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Chicago White Sox Top 10 Prospects

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Chicago White Sox.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(Correa)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(Heaney)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(Olson)

New York
(Syndergaard)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(Jackson)

Philadelphia
(Crawford)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(Gallo)

Washington
(Giolito)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Brian Creagh

Change is necessary for success in any industry. No General Manager has embodied that spirit more in the last three years than Rick Hahn who has acquired 26 players of their 40 man roster in just the past 2 and a half years. To give some context to that number, in the same time frame, the New York Yankees have acquired 22 players, the Dodgers have 18, and the new look Padres have acquired 20 players of their current 40 man rosters. Hahn took a competitive, yet aging roster and has turned it into a dynamic, youthful lineup that should be a factor in a competitive AL Central this year. Rick Hahn was widely considered one of the top GM prospects in baseball for a handful of years before his official promotion, and what makes the job he's done even more impressive is that he's done it while his predecessor is still involved in the organization. Former GM, Kenny Williams, serves as the White Sox executive Vice President and while he isn’t as involved in the day-to-day operations of the team, Hahn had to tactfully disassemble the roster Williams put together and found decent success with through the years.

Hahn has improved the outlook of the entire organization, including the minor league farm system. Once the laughing stock of professional baseball, the White Sox now roster three Top 100-worthy prospects and some additional assets with big-league ceilings. Four of the White Sox' top prospects  - Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Tyler Danish, and Spencer Adams - have been the #1 and #2 picks in each of the past two drafts. The south siders have done well to re-stock the farm system and not give much of it away while in pursuit of a division crown. A large reason for the depleted farm system that Hahn took over was Kenny Williams’ propensity to trade minor league assets to acquire MLB talent in the middle of a playoff push. You can’t fault a GM for a poor farm system, if it’s resulting in division titles, but after 4 straight years of no playoff appearances, the Sox were stuck in the middle - too good to get a top draft pick, not good enough for the playoffs. The reloaded farm system doesn’t even mention the White Sox recent success in the international market landing Jose Abreu and Micker Adolfo. They’ve proven capable of luring big, international names to the south side of Chicago.

As far as 2015 is concerned, the White Sox are contenders. Two new additions to the top of their lineup, Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, will pair with a healthy Adam Eaton and all-world slugger Jose Abreu to form a great 1-4 punch. Their rotation should also hold up their end of the bargain with anchors Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija, and Jose Quintana. The backend looks week to start the season with John Danks and Hector Noesi slated there at the moment, but rookies Erik Johnson and Carlos Rodon could come up and make a huge impact this year and give the Sox one of the best 1 thru 5 rotations in the big leagues. Chicago also beefed up the back of their bullpen by signing David Robertson to close and Zach Duke for a big, lefty-presence. The Sox have done well to give themselves options at all of their currently perceived weaknesses. Starting 3B Conor Gillaspie might not be the answer, but former top-prospect Matt Davidson could revive his career and fill in nicely. Catcher Tyler Flowers isn’t going to set the world on fire, but the acquisitions of Geovany Soto and Rob Brantly give the Sox multiple options with big league experience.

The AL Central is quietly sitting as one of the sneaky good divisions in baseball heading into 2015. The Tigers are still the odds on favorite, but the Royals just represented the AL in the World Series last season, Cleveland has Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and a powerful lineup, and the charging White Sox who could make some serious noise this season. Luck and variance play a large part of any season, and the White Sox have done well to put themselves in a position to catch some good breaks and come out on top of the division this year. They’re probably another big bat away from being serious World Series contenders, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In Rick Hahn you should trust.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Jose Abreu (AB), Marcus Semien (AB/trade), Leury Garcia (AB), Adrian Nieto (ST), Zach Putnam (IP), Jake Petricka (IP), Erik Johnson (IP), Erik Surkamp (ST), Daniel Webb (IP), Scott Carroll (IP), Maikel Cleto (IP)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Brian Creagh

I touched on it a lot above, but there are quite a bit of opportunities for prospects to make some noise for the Chicago White Sox. The conversation starts with Carlos Rodon, who I am praying breaks camp with the big league club and we get to see what he can do. The upside is a #2 starter who racks up K’s and can anchor a fantasy staff, but a very real outcome is a solid #3 and weekly streamer candidate. We’ve seen both out of him at North Carolina State and I’m eager to see what the Sox really have. Erik Johnson is another pitcher I’m curious about and hope gets a chance early in the season. He’s already 25 years old, and lacks the upside of Rodon, but his ceiling would still be fantasy relevant in all league formats. Carlos Sanchez figures to start at 2B for the south siders, but I’m hoping Micah Johnson gets an early look at the keystone too. Johnson is the more dynamic player for fantasy purposes, and as an Indiana University alum I can’t help but pull for the guy to be great. Another late season name to keep an eye on is Francellis Montas. He’s a reliever who finished in AA last year and could get a call if the Sox are in contention. 2016 is far more likely, but Montas could be one of those sneaky adds late in the year to help boost your ratios and supplement strikeouts for a contender.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors.



