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This Week in White Sox Minor League Baseball

This week there's not much happening, other than the Voyagers clinching the first half Pioneer League Northern Division title and joining the Dash as White Sox affiliates in the minor league postseason.  And with the trade deadline tomorrow, it seemed like a good opportunity to go over my Top Ten White Sox Prospects from last October.

1. Dan Hudson. RHP. 2010 line: Charlotte 17 GS, 93.1 IP, 81 H, 31, BB, 108 K; White Sox 3 GS, 15.2 IP, 17 H, 11 BB, 14 K.  Traded to Arizona.  Amongst scouts, Hudson, like many prospects sitting in the 50-100 range, elicits a wide range of projections.  Some see a mid-rotation starter.  Others see a middle reliever.  I see him as more of the former, as his issue is primarily in repeating his delivery and, thus, avoiding having his pitches flatten out - and I think he'll figure that out.  Mechanics are easier to fix than a lack of stuff.  In any event, his time at Charlotte certainly justified his ranking as the top prospect in the organization.

2. Tyler Flowers. C. 2010 line: Charlotte .218/.326/.450.  So far, Flowers is alternating very good months with very bad months.  In UGod's excellent interview with Jeff Manto, the White Sox minor league hitting instructor, he alluded to Flowers not getting pitches to hit - which isn't unusual for minor league (or even major league) hitters of his type.  If he's going to keep chasing pitches - which his 32% strike zone rate shows he currently is - pitchers are going to keep throwing them out of the zone.  He's at least still punishing pitches when he does make contact.  While his line shouldn't justify a #2 ranking in an organization, considering what's coming next, it doesn't seem too far off.

3. Jordan Danks. OF. 2010 line: Charlotte .242/.316/.374.  Danks was one I struggled with because, on the one hand, there were solid scouting reports and a good month and a half at Winston-Salem, and, on the other, there was his poor performance in Birmingham for the rest of the season.  The latter was chalked up to injuries and I bought that line.  A solid performance in the Arizona Fall League seemed to back that up.  But his season has been bad offensively (though he still gets the rave reviews in the outfield), the strikeouts remains a problem (31%) and his continued issues with injuries adds another negative.  Certainly didn't justify this ranking.

4. Jared Mitchell. OF. 2010 line: DNP.  Mitchell tore a tendon in his left ankle in spring training, resulting in season ending surgery.  He'll be back for the Instructional League in September and may make an appearance in a fall or winter league.

5. Dayan Viciedo. 1B/3B. 2010 line: Charlotte .288/.324/.525; White Sox .286/.286/.464.  Viciedo was coming off a statistically poor season after he been pushed to Birmingham as a 20 year old.  The White Sox didn't let up, sending him to Charlotte to open this season.  After a rough first month, he began to rake, eventually resulting in his call-up, essentially as a result of Mark Teahen's injury.  He's performed about as expected so far: making good contact, making powerful contact against lefties, struggling against righties and struggling at third base.  He needs more time in the minors -  particularly to get him better against righties - and he's probably going to get it when Teahen returns.  He's been a bright spot.

6. Brent Morel. 3B. 2010 line: Birmingham .326/.376/.440; Charlotte .290/.327/.425.  I said it then and I'll say it again: I'm a big fan of Morel.  He's done nothing to disappoint this season as he made quick work of AA and, after a brief adjustment period, is doing the same in AAA.  His glove is fantastic and, so long as he continues to make contact, he'll reach his upside of an overall average third baseman.  Another bright spot.

7. C.J. Retherford. 2B/3B. 2010 line: Charlotte .201/.249/.321; Birmingham .211/.268/.321.  Retherford has been simply atrocious, first at AAA and then at AA after he was demoted in June.  After hitting at every level - including Birmingham in 2009 - he's simply lost the ability to hit.  It's not a good idea to write off a player after a single bad season but this is becoming a catastrophic one.

8. David Holmberg. LHP. 2010 line: Great Falls 8 GS, 40.1 IP, 52 H, 9 BB, 29 K.  Traded to Arizona.  After starting off in extended spring training, Holmberg went to the Voyagers and acquitted himself well.  He was giving up lots of hits but that's not necessarily unusual when considering the small sample size, the piss poor defense and the hitter's environment of the Pioneer League.  The second round pick in 2009 is a long way off and we probably won't know for years whether this teenager is going to come back to bite the White Sox.

9. Christian Marrero. 1B/OF. 2010 line: Birmingham .259/.368/358.  This guy has lost the ability to hit for power.  I had identified his issue as being a corner outfielder or first baseman who may not have the bat for those spots; however, I thought it would be the lack of walks, not power, which would be his failing.  Quickly becoming a non-prospect.

10. Clevelan Santeliz. RHP. 2010 line: Charlotte 32.1 IP, 30 H, 22 BB, 28 K.  He had improved his control in the second half of last season and the reduction in walks continued in the Venezuelan Winter League.  Unfortunately, it didn't continue into the 2010 season and he's been disappointing for Charlotte.  Another becoming a non-prospect.

Looking back at my notes, the only other player I considered for the list was Carlos Torres.  I left Torres off primarily because he's a low ceiling/high floor guy.  It's pretty certain that Torres is going to spend the next five years either bouncing between AAA and MLB or resident in a MLB bullpen in a middle/long relief / spot start role.  The guys who made up the back end of the list had higher ceilings but also much lower floors.

If I had made this list two months later, following the completion of the Arizona Fall League, Sergio Santos would have been on this list - perhaps as high as 8th.  He made a significant step forward in his pitching during the fall and, after actually seeing him pitch in the AFL, it was obvious to me this guy had major league ability less than 8 months after his conversion (one of the constraints of a player new to pitching and in the low minors is no video and little scouting attention).

There's been some room freed up on the list and the inevitable question is who is on it now and in what order.  Well, you'll have to wait for the offseason for that..but, obviously, the recent top draft picks of pitchers Chris Sale, Jacob Petricka, Addison Reed and Thomas Royse would be in the mix.  I'm very high on OF Jose Martinez, as he's showing lots of tools and few ill effects from his terrible injury and long layoff.  And defensive whiz SS Eduardo Escobar made a big step forward offensively and I'm eager to see how he handles the jump to AA.