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Midseason Prospect Update: White Sox

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible. SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 100
The White Sox jumped to a fast start in 2016, staring the season at 23-10 and entering play on May 10 with a six-game lead in the American League Central. Chicago went 22-33 from that point until the all-star break to fall seven games behind the Indians in the division race, though not all hope was lost.
C Alex Avila
1B Jose Abreu
2B Brett Lawrie
3B Trey Michalczewski
SS Tim Anderson
LF Adam Engel
CF Jacob May
RF Adam Eaton
DH Avisail Garcia
No. 1 Starter Chris Sale
No. 2 Starter Jose Quintana
No. 3 Starter Carlos Rodon
No. 4 Starter Carson Fulmer
No. 5 Starter Spencer Adams
Closer David Robertson
Despite the fact the White Sox had been outscored by 12 runs in the first half, they remained on the fringes of the AL wild-card race, and with lefthanders Chris Sale and Jose Quintana heading the rotation, they had a 4.34 starter ERA that ranked sixth in the league and within shouting distance of fourth place. However, the White Sox pitching staff overall had performed at a roughly average rate, with a park-adjusted ERA+ of 102. Scoring runs remained a problem for Chicago. After finishing last in the AL in runs scored in 2015, the White Sox ranked 12th out of 15 teams this year, with poor showings in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They promoted top-prospect shortstop Tim Anderson on June 10, and he hit .304 with power in the first half and could be a long-term fixture for the franchise. A 2013 first-round pick, Anderson alone won’t be enough, and addressing the team’s deficiencies could be a challenge for the White Sox at the trade deadline because they lack prospect depth beyond 2015 first-round righthander Carson Fulmer. Chicago cashed in most of its trade chips in the past two offseasons, when they traded prospects Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas, Micah Johnson and others to acquire veterans like Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. They previously traded Marcus Semien after the 2014 season. Acquiring an impact talent—ideally in the outfield or at DH—at the deadline probably will require the White Sox to take on salary in a trade, something they might or might not be willing to do. They ranked just 16th in baseball (and behind the division-rival Tigers and Royals) in terms of Opening Day payroll, despite adding plenty of veteran inventory the past two offseasons.
MIDSEASON TOP 10 1. Carson Fulmer, rhp The No. 2 college pitcher available in the 2015 draft, Fulmer throws two knockout pitches with a mid-90s fastball and a sharp, power curveball. But his control continues to grade as below-average, and his funky, high-effort delivery leads many scouts to project him to the bullpen. Keep in mind, though, that Fulmer jumped essentially from the Vanderbilt campus in 2015 to Double-A this season and improved his performance in-season after he stopped rushing and stayed taller in his delivery. To wit: he walked 6.7 per nine innings April and May but improved that to 3.7 per nine in June and July.
2. Spencer Adams, rhp While Adams lacks huge stuff, he throws a ton of strikes (1.8 walks per nine innings), keeps the ball on the ground (53 percent groundballs) and takes his turn in the rotation. He pitches at about 90 mph with plus command for a 20-year-old, but he’s still working to rediscover the plus slider he showed in high school.
3. Trey Michalczewski, 3b The 21-year-old switch-hitter hasn’t yet broken out in pro ball, but he does things now that suggest he’ll have a broad skill set when he is fully developed. Michalczewski struggles to keep on weight and muscle during the long season, but he has improved his defensive footwork at third base while also increasing his power output and maintaining a strong walk rate.
4. Adam Engel, of Engel raised his hands in his stance after he endured a rough introduction to Double-A this season. After returning to Birmingham on May 25, he proceeded to hit .292/.370/.453 with 21 extra-base hits and 18 steals in his next 45 games. Engel works hard and receives instruction well, and his exceptional speed and glove in center field make him a potential starter if he continues to get on base.
5. Jacob May, of

Luis Robert Learns From Abbreviated Season

A hand injury truncated Robert's season and sapped his power—he hit zero home runs—but the White Sox aren't concerned.