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1. Carlos Rodon (LHP)

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
0 0 2.96 1.36 38
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
24.1 0.00 1.25 12.04% 35.19%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 L L AAA-A+-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

The White Sox' top pick from last year's draft, Rodon was a candidate to go with the top overall pick at multiple times leading up to the draft. The fact that the White Sox were able to get him with the 3rd overall pick may very well have been stunning, and jumped on grabbing the lefty out of NC State.

Rodon features a fastball-slider-changeup combination where both his fastball and slider are considered plus offerings. The changeup is expected to be his worst offering, "worst" being completely relative as it is still expected to be at least an average offering. The slider is an absolutely filthy pitch, and may be among the best in the majors when he is ready.There are notes about working to improve his delivery and his command, but both of these sound like they are minimal concerns rather than things which could hold him back for an extended period of time.

Rodon has the potential to be a true fantasy ace, capable of providing elite strikeouts to go along with excellent rate stats. He may well be ready for the majors right now, but will likely head to AAA to start the 2015 season to get a little more polish. He's worth targeting late in redraft leagues, as he could be up by the middle of May potentially and would likely be a top 50 starting pitcher from then on.

2. Tim Anderson (SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.303 57 9 40 10
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
364 0.328 0.481 2.47% 22.53%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A+-AA-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

The White Sox' top pick in 2013, Anderson appeared in 68 games with Low-A Kannapolis after signing, stealing 24 bases and hitting a solid .277/.348/.363 there. The organization moved him up to High-A to start 2014, where he performed well when healthy. He missed time in both early May and nearly two months starting in late June, but not only returned well in late August, but was moved up to AA rather than being sent back. Sent to the Arizona Fall League to get more at bats, Anderson hit .301 with two home runs and six stolen bases in just 23 games.

Drafted as a shortstop, there are concerns that Anderson will have to move to either second base or center field in the future. This does not particularly impact his fantasy value though, as he has the potential to be an above-average contributor at any of the three positions. His best tool is his speed, which routinely gets plus to plus-plus grades, and should allow him to steal 25+ bases on a regular basis. It is by no means his only tool though, as he should provide a high batting average and some power on the strength of excellent bat speed and good strength. There are questions about his approach, as he drew just 9 walks against 82 strikeouts in 84 games, but it sounds like this is something that he will be able to improve over time.

Anderson likely returns to AA to start the 2015 campaign, and could be in Chicago at some point during the 2016 season. The best case scenario is that he stays at shortstop, allowing him to replace Alexei Ramirez after the 2016 season, and it seems like there is a better possibility of that occurring after his 2014 season. I personally will want to see how the full season in 2015 goes, as he hit well after his return from a broken wrist, but has not appeared in more than 84 games in a season yet.

3. Spencer Adams (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
3 0 3.67 1.27 59
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
41.2 0.900 1.580 2.23% 32.96%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

Carlos Rodon may be the big name at the top of this past season's draft class for the White Sox, but they may have another high-end starting pitching prospect in Spencer Adams. Taken in the second round and signing for a bonus of just over $1.2 million, Adams was a high school pitcher drafted out of Georgia, and came into the 2014 season viewed as the 21st ranked prep prospect by Baseball America. A strong senior year propelled him to #23 in the Baseball America 500, and may well be a steal in the 2nd round for the Sox. He pitched in the Arizona Rookie League after signing, posting video game numbers (59 K, 4 BB in 41 innings) while there.

Adams features a three-pitch repertoire consisting of a fastball that reports had in the mid-90s, a slider that can be above-average, and a changeup which remains a work-in-progress. His delivery is fairly clean and repeatable, but as with nearly all high school draftees, needs further development to improve further. He also gets rave reviews about both his makeup and intangibles, and that those should help him develop to the fullest potential of his raw tools.

