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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 37: Luke Shilling

Every White Sox fan roots for this righty to get back on the mound soon.

Certainly the hardest-luck case in the White Sox system when it comes to injury, Luke Shilling hopes that his TJS rehab progresses well enough to get him some work back in the system by fall.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Luke Shilling

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
230 pounds
Age: 24
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 3

Luke Shilling, a native of Clarkston, Mich., grew up loving baseball, as his dad played for Eastern Michigan University from 1981-84. Luke was drafted in the 20th round in 2015 by the Texas Rangers, but adhered to his verbal commitment to pitch for the University of Illinois. He entered three games as a reliever as a freshman in 2016, and started seven games a year later. Despite his high-octane stuff, Shilling’s results were lacking, as he combined to post a 7.25 ERA and 2.12 WHIP in 31 2⁄3 innings 26 hits and a whopping 41 walks while striking out 31. Shilling was drafted (16th round in 2018) with the belief that his potential was a better indicator of his future than his past results.

This is where things get tough; Shilling ‘s injury history is such that Jake Burger’s and even Charlie Tilson’s injuries seem relatively tame by comparison. As a freshman with the Illini, Shilling and the team thought they were dealing with a subluxation of his right shoulder, a partial dislocation that would heal with time. As a sophomore, when 29 innings with a 7.14 ERA and 37 walks constituted his most extensive college game action, Shilling dealt with a strain of the lat, which in retrospect reads as an early warning sign. His junior season was nixed by a broken hand, but all of these were just characteristics of a consistent feeling.

In an article for The Athletic, Shilling said that just nine days after being selected in the draft “I threw a bullpen, a live outing. And then my second live outing, before I even finished the first hitter, my lat tore off the bone, completely torn off the bone. They think it was still hanging on by a thread at that point for quite some time. And then that was finally the one that tore it completely off, and then ended up sliding down into my side.”

This was similar to the Jake Peavy injury with the White Sox a decade earlier, and caused Shilling to miss the 2019 season. To add insult to injury, Shilling was released on May 21, 2020, during the pandemic.

After extensive, grueling rehab work brought him into game shape, Shilling re-signed a minor league contract with the White Sox on Jan. 18, 2021. Less than four months later, he was inserted into game action for the first time in a professional uniform. He got off to a terrific start out of the pen for Winston-Salem. Through June 29, Shilling posted a 2.95 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 16 appearances. In his 18 1⁄3 innings for the Dash, he surrendered 16 hits (.235 OBA) and eight walks (10.0% while fanning an impressive 27 hitters (36.3%). Plus, to show Shilling’s comeback was a success, MLB Pipeline added him to its midseason Top 30 rankings of White Sox prospects.

Unfortunately for Shilling, his bad luck bit him again. A setback placed him on the 60-day injured list, and he ultimately needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Not only did Shilling miss the final months of 2021, he will likely miss most if not all of his 2022 season as well.

Shilling currently ranks 29th among Sox prospects according to MLB Pipeline, and his highest grade is for his fastball (65) which typically runs mid-90s but peaks at 98. His upper-80s cutter/slider is graded 55, while an inconsistent curve has graded at 50. His control, unsurprisingly, is graded at 40.

It’s easy to pull for Shilling, as with all the setbacks he’s endured to date, he still maintains a positive attitude and continues to work feverishly on his injury rehabilitation. When he is able to return, it likely would be with the Birmingham Barons.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

37. Luke Shilling, RHRP
38. Chase Krogman, LF
39. Cristian Mena, RHSP
40. Benyamín Bailey, LF
41. Tyler Johnson, RHRP
42. Andrew Perez, LHRP
43. Tyler Neslony, LF
44. Theo Denlinger, RHRP
45. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
46. Jefferson Mendoza, C
47. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
48. Gil Luna Jr. LHRP
49. John Parke, LHSP
50. Victor Quezada, 3B
51. Haylen Green, LHRP
52. Sammy Peralta, LHRP
53. Yoelvin Silven, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP