According to Patrick Newman of NBP Tracker, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and Lastings Milledge agreed to a one-year contract with an option for 2013.
Milledge signed with White Sox on a minor league deal last winter and looked to be pitted against Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge for a backup outfielder role coming out of spring training. Milledge tore up the Cactus League and earned a spot on the team's opening day roster, but after two games and some shaky outfield defense in Kansas City, he was designated for assignment and accepted an assignment to Charlotte, where he spent the rest of 2011.
Given his success against left-handed pitching in previous seasons with Pittsburgh and Washington and his blue-chip pedigree, it's surprising Milledge didn't find a spot in the majors last season. The Sox didn't have any need for him with the emergence of Lillibridge and De Aza, but no team claimed him when he went through waivers just after his 26th birthday in early April. Maybe Milledge's defense is regarded so poorly that no team wanted to pick him up and risk an outfield blunder with him playing defense.
27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.
The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.
In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.
Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.
Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.
But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.
While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:
4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen