The 2022 minor-league baseball season finds the White Sox system in the early stage of retooling a largely depleted system. The gush of prospect talent that produced several core components has been reduced to a trickle. Fortunately, the truncation of the 2020 and 2021 drafts should have provided the organization with a talent-laden environment from which to reload.
The performance of the 2021 draft class will provide a strong leading indicator of whether the Sox farm system is returning to its darkest days (think 2013). Or whether it will signal the dawning of a new golden age.
One item of note is that the White Sox have been strongly linked with Cuban international free agent Oscar Colas. With the assumption he signs with the Sox as anticipated, the 23-year-old Colas will slot into the organizational rankings somewhere in the 10-15 range.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making their team’s 40-man roster
Levels listed for each player are the highest levels player reached in 2021
1. Jose Rodriguez, SS, 20, AA
Jose “Popeye” Rodriguez used his excellent bat-to-ball skills, plus speed and all fields hitting approach to make a giant leap to the top spot in the White Sox system. He was one of three Sox prospects to experience a double level jump in 2021, starting the season in Low-A and finishing in AA.
Jose Rodriguez 100 mph to the CF wall for a triple. He makes it look easy pic.twitter.com/ToPhzDgtRS
— Daniel Victor (@slydanno70) May 9, 2021
2. Colson Montgomery, SS, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Montgomery, the White Sox #1 pick in the 2021 draft, offers elite athleticism on a 6’4” frame built for power. From a statistical standpoint, the high school, three-sport athlete held his own in rookie ball. As he now shifts to a 100% focus on baseball, look for Montgomery to take another step forward in 2022.
3. Norge Carlos Vera, RHP, 21, DSL
The fireballing right-hander lived up to the hype by dominating in his Dominican Summer League debut. Vera struck out 34 over 19 innings, while allowing nine hits and zero earned runs. He is likely to see action with a full-season affiliate in 2022.
Gil Luna and Norge Vera have to be considered success stories for this years Sox minor league system:
Luna 13.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 6 BB 21 K
Vera 15.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 4 BB 27 K
Looking forward to watching them both progress in their roles in 2022
— Daniel Victor (@slydanno70) September 17, 2021
4. Jake Burger, 3B, 25, AAA
The 2017 first-round pick returned to the field after an Achilles tear and re-tear sidelined him for two entire seasons, and Covid erased his chance to compete in 2020. After having not played above Low-A, he began the 2021 season in AAA. He even got a taste of big-league action. His first MLB home run on July 17th was a true storybook highlight.
JAKE BURGER! FIRST CAREER HOME RUN! pic.twitter.com/F9lcJwW03z
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 18, 2021
5. Micker Adolfo, OF, 25, AAA
Adolfo possesses some of the most prolific power in all of the minor leagues along with a double-plus outfield throwing arm. Unfortunately, the Sox are faced with a difficult decision as the slugger is out of minor league options. Look for him to get a long look in spring training.
The Baron’s skipper shared,
“It’s been exciting being able to watch Micker’s offensive approach grow and mature over the past few years.The strides he’s made to become a better outfielder speaks volumes on his work ethic.Couldn’t have been happier to be able to send him to AAA.”
— Daniel Victor (@slydanno70) July 22, 2021
6. Bryan Ramos, 2B/3B, 19, Low-A
The teenager held his own as one of the youngest players in low-A. By slashing .280/.364/.447 over his last 44 games Ramos finished his first full season on a high note.
7. Yoelqui Céspedes, OF, 24, High-A
The chiseled Cuban import has flashed some tools while making the adjustment to American culture and the grind of full season baseball. Represented the White Sox in the 2021 All-Star Futures Game in Denver.
8. Matthew Thompson, RHP, 21, Low-A
The energetic and athletic Thompson looks a lot like a young Dwight Gooden; he fields his position like a future gold glove winner and sports a loose delivery with plus velocity on a wiry projectable frame. His second best pitch, the curveball, also has the potential to become a plus offering.
Matt Thompson from my point of view pic.twitter.com/EROaVN7m9X
— Daniel Victor (@slydanno70) September 12, 2021
9. Jared Kelley, RHP, 20, Low-A
Kelley’s 2021 season was marred by two trips to the injured list. He flashes a big fastball coupled with a plus changeup. The development of a reliable breaking ball should go a long way in determining his ceiling. Although he lacks experience, there is a solid foundation to build on.
