The 2023 trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The White Sox front office has communicated a willingness to move on from players who are in their final years of team control while retaining a young core of talent that includes Dylan Cease, Eloy Jiménez, Andrew Vaughn, and Luis Robert Jr. This likely means that, despite potentially conceding this year, the Sox front office intends to remain competitive for the near future.
With that in mind, here are five MLB-ready prospects that the White Sox should target at the trade deadline.
Justin Foscue, 2B, Texas Rangers (Texas’ No. 7. prospect)
Texas Rangers second base prospect Justin Foscue leads us off, and for good reason. The White Sox are currently dead last in Major League Baseball in wins above replacement from the second base position, sporting an ugly -1.8 bWAR at the keystone. If this team hopes to be competitive in 2024 or beyond, finding a long-term upgrade at second base is an absolute necessity.
Enter, Justin Focue.
Foscue is a bat-first second baseman who, as recently as 2022, was ranked as a Top 100 prospect in baseball. His departure from that list in 2023 is more a reflection of the incredible talent of the most recent draft class than a referendum on his performance. Across 73 games for the Triple-A Round Rock Express this year, Foscue is slashing a respectable .271/.390/.480, good for an OPS just a few ticks shy of .900. This high level of play is by no means anomalous, considering Foscue owns a career minor league .884 OPS in his past three seasons in the Rangers system. In the majors, he projects as a perennial Silver Slugger candidate who can potentially produce 20-25 home runs per year while maintaining a serviceable .250+ batting average. Foscue compares favorably to fellow Mississippi college product Brian Dozier.
Texas is currently enjoying tremendous infield play from a trio of elite players in Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Josh Jung, relegating Foscue to Triple-A for the foreseeable future. With the Texas’ reported interest in starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (despite having already bought an entire rotation this past offseason), Foscue should be a top priority in negotiations with Texas, as he can step in on Day One and deliver as the team’s primary second baseman and potential second baseman of the future.
Michael Busch, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (L.A.’s No. 2 prospect, MLB’s No. 34)
Much has been made of the L.A.’s desire to upgrade at the trade deadline amidst a surprisingly competitive, three-way race atop the NL West that consists of resurgent Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants teams, each tied at four games back of the Dodgers at the time of writing. Los Angeles has reportedly also shown interest in Sox starter and former All-Star Giolito to give it an edge over the formidable competition they face in the home stretch. With a perpetually-loaded Dodgers farm system to draw from, let’s select an ideal trade candidate.
We'll continue the trend of second basemen on this list with slugger Michael Busch. Busch is a sweet-swinging lefty with quick hands and tremendous raw power potential. Last year, Busch slugged 32 homers across Double-A and Triple-A, and has continued to rake at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year to the tune of a .970 OPS. With Mookie Betts transitioning to full-time second base duties in Los Angeles and Busch lacking the defensive versatility to consistently man shortstop, the Dodgers have had no major league opportunities for the 25-year-old.
The White Sox, on the other hand, have a noticeable shortage of productive left-handed bats on their major league roster and would do well to bring one into the fold. If they hope to compete in 2024 and beyond, a more balanced and youthful lineup will be absolutely necessary. Any negotiations with the Dodgers should include Bush if the South Siders hope to supplement their roster with top-level talent that that can facilitate a postseason run in the future. However, It remains to be seen just how much the Dodgers would be willing to pay to acquire a rental like Giolito.
Connor Phillips, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect)
The Reds are a surprise contender in the relatively weak NL Central. With Cincinnati's reported interest in veteran major league pitching to round out a young, talented staff full of potential aces, the White Sox are a natural trade partner. The Reds have reportedly checked in on White Sox starters Lance Lynn and Giolito, and while a deal for Lynn is unlikely to yield any Top 100 major league talent like Noelvi Marte or recently-promoted third baseman Christian Encarnaion-Strand, No. 7 Reds prospect Connor Phillips could and should be involved in a conversation involving either of the South Side’s veteran righthanders.
