I've been keeping a close eye on the Winston-Salem team, the White Sox high-A affiliate, after Lucas Harrell strung together a few impressive starts to begin the season.
I can't find it now, but at another site, I was having a discussion about the state of the White Sox farm system in which I stated that I didn't think it was in as dire a position as some people thought. One of my main arguments to that point was that there were a number of prospect who hadn't yet cracked the Top 10, some of whom weren't even on the radar yet, who would put together solid seasons to fill the void left by the departures of Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Haigwood.
Just under 2 months into the minor league season, here are two pitchers who have done just that.
Lucas Harrell -- Age: 20 | High-A | Winston-Salem
Harrell pitched tonight, carrying a no-hitter into the 6th inning. Indians 2005 first rounder Trevor Crowe ended his bid with 2 outs in the 6th with a HR. After that, Harrell might have been rattled, as he really started to struggle with his control. He allowed only 3 balls to be hit into the air all night, the HR, one flyout to center field, and a popup to the second baseman. Other than that, it was all Walk, GroundBall, or Strikeout.
Given his young age for his league, his extreme groundball tendencies, and his improved strikeout rate, Harrell might be the most underrated pitching prospect in the White Sox organization. If he continues to pitch like he has so far this season, he won't be underrated for long.
Tyler Lumsden -- Age: 23 | AA | Birmingham
The White Sox played it a bit safe with Lummy last season, as he felt he was ready to be back on the mound throwing in 'real' games, but the Sox held him back in Arizona pitching in the instructional leagues. The gamble may have paid off. Thanks to Comcast's coverage of spring training, I was able to watch a couple of Lummy's outings with the big club, to which I remarked that he had better stuff than most of the LOOGY candidates.
Lumsden has a fastball that sits at about 93-94, which is bringing the heat for a lefty, and a snappy breaking ball that he throws in the high 70's. Like Harrell, he has been inducing a good amount of groundballs this season. Also like Harrell, he pitched tonight, throwing 6 innings of shutout baseball. Lumsden has allowed 5 HRs this season, but 4 of them were in one game. He's made 10 starts, and allowed 2 earned runs or less in 8 of them. He hasn't allowed a single run since the 4 HR debacle 3 starts ago, running his scoreless streak to 21 innings.