The White Sox farm system has undergone such a dramatic overhaul that Baseball America’s newest organization top-10 list features only one holdover from November.
The team’s additions in the past eight months through massive trades and the signing of Luis Robert have been so overwhelming that the publication is on the cusp of naming the White Sox farm system as the best in baseball. Baseball America editor J.J. Cooper said on Tuesday that he believes the White Sox will hold that title after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“It is crazy how much better it is than it was a couple of years ago,” Cooper said. “It would not surprise me when we get past the trade deadline if the White Sox end up having the best farm system in the game right now.”
As it stands, the publication thinks the Atlanta Braves still possess the best farm system in baseball. That organization currently features nine top-100 prospects, while the White Sox have seven on Baseball America’s list. The Braves also have significant depth in their favor, too.
But the White Sox have made up massive ground since the start of the winter meetings, adding 11 prospects in the trades for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. Of the farmhands holding the top 10 spots on BA’s current White Sox list, Yoan Moncada (No. 1), Eloy Jimenez (No. 2), Michael Kopech (No. 3), Reynaldo Lopez (fifth), Lucas Giolito (sixth), Dylan Cease (seventh) and Dane Dunning (ninth) all were acquired in trades.
First-round pick Jake Burger holds the No. 8 spot, while pitcher Alec Hansen, who's ranked 10th, is the only holdover from November. Robert, who is ranked fourth, was signed in May for $26 million. That influx of talent has displaced November’s No. 1, Zack Collins, and a slew of others, including 2015 first-rounder Carson Fulmer, who was once third.
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“In a normal year, Collins would be a top 10 for the White Sox,” Cooper said. “But, this isn’t normal. Gavin Sheets would be an easy top 10 if this was normal. Carson Fulmer — the star has dimmed on Carson Fulmer some. But at the same time, if we’re talking about the White Sox system of five years ago, we’d be talking about Carson Fulmer as the No. 3 or No. 4 prospect. It has not turned out how either he or the White Sox would have liked, but you still at least have hope he’s going to put something together out of all this. But now that makes him a guy who’s not a top-10 prospect for them and that’s a pretty dramatic difference where the White Sox have been for really much of this century before this.”
Jimenez is the latest top-25 player to join the organization as Baseball America has him rated as the No. 5 overall prospect. The publication also has Cease, who was acquired with Jimenez last Thursday in a trade for Quintana, rated No. 63 overall. Cease made his organizational debut on Monday night, allowing two earned runs and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings at Single-A Kannapolis.
“They've got a ton of talent, so it's really exciting,” Cease said of the White Sox. “Eloy is one of the most talented players I've ever seen, especially the fact he's only, I think, 20. I expect he's going to do really big things. For me, I think I just want to go out there and keep learning, keep getting better. I don't know exactly when any of that would be. But I know if I keep trusting everything and getting better, hopefully it's sooner rather than later. Like I said, I'm just looking forward to keep playing and competing.”
Cooper is looking forward to what else Rick Hahn and the White Sox can pull off over the next 13 days. Todd Frazier looks like a good fit for the Boston Red Sox, and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle have a lot of value if they’re traded. Cooper thought Robertson might bring back the minor league equivalent of what the Pittsburgh Pirates received for Mark Melancon. Pitcher Felipe Rivero, one of two players acquired from Washington, has a 0.72 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season. The White Sox also can offer value in outfielder Melky Cabrera and reliever Anthony Swarzak.
“I can see the White Sox getting even better than it is right now,” Cooper said.