White Sox

2015 in review: How top White Sox prospects fared in minors

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2015 in review: How top White Sox prospects fared in minors

The White Sox haven’t had the 2015 season everyone dreamed of and with the team officially eliminated from the playoffs, it’s time to look ahead. 

While the South Siders may make a few additions in the offseason via free agency or trade, their farm system has developed some talent this year that could influence future moves.

Let’s take a look at how some of the top prospects in the system, according to MLBPipeline.com, did in 2015. 

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

1. Tim Anderson, SS (Class-AA: .312 BA, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 49 SB)

It’s no secret Anderson has been a prospect the White Sox have wanted to hold on to. Anderson took the next step in Birmingham this year, posting his best stats in the minor leagues so far. His display of speed on the base paths should be especially enticing for the White Sox front office, considering nobody on the major league team has over 17 stolen bases on the year. The only flaw Anderson still needs to work on, however, is his fielding as he posted only a .952 fielding percentage this year in Double-A. 

2. Carson Fulmer, P (Class-A+: 22 IP, 2.05 ERA, 25 K)

The No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft didn’t get a lot of innings in the farm system this year but he certainly made the most of them. The right-hander was very effective at Winston-Salem, posting a 10.2 K/9. Fulmer is heading to the White Sox instructional league this fall and has continued to impress coaches despite his stature. Will he follow in Carlos Rodon’s footsteps? It’s too early to tell but Fulmer is certainly handling the transition from college well. 

3. Frankie Montas, P (Class-AA: 5-5, 112 IP, 2.97 ERA, 108 K)

Montas has already made the jump to the majors thanks to September call-ups. His first start with the White Sox didn’t go well, but his stuff has still been impressing his teammates. Montas provides the White Sox a nice, flexible option considering his electric stuff that could work well out of the bullpen but also his valuable experience as a starter. How the White Sox will use him in the future remains to be seen but Montas’ stuff makes him a piece of the puzzle going forward. 

4. Spencer Adams, P (Class-A: 9-5, 100 IP, 3.24 ERA, 73 K)

Adams, who was drafted out of high school in the 2014 MLB Draft, seems to be settling in nicely in the minor leagues. His solid numbers in Single-A speak for itself but when promoted to Winston-Salem, Adams continued his success, going 3-0 in 29.1 innings of work with a 2.15 ERA. He’s not ready for major-league work yet but the arrow continues to point up for Adams. 

5. Micah Johnson, 2B (Class-AAA: .315, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 28 SB) 

Johnson can hit. That’s never been any question about that. It’s always been about how he does in the field that’s prevented him from becoming a key component of the White Sox future. With the offense struggling as much as it is, it’s hard to see the White Sox keeping him in the minors. The question now becomes can he improve his defense and beat out Carlos Sanchez for the starting second baseman spot. 

6. Trey Michalczewski, 3B (Class-A+: .259 BA, 7 HR, 75 RBI)

Drafted out of high school in the 2013 MLB Draft, Michalczewski showed he can be a run producer in the minors with his RBI total. His power doesn’t leap out to anyone, especially with a .395 slugging percentage and his defense will need to improve (.934 percent). He’s still raw considering he’s only 20 but 2016 is a big year to show the White Sox front office if he’s someone they can count on in the future. 

7. Tyler Danish, P (Class-AA: 8-12, 4.50 ERA, 142 IP, 90 K)

2015 wasn’t extremely kind to Danish as he had a rough time with the Birmingham Barons. The right-hander posted his worst ERA in the minors since being drafted in 2013. One bad year isn’t a legitimate reason to panic over a prospect, but the team will need to see a bounce back year from Danish in order to count on him in the future. 

8. Micker Adolofo, OF (Rookie League: .253 BA, 0 HR, 10 RBI)

Adolfo fractured his fibula over the summer and will miss some time. He’s expected to be back by spring training. Adolfo’s still very young and the White Sox like his potential, but he’s going to need to get healthy before the team can really evaluate him going forward. 

