White Sox

Tim Anderson headlines Baseball America's White Sox prospect rankings

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Tim Anderson headlines Baseball America's White Sox prospect rankings

Tim Anderson has climbed to the top of the White Sox farm system as Baseball America named him the club’s top prospect on Monday.

The shortstop and 2013 first-round pick tops a revamped list, one altered by last month’s trade for third baseman Todd Frazier.

[RELATED - Report: White Sox want to sign Gordon/Cespedes for three years or less]

Last year’s first-rounder Carson Fulmer is ranked second while Spencer Adams moved up to third when Frankie Montas was included in the three-team Frazier deal. Baseball America originally had Trayce Thompson ranked fifth and Micah Johnson at No. 8 until they also went to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the deal for Frazier, a two-time All-Star.

The 17th pick of the 2013 draft, Anderson produced a .312/.350/.429 slash line with five home runs, 46 RBI and 49 stolen bases at Double-A Birmingham last season.

He also continues to make defensive strides. One National League scout who didn’t see Anderson until late in the season after having seen him in spring training was impressed by the strides the third-year pro had made.

Back in spring, Anderson showed a flair for making spectacular plays and impressed the White Sox coaching staff in big league camp. The White Sox think Anderson is on the cusp of the majors and he’s expected to be at big league camp again in February. But the team also wants to give Anderson — who was drafted out of community college and is considered baseball young — time to further hone his approach and refine his defense. Last season, Anderson, whom Baseball America had rated as the No. 92 prospect in baseball, struck out 114 times and walked 24. He also committed 25 errors.

While he’s close, Anderson is expected to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. But general manager Rick Hahn has said Anderson could force the issue with a strong start to 2016.

[MORE: White Sox reportedly continue to pursue Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes]

Whereas last year’s top prospect Carlos Rodon was in the majors by the third week of April, Fulmer isn’t likely to follow the same path. Drafted eighth overall out of Vanderbilt, the right-hander excelled in 10 minor league appearances. He finished with a 2.08 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 26 innings, including a three-inning performance against Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League playoffs. But the White Sox intend to take their time and allow Fulmer to develop.

Adams excelled in his second season after a strong debut in 2014. The 6-foot-3 right-hander went 12-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 24 starts between Single-A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. A year after he posted a 59:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Arizona Rookie League, Adams struck out 96 batters and walked 18 in 129 1/3 innings.

Trey Michalczewski, Jacob May, Tyler Danish, Adam Engel, Jordan Guerrero, Courtney Hawkins and Corey Zangari round out the rest of the club’s Top 10.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”