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Top prospect picture starting to come together

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Baseball America releases its top 10 list

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
El futuro
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

There definitely has not been a whole lot for White Sox fans to look forward to this offseason, but I know I’ve been curious to see how the next top prospect lists shake out. Unfortunately, many of the major evaluators (Fangraphs, Minor League Ball, MLB.com, etc.) have yet to broadcast their opinions on the organization coming into 2018.

Today we finally got some more of that sweet, sweet prospect content, as Baseball America released its White Sox Top 10 (subscription required for full details). The first few names on this list probably won’t surprise you, but the order further down might:

  1. Eloy Jimenez
  2. Michael Kopech
  3. Alec Hansen
  4. Luis Robert
  5. Dane Dunning
  6. Zack Collins
  7. Jake Burger
  8. Blake Rutherford
  9. Gavin Sheets
  10. Dylan Cease

Compare this to the Baseball Prospectus list that came out back in November:

  1. Jimenez
  2. Kopech
  3. Hansen
  4. Cease
  5. Robert
  6. Burger
  7. Dunning
  8. Rutherford
  9. Collins
  10. Carson Fulmer

We’ll get a better sense of who’s an outlier on some of these guys when more lists come out, but a couple of things immediately jump out at me from the BA list:

High on Dane Dunning

The biggest surprise on BA’s list has to be Dane Dunning at 5, ahead of the entire second tier of hitters and every pitcher except Kopech and Hansen. BA believes in Dunning’s repertoire, referring to all three of his sinker, slider, and changeup as quality pitches with potential to be above average. Given that stuff, all he needs a bit more consistency to really take off.

When his delivery is clicking, Dunning features heavy sink and will coax hitters into beating the ball into the ground. ... To maintain consistency and crispness on his pitches, he needs to stay tall through his delivery.

Low on Dylan Cease

BP ranking Cease at number 4 might be just a smidge aggressive, given that that puts him ahead of Luis Robert. Still, BA has him all the way down at 10, which seems really pessimistic given his age, injury history, and some impressive results. The scouting report is pretty dismissive of his changeup, calling it a “distant third pitch”, and says that his lack of control is still causing him to walk too many hitters. Taking these two assessments at face value creates a profile of a pitcher who might be ticketed for relief:

Because of his two dominant pitches, Cease might have more success as a high-leverage reliever. It’s too early for that move now and the White Sox will continue developing him as a starter. He will head to high Class A Winston-Salem in 2018, where his main goals will be to sharpen his fastball command and improve his secondary pitches.

Luis Robert is still a wild card

Robert is a good bet to stick around number 4 or 5 on many of these top prospect lists simply because he’s a bit of an unknown. No one really denies that the tools are loud, even if we’re still waiting to see just how well they play against stateside competition. Here’s a quote to get you excited about Robert, especially if you’re excited about Eloy Jimenez (emphasis mine):

While Eloy Jimenez is farther along, Robert’s tools are just as impressive. He boasts a strong, lean frame and his swing is compact and simple, producing well above-average bat speed.

Robert’s speed has reportedly improved from “above-average to plus”, presumably in the plus to plus-plus range. BA also believes that his bat would profile in a corner, which is especially encouraging if he’s able to stick in center.

For any interested parties, BA will be doing a chat about White Sox prospects at 1:00 CST, which you an access here.