9. Courtney Hawkins, OF (Class-AA: .243 BA, 9 HR, 41 RBI)

Things just haven’t clicked for Hawkins since being drafted in the first round by the White Sox in the 2012 MLB Draft. His powers numbers dropped off this year from 19 home runs to nine and just hasn’t been the same since his promising first year in the minors. It’s safe to wonder if Hawkins has become a bust. 

10. Jacob May, OF (Class-AA: .275 BA, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 37 SB)

May flashed the leather and the speed this year for the Barons. His fielding percentage was .991 in 2015 and his numbers on the base paths were solid. He’s not a guy who can hit for power but could be one who adds a quality glove and provide value on the bases. 

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.

A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?

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USA TODAY

A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?

The White Sox seem to be a couple years away from shifting from rebuilding mode to contention mode. There's plenty of development that still needs to occur at both the major league and minor league levels before the roster of the future comes fully into focus.

But with some excellent performances happening right now, is the White Sox rotation of the future falling into place? At least a little?

Look at this:

— Carlos Rodon, last seven starts: 1.60 ERA, 42 strikeouts
— Michael Kopech, last six starts: 1.89 ERA, 50 strikeouts
— Dylan Cease, last seven starts: 1.08 ERA, 57 strikeouts
— Dane Dunning, last five starts (back in June): 2.08 ERA, 38 strikeouts

Kind of looks like four-fifths of a starting rotation, doesn't it?

As has often been discussed, the White Sox have a good deal of starting pitching depth, and there are plenty of possibilities to fill that starting staff down the line. Heretofore unmentioned are pitching prospects Alec Hansen, Jordan Stephens, Jimmy Lambert and Bernardo Flores, all ranked among the organization's top 25 prospects, as well as current big leaguers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have each had their flashes of brilliance this season on the major league stage.

But the four guys listed above have been very, very good this season, especially recently, making it easy to envision them making up 80 percent of the starting rotation the next time the White Sox are competing for a championship.

Let's start with Rodon, who extended his streak of great starts to seven in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers. He went eight innings for the second outing in a row, and he's now pitched into the eighth inning in five of his last six starts. He's got a 1.60 ERA in his last seven starts, with 42 strikeouts in that span. Wednesday, he bounced back from a rocky three-run third inning and finished with just three runs allowed on five hits and a walk, adding six strikeouts. Quite simply, he's been ace-like and done well to answer the health-related questions he brought into the season, when shoulder surgery prevented him from debuting until June for the second straight campaign.

Then there are the two guys putting up monster numbers in the minor leagues: Kopech and Cease.

The 22-year-old Kopech has moved past some midseason struggles and has been downright electric of late at Triple-A Charlotte. In his last six starts, Kopech has a 1.89 ERA with 50 strikeouts and a jaw-droppingly low four walks in 38 innings. It's quite the turnaround for a guy who was having difficulty keeping the walk numbers low earlier this season. But he's come out the other side pitching as well as he has since joining the White Sox organization prior to last season, which is saying a lot considering he struck out 172 hitters in 2017. He's just 11 strikeouts away from matching that total this year. He could make his major league debut before the 2018 season is over.

And then there's Cease, also 22, who wasn't even the most talked-about player in his own trade, coming over from the Cubs along with Eloy Jimenez in last summer's crosstown swap. Cease has been a tremendous surprise for the White Sox this season, not because they didn't think he'd be great but because he's been the organization's best pitcher. And he's continued that trend in his seven most recent starts at Double-A Birmingham, too, with a razor-thin 1.08 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 41.2 innings. He deservedly represented the White Sox at the Futures Game during All-Star week in Washington, D.C., last month and appears to be well on his way to earning the team's minor league pitcher of the year honors.

And for a fourth, how about a guy who hasn't pitched in a month and a half? Dunning has an elbow injury that's kept him out since late June, but prior to that, he was putting up terrific numbers at Double-A Birmingham. In his last five starts before hitting the DL, he had a 2.08 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 30.1 innings. And he might be making some progress, if a recent tweet is any indication.

Now, as mentioned, there's a lot that can and will happen before the starting staff is set on the next White Sox team that will contend for a championship. But this kind of positive production from these four guys stokes the idea of a potentially dominant rotation of the future.

At the very least, this quartet seems to be making life easy for the legion of 2020 lineup projectors out there.