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What Is and What Never Would Be: Former White Sox OF Prospects

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Never forget.
Never forget.

I liked justjc's idea of taking a look back at former top prospects that the Sox traded away.  I decided to start with the outfielders and limit it to the past half-decade.  I also left Aaron Cunningham out, since I feel its still too early to say anything much about his trade and future.  That left me with six young men (in absolutely no specific order): Chris B. Young, Ryan Sweeney, Jeremy Reed, Brian N. Anderson, Jerry Owens, and Joe Borchard.

Chris B. Young: The Sox drafted Young in the 16th round (493rd pick) of the 2001 draft out of Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas.  He took two years to ge tgoing, but began dominating the minors in 2004 with a .261/.365/.503 line in Kannapolis.  This resulted in BA naming him the 6th best prospect in the farm system, as well as the fastest baserunner and best athlete.  Shortly after posting a .922 OPS and 32 steals in 38 attempts at Birmingham, he was shipped to Arizona with Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez on December 12, 2005.  He continued his hot hitting in 2006, being named the 12th best prospect in baseball entering the 2007 season.  He played 148 games for the Diamondbacks, hitting .237/.295/.467 with 32 homers and 27 steals.  His performance earned him fourth place in the NL RotY voting.  He followed that with a more productive 2008, improving his OBP and defense enough to be worth 2.2 WAR.  The wheels fell off last season, as his defense crapped out, ISO dropped yet again, and K% spiked to a career-high 30.7%.  He had a better second half, but it seems like being an averageish player is his ceiling.  Career line: .235/.307/.438.

Ryan Sweeney: Sweeney was the Sox second round choice in 2003 (52nd) out of Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He was awarded a $785,000 signing bonus.  He took well to the minors, showing a strong arm and a decent batting eye, but lacking more than doubles power.  He garnered high praise his entire minor league career: 2005-42nd best in MiLB, 2nd in CHW as well as best hitter for average and best outfield arm, 2006-92nd best MiLB, 3rd in CHW as well as best outfield arm, 2007-55th best MiLB, 1st in CHW as well as best hitter for average and best outfield defense.  He was sent to Oakland with Fautino de los Santos and Gio Gonzalez for Nick Swisher on January 3, 2008.  He was worth 4.1 WAR last season, splitting time between right and center while playing plus defense in both.  This is the only outfield prospect we traded away on this list that looks like it may bite Kenny Williams in the ass, mostly due to the second Swisher trade getting us back nothing from the Yankees.  Career line: .284/.341/.387.

Jeremy Reed: One of the first prospects I remember watching fail, Jeremy Reed was drafted out of Long Beach State University in the second round (59th) of the 2002 draft and given a $650,000 signing bonus.  Reed was absolutely fantastic in 2003, hitting a combined line of .373/.453/.537 with 45 steals at Winston-Salem and Birmingham.  Going into the 2004 season, he was our best prospect and the 25th best in all baseball.  We then traded him to the Mariners with Mike Morse and Miguel Olivo for Ben Davis and Freddy Garcia June 27, 2004.  The centerfield job was his to lose in Seattle in 2005, and he did just that by posting a .254/.322/.352 line, though he did lead all centerfielders in range factor.  He may have turned it around, but he broke his wrist on the outfield wall, starting an upsetting injury trend.  He was sent to the Mets in the massive three-team trade that involved Cleveland as well on December 11, 2008.  Thanks to Omar Minaya signing a team of glass figurines, Reed actually played in 126 games last year.  He was awful.  He has been worth .5 WAR for his career, with 2005 being the last season he wasn't in the negatives.  He now dwells in the minors of Toronto.  Career line: .255/.312/.357.

Brian Anderson: And onto our most recent disappointment.  Brian Anderson is the first player on this list to actually play more than two seasons in the majors for the White Sox.  Brian was the 15th player picked in the 2003 draft.  He went to the University of Arizona and received a $1,600,000 signing bonus.  He hit well enough in the minors, especially when coupled with his incredibly promising defense.  He was the best defensive outfielder in the system in 2005 and 2006.  He was also labeled the 37th and 51st best prospect in baseball in 05 and 06, as well as our 1st and 2nd best respectively.  Anderson's "readiness" allowed the White Sox to trade Aaron Rowand away for Jim Thome, giving Brian his chance to start in center.  His bat simply never translated to the major league level, and eventually his defense merely became average.  He was never more than a back-up after he lost his starting job to Darin Erstad in 2007.  Kenny Williams finally gave up on the golden boy on July 28, 2009 when he was shipped up to Boston for Mark Kotsay.  He recently signed a major league deal with the Royals, wasting one of the spots on their 40-man roster.  Thanks Dayton!  Career line: .227/.290/.370.

Jerry Owens: Jerry Owens is the only player on this list who wasn't drafted by the Pale Hose.  Owens was selected by Montreal a mere four picks after we chose Sweeney in 2003.  He played college ball at The Master's College.  On Valentine's Day in 2005, the Sox sent Alex Escobar to the newly renamed Montreal Expos to obtain Jerry.  He was named our 5th best prospect for the upcoming season, along with being annointed the best hitter for average, fastest baserunner, and best athlete.  His best season came in 2007 on the strength of his 32 stolen bases and above-average defense in center.  We'll just ignore his .267/.324/.312 for now.  He tore his right adductor muscle early on in 2008, allowing Carlos Quentin to play in the outfield.  WE all know how that worked out.  Like Anderson, the organization's patience ran out this last season and Owens was released.  He latched on with Seattle and played in Tacoma for the rest of the season.  He recently signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals, potentially bringing him back to his first franchise.  Career line: .262/.319/.305.

Joe Borchard: So much suck, it's not even funny.  Joe was the 12th pick in the 2000 draft.  He played at Stanford, where he also played quarterback.  He was given a $5,300,000 signing bonus, the largest in baseball history until Justin Upton signed for $6.1 mil in 2005.  This is obviously still a White Sox record.  He was heavily hyped right out of the gate, being called the 23rd best prospect in baseball and the 2nd best in the system.  He had his best minor league season that year in Birmingham, hitting 27 bombs to go with his .295/.384/.509 line.  This resulted in mroe praise, being called the 12th best overall and our top prospect.  Then things began to go south.  His numbers all dropped, but no one was too worried as he had moved up to AAA.  2003 would be the last season he would enjoy being called a top prospect (28).  2004 marked the most time he ever spent on the major league roster.  During this time, he launched a 504' homer off of Brett Myers, setting a U.S. Cellular Field record.  It still stands to this day.  When it seemed like he would never figure it all out, he was traded to Seattle for Matt Thornton.  Thornton was another failed prospect at the time.  Seattle would cut Borchard, and he wound up in Florida for a season and a half.  The Braves signed him in 08, but he needed Tommy John and was released.  He is currently with San Francisco, in AAA.  Career line: .205/.284/.352.