Few teams have revamped their farm system as quickly and successfully as the Chicago White Sox. When the offseason began, I was looking over their farm system which had Carson Fulmer, Zack Collins and Zack Burdi, but little else to be overly excited about. Now only one of those three prospects is even in the top five (Collins) and this system now looks like one of the best sources of dynasty value in baseball.
The big trade that really did them the most good was the Chris Sale deal which brought over electric infield prospect Yoan Moncada and flame-thrower Michael Kopech among other players. The Adam Eaton deal also brought back quite the impressive haul of pitching prospects, including top pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. If you want to read more about those deals and how they impacted the value of the prospects click here to read about the Sale deal and here to read about the Eaton deal.
This is another one of my ongoing team prospect rankings articles. I have concluded the American League East and am now starting on the American League Central. Next week, I will be discussing the Cleveland Indians.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Chicago White Sox Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Top Overall Talent: Yoan Moncada
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Yoan Moncada
Long story short, Moncada only has to make some minor improvements to his plate discipline if he is going to have a starting role in 2017. He won’t have to compete against anyone too seriously as it appears Todd Frazier is likely on his way out at some point this year and the combination of Brett Lawrie and Tyler Saladino pose little threat to Moncada at second. Moncada may not start until May or June, but rest assured he will find playing time in 2017 and could be an AL Rookie of the Year candidate.
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Michael Kopech
The White Sox have a lot of prospects who are likely to reach the big leagues in 2017, but Kopech isn’t one of them. Though the Sox are often aggressive with promoting their pitching prospects (often to a fault), Kopech will likely spend all of 2017 in the minors refining his control. He has an arsenal built for a front of the rotation starter, but like many young hurlers he has trouble hitting the strike zone on a consistent basis. Owners need to be patient with Kopech, knowing the reward for such patience could be a potential ace.
Biggest Boom or Bust: Luis Alexander Basabe
Basabe has flown under the radar for much of his professional career, in part because his production had been rather quiet up until this past season at Class-A. The first season Basabe cracked 100 games in his professional career, 2017 proved to be a productive year for the switch-hitting outfielder as he posted career-highs in both stolen bases (25) and home runs (12) in only 105 games at Greenville. Scouts have often raved about his power/speed combination and he finally started to show some of that promise in 2016. So that’s the boom, what about the bust part?
The 2017 season also saw Basabe post an alarming 25.7% strikeout rate and a career-low 8.9% walk rate. The struggles with pitch recognition and a long swing cost him hits as he was only able to muster a meager .258 batting average. Basabe is oozing with potential and still has plenty of time to continue development at only 20 years of age. Dynasty owners should maintain interest in Basabe, but keep in mind he is still at least one or two years away from the big leagues.
Biggest Sleeper: Zack Burdi
People often assume that closers are starting pitchers with high octane stuff who couldn’t reign in their control. And while that is often true, some of the best closers have been developed that way. Take Zack Burdi for example. He was a closer during his college days at Louisville and he has been quickly ascending through the minors with the idea of becoming the next White Sox closer assuming David Robertson is dealt away. Now it is always risky to make an investment in someone you assume to be a closer since that is such a difficult role to hold down. But if there was ever a prospect who looked like a future closer, it would be Burdi. With a 100 mph fastball, well above-average slider, reliable changeup and solid control, Burdi has all the makings of a future stud closer and should be given a chance to nail down some saves as early as this upcoming season.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Yoan Moncada
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Yoan Moncada
There are few prospects in the game who can match the skillset of Moncada. In fact, he would’ve been a clean sweep among all three batting categories if not for another speedster in the Sox system. Moncada may not necessarily be the safest bet in the minors to bat .300, but he certainly has the bat speed and understanding of the strike zone to hit for both average and power. He needs to work a bit on shortening his swing before he can be counted on to hit .300, but it should only be a few more seasons of development. Dynasty owners should be able to count on a perennial 30/30 threat from the switch-hitter with the chance to hit .290-.300. That sounds like a pretty solid prospect to me.
