Yet another thing that’s different about a rebuilding year: It turns out that top-100 prospect lists can make team top-10 lists much easier to discern.
Case in point: Keith Law. His top-100 MLB prospect list preceded his White Sox top-10 list, which came out this morning, but we already knew the order of the first four spots — Michael Kopech (No. 7; top pitching prospect overall), Lucas Giolito (No. 13), Yoan Moncada (No. 17) and Zack Collins (No. 95).
From there, we could probably guess that Reynaldo Lopez was going to be fifth based on where he landed on other outlets’ rankings. He’s No. 46 on MLB Pipeline’s list, while Law has him outside the top 100 because “he can’t start with that kind of delivery.” That kind of division between evaluations is more likely with undersized righties than other player types.
Why, that’s half the list right there! This isn’t new to teams with deeper farm systems. For instance, the Braves landed nine prospects in Law’s top-100, and could figure out the 10th from his honorable-mention post. But with the White Sox good for only one or two entrants a year before they sold Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, this is all unfamiliar territory.
The rest of Law’s White Sox top 10:
- No. 6: Dane Dunning
- No. 7: Alec Hansen
- No. 8: Luis Alexander Basabe
- No. 9: Carson Fulmer
- No. 10: Zack Burdi
Remember when Spencer Adams was a clear-cut top-three prospect? Now he doesn’t even fit into the top 10. That’s why the organization seemed deeper than Law gave it credit for in his farm system rankings.
Looking at his thumbnails for 18 White Sox prospects of note, though, he identifies how that depth can materialize. In particular:
Hansen: “He needs to soften his changeup, and he’ll have to throw better strikes as he moves up the ladder, but I saw Hansen pitch in late August and that ain’t no second-rounder.”
Basabe: There’s nothing not to like at this point — a true center fielder with a plus runner who hit .258/.325/.447 in his A-ball at age 19. Maintaining that kind of performance relative to age will make him a bigger name.
Dunning and Jordan Stephens: Dunning was a reliever behind a crowded rotation at the University of Florida, but he has the pitch mix to start. A full season’s work will help reduce the noise. The Sox had some success getting Stephens back into the starting mix — Law ranked him 12th, saying his curveball is “probably a plus pitch” after improving his angle from the center of the rubber.
Fulmer: Law still sees a reliever there, but he’s willing to keep an open mind based on how Fulmer finished the season. The Sox, for their part, think they found a way to meld his hyperactive college delivery with the organization’s “stay tall” directive.
Luis Curbelo and Jameson Fisher: He has them ranked 13th and 14th, but they have the ability to outhit their present positional concerns as they enter their first full professional seasons.
Adams: He knows how to pitch, but his raw stuff hasn’t gained the oomph that was projected when the White Sox took him in the second round. Law says he’s pitching at 90-91 instead of 94-95, and while he’ll be 21 in April, Law says “he’s almost past the point where you could still hope” for a big jump in velocity.
If Adams can’t find it and ends up trying to forge a career as a crafty righty, it won’t be nearly as big of a setback for the system. If you weren’t counting, there are seven right-handed pitchers ranked ahead of him, including four Law still sees as likely starters. That’s the kind of depth needed to make a rebuild work. Now the White Sox just need to add to the position-player ranks in a similar fashion.