Phillips is a 22-year-old righty currently pitching in Triple-A Louisville. A quick riser, Phillips has proven to be up to the challenge of each level of hitting he’s faced. As a matter of fact, he's gotten better with each promotion he's received. In 2021, Phillips sported a 4.62 ERA between Low-A and High-A. In 2022, between High-A and Double-A, he recorded a cumulative 3.78 ERA. And so far in 2023, he’s pitched to a 3.17 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A, including a 2.55 mark in four starts with Louisville. He boasts a gaudy 14.6 K/9 this year, with 134 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched — a product of an arsenal that features a heater that can touch 99 mph and a trio of formidable off-speed offerings. Phillips’ career 5.1 BB/9 indicates a degree of wildness to his game that might make his candidacy for a rotation role unviable for the immediate future, but Phillips should be able to slot into a long relief role with the White Sox with little preparation. Even if he isn’t placed in the starting five right off the bat, he would certainly be a terrific potential front-end rotation piece on the South Side for the foreseeable future, if he can be had for a reasonable cost.
Pure domination from Reds RHP prospect Connor Phillips in Triple-A last night.— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) July 22, 2023
7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
FB: 95-97 mph (t-98 mph) - 7 whiffs
SL: 83-86 mph - 9 whiffs
CH: 89-90 mph - 1 whiff
: @LouisvilleBats pic.twitter.com/ClBtVAwWeO
Yu-Min Lin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Arizona’s No. 10 prospect)
Arizona has emerged as a serious contender in the NL West and a potential trade partner for the White Sox at the trade deadline. The D-Backs have an embarrassment of riches in their minor league system, but it remains to be seen what type of talent the organization would be comfortable dealing to make a major run at a postseason berth in 2023. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at a prospect that is not one of the three Diamondbacks on MLB’s Top 100 list.
Yu-Min Lin is a talented Taiwanese southpaw currently pitching at Double-A Amarillo. While his tenure Stateside has been brief, he’s pitched to a cumulative 2.92 ERA with 181 punchouts in 129 innings pitched, and reached the Double-A level within just a year-and-a-half of starting professional ball in the United States. What makes 20-year-old Lin so formidable is the substantial break each of his offerings possesses. While his fastball is parked in the 88-92 mph range for the time being, Lin compliments it with three plus off-speed pitches, including a devastating changeup that make hitters look foolish.
While Lin is the first Double-A player featured on this list and calling him MLB-ready may be a stretch, he certainly already possesses the raw stuff to confound pitchers at the major league level. With no quality lefties in the White Sox system above A-ball, and only two currently on the active MLB roster, Lin could slot in as a long reliever in the short-term, with a long-term goal to secure a spot in a talented and youthful White Sox rotation.
Jeferson Quero, C, Milwaukee Brewers (Milwaukee’s No. 3 prospect, MLB’s No. 73)
Milwaukee has been relatively silent in regard to their plan going into the 2023 trade deadline. Currently sitting atop the NL Central, the Brewers still need to add a piece or two to their lineup to be considered a serious World Series contender this year. With offseason trade acquisition William Contreras enjoying his second All-Star caliber MLB season and under team control for at least five more years, the Brewers appear to have their catcher of the future already on their active roster. This could, in theory, make top catching prospect Jeferson Quero expendable.
Quero is a solid all-around catching prospect who has garnered a reputation for his athleticism and leadership behind the plate, as well as his formidable bat. While no single tool stands out as being truly elite for the young catcher, he’s proven to be a well-rounded offensive and defensive contributor during his time in the Brewers system. The 20-year-old Venezuela native owns a career minor league slash line of .290/.364/.464, good for an OPS of .828. So far in 2023, he’s enjoying the best offensive performance since his inaugural season in the Arizona Complex League. Through 63 games, the young catcher has mashed a career-high 13 homers to go along with a slash line of .292/.377/.494/.871 that includes 31 walks compared to just 47 strikeouts.
Jeferson Quero continues his insane season. 110 mph off the bat on this dinger to raise his OPS to .885. pic.twitter.com/sO8lB4laXf— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) July 15, 2023
Despite the fact he’s yet to play above the Double-A level, Quero’s advanced approach at the plate and aptitude for solid game-calling should merit him consideration for a 2023 big league promotion with the right team. Considering starting Sox backstop Yasmani Grandal is rumored to be on the move at the trade deadline (and with no clear successor with as much upside as Quero in the organization), the White Sox would do well to target Quero in any negotiations with Milwaukee.
With the July 31 MLB trade deadline drawing near and the White Sox poised to sell, a return involving any of these five exciting prospects can ensure that they continue to field a competitive team that builds around the young talent the front office has expressed an interest in retaining.
Which of these prospects do you think the White Sox should acquire?
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