Though he profiles as a bottom-of-the-order hitter, May plays center field at a high level and has plus speed and bunting skills that could make him a small-ball threat. Making more contact and drawing more walks would help the switch-hitter’s tools play up.
6. Tyler Danish, rhp Danish always has been one of the youngest starters in his league, so the White Sox might have done him a disservice by thrusting him into the big league bullpen in mid-June (he allowed nine of 12 batters to reach base) without any relief experience. He throws a low-90s sinker and plus changeup and could have a career as a groundball reliever along the lines of Matt Albers.
7. Jordan Stephens, rhp A 2015 fifth-round pick from Rice, Stephens showed firm stuff and solid results in his full-season debut in the Carolina League. The 6-foot-1 righty has added a cutter to work inside on lefthanded batters while pitching at 92 mph and rediscovering the shape and power on his slider.
8. Jake Peter, of/2b The lefthanded-swinging Peter hit .304 in 68 games at Double-A Birmingham to earn a late-June bump to Triple-A. He lacks power but exercises plate discipline, sprays the ball around the field and plays four positions: second base, third base and both corner-outfield spots. Peter has a future as a quality super-utility player.
9. Jordan Guerrero, lhp The 22-year-old southpaw ran up a 5.52 ERA in April as he adjusted to Double-A and struggled with fastball command, but Guerrero pitched much better afterward, striking out 61 and allowing 68 hits through his next 77 innings. He throws one of the best changeups in the Southern League, but he needs better command of his average fastball and breaking ball—attributes that make him ill-suited for a bullpen role.
10. Thad Lowry, rhp The 6-foot-4 Texas prep righthander has grown more accustomed to a pro workload and has matured as a pitcher. He fills the zone with a low-90s, sinking fastball and mixes in a changeup, though he needs to tighten a loopy breaking ball that could one day play as average.
RISING Connor Walsh has gained control of his delivery this season and is throwing strikes much more consistently. The righthander sits 93-95 mph and touches 98 with a plus curveball that clocks in the low 80s. The White Sox selected Walsh in the 12th round of the 2014 draft out of Cincinnati . . . Low Class A Kannapolis shortstop Johan Cruz hit just .243 through his first 51 games, but he has the defensive chops to stick at shortstop.
FALLING Double-A Birmingham corner outfielder Courtney Hawkins, the 13th pick in the 2012 draft, continues to scuffle in the Southern League. In 136 games at Birmingham this year and last, he has hit just .228/.281/.381 with 14 homers and 75 RBIs.
HURTING Righthander Spencer Adams twisted an ankle in early July and hit the disabled list, but the injury is not considered serious . . . Third baseman Matt Davidson, catcher Kevan Smith and outfielder Jason Coats, all older prospects, received callups to Chicago and almost immediately injured themselves. Davidson broke his right foot running the bases, Smith was diagnosed with sacroiliac joint dysfunction in his back and Coats required five stitches to close a cut in his mouth he suffered in an outfield collision.
GRADUATING Shortstop Tim Anderson, the system’s preseason No. 1 prospect, recorded a .506 OPS at Triple-A Charlotte in April before quickly rebounding and earning a big league callup on June 10. He hit .304/.310/.488 (114 OPS+) with 14 extra-base hits in his first 28 games for the White Sox, though he has only one walk against 37 strikeouts in the first half . . . Righthander Michael Ynoa, once most notable for his string of injuries after signing with the Athletics for a then-record $4.25 million bonus in 2008, got a callup to fill a middle-relief need in June and had 11 strikeouts in his first eight innings.
COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks) The White Sox's first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round) 1. Zack Collins, c, Miami. The lefthanded-hitting catcher will have to work to stay behind the plate, but he offers some of the best power and plate discipline in the 2016 draft class. 1. Zack Burdi, rhp, Louisville. The rare three-pitch reliever in college, Burdi sits 98 mph with a high-octane fastball and has hit 100, just like his older brother Nick, a reliever in the Twins system. 2. Alec Hansen, rhp, Oklahoma. Hansen recorded a 5.40 ERA as an Oklahoma junior, but the 6-foot-7 righty has an electric, mid-90s fastball, at-times-plus secondary stuff and well below-average control. 3. Alex Call, of, Ball State. Call is a righthanded-hitting corner outfielder who blends potentially above-average power, speed and arm strength. 4. Jameson Fisher, of, Southeastern Louisiana. The former catcher hit .424 this spring with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts, though the lefty hitter is more of a gap hitter and projected left fielder.

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