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Top 10 White Sox Prospects for 2016: Midseason Update

No headliner and shallows quickly

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First, the caveat: I didn't put a great deal of thought into this. I spend a lot of time on the offseason list. On this, I spent about ten minutes thinking about it and an hour writing it. I'd call this a high-precision, decent-accuracy list.

Offseason ranking, if any, in parentheses. Position is current and not necessarily projected major league position. If you want more detailed scouting reports, you can find most of them in the offseason list.

1. RHRP Carson Fulmer (2)

You've seen what he's capable of at the major league level. But you've also seen what a lack of control does at this level. The 22-year-old has matching 18.2 percent walk and strikeout rates. While it made sense at the time to bring him up in an attempt to shore up the bullpen on a still potentially competitive team, that isn't the case anymore. I still think he's a reliever long-term but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be useful for his development to go back to the minors for a month to pitch as a starter and then come back up next month to do the same. He needs reps.

2. RHSP Spencer Adams (3)

Threw well in 18 games at Winston-Salem and earned a promotion to Birmingham, where he's made three starts. The 20-year-old is almost to his 2015 innings pitched total so he's in line for a nice bump from last season, which is an important development milestone for a young guy who is in his second full season. The lack of strikeouts - just a 15.9 percent rate - is going to become concerning soon but, for now, let's just focus on his rather advanced command for his age.

3. C Zack Collins (NA)

He's probably not a catcher but the team obviously has an incentive to find that out by playing him there until he proves it. The nearly 30 percent strikeout rate is far from ideal but the lefty hitter has been slugging. It was a close question between him and Adams but I usually err on the side of conservative for draft picks until I've seen them play for awhile as pros.

4. 3B Trey Michalczewski (4)

Holding steady. Just like this past offseason, this is a continued vote of confidence that he'll develop more game power. The overall strikeout rate of 26 percent doesn't look good but he's been cutting down each month. We do need to keep in mind that, at 21, he's young for Birmingham. His defense continues to improve and I think he's done enough to quiet those who feared he'd need to move off the position.

5. CF Adam Engel (7)

Things went quite poorly for him out of the gate. But after a 14-game demotion to High-A, the 24-year-old got things back on track at Double-A and then earned a promotion to Charlotte. He's struggled mightily there so far in 16 games. Obviously still early. He was probably already getting a September call-up but, with Charlie Tilson's injury and Jacob May struggling, he's looking at a lot more starting opportunities once he's here.

6. RHRP Zack Burdi (NR)

So far, he's done what's expected of him. The 21-year-old was billed as a quick mover and he certainly didn't dally in getting to Birmingham. He's thrown very hard, gotten a whole lot of strikeouts but also a whole lot of walks. For a competitive team, he may well have merited a call-up. But I expect the White Sox will now be cautious of the innings jump. Strong chance for 2017 opening day roster, though.

7. CF Charlie Tilson (NR)

I had him preliminarily slotted higher when he was acquired. But tearing your left hamstring off the bone is going to cost you. Still, it's an injury that has a high recovery rate. We haven't heard yet where it came off but, if it was at the top, that increases his chances. The 23-year-old looks like a fourth outfielder or perhaps a bottom-of-the-order starting center fielder.

8. CF Jacob May (6)

Like Tilson, May is getting dinged largely for injury concerns, but May's are more serious. There was certainly a clear split in production last season before and after his concussion. By having him start 2016 at Triple-A, it's hard to tell how much of his problems this season should be allocated to post-concussion issues or to (mal)adjusting to a higher level. An oblique injury cost him more than a month earlier this season and he currently hasn't played since July 15. The 24-year-old's strikeout rate has spiked from his usual 16ish percent to 23.5 percent and that simply isn't going to work for a guy who lacks power.

9. LHSP Jordan Guerrero (5)

I haven't seen the step forward in command that I would have liked to see. I'm encouraged, though, that a guy who didn't have a full season as a starter until last season has stayed healthy and is on track for a higher innings total than 2015. The numbers are not pretty: 18.1 percent strikeout rate and 12.8 percent walk rate. His above-average changeup helped him carve up lower level hitters but Double-A is a different story and he needs better command of his fastballs to get ahead of advanced hitters.

10. RHSP Jordan Stephens (NR)

I've been impressed with Stephens this season. There's always going to be a concern with a TJS guy who some think lacks the physical attributes to be a starter. As a 23-year-old in High-A, I have been hoping they'd promote him to see how he fares. But he is experiencing an IP bump and has made all his starts. Even if he can't stay a starter, his fastball is fast and his curveball projects well so a late(r) inning reliever is possible, too.


Most of you know that I eschew numeric lists in favor of groupings, which I think more accurately display the difference, or lack of difference, in value amongst players. If someone wants to re-order my numeric rankings while remaining within the same player grouping, I'm not going to argue with them. So here's that.

Group 1: Fulmer, Adams, Collins.

Group 2: Michalczewski, Engel, Burdi, Tilson

Group 3: May, Guerrero, Stephens and some other guys.


The players dropping out:

Tim Anderson (1): Exceeded plate appearance limit.

Tyler Danish (8): Largely a casualty of an influx of talent. He's certainly among Group 3 so I could've slotted him at the end of the list but I just liked the guys listed a bit better.

Courtney Hawkins (9): Depending upon your level of charity, either stalled or regressed in second chance at Double-A.

Jhoandro Alfaro (10): My opinion hasn't changed. Like Danish, basically a casualty of an influx of talent.