391 while stealing 19 bases in 69 games with Great Falls last year.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

White Sox Announce 20 Non-Roster Invites to Spring Training

Today, the White Sox came to terms with seven minor league contracts.  These players are as followed: RHP Jeff Gray, RHP Ramon Troncoso, LHP David Purcey, CBryan Anderson, INF Josh Bell, INF Steve Tolleson, and OF Stefan Gartrell.  Also, thirteen more White Sox prospects received non-roster invites to Camelback Ranch.  Those players are RHP Erik Johnson, RHP Jacob Petricka, LHP Daniel Moskos, LHP Scott Snodgress, CMichael Blanke, C Kevan Smith, 1B Seth Loman, SS Tyler Saladino, 2B Carlos Sanchez, SS Marcus Semien, 1B Andy Wilkins, OF Trayce Thompson, and OF Keenyn Walker.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Scouting Report: Chris Beck

Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'3/210
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  September 4th, 1990
Hometown/School:  Jefferson, GA - Georgia Southern

Once thought to be a mid-first round selection, Beck slipped to 76th overall after a disappointing junior year at Georgia Southern.  However, he is still considered a top pitching prospect in the system.

Beck's body is built for durability according to BPN.  After losing some velocity last year with Great Falls, Beck has reportedly found it again and is back to touching 95 with potential to develop some movement with it.  He also possesses two plus breaking pitches in a slider and changeup.

With Great Falls last year, Beck posted a 4-3 record with a 4.69 ERA along with a 1.562 WHIP.  While those numbers are average, there is hope that Beck can improve next year especially after a 3.00 SO/BB ratio last year.  Below are some other scouting reports on Beck:
A Georgia native who's already shown the ability to maintain a 95mph fastball deep into starts, White Sox prospect Chris Beck is a righthander with the usual college pedigree: he's only a year or two away from MLB ready, and when he arrives he should be adept at pounding the lower half of the strike zone while mixing in two different better-than-average breaking pitches to boot.

Baseball Prospect Nation:
Solid to plus raw stuff across the board with some projection to improve more as he matures physically and mentally. Not a ton of physical projection remaining. Relies heavily on FB and needs to use it to set up the breaking ball and CH. Still learning finer points of pitching and defense, but has intelligence and should get it with time. If CH and command gain consistency, very real potential to be a number three with a chance to overstep that and become a number two in his best years.

I’m told Beck had an excellent fall instructional league with the White Sox and had his fastball back up to 95 mph. “He’s loosened up and his arm strength is back,” a talent evaluator stated. His slider is also becoming more consistent again. Beck also has a cutter and changeup. He could open 2013 in high-A ball if he has a strong spring training. His ceiling is that of an innings-eating middle-of-the-rotation arm.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Scouting Report: Andre Rienzo

Position:  RHP
Height/Weight:  6'3/165
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  July 5th, 1988
Hometown:  Sao Paulo, Brazil

Andre Rienzo was signed out of Brazil by the White Sox back in 2006.  Rienzo has catapulted up the White Sox prospect rankings after a stellar 2012 campaign.  Rienzo ended the year with a 7-3 record, a 2.53 ERA, and a 1.161 WHIP.  However, before his success in 2012, he served a 50-game suspension for PED usage.  Rienzo went on to have a successful year in the AFL and besides one dreadful inning, he put up great stats.

Rienzo, as you can tell by his height and weight, has a lanky frame.  However, his fastball can reach mid-90s and is very impressive according to scouts.  He also possesses a good curveball and is developing a cutter.

Scouts seem to be mixed on whether Rienzo will stay a starter or move to the bullpen when he enters the big leagues.

Below are some scouting reports on Rienzo:

A talented righthanded strikeout artist from Brazil, White Sox prospect Andre Rienzo has the stuff and guile to succeed as a big-league reliever, even if that stuff came with its share of chemical enhancement last season. After serving a 50 game PED suspension, Rienzo returned to struck out almost ten batters per nine innings across three levels of play, mainly at AA Birmingham. He can dial his fastball up to 98, or maybe even a bit more than that in short use, and the average slider he mixes in should be enough to keep hitters honest. His changeup, a so-so one at best, shouldn't be a factor unless he returns to starting duty.

Baseball Prospect Nation:
Don’t see starter profile. Control profile hurts overall projection and limits any available command projection. Lack of change-up in arsenal is worrisome and hurts against LHH. FB-CB combo could play nicely in short stints. CT can be an interesting third pitch to add a little wrinkle. Size – and subsequent stamina – is a concern. If forced to start, likely #5 at best. If FB plays up in relief with improved strike throwing, setup potential exists. Could reach MLB quickly in relief, similar to Nathan Jones in 2012.

John Sickels:
Season marred by PED suspension but he pitched well in Double-A. Nice low-90s fastball, secondary stuff has improved, still working on command. Fourth starter or a relief option down the line. From Brazil.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Analyzing FanGraphs' Top 15 White Sox Prospect List

Earlier today, FanGraphs released their top 15 White Sox Prospect list which can be found here.  Although I have yet to release my rankings (which I hope to have done within the month), below are some comments and analysis on this particular list.

- To nobody's surprise, Courtney Hawkins tops the list.  He seems to be the consensus pick for the top Sox prospect and I have yet to see a list without Hawkins at the top.

- OF Trayce Thompson, OF Courtney Hawkins, 2B Carlos Sanchez, and RHP Erik Johnson have been in the top four so far in the three big lists that have been released so far (FanGraphs, Baseball America, and John Sickels).

- I think many fans who follow the farm system are surprised to see RHP Simon Castro off the list and Jacob Petricka on it.  John Sickels didn't even have Jacob Petricka in his top 25 while Castro was 11th (and that might have been to low).

- Two other surprises on this list to me are 1B Andy Wilkins and C Sammy Ayala.  In my top 5 catchers list, I had Ayala 3rd behind Josh Phegley and Kevan Smith.  Ayala, while he may very well end up being better than the other two in the future, he hasn't done anything yet.  Wilkins was left off of John Sickels' top 25 after he struggled last year hitting-wise.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scouting Report: Luis Castillo

Position:  3B
Height/Weight:  6'2/205
Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Birthday:  1996
Hometown:  San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Luis Castillo was signed by the White Sox for $450,000 back in mid-July.  At 6'2/205+, the 16-year old Dominican has been described as a man child by many.  Because he is so young, he hasn't had a chance to take an at bat in the White Sox organization.  Here is the only video I can find on this young talent.
At first site Castillo is impressive physically, he’s a man child, and when he starts swing the bat he makes your attention draw closer. He extends his arms and squares up pitches with authority. He has quick hand through the hitting zone and his bat path is consistently on an even plane. He doesn't produce much elevation with his swing but he hits the ball harder than any player on the field. Castillo is a dead pull hitter learning how to use the entire field. Defensively he has good lateral movement, average hands and makes routine plays. His arm strength is average and he runs well for a big guy. His raw athletic talent makes him a prospect to take note of, he has the tools that transfer into production on the diamond.

Baseball Prospect Nation ranked him 15th in their 2013 White Sox prospect rankings:
A $450,000 splurge on the international market in July, the 16-year old Castillo could become a serious prospect in this system. He has a mature frame with good natural strength and the potential to add more. He easily drives the ball to all fields and shows hints of plus power down the line. A raw third baseman, Castillo has arm strength and will occasionally show decent actions at the position. His developmental path will be a long one but he could ultimately become a classic, physical third baseman with power.