It's the season for prospect lists, and Friday, Marc Hulet at FanGraphs rolled out his top 15 White Sox prospect rankings complete with Dylan Axelrod at No. 5.
That's as high as I've seen Axelrod on any list. Hulet comes to this prediction about Axelrod's potential:
"Axelrod has a modest ceiling but his four-pitch mix, control and pitchability should allow him to succeed as a No. 4 starter especially on a second division team. He may eventually wind up in the bullpen as a middle reliever if he finds his way onto a playoff-caliber team."
Essentially, Axelrod could crack a rotation on a non-contender. That's both good and bad news for the White Sox -- the bad news is, they're shaping up to be a non-contender this season. The good news is that Axelrod maybe could give them some quality innings.
Axelrod was actually pretty darn good last year in the minors for the Sox, doing a great job limiting home runs and walks while striking out about eight batters per nine innings.
The biggest concern I have is his lack of a third pitch right now -- in 18 23 innings with the Sox last September, he threw a fastball or slider on over 90 percent of his offerings. If he can develop a changeup and occasionally mix in a curveball to keep hitters off balance, then maybe he'll have a shot at sticking in the Sox rotation. If not, he could be a somewhat reliable long relieverspot-starter.
Axelrod's role on the 2012 Sox is contingent on a trade of John Danks or Gavin Floyd, though, or an injury to one of the current starters. It's also contingent on him beating out Zach Stewart for whatever fill-in starts trickle down.
The one thing to keep in mind with Axelrod's placing on this top 15 list, though: He probably doesn't sniff the top 10, maybe not even top 15 in most other organizational prospect lists.
The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.
Vieira, the 24-year-old right-handed hurler, has just one inning of big league ball under his belt.
A native of Brazil, Vieira made his major league debut last season for the Seattle Mariners, pitching one scorless inning — and striking out one batter — in an Aug. 14 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He's since joined the White Sox rebuild, acquired in a November trade that sent international bonus slot money back to the Pacific Northwest.
In the minors last season, Vieira split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma, combining for a 4.00 ERA in 54 innings of 41 appearances. He struck out 46 hitters and walked 22. In previous minor league seasons, he showed a good ability to strike out opposing hitters, posting a 10.8 K/9 with Class A Bakersfield in 2016.
As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Vieira rated as the No. 20 prospect in the White Sox organization.
Get to know Vieira in the video above.
The White Sox rebuild is going just swimmingly, according to the fine folks at Baseball America.
The publication does its own rankings of each organization's top prospects every offseason, and their top 10 rankings of the players in the White Sox farm system is unexpectedly impressive, what with how general manager Rick Hahn has acquired so much minor league talent over the past year-plus.
But one of the fun things Baseball America also does is project a starting lineup for a few years down the road. That's been a favorite pastime of South Side baseball fans ever since Hahn kicked off the rebuild with those trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton more than a year ago. Now you can see how your fantasy future White Sox lineup matches up with Baseball America's.
They flash forward all the way to 2021, a year past when most White Sox fans have been dreaming about as the apex of the rebuild and when the South Siders start becoming perennial contenders. Notably, Baseball America also expects the White Sox to give long-term deals to Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia — not bad moves by any stretch — who are both currently under team control only through the end of the 2019 season.
Here's how Baseball America sees Rick Renteria's starting nine in 2021:
Of course, Baseball America goes a little more in depth than that, ranking the top 10 prospects in each farm system and laying out their picks for which players have the best tools in each organization.
Here are those respective lists for the White Sox:
Get ready, White Sox fans. The future's coming.