The White Sox have just snapped a losing streak, although they still sit in the AL Central basement, and they are waiting to see what happens in the negotiations with Carlos Rodon. Some of the prospects that you've heard quite a bit about - Courtney Hawkins, Tim Anderson, Micah Johnson, Carlos Sanchez, etc. - have progressed in promising fashion. Others that you have heard a lot about have taken very troubling steps in their development - Trayce Thompson, Erik Johnson, Keenyn Walker, Jared Mitchell, and Matt Davidson to name a few. But I thought I would take a moment to poke around in the minors and find the sleepers or surprise performers that might inspire some extra hope on the South Side.
I was pretty pumped to spell his name correctly on the first try without looking. The big, switch-hitting third baseman was drafted in 2013 out of high school in the 7th Round. Signed overslot, he was considered to be a player to watch, with skills of those that should have gone many rounds prior just based on talent. He was considered to have good power potential with a surprisingly patient approach for a high schooler.
After surviving his first stint of pro ball in the Rookie Leagues last year, the White Sox have started him out in Kannapolis for 2014 and he has not disappointed, hitting .289/.372/.447 against competition that is on average 2.5 years his senior. The problem is that he may have to move to an outfield corner or first base, as he has made an error on more than 10% of balls hit his way, and I know that if I were 6'3'', 210 pounds at 19-years old, I would be a lot bigger now at 26.
Micker Adolfo Zapata was one of the biggest splashes the White Sox have made in Latin America in recent memory, signing last year as a 16-year old. Now 17, he is 6'3'', 200 pounds, and has a frame that suggests huge power. So far he has only played 2 games in the Arizona League and he is 0/8 with a walk. The reason it's notable is that he has a very high ceiling and he's playing pro ball despite being born near the end of 1996. I had been expecting him to be held back in academies and instructs for quite some time, but it looks like he is going to be eased into every day ball. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Not a prospect in the traditional sense, Tuiasosopo was acquired as outfield depth from the Blue Jays and he has gotten off to a strong start in Charlotte after being absolutely abysmal in Buffalo. By hitting .300/.382/.500 he has shown that at least the slow start in Buffalo wasn't a death knell, and the sign of him slowly sinking back into the ocean after being a useful bench player in the majors last year.
His presence provides competent depth, and should the front office decide they are willing (or able) to move someone like de Aza, or if they get sick of the Moises Sierra experiment.
Although he has cooled down somewhat, his line still sits at a lovely .302/.397/.455. Ravelo's ceiling is limited as he is a 1B/DH, having played his way off of 3B. It's also looking like Ravelo may not have that much power either. As a high contact/high average guy who controls the zone - his K:BB has hovered around 1 since 2012 now - he might be able to hit his way to the majors. Only 22-years old and thriving at AA, he has played himself closer to prospect land than I ever would have guessed a couple years ago.
It's been a year of ups and downs all over the White Sox' organization, but there are a lot more guys in the system whose ceiling is in the major leagues. A lot of them profile as bench guys, but depth is still a good thing.