The White Sox went from having a pedestrian farm system to one of the best in baseball in the span of a year thanks to the rebuild that began before the 2017 season so it's no surprise to see White Sox prospects all over Baseball America's top 100 prospects.
The publication released its top 100 on Monday and five White Sox prospects made the list. Eloy Jimenez was the top White Sox prospect coming in at No. 4 behind Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Angels pitcher/potential hitter/unicorn Shohei Ohtani comes in at No. 2 and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the only other prospect ahead of Jimenez.
Michael Kopech is No. 11 on the list, giving the White Sox two very highly rated prospects. Only the Blue Jays and Astros also have two prospects in the top 15.
Also making the list for the White Sox are Alec Hansen (No. 57), Luis Robert (58) and Dane Dunning (82). All three are new to the top 100.
With five prospects on the list, the White Sox are in the upper tier in that regard. The Braves lead the way with eight prospects while the Brewers, Padres, Rays and Yankees all have six. Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito were top 100 prospects before they graduated from prospect status by playing in the majors last season.
Of the five prospects the White Sox have on the list, three were acquired in trades, one (Hansen) was drafted by the Sox and Robert was an international signing. With the exception of Robert, who hasn't yet played in the U.S. since signing his deal, the other four are all expected to start in Double-A or higher in 2018, meaning they aren't expected to be far away from making their MLB debuts.
In news that won't excite White Sox fans, Fernando Tatis Jr., the unknown prospect at the time of the James Shields trade with San Diego, was ranked No. 9 after impressing in Single-A as an 18-year-old.
A decade ago, die-hard football fans — at least those who weren’t also big into Conference USA football — were introduced to a running back from Tulane named Matt Forte at the 2008 Senior Bowl. Forte, who rushed for 2,127 yards and 23 touchdowns his senior year at Tulane, was the 2008 Senior Bowl MVP; the Bears went on to draft him with the 44th overall pick a few months later.
(The Bears also drafted the 1999 Senior Bowl MVP — Cade McNown — and that pick didn’t work out as well as Forte, to say the least.)
John Fox and the Bears’ coaching staff coached the North team in last year’s Senior Bowl, and from that roster wound up selecting D-II offensive lineman Jordan Morgan in the fifth round. The coaching staffs this year are from the Denver Broncos (Vance Joseph) and Houston Texans (Bill O’Brien), but the Bears will still have a significant presence in Mobile, Ala. to scout prospects this week.
So as practices begin leading up to Saturday’s game, here are six players for the Bears to watch down in Alabama:
WR Tre’Quan Smith (Central Florida/South Team)
Smith seems to fit the profile of what the Bears lack at wide receiver as the offseason begins: He’s a 6-foot-1, 210 pound explosive playmaker who caught only 59 passes last year…but for 1,171 yards with 13 touchdowns. He may not be a Day 1 or Day 2 guy right now, but if the Bears’ plan winds up being to address their dearth of wide receivers via free agency and the middle rounds of the draft — where value and playmakers can certainly be found — Smith could be someone to circle.
OLB Garret Dooley (Wisconsin/North Team)
The Rochester, Ill native doesn’t explode off the stat sheet like fellow ex-Badger T.J. Watt did a year ago (11 1/2 sacks), but Dooley did notch 7 1/2 sacks in 2017. Worth noting here: Wisconsin runs a 3-4, as do the Bears. Getting an up-close look at the 6-foot-3, 246 pound Dooley could begin to show the Bears if he’s worth a late-round flier to help address some of the team’s issues at outside linebacker.
WR J’Mon Moore (Missouri/South Team)
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Moore has similar size to Meredith (6-foot-3, 207 pounds) and turned in a productive 2017 for the Tigers: 65 receptions, 1,082 yards and 10 touchdowns. If the Bears like what they see in him, he could give them a later-round spin of the wheel at receiver — which could be valuable if they were to pick a receiver in the first or second round.
CB JaMarcus King (South Carolina/North Team)
The 6-foot-2 King is listed as the tallest corner (along with San Diego State’s Kameron Kelly) at the Senior Bowl, and while he only had five interceptions at South Carolina, he did total 21 pass break-ups in 26 games. As the Bears begin scouting cornerbacks — one of their biggest positions of need — they can begin to find out this week if King’s length could translate into him being a mid-round sleeper in this year’s draft.
PK Michael Badgley (Miami, North Team) & PK Daniel Carlson (Auburn, South Team)
Both kickers from last year’s Senior Bowl — Zane Gonzalez and Jake Elliott — found regular roles as rookies, with Elliott going to the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears whiffed in their evaluation of Connor Barth, only bringing in Roberto Aguayo for a short-lived competition during training camp, while Elliott was available in September after being waived by the Cincinnati Bengals on cut-down day. The more immediate issue here: Badgley and Carlson each made fewer than 75 percent of their field goals as seniors; Elliott and Gonzalez hit 80 and 92 percent of their field goals in their final collegiate seasons. This may not be as good a pair of kickers in this year’s Senior Bowl, but they’re still worth an early scouting evaluation for a team that needs to get its placekicking situation sorted out.