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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 3: Yoelqui Céspedes

With an enormous spring training effort, this outfielder is on the radar for a possible 2022 call-up.

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox
Perhaps no White Sox prospect helped himself more during this abridged spring training than Yoelqui Céspedes.
Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Yoelqui Céspedes
Center Fielder
205 pounds
Age: 24
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 7
SSS rank among all center fielders in the system: 1

The younger half-brother of Yoenis Céspedes, Yoelqui Céspedes played from 2015-19 with Alazanes de Granma in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, where he slashed .287/.352/.416 over 226 games. He also played for Cuba at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and defected two years later while playing on Cuba’s team in the independent Canadian-American Association. He added about 20 pounds to his 5´9´´ frame while training with Yoenis in advance of joining a big-league club, boosting his raw power and his prospect stock.

Yoelqui became eligible to sign in March 2020 but elected to wait until the subsequent signing period, accepting a $2.05 million bonus from the White Sox in January 2021. At the time of the signing, he was ranked the best international prospect per MLB Pipeline, but was listed a bit lower by both Baseball America and FanGraphs.

Due to visa issues, Céspedes didn’t get to start his 2021 season for Winston-Salem until June 19. After shaking off some rust for his first month, he began hitting with authority around mid-July and never really stopped. In 45 games for the Dash totaling 176 at-bats, Céspedes slashed .278/.355/.494 with 17 doubles, seven homers, 10 stolen bases, 13 walks (6.5%), 56 strikeouts (28.1%) and 127 wRC+. He didn’t lift his foot off the accelerator after being promoted to Birmingham on August 17, as he slashed .298/.340/.404 for the Barons with three doubles, two triples, one homer, eight stolen bases, three walks (3.0%), 27 strikeouts (27.0%) and 108 wRC+. Combined with both teams, he slashed a solid .285/.350/.463 in 72 games with 20 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 27 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, 16 walks (5.4%) and 83 strikeouts (27.8%).

While the numbers were quite good, Céspedes did show himself to be a free swinger, as evidenced by his high strikeout and low walk rates; more advanced pitchers from Triple-A on up will take advantage of that aggressiveness. To gauge his progress, Céspedes was assigned an Arizona Fall League roster spot, where he struggled against those advanced pitchers by slashing just .181/.244/.222 in 19 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Ultimately, this experience should ultimately help Céspedes gain better knowledge of the strike zone.

Céspedes is given a 70 grade for his arm by MLB Pipeline, which could serve him in good stead for right field. His power is his next-highest tool at 55, while his speed and defense are both graded respectably at 50. His hitting tool is graded the lowest at 45, for the reasons mentioned above.

Céspedes likely will return to Birmingham to begin the 2022 season, but should earn a promotion to Charlotte later in the year. Given his impressive showing this spring training, a merit- or injury-driven call-up to the White Sox later this summer is not out of the question, especially if he improves his plate discipline.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

3. Yoelqui Céspedes, CF
4. Oscar Colás, RF
5. Jake Burger, 3B
6. José Rodríguez, SS
7. Wes Kath, 3B
8. Erick Hernández, LF
9. Jared Kelley, RHSP
10. Bryan Ramos, 3B
11. Matthew Thompson, RHSP
12. Drew Dalquist, RHSP
13. Micker Adolfo, RF
14. Yolbert Sánchez, 2B
15. Romy González, SS
16. Sean Burke, RHSP
17. Jimmy Lambert, RHSP
18. Caleb Freeman, RHRP
19. Luis Mieses, RF
20. Kade McClure, RHSP
21. Tanner McDougal, RHSP
22. Jason Bilous, RHSP
23. Wilfred Veras, 1B
24. Lenyn Sosa, SS
25. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
26. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
27. Misael González, RF
28. Terrell Tatum, CF
29. Carlos Pérez, C
30. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
31. Luis Basabe, RF
32. McKinley Moore, RHRP
33. Emilio Vargas, RHSP
34. Blake Rutherford, LF
35. Anderson Severino, LHRP
36. DJ Gladney, 3B
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 Polanco, 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