Adams is likely at least three to four years away from pitching in a major league rotation, but there is the potential for a mid-rotation starter on a regular basis. He already has a pair of above-average offerings that can get him strikeouts, and can command them well also. He'll likely be ready for a full season assignment in 2015, and could move quickly if he performs well there.

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4. Micah Johnson (2B)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.294 48 5 44 22
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
472 0.351 0.403 7.84% 14.62%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 L R AAA-AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

A ninth-round pick out of Indiana University in 2012, Johnson came onto the fantasy radar after stealing 87 bases in 137 games across three levels in his first full professional season. He returned to AA to start the 2014 season, and may have gotten a call up to the majors had he not suffered a hamstring injury that ended his minor league season in August.

Johnson's value starts with his speed, which can potentially provide owners with 30-40 stolen bases in a full-time role. He can potentially provide even more depending on how well he hits. He is considered an average hitter, as he makes a ton of contact and has shown the ability to draw a walk as well, but there are questions about how much power he will hit for in the majors. There is the potential for a .270-.280 hitter with 40+ steals at second base, which would make him a top 10 option at the position even if he only hits less than five home runs a season.

He'll head to Spring Training in competition for the starting second base job, although it's not clear whether he will win that job over either Carlos Sanchez or free agent signee Emilio Bonifacio. If he doesn't make the team, he'll likely head back to AAA until he is needed during the season.

5. Francellis Montas (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
5 0 1.44 0.91 80
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
81 0.300 1.570 7.03% 25.56%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A+-Rk-AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

Acquired by the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade in 2013, Montas was an epiphany in 2014, striking out 80 and walking just 22 across 81 innings between three levels. There hadn't been much mention of him before the 2014 season, ranking 29th in the White Sox' system after 2013 and 22nd in the Red Sox' system after the 2012 season.

The scouting report on Montas starts with his fastball, which routinely sits in the high 90s and has multiple reports of touching 100-102 during the season. He pairs an excellent slider with it, which is a definite strikeout offering as well. His third pitch, a changeup, lags behind the other two, and will likely be the key to his long term role. If it was a bit more clear that he could definitely be a starter long term, he'd been right behind Anderson on this list, as he could be a mid-rotation starting pitcher with a ton of strikeouts. His delivery is relatively clean, and is not the kind of high-effort delivery you'd expect from a pitcher throwing so hard.

Normally, a pitcher that in all likelihood ends up in a relief role would be further down in a relatively strong system like the White Sox, but if Montas ends up in the pen, he may be the best relief prospect in the minors right now. He can potentially be an elite option at the end of the game, notching saves and extremely high strikeout totals. He's still working as a starting pitcher, and will likely return to AA to start the 2015 season. That said, he's already been added to the 40-man roster and if the White Sox need a bullpen arm during the year, could add him in short order.

6. Tyler Danish (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
8 0 2.08 1.14 103
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
129.2 0.500 2.240 6.30% 19.66%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R A+-A
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

A second round pick in 2013, Danish is moving quickly through the White Sox' farm system despite being a high school draftee. After a solid performance at both of the White Sox' short-season affiliates after signing, Danish was sent to full-season Low-A to start the 2014 campaign. He pitched extremely well in the first month of the season, so much that he was moved up to High-A in mid-May. He made another 18 starts there, and after a pair of speed-bumps in his first five, pitched well down the stretch to finish the season.

The first thing that stands out when you watch Danish is his delivery, which doesn't seem as fluid as you'd usually expect to see from a starting pitcher, but it definitely works for him. He throws from a low ¾ arm slot, which also looks odd, but gives him some additional deception on each pitch. The overall repertoire is solid but not spectacular, as he throws a fastball which sits in the low 90s with a ton of sink, a slider which can be a strikeout offering, and a changeup which can potentially be an average or better pitch. He also gets great marks on his makeup and competitiveness, both of which help him on the mound.

Danish is lower on this list primarily because the strikeout potential isn't as high as with some of the other pitchers ahead of him. He should still be a low-end mid-rotation or a high-end back-of-the rotation type starting pitcher, capable of providing a ton of innings, solid ratios, and a decent amount of strikeouts. He could very well head to AA to start 2015, with a late 2016 debut not out of the question.

7. Trey Michalczewski (3B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.262 62 10 75 7
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
579 0.340 0.403 9.33% 27.81%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 S R A-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

A seventh round pick in the 2013 draft, Michalczewski made his full season debut in 2014 at Low-A Kannapolis, hitting .273 with 10 home runs, six stolen bases and 25 doubles. He was promoted at the end of the season to High-A for 19 games, although he did not hit as well and there were reports that he was tired by the end of the year.

