Last night, MLBPipeline.com released their Top 100 prospect list which included six Chicago White Sox players. Yoan Moncada ranks second behind former Boston Red Sox teammate, Andrew Benintendi. Pitchers Lucas Giolito (12th) and Michael Kopech (16th) give the Sox three top-20 prospects. Compared to ESPN’s top 100 list generated by Keith Law, MLBPipeline is much higher on pitchers Reynaldo Lopez (46th) and Carson Fulmer (71st).
During the final day of SoxFest, the three most responsible addressed the farm system: Dan Fabian, Nick Hostetler, and Chris Getz.
Starting with the top prospect, Fabian laid out what Moncada still needs to work on before joining the team in Chicago.
"Defensively, we want to concentrate on second base with [Moncada]," said Fabian. As Rick [Hahn] has spoken about, we can take a step back now and not hurry guys. When Moncada is called up, it’s because we believe he is ready instead of us pushing him."
Not many doubt Lucas Giolito’s ability to be a starting pitcher, just how high his ceiling is. For the trio of Kopech, Lopez, and Fulmer some have suggested that all three could end up in the bullpen. However, the White Sox have different opinions about the hurlers.
"We have identified all of them as starting pitchers, said Getz. "We are going to exhaust all efforts in making them starting pitchers."
"I think the easiest thing you can do is just throw a guy in the bullpen and think his stuff is going to play out, but to find valuable starting pitching is not easy. We need to make our best effort in providing the opportunity to develop."
Giolito and Fulmer will begin the year in Charlotte, while it’s still undecided where Lopez will end up. There is a chance that he may start the year in Birmingham, and get an opportunity to work with catcher Zack Collins.
Another pitcher that many White Sox fans will have their eyes on in 2017 is the further progression of Alec Hansen. In 54.2 innings splitting time between Great Falls and Kannapolis, Hansen racked up 81 strikeouts to just 20 walks. He only allowed eight earned runs in 12 games started.
"We did extensive background work on Hansen. Clay Overcash is our Midwest scout who I can’t even begin to give him the credit he deserves for Hansen," said Hostetler. "Once we got him, the mental part just clicked. Our development team deserves a lot of credit to give Alec the confidence that we were going to let him pitch. He didn’t need to look over his shoulder at the bullpen for every walk he gave up.
While the Sox add new, impactful players in the system, they are not losing focus on other former top prospects in Jacob May, Adam Engel, and Trey Michalczewski. Hostetler mentioned both Engel and May as players who could see time in Chicago this upcoming season.
"Both are exceptional defensive center fielders," said Hostetler. "They are cut from the same cloth as someone Getz watched in Kansas City in Jarrod Dyson."
"Speaking about Trey, we knew this was going to be a drawn out process for him. He’s not your typical Perfect Game and travel ball event player. Trey was on our Area Code team, but he primarily played only 35 games a year in high school. He’s also a switch-hitter. It normally takes a long time for switch hitters to get a feel and understanding how to manage both sides of the plate. He understands what he needs to do to get better."
Hostetler compared Michalczewski to a former prep White Sox prospect: Trayce Thompson. Highlighting that Michalczewski is getting stronger which hopefully translates to more power this season, but his development time is much like Thompson’s was.