White Sox

Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal make Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list

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USA Today

Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal make Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list

MiLB has concluded its actual baseball schedule for the 2019 season, and you know what that means: year-end rankings galore. 

For fans of rebuilding clubs across the league, this time of the year offers an opportunity to reflect on the progress of their teams’ notable prospects and gear up for an offseason of speculation. Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline gave White Sox fans a bit of news to chew on when its year-end Top 100 list had Luis Robert ranked No 3

Well, last night Baseball America added to the discourse by releasing an updated Top 100 of their own, and once again Sox fans can expect to see some familiar faces ranked among the minor league’s best. Four big-name White Sox prospects - Luis Robert (No. 3), Andrew Vaughn (No. 26), Michael Kopech (No. 29) and Nick Madrigal (No. 48) - all found themselves in the top half of Baseball America’s list. Though BA agrees with MLB Pipeline that Robert is baseball’s third best prospect, the site is lower on Vaughn, Kopech and Madrigal, who all registered higher ranks in Pipeline’s Top 100. 

To spin it positive, though, the Sox having four consensus top-50 prospects (from reputable outlets) waiting in the wings is great news, especially considering the strides many key pieces of the team’s core made at the major league level this year. Lucas Giolito had a Cy Young caliber season, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson are budding superstars, strong second halves for Eloy Jimenez and Reynaldo Lopez inspire great optimism, and Dylan Cease appears to be heading in the right direction as of late. 

As for the minor league guys, Robert’s statistical achievements have been well-documented, but 2019 also saw Vaughn and Madrigal offer a glimpse of what could be on the horizon for them. Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, slashed .278/.374/.449 and hit six home runs with 36 RBIs in 245 at-bats between Class-A and High-A this season. Though the power numbers were lower than expected, Baseball America calls him the “best pure hitter in the 2019 draft” and projects him as a potential middle-of-the-order bat down the line. Madrigal, meanwhile, showed improvement in his second year out of Oregon State, ascending from High-A ball to AAA with success at every level, raising his OPS from .701 to .792 and stealing 35 bases in year two. (That's all while striking out only 16 times all year, by the way.)

Kopech missed the entirety of the 2019 season, but maintains his status as one of the premier pitching prospects in the White Sox system - someone the organization is undoubtedly excited to eventually add to an already talented young rotation.

Additionally, Baseball America reported that the White Sox are sending nine of their top 30 prospects to the 2019 Fall Instructional League. You can view the full roster here, but the big names to watch are pitching prospects Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist, the team’s second and third round picks, respectively, from the 2019 draft.

Though the big league Whtie Sox will finish 2019 with their seventh consecutive losing season, it’s hard not to get excited thinking about the future of the franchise.

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Prized White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn wraps up stint with USA Baseball

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USA TODAY

Prized White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn wraps up stint with USA Baseball

As the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Andrew Vaughn’s first full season in the minors this coming season will be one of the biggest storylines in the big picture of the White Sox rebuild in 2020.

Before that season begins for Vaughn, he got some international experience playing for USA Baseball at the Premier12 tournament. The Premier12 served as the first Olympic qualifying tournament.

Vaughn played in all eight games for the American team which was comprised of minor leaguers not currently on MLB 40-man rosters. He split time between first base and DH and was often in the middle of the order.

In eight games Vaughn hit .321/.367/.357. He had just one extra base hit, a double, in 30 plate appearances.

The lack of power might be somewhat concerning, but he certainly showed contact and on-base skills against quality, experienced competition.


As for USA Baseball, the team entered Saturday’s bronze medal game against Mexico knowing the winner would qualify for the Olympics. The Americans led 2-1 entering the ninth inning, but gave up a home run to send the game to extras. Mexico won with a bases-loaded walk-off single in the 10th.

The US still has two more chances to qualify for the Olympics. There is an Americas qualifying tournament in March and then a last chance tournament soon after that one. Those take place during spring training so it’s unclear if Vaughn would leave White Sox camp for that.

Tyler Johnson, a White Sox relief prospect, was on the initial roster for the tournament, but left the team due to a minor injury.

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Jose Abreu accepts qualifying offer, returns to White Sox on one-year deal

Jose Abreu accepts qualifying offer, returns to White Sox on one-year deal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s almost like Jose Abreu never left.

He was only a free agent for a week and a half, Abreu bringing his brief time away from the White Sox to an end Thursday, when he accepted the qualifying offer of a one-year deal with $17.8 million.

It’s not the multi-year contract that was expected, but MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the sides will continue to discuss a long-term pact. Still, the decision is a rare one, with Abreu becoming one of the few players ever to accept the qualifying offer. But he’ll get a nice payday for the 2020 season with a chance to do this whole free-agency thing again a year from now, if he chooses.

There was speculation that Abreu could accept the qualifying offer because of a potentially weak market for his services league-wide. If Abreu rejected the qualifying offer and things fell apart in discussing a multi-year deal with the White Sox, any team that signed him to a contract would have lost a draft pick in doing so. That deterred teams from signing free agents just in the last year, with Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel notably going unsigned until June.

Who knows if that — or just the desire to earn $17.8 million before a potential dip in his annual salary as he ages — had anything to do with Abreu’s decision, but it’s what was being speculated.

Regardless, the White Sox have their first baseman back, great news after he turned in one of the more productive seasons of his six-year big league career in 2019. Abreu led the American League with a career-best 123 RBIs and came three home runs shy of matching a career-high in that category, as well.

Abreu’s return always seemed a foregone conclusion, with the three-time All Star spending the entire 2019 season talking about how badly he wanted to remain on the South Side, going as far as to pledge that if the White Sox didn’t re-sign him, he’d sign himself to a contract and play here anyway.

The feeling was mutual, too, with general manager Rick Hahn, manager Rick Renteria and teammates praising Abreu as a model player and a mentor for the team’s young stars in the making. Eloy Jimenez said Abreu had been like a father during the rookie’s first season in the majors. Abreu revealed that team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told him he’d never wear another uniform.

He’s as giddy about the team’s future as anyone and has cited the planned shift into contention as the reason he wants to stick around. Tim Anderson said “it’s only right” that Abreu return for 2020, a season in which the long-awaited transition out of rebuilding mode could take place. Hahn said earlier this season that it’s “very likely” Abreu would be around for the franchise’s planned good times.

Abreu’s been incredibly productive at the plate, though his off-the-field contributions are just as important, of course, and he’s been a mentor to players like Jimenez and Yoan Moncada as they’ve gotten their first taste of the major leagues. Luis Robert, the organization’s No. 1 prospect, figures to find his way under Abreu’s wing when he reaches the bigs next season.

Abreu has long seemed to be held in the same esteem as players who have their numbers retired and statues standing at Guaranteed Rate Field, earning the title of “Mr. White Sox” for this generation. It’s no surprise the White Sox are keeping him in that role moving forward as they plan to start seeing brighter days on the South Side.

After capturing the RBI crown, Abreu made his final prediction of the 2019 campaign, saying he did believe he'd be back with the White Sox for 2020. It might not have been terribly difficult to be prescient in this case, but he was nonetheless.

"Everybody knows my wishes and my desire to stay here," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "This is an organization I respect. This is an organization I really honor.

"I want to be here, and you know guys, I’ve been telling you that. Hopefully I’m going to be here."

Hope no longer. It might not have gone down exactly as was expected, but Abreu isn't going anywhere.

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