Baseball Prospectus released its list of Top 101 prospects (they add a 101st to be different), and if you thought MLB Prospect Pulse was optimistic by putting seven White Sox on their list, check this out:
6. Eloy Jimenez
17. Michael Kopech
40. Alec Hansen
47. Dylan Cease
55. Luis Robert
84. Jake Burger
89. Dane Dunning
90. Blake Rutherford
EIGHT! Eight Top
100 101 prospects! We’ve known for a while that BP is higher on Dylan Cease than the field, and it appears they may be just a hair low on Michael Kopech (he’s 10 or 11 on the other lists). Most of these prospects have appeared on one list or another, but never all of them at once, and this is the first one that Jake Burger has landed on.
In order to compile all of the lists together for comparison and aggregation, I’ve created a Google Sheet:
White Sox 2018 Composite Top Prospects List
This sheet contains the prospect rankings that have been released so far (with links at the top of each column), with overall ranking if applicable. It also contains a composite list that combines all of the rankings together to create a sort of baseline against which we can compare each list individually. I created the composite using a super secret formula:
- Each prospect receives a point value equal to the inverse of his rank on each list. For example, Luis Robert gets ¼ point for being number 4 on the Baseball America list.
- If a player appears in an unranked portion of a list, he receives the inverse of the average rank. There are 9 players in BP’s Next Ten (Jake Peter has since been traded) that theoretically occupy spots 11 through 19, so they each receive 1/15 of a point.
- The scores from each list are totaled together and the prospects are re-ranked by these scores.
Here are the Top 10 by composite score so far (updated with FanGraphs’ Top 100; see below):
1. Eloy Jimenez
2. Michael Kopech
3. Luis Robert
4. Alec Hansen
5. Dylan Cease
6. Dane Dunning
7. Zack Collins
8. Blake Rutherford
9. Jake Burger
10. Zack Burdi
Of course, since most of these lists are straight rankings, this composite doesn’t tell us much about the average outlook for each player. What it does tell us is how the many prognosticators view White Sox prospects relative to each other. Some key takeaways so far:
- Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech are the consensus 1-2 punch. The only thing we’ve even heard to the contrary so far was Scott Delp arguing for Kopech in the top spot in BP’s “second opinion” feature. In every list so far, Jimenez is top-10 and Kopech is top-20.
- Dylan Cease is all over the place. He made a pair of Top 100’s (BP #47, MLB.com #61), and while he’s number 5 in the composite, he appears as low as 10 and as high as 4 in the organizational rankings. Compare BP’s positivity:
The stuff is freaking incredible, some of the very best in the game. He easily sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, can sink and run it with the best of them, and has touched triple-digits in the past. He’s got one of those beautiful, classic overhand hammer curves, which is the second potential out pitch in the profile, plus with a chance for more. The change is a work-in-progress that sometimes comes in too firm but flashes as a third potential plus pitch.
... to BA’s more dour take:
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.
- Zack Collins is as controversial as ever. He’s still got a lot questions tied to him: Can he stick at catcher? Will he make enough contact to tap into his power? He’s probably got the wildest variation of any player in team ranking, showing up at 5, 6, 9, and 10, and he’ll be 8th or lower when MLB.com’s full list arrives. FutureSox is highest, and sums up why Collins is still interesting:
He’s also already in AA with a little over a year in pro ball as a catcher, 23 years old and has spent the offseason working on the perceived hitch in his swing and tendency to get pull-happy. The risks are real, but the ceiling of a high power, high OBP starting catcher has immense value.
- BA is high on Gavin Sheets. They’re the only ones so far to put him in the top 10, and they dropped a Lucas Duda comp on him. BA noted that while he’ll need to be more selective in the zone, he doesn’t chase too much and he has good K/BB numbers for a power hitter. Others haven’t liked him as much because of his inefficient swing and because he’s limited to first base.
- Carson Fulmer is FREEEEEEE, free-falling. That’s not surprising given that he averaged 5 innings per start in Charlotte and walked a batter every other inning. A consensus has built after some disagreement on his future outlook a year ago. The bad news is that consensus says Fulmer is a reliever; the good news is his stuff and intensity could play up in the late innings.
- Luis Robert is a wild card. The scouting report on Robert is still pretty lacking, but he’s generally landed in the range of number 40 to 60 overall (MLB.com is the outlier at 26) based on his raw athleticism and his performance in Serie Nacional. Several write-ups indicate that Robert could rank higher once there’s more information out there on him, but naturally there’s still some hedging built in.
I’ll continue to add more information to this spreadsheet as more reports file in, and by the time the season starts we’ll actually have in-game performance to look at instead of poring over these lists every day.
UPDATE: Not three hours after I published this post, FanGraphs released its Top 100 list as well. It’s got six White Sox mixed in, and definitely not who or where I thought:
6. Eloy Jimenez
20. Michael Kopech
21. Luis Robert
72. Alec Hansen
89. Zack Burdi
91. Zack Collins
This is the first time Burdi and Collins have each shown up in a Top 100 list this year, and putting Burdi as high as 5 in the system is a bold, bold move. Come now Longenhagen & McDaniel, LLC (emphasis mine):
The combination of a plus three-pitch mix and usable command are going makes him a near unicorn. Also, the [Tommy John] surgery is less risky when you only need the guy to be healthy for six years, throwing 20-30 pitches at a time. Look for Burdi to deliver on his first-round pedigree as an elite reliever for the Sox in 2019, with the upside of one of the top-five relievers in the game.