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This Week in White Sox Minor League Baseball

You are what you wear? So the White Sox hope.
You are what you wear? So the White Sox hope.

This week, I'm truncating the news and publishing larry's Official SSS Top Ten White Sox Prospects List after the jump:

  • The Dominican Summer League opened play and the White Sox have the aptly named DSL White Sox participating. While it is inherently difficult to get solid information regarding the players in this league, the famous/infamous 18/35 year old Juan Silverio is playing and off to a hot start. I'll let others wax on about the rumors surrounding his $600,000 signing. I will, however, be watching him and a few other players, such as 2B Daurys Mercedes and C Jamie Del Valle. All of the players in the league are years away from ever even sniffing the majors but are worth some attention.
  • Jose Contreras made one final start at Charlotte before his call-up for Monday's game: 6.2 IP, 3 hits, 4 BB, 3 K.
  • Sox Machine recapped the month of May for Charlotte and Birmingham and Winston-Salem and Kannapolis.
  • Finally, there were a couple odd stories this week from the low minors. First, Sergio Santos, who some may rememeber was a non-roster invitee this spring training and played third base, has re-surfaced in Kannapolis as a pitcher. Next, after an injury to one of the two umpires, Winston-Salem's Christian Marrero had his offday cut short when he was pressed into service as a replacement umpire.

First, a brief discussion of methodology. It's an alchemy. I think about tools, current skills, makeup, ceiling and likelihood of reaching that ceiling. And then I mash it together. One could probably say that pitchers are at a disadvantage in this because of their increased likelihood of injury. I also am not a fan of numerical listings. What does it mean to be #2 if the gaps to #1 and #3, respectively, are of markedly different sizes? That's why I prefer groupings. Here, I would probably put Beckham by himself, #2-3 together, #4-5 together, #6 all alone, and then #7-10 together (and, no, there was no one left off who would make the last group).  

1. Gordon Beckham, 3B: The organization’s clear top prospect received the call-up he deserved this week so he won’t be eligible for this list much longer. At every level – Class A, Arizona Fall League, AA, AAA – Beckham was superlative. While the shift to third base will raise additional and different questions about his glove than there were about it at shortstop, the bat will make up for it. His line drive swing should result in lots of doubles and the Cell will carry a lot of his hits out, as well. Path to the majors: Arrived.

2. Tyler Flowers, C: The heir apparent to the top spot has improved his standing this season with some superb hitting for the Barons. Many observers – including this one – would be able to make a pretty good argument that his bat is ready for the majors right now. Behind the plate, however, he requires a good deal more seasoning but the White Sox are adamant that he will be a major league catcher. Path to the majors: Flowers has a clear, though measured, path – he is the organization’s only prospect of any note at the position and A.J.Pierzynski, whose contract is up after next season, should play well enough to squelch any calls to prematurely promote him. Expect a call-up to Charlotte sometime in the second half with a late 2010 arrival.

3. Aaron Poreda, SP: The organization’s top pitching prospect returned to AA this season to continue working with J.R. Perdew. While his fastball has never been questioned, his secondary offerings always have. In the past, scouts have overwhelmingly predicted a future in the bullpen; recently, however, his slider and changeup have become more consistent – though still need work – and opinion has shifted to a more even divide between rotation and relief. The White Sox have been patient with Poreda, consistently resisting calls to bring him up, and their patience may be rewarded. Path to the majors: He’s ready now for the bullpen (and has been for awhile) but needs the rest of the year in the minors to develop as a starter. Expect a September call-up and a spot in next season’s Opening Day rotation.

4. Brandon Allen, 1B: Once described by a member of the front office as the organization’s "sleeping giant," Allen awoke in a big way last season and has continued to produce this season. While he’s a big man at 6'2'' and 230+, he’s very athletic with surprising speed on the basepaths and plays solid defense at first. Path to the majors: With Thome’s contract up and Konerko getting to the age where he’d benefit from more days off from the field, the left-handed hitting Allen should slot right in. Expect a June promotion to Charlotte and a mid 2010 arrival.

5. Jordan Danks, CF: You can bet that, once Beckhamania dies down, the next savior for whom fans will be clamoring is Danks. Always a toolsy player, at Texas Danks never fulfilled the promise with production. Because of this and a perception that he would finish his college eligibility, he dropped to the White Sox in the seventh round where they scooped him up for a well over-slot bonus. Such "scouting," as Hawk and Stone describe it, has paid handsome dividends so far: his numbers after promotion to Birmingham (.348/.419/.489) have been nearly idential to those at Winston-Salem. The K rate remains worrisome but his production – not to mention his above-average defense – is hard to ignore. Another positive is that, consistent with his collegiate history, the left-handed hitting Danks has an acceptable platoon split. Path to the majors: Another guy with a clear path, expect a second-half promotion to Charlotte and a mid-2010 arrival.

6. Dayan Viciedo, 3B: The hype machine has moved on from Viciedo after a piss-poor start to his minor league career. At the time, I cautioned patience because of his extreme youth compared to most of his peers. Soon after, he began to hit for a higher average – he’s now up to .286. The next step will be to add the power expected from a man with his attributes. After that, it would be hoped that some measure of plate discipline could be attained. His defense at third is butcherific so a position change is likely in order. Path to the majors: Slow and steady. He’s going to need a full year at Birmingham. Assuming he adds the power in the second half, he may start 2010 in AAA. But, at 20 and without a clear defensive position, the White Sox can afford to be restrained with their pricey investment. Mid-2011 arrival.

7. Dexter Carter, SP: His classic fastball-curve combo has befuddled Class A hitters so far this season. His K/9 is 11.88, though his dominance shouldn’t be surprising considering his advanced collegiate background. One issue for Carter is the necessity to develop his changeup into a legitimate pitch; otherwise, his future is in relief. Another concern, especially in this organization, is his fly-ball tendencies. Nevertheless, his raw ability is tantalizing. Path to the majors: A promotion to Winston-Salem is in the cards for June. After that, hope for a steady climb up the ladder. 2012 arrival.

8. Jon Link, RP: With a fastball and slider that can be vicious to opposing hitters, Link has the makeup of an aggressive closer. While his walk rate still is a concern of mine, his strikeout rate has remained high. Consistent with organizational philosophy, Link, though a closer, has experience pitching more than an inning in relief. Path to the majors: In other years, we probably would have already seen Link. Thus far, the bullpen has been strong; however, with each of Dotel, Jenks, and Linebrink showing some fragility in the recent past, a hard-throwing righty may be needed later on in the year and that’s when Link will arrive.

9. John Shelby, UTIL: Often lost in the background of the top prospects, Shelby quietly continues to improve. While his numbers this season are a bit non-descript, some of that can be attributed to a low BABIP. He also has cut his strikeout rate while increasing his walk rate. The arrival of Danks has short-circuited the CF experiment but Shelby continues to project as a solid utility player, with a Willie Harris-esque ability to play all outfield positions and second base. Path to the majors: Since he does nothing spectacular and no longer has the CF track to himself, his path is less clear. Likely will spend the rest of the season in AA and start the next in AAA. Mid-2011 arrival.

10. Daniel Hudson, SP: This righty tore through the SAL but has found Advanced A ball a bit more challenging. He’s kept the K rate high but more polished hitters are walking more against him. He has a 91-93 MPH fastball with good movement but often relies on a slider to get strikeouts and hitters are beginning to lay off. Hudson will need to adjust and how he adjusts will dictate his future - tonight's outing was a nice start. Path to the majors: Like Carter, hope for a slow and steady climb up the ladder. 2012 arrival.