Best Burner on the Bases: Adam Engel
It was tempting to give this award to Moncada as well, but there is no denying Engel as the quickest runner in the system. Scouts have raved for years about the speed of the 25-year-old outfielder and most believe he ranks up among the best in the minors when it comes to pure speed. The catch with Engel is that he probably will never hit enough to fully put his speed to use. He struck out 31.1% of the time at Triple-A this season and only reached base at a measly .298 clip. And though he may be extremely fast (45 steals in 129 games this season), he is not Billy Hamilton fast and the White Sox may not be too inclined to force open a spot for him in their lineup if he can’t reach base. If he starts to hit a bit more, he could have value as a player similar to Hamilton or Jarrod Dyson, but Engel still has to prove he can swing the lumber effectively enough to see playing time.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Michael Kopech
Though Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez both certainly have legitimate arguments to be the strikeout machine of the ChiSox system, Kopech is far and away the clear winner here. In 52.0 innings of work at High-A in 2016, Kopech struck out 40% of the batters he faced. No, that was not a typo. He struck out 40% of all batters he faced. How does he do it? His arsenal is nearly untouchable. He has an upper-90s fastball that frequently touches triple-digits (he hit 105 mph on the radar gun this season) and a wipeout, low-90s fastball that serves as his primary outpitch. The control is a bit of an issue right now (which shouldn’t be surprising given his youth and high-octane stuff), but he still figures to be a real Max Scherzer-type strikeout artist once he reaches the big leagues.
Best Command: Spencer Adams
I need to spend at least a little bit of time talking about Adams. The 20-year-old has outstanding command, consistently posting walk rates below 6% every season of his professional career. The biggest issue for him from a fantasy perspective is his inability to miss bats. Though he prevents people from taking a free bag and has done a fine job keeping runs off the board, Adams has never struck out batters at a rate higher than 18.4% at any level higher than Rookie league. He has the stuff to be a solid number three or four starter, but he needs to prove he can generate some swings and misses before he has much of any dynasty value.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Chicago White Sox
1. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, MLB)
A permanent move to third base could theoretically hurt his value, but Moncada undoubtedly has the most explosive skill-set of any prospect in baseball, making his dynasty value incredibly high regardless of position.
2. Lucas Giolito (SP, MLB)
Giolito had a rough 2016 in the big leagues, but he still has the arsenal dynasty owners and scouts look for in a future ace.
3. Reynaldo Lopez (SP, MLB)
The Adam Eaton trade probably helped no one’s value more than Lopez as he looked like a closer in Washington, but a starter in Chicago. Though he will have a rough outing every now and again, the strikeout potential from someone likely to go 180+ innings is too much to be passed up.
4. Michael Kopech (SP, A+)
If you like strikeouts, you will love Kopech. Control still needs to be improved, but Kopech will undoubtedly be a perennial contender for most strikeouts in the majors once promoted.
5. Zack Collins (C, A+)
The question remains whether or not Collins will stay behind the plate. If he does, he will be an incredibly valuable asset to own as few catching prospects boast a bat like Collins.
6. Carson Fulmer (SP, MLB)
Fulmer was probably rushed to the big leagues in 2016, but he is still one of the most talented pitching prospects in the game and has the potential to be a frontline starting pitcher in the future.
7. Luis Alexander Basabe (OF, A)
Basabe has quietly proven year in and year out to have one of the most electric power/speed combinations in the minors. He will need to cut down on the strikeouts, however, if he hopes to find a starting role in the big leagues.
8. Zack Burdi (RP, AAA)
Burdi has all the characteristics of a future closer: the blistering fastball, the history of closing experience and an incredible ability to miss bats. Expect him to take over the ninth once David Robertson is traded away.
9. Charlie Tilson (OF, MLB)
Tilson doesn’t wow owners with anything, but he will be a solid option for dynasty owners looking for a hits and a handful of stolen bases in a consistent starting role.
10. Adam Engel (OF, AAA)
One of the fastest players in the White Sox system, Engel could be a real help to fantasy owners in the stolen base category . . . if he could ever learn to hit.
There may not be a farm system in baseball that has more 2017 implications than the Chicago White Sox system. Three of their starting pitching prospects, a relief pitcher, two outfield prospects and an infield prospect (also the top prospect in the game) all figure to see Major League time in 2017. With Chris Sale gone and Jose Quintana soon to follow, the White Sox are going to have several holes to fill that will likely be taken by prospects like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer. If David Robertson is traded away, the team will need a new closer. Who better to fill that void than flame-throwing Zack Burdi. And if Todd Frazier is traded away, Yoan Moncada could see plenty of time at the hot corner.
There is so much talent to be had in this system, that it is tough not to view it as the best in the minors. No system in baseball can boast a top-five quite like the ChiSox and dynasty owners will certainly be looking into their minors for help in the near future.