Baseball America kicked off the farm-system inventory season by publishing its top 10 list of White Sox prospects on Monday. It could look quite a bit different by next spring if Rick Hahn has to use trades to push towards a postseason berth, but its timing is beneficial if you're keeping track of players Hahn can deal.
And ammo Hahn has. In previous years, graduating three prospects from the list would have left the cupboard bare (I'm thinking 2011, when Addison Reed was a clear No. 1, and Nestor Molina was a debatable No. 2).
That's not the case this winter. Even though Jose Abreu (No. 1), Erik Johnson (No. 2) and Marcus Semien (No. 5) crossed the experience threshold and lost their prospect eligibility in BA's eyes, the Sox's list still retains quite a bit of depth.
|Carlos Rodon||1||Jose Abreu|
|Tim Anderson||2||Erik Johnson|
|Spencer Adams||3||Tim Anderson|
|Micah Johnson||4||Matt Davidson|
|Frank Montas||5||Marcus Semien|
|Micker Adolfo||6||Micah Johnson|
|Tyler Danish||7||Courtney Hawkins|
|Trey Michalczewski||8||Trayce Thompson|
|Courtney Hawkins||9||Chris Beck|
|Rangel Ravelo||10||Jacob May|
When I compare year-to-year lists, I first look at the players who failed to hold their ground, because it's usually newsworthy in a high-turnover year. Davidson suffered BA's usually-harsh First Bad Year penalty, Thompson keeps getting older while his performance stays the same age, and Beck's so-so season and worrisome strikeout rates couldn't hang with the low-minors dominance by Danish and Montas.
May, on the other hand, didn't lose his spot because of self-inflicted wounds. The switch-hitter posted a .258/.326/.395 line in his first full season of pro ball at Winston-Salem, overcoming a sluggish start by hitting .301/.372/.472 from June 1 through Aug. 8, when a broken hamate ended his season. He can handle center field, and also stole 37 bases in 45 attempts, including a streak of 22 straight successful attempts at one point.
In seasons like 2011, that kind of year would've elevated May to top-five status (a label Keenyn Walker once wore). Now, it's not enough to avoid getting leap-frogged by seven new names.
Not all of them may be justified, and Rangel Ravelo's inclusion is particularly surprising considering other outlets couldn't fit him in their top 20. Still, even though it might be bulletin-board motivation for May (or the still-eligible Carlos Sanchez, for that matter), it's great news the White Sox and their farm system enthusiasts. Losing a lot of games plays a big role in it, but there are some second-day names and a trade undercard bolstering the list, and we're starting to see evidence of increased international investment, too.
There used to be room for everybody who's anybody in these things. Now, instead of making half-hearted cases for No. 8, you can make full-throated arguments for No. 11. Progress!