Michalczewski has the potential to be a contributor in both batting average and home runs. He has above-average raw power, but has not fully tapped into it in game just yet. His swing is very fluid and smooth from both sides of the plate, and did not show as pronounced of a L/R split as you might expect from a young switch hitter. On defense, it sounds like he is expected to be able to stay at third base long term, although it isn't clear if he will be an above-average defender as he develops.

Michalczewski is an interesting name (ok, couldn't resist), as he could potentially jump in value in a year's time if he goes out and hits well at High-A in 2015. The best case scenario is a third baseman that provides 15-20 home runs with a .270+ batting average, likely a top 20 producer at the position. We may not see him though until 2017 at the absolutely soonest, so keep that in mind when rostering him on your team.

8. Courtney Hawkins (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.249 65 19 84 11
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
515 0.331 0.450 10.29% 27.77%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

A 2012 draftee, Hawkins was one of two high school position prospects given their first full-season assignment at High-A in 2013. The other (Addison Russell) did better than expected, while Hawkins struggled pretty mightily, to the point where there were questions about whether the White Sox may have ruined Hawkins with that assignment. He returned to High-A for the 2014 season, and saw much better results. He appeared in 19 more games in 2014, but managed to reduce his strikeouts from nearly 38% in 2013 to a slightly more reasonable 28% while still maintaining his power production.

While it's not likely at this point that he turns into the true five-category contributor that had been hoped when drafted, Hawkins still has the potential to be a valuable fantasy contributor. If his contact issues remain more at the level we saw in 2014 than 2013, he can potentially provide 20+ home runs a season along with 10-15 stolen bases, likely with an average in the .240-.250 range. There's definitely value in that, depending on your league size, and will likely head to AA in 2015.

9. Micker Adolfo (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.218 27 5 21 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
198 0.279 0.380 7.07% 42.93%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
17 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Adolfo made his stateside debut in 2014 in the Arizona Rookie League. The numbers were a bit ugly, as he struck out 85 times in just 47 games, but did also hit five home runs to go with it. At this point, Adolfo remains the dream, as reports on his raw power potential point to a potential future slugging outfielder. There are questions about the approach and how much he will be able to provide in terms of batting average down the line, but we are still talking about a 17-year old who has played just 47 games as a professional.

The best case scenario for Adolfo is a power hitting right fielder, providing potentially 25+ home runs with a solid batting average on a regular basis. That potential remains at least 4-5 seasons away in the most optimistic scenarios, and likely will not see full season ball in 2015. He's an interesting name if your league is deep enough that you can wait until 2018 or later for a return, but otherwise he's just a lottery ticket right now.

10. Jacob May (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.258 66 2 27 37
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
472 0.326 0.395 8.90% 15.04%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 S R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

A third round pick in 2013 out of Coastal Carolina, May spent the season at High-A Winston-Salem, where he stole 37 bases in 45 attempts over 109 games. May has a very distinct baseball lineage, with his grandfather being an 18-year major leaguer and his father being a former first round draft pick.

His speed will be his carrying card, as he can potentially provide 25+ stolen bases a season on the strength of a potentially elite tool. There are some questions about how much he will hit, and he will likely be given more opportunity than most to develop that based on his above-average defense. He can be a deep-league play depending on how many prospects are held in your league right now, but in most formats is worth waiting until we see whether he can repeat his performance at AA in 2015.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Trayce Thompson - Thompson appears at this point to be a heavy counting stat, poor batting average producer that could potentially kill your team's average if he goes in a bad way. It's possible he can provide 15-20 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases in a season, but that would also assume that he hits for enough average to be an everyday player, which it's not clear he can.

Carlos Sanchez - Sanchez is one of those players that may end up having more real life value than fantasy value, as he's anticipated to provide a solid batting average and some stolen bases, but not a lot in the way of power. If he wins the second base job, he will have value in AL-only and deeper mixed formats, with a decent batting average and some stolen bases.

Matt Davidson - When he was acquired a year ago by the White Sox, Davidson looked like an easy shoo-in to take over the starting third base job for the team at the outset of the year. To say the year didn't go as anticipated is an undersell, and hopefully 2015 will see a return to the form that had us raving a year ago. He can potentially be an interesting third base option in deeper formats, although it's not clear at this point that he shouldn't be a first baseman only, either.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter