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The revolution is coming

A check-in on midseason prospect lists, which yield revised consensus rankings and views of each prospect’s momentum

MLB: All Star Game-Futures Game
Unceasing: Few White Sox prospects have raised their stock this season more than Dylan Cease.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

During the offseason, I reviewed the various White Sox top prospect lists from around the interwebs to compare them and develop a consensus list. Well, as any prospect-obsessed Sox fan knows, many of these same outlets have since published midseason lists. They’re usually not very intensive exercises, but these new lists can at least give us a glimpse into how evaluators see the movement of the major prospects until we get an overhaul in the winter.

Here’s an overview on the midseason lists we have at our disposal:

  • Baseball America: Top 100, Team Top 10
  • Baseball Prospectus: Top 50
  • FanGraphs: Top 131
  • Top 100, Team Top 30
  • larry: Team Top 10
  • FutureSox, Keith Law, Minor League Ball: None right now

Our fun comparison tool, the Composite Top Prospects List, puts all of the major lists together and calculates composite rankings. I’ve added a new tab with all of the midseason updates and a new composite list based on them. Be warned—only 12 different players show up in the non-MLB Pipeline lists, so the composite as it stands is identical to MLB’s list from #13 down. For that reason, we’re only going to look at the first 12 on the midseason list.

Preseason Consensus Prospect List

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

Midseason Consensus Prospect List

1. Eloy Jiménez
2. Michael Kopech
3. Luis Robert
4. Dylan Cease
5. Nick Madrigal
6. Dane Dunning
7. Zack Collins
8. Alec Hansen
9. Blake Rutherford
10. Zack Burdi
11. Micker Adolfo
12. Luis Alexander Basabe

A few things immediately pop out when looking at these lists, but we’ll dive a little bit deeper into the full comparison from the offseason to now.

The Graduates

Carson Fulmer (Preseason No. 13), Aaron Bummer (24), Charlie Tilson (30), Jace Fry (42)

All four of these players have exhausted their rookie eligibility during the 2018 season, and have therefore been removed from the list. Of course, all of these guys except for Fry have since been sent back down to Charlotte, so I guess you can say there haven’t been any notable graduations so far.

The New Guy

Nick Madrigal (Midseason No. 5)

Remarkably, BA, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline all named Madrigal the 33rd-best prospect overall. (BP did not include 2018 draftees.) He wasn’t on the preseason list for obvious reasons, but he’s another premium talent folded into Rick Hahn’s army of prospects.

Three other 2018 draftees—Steele Walker, Konnor Pilkington, and Jonathan Stiever—also landed on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30, as did Kodi Medeiros, who was just acquired in the Joakim Soria trade.

The Free-Fallers

Alec Hansen (No. 4 → 8), Jake Burger (7 → 14), Spencer Adams (14 → 26)

It’s pretty hard to call Hansen’s season anything but a disaster. After missing more than two months, he’s returned to Double-A and walked a batter per inning en route to a 6.03 ERA. Adams has the opposite problem — he’s kept the walk rate reasonable, but now that he’s reached Triple-A he can hardly strike anyone out. He’s making it work so far, but the ugly peripherals seem to have scared a few people off.

Of course, none of that compares to Burger, who has ruptured his Achilles twice since the preseason lists came out, bringing his entire career into question and, at best, pushing his timetable back significantly.

The Steady Holders

Michael Kopech (No. 2), Luis Robert (3), Dane Dunning (6), Blake Rutherford (9), Zack Burdi (10)

These are the players whose standing did not change from preseason to midseason. Technically, the latter three did improve a bit when you factor in Madrigal’s presence, but overall, these players have not dramatically improved or worsened their stock.

Of course, two of these players have moved up quite a bit in overall rankings. The first is Dunning, who dazzled in Winston-Salem and Birmingham but is now missing significant time with a strained elbow. The other is Rutherford, who’s back on track with the bat but still has a long way to go.

Other than them, Kopech has had an up-and-down season, Robert is still a wild card because of how little time he’s spent on the field, and Burdi is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Climbers

Eloy Jiménez (No. 1), Zack Collins (8 → 7), Micker Adolfo (12 → 11)

Jiménez has no further up to go than No. 1, but it would be wrong to include him in the previous category because of how he’s bashed his way through the upper minors. With another home run and two singles on Sunday, he’s raised his Triple-A stat line to .383/.422/.691. Sorry Rick, but I’m with larry on this one.

Collins is looking less and less like an everyday major league catcher, but a 21% walk rate is pretty bonkers. He may be able to get by at first base with a bat like that. Adolfo may have been limited to a few months of DH work before a UCL tear claimed his season, but he showed enough patience and pop to show up in someone’s Top 100 (FanGraphs) for the first time.

The Fastest Risers

Dylan Cease (No. 5 → 4), Luis Alexander Basabe (15 → 12), Luis González (18 → 15), Ian Hamilton (31 → 17)

I’m sure this is the section everyone’s been waiting for. Look no further to find the list of White Sox prospects who are now getting more love from our esteemed group of writers after four months of excellent play.

BA put Cease all the way down at No. 10 on their preseason list, but he’s made a believer out of them. His rise all the way up to No. 71 overall is one of the most dramatic shifts issued by a single outlet in this entire project. He still needs to work on limiting walks, but a 37% strikeout rate in Double-A is getting it done.

Basabe set High-A on fire, and is now getting adjusted in Birmingham after a bit of a slow start. González and Hamilton are both lower on the list, so they’ve only been ranked by MLB Pipeline, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them and the performances they’ve had.

So what’s the state of the White Sox farm system this season? Well, players have moved up, players have moved down, and new players have arrived. It’s all to be expected as part of player development. Other than an exceptional number of injuries, this rebuild project seems to be going according to plan. Jiménez and Kopech are knocking on the door, and the next wave of prospects is making its way to the upper minors.

The revolution is coming.