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Top Ten White Sox Prospects for 2014: Part Two

The second half of the White Sox top ten

Tyler Danish
Tyler Danish
LeAnne Harrington/Virginia Intermont College

Continued from Part One.

6. Carlos Sanchez

2013 MiLB line: .241/.293/.296 in 479 PA. 6.1% BB%, 15.9% K%. 16 for 23 in stolen bases. Last year's ranking: #2.

Like Hawkins, Sanchez had a forgettable 2013 stateside. And, again like Hawkins, he can blame an aggressive assignment, as he had just 133 plate appearances in Double-A in 2012. The switch-hitter started 2013 as one of the youngest players in AAA and is still just 21-years-old. He righted the ship in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he hit .348/.428/.433 over 58 games and earned the VWL's Rookie of the Year award.

The Venezuelan has always shown good plate discipline and his 6.1% walk rate and 15.9% strikeout rate were in line with his minor league career. What disappeared was the hard contact. While it's possible that he'll develop more power as he fills out his frame, it's unlikely to ever be a major part of his game. That means that when he does make contact, he needs the balls to fall in for hits. If they don't (for whatever reason), he's likely to be an offensive black hole.

His defense remains superior. While he may not have the arm to be an everyday shortstop, it's certainly enough for second base, along with his plus range and hands. He can play third base, as well. His floor is probably the highest among White Sox prospects as his defensive versatility, contact bat from both sides of the plate and baserunning skills make him an ideal utility infielder. I know I'm higher on him than most but I believe in the bat. ETA: 2014. Long-term role: Long career as a utility player.

7. Chris Beck

2013 MiLB line: 28 GS, 156.2 IP, 152 H, 50 BB, 79 K. Winston-Salem/Birmingham. Last year's ranking: NR.

Beck is a big righty who entered 2012 as a potential early first round pick but fell to the White Sox at #76 due to concerns regarding conditioning and loss of stuff. The White Sox have gotten him back into shape and have refined his delivery. He's gotten most of his fastball velocity back, now sitting low 90s but can reach 95, but his slider hasn't returned to plus. That leaves him with average/solid average secondary offerings.

He's got good sink on his fastball and, along with his mid 80s slider, he gets a lot of groundballs. His changeup is a good weapon against lefties and he mixes in a mediocre curve. The 23-year-old has good command, which helps play up his stuff, as he doesn't have a problem getting strikes with any of them. Like Johnson, he looks like a guy who can pitch a lot of innings and he's shown durability in his career. There may still be some big upside if Beck can get his slider back to plus. Without it, he's probably a back-endish, durable starter who doesn't get a lot of strikeouts and gets by inducing weak contact and limiting the walks. ETA: late 2014. Long-term role: Average to below average starting pitcher.

8. Trayce Thompson

2013 MiLB line: .226/.313/.384. 9.6% BB%, 22.9% K%. 26 for 35 in stolen bases. Birmingham. Last year's ranking: #3.

The most positive sign from Thompson was that he easily had the lowest strikeout rate of his career. It's becoming increasingly unlikely that he'll ever develop his hit tool enough to become even average but he took a step forward in pitch recognition. Since he was a latecomer to baseball, there's still the fading hope that the soon-to-be 23-year-old will have one of those moments where "everything clicks" and he becomes an absolute monster. If he could become an average hitter, his plus plus power would make him a very dangerous hitter indeed.

But Thompson will probably always have trouble with breaking balls and never hit for a decent average. He'll have the pop to slug home runs when he does make contact and that, along with a decent knowledge of the strike zone, will result in some walks, too. He's got good, not great, speed but he uses it very effectively on the basepaths.

Defensively, Thompson's 2013 playing time was pretty evenly split between center and right (owing to the presence of Keenyn Walker). Thompson is a legit center fielder and is arguably the best outfield defender in the minors. He's got a pretty strong arm but, more importantly, it's accurate. And he's got good speed and good instincts that give him plenty of range. Combined with his plus power, he's probably got a future as at least a bench player. After a full season in Birmingham, he'll start 2014 in Charlotte. ETA: Late 2014. Future role: 4th outfielder.

9. Tyler Danish

2013 MiLB line: 30 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 28 K. 4.5% BB%, 25.2% K%. Bristol/Kannapolis. Last year's ranking: Not in organization.

With Hawkins, Danish is probably one of the two most controversial prospects in the organization. Due to his unconventional delivery, many see a no-doubt reliever and can't believe the White Sox spent a second round pick on the righty. Others (including the White Sox) see a solid starting pitcher. Considering he pitched as a reliever during his first pro season, we're probably not much closer to resolving the difference.

The 19-year-old is going to be used as a starting pitcher in 2014, though, and a full season of pitching should shed some light on his future. There wasn't anything to complain about in his 2013 season, as he didn't have any problems with Rookie Ball and he didn't have any problems with Low-A in his four innings with Kannapolis, either.

Danish throws from a low 3/4 slot and has a whole lot of deception, which certainly plays up his pitches. He brutalizes righties and struck them out 31.3% of the time while walking just one of them (1.5%). His sinker has lots of movement and sits 90ish. It's a plus pitch and I wouldn't be surprised if Danish added a tick or two as he develops. His hard slider is a potential plus pitch and he's developing a changeup that could be solid average. Unlike many high school draftees, Danish has excellent feel for pitching. There isn't anyone who would deny that his makeup is excellent. The White Sox have had success with pitchers with low(er) arm slots and unorthodox deliveries - see Jake Peavy, Daniel Hudson and Chris Sale - and, given their reputation for developing pitching, I'm betting they can do it again. ETA: late 2016. Future role: Starting pitcher.

10. Jacob May

2013 MiLB line: .303/.372/.458. 8.1% BB%, 17.2% K%. 24 for 30 in stolen bases. Great Falls/Kannapolis. Last year's ranking: Not in organization.

A third round pick in last year's draft, May's pro debut has been excellent, justifying what many viewed at the time as an overdraft by the White Sox. I was also skeptical but, after seeing him play, the tools are impressive and translate into games. His outstanding tool is speed, which earns a top-of-the scale 80 rating. May had trouble making it work on the basepaths in college but he showed marked improvement after turning pro. He's still rough in the outfield, relying far more on his speed than instincts in center, but that will almost certainly balance out as he gains experience. Arguably his only below average tool is his arm but it's enough for center field.

The soon-to-be 22-year-old is a switch-hitter. Pre-draft scouting reports said he was stronger from his natural right side but the results so far have him producing much more as a left-handed hitter - obviously a more valuable skill - and it will be interesting to see how his hit tool develops. He showed surprisingly good power, hitting 8 home runs in 230 plate appearances at Kannapolis, but I'd like to see him do that again before I believe in it. I lean much more towards May's best approach being a gap-to-gap hitter who can use his speed to pile up doubles and triples instead of trying to put loft in his swing. He's still playing in Australia right now and I hope the long season doesn't affect him in 2014, where he's likely to be at Winston-Salem. ETA: 2016. Long-term role: Center fielder.

Others given strong consideration (in no particular order): Daniel Webb, Scott Snodgress, Micah Johnson.