This week milb.com began listing their all-organization teams. They’ve already covered both Chicago teams, so we’ll cover them here as well. Today we’re looking at the White Sox minor leaguers.
As expected (especially if you bothered to read the headline here) the roster is headed by the next two Sox prospects who are projected to make an impact at the big league level.
Luis Robert rocketed through the minor league ranks this season, flattening baseballs at three levels and jumping to number 3 on the MLB prospect list.
The Sox caught a lot of heat for not bringing him (or Madrigal) up in September to get their feet wet in the American League, but this was probably the right move to make. The Sox weren’t in contention, and both players were rising pretty quickly. There was no point in overwhelming them.
We’ve already covered Madrigal, so there’s no point in re-painting that wall here. But it’s safe to say that both players will either sign Eloy-type deals before Opening Day, or spend a few weeks in the minor leagues enjoying some service time fuckery.
The pick at first base is an interesting one. Gavin Sheets did indeed do a fine job with his bat in AA ball, but he’s not the Sox top prospect over there – that would be Andrew Vaughn. But the way milb compiles these teams is strictly by who had the best year statistically, not by who is the best prospect (Hence, no Michael Kopech here either). Sheets might wind up being a cautionary tale, as guys who hang big power numbers while spending their collegiate careers at Wake Forest tend to see a dropoff once they’re drawing a paycheck. Sheets is starting to project as a Jim Spencer type (that’s for you old Sox fans), where he’ll be at least competent with the bat while possessing a really good set of hands.
Vaughn got in 55 games in the minors, rising up to high-A ball after being drafted in the first round (third overall) in June. While his 278/334/449 slash line might not seem all that impressive on the surface for a kid who is expected to be a major fence buster in a couple years, it’s a perfectly fine start for a guy who is still wet behind the ears.
There are a couple guys – Daniel Palka and Danny Mendick – who have already gotten their first taste of Bridgeport baseball. Mendick projects into a bench guy, especially since any position he’d ever want to play will be occupied by part of the Sox core. Palka…well, what you see is what you get. When barrel meets ball, the ball goes to faraway places. But the most familiar thing you’re going to see with him is him carrying his bat back to the dugout after strike three.
Behind the plate, Yermin Mercedes actually started mangling pitching at AAA after being an OK hitter at every previous level. He’s probably not in any danger of bumping James McCann out from his starting gig, but he could certainly be a guy who can back McCann up, at a lower cost than Wellington Castillo.
The one other guy worth keeping an eye on from this list is Steele Walker. Aside from having a truly amazing name, he’s looking like a total package player, putting up a respectable .811 OPS between high A and AA this year, while not committing an error all season. The only question at this point will be whether he or Robert moves over to right field in a couple years.
Again, this isn’t meant to be a prospect list. There will be plenty of those in the coming months. But you can see that there are plenty of young Sox minor leaguers ready to be the next wave of players in the rebuild.