Kelley getting his warmups pic.twitter.com/aMSPcqmVoj
— Daniel Victor (@slydanno70) May 22, 2021
10. Sean Burke, RHP, 22, Low-A
The 6’6” athletic, power right-hander was regarded as a potential first-round talent, and was the White Sox third-round selection in 2021. He dominated college hitters but suffered from occasional command lapses (4.9 walks per nine).
11. Jonathan Stiever, RHP, 24, AAA
The athletic Stiever struck out 10.7 per 9 innings for the Triple-A Knights. He suffered a pretty significant lat injury late in the minor league season and is likely to miss a chunk of the 2022 campaign. It can be assumed that the friendly hitters’ environment in Charlotte affected his game plan as his walk rate doubled from 2019. This was likely a result of trying to nibble to often and be perfect with his pitches.
12. Wes Kath, 3B, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Kath utilized his textbook swing plane and smooth left-handed stroke to win Arizona’s Gatorade Player of the Year award this past season before the White Sox made him their second-round pick. His signing scout, John Kazanas, suggests that Kath elicits Michael Brantley comps.
13. Romy Gonzalez, SS, 25, MLB
In 2021, Gonzalez experienced an offensive breakout season at Double-A Birmingham. His power-speed combo, defensive versatility and off-the-charts work ethic caught the attention of Sox brass who rewarded him with a September call up.
14. Yolbert Sanchez, SS/2B, 24, AA
The sure-handed Sanchez held his own defensively while displaying quality bat-to-ball skills at High-A. His offense continued to surge after a promotion to Double-A Birmingham where he hit .343 over 39 games.
15. Lenyn Sosa, SS, 21, AA
Along with being a premier defender, Sosa’s improving approach helped him post monster July numbers for High-A Winston-Salem (.350/.391/.520). He scuffled at AA after a late season promotion, but his quick wrists and hands should serve him well in making necessary adjustments.
16. Tanner McDougal, RHP, 18, Rookie (ACL)
The 6’6” right-hander has elite spin metrics, his fastball touches 96 mph and projects for more, he has tremendous upside. He will likely miss the entire 2022 season after undergoing a Tommy John procedure in late October. His future is bright, even if it has been delayed.
17. Andrew Dalquist, RHP, 21, Low-A
The promising young right-hander has a diversified pitch mix. Command issues often led to elevated pitch counts which kept him from going deep in his starts. He threw only 58% strikes in 2021. Improvement in this facet of his game is crucial to his long-term development.
— White Sox Daily (@dailywhitesox) June 11, 2021
18. Jimmy Lambert, RHP, 27, MLB
19. Luke Shilling, RHP, 24, High-A
20. Cameron Butler, OF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
21. Anderson Severino, LHP, 27, AAA
22. Jason Bilous, RHP, 24, AA
23. Lane Ramsey, RHP, 25, AAA
24. Bennett Sousa, LHP, 26, AAA
25. Kade McClure, RHP, 25, AAA
26. Andrew Perez, LHP, 24, AA
27. Chase Krogman, OF, 20, Low-A
28. Blake Rutherford, OF, 24, AAA
29. Brooks Gosswein, LHP, 23, Low-A
30. McKinley Moore, RHP, 23, High-A
31. Tyler Johnson, RHP, 26, AAA
32. Carlos Perez, C, 25, AAA
33. Harvin Mendoza, 1B, 22, High-A
34. Luis Mieses, OF, 21, High-A
35. Will Kincanon, RHP, 26, AA
36. Luis Curbelo, 3B, 23, High-A
There are some intriguing players in this tier with potential to shoot up the organizational rankings. Ramsey took a double-level jump in 2021, moving all the way from High-A to Triple-A. His evolution from thrower to pitcher has been fun to watch. He’s an intelligent kid that embraces the analytics of his craft. Working with Tread Athletics in the off-season, I expect a velocity bump to his already plus fastball. Severino allowed only one run in Triple-A, truly a feat considering the pitching environment in Charlotte. His fastball/slider combo is dominant, and command will be the key to unlocking big league success. Butler had a statistically disappointing introduction to professional baseball, but his tools and work ethic are unparalleled. As he gets more comfortable facing quality pitching, he’s going to make the adjustments necessary to thrive. Mendoza has perhaps the best plate approach and strike zone judgment in the system. As a first-base, designated hitter type he’s going to have to mash his way through the minors. Shilling has a closer’s arsenal but underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2021 season.
37. Gil Luna Jr., LHP, 22, Low-A
38. Taylor Broadway, RHP, 24, High-A
39. Caleb Freeman, RHP, 23, AA
40. Adam Hackenberg, C, 22, Low-A
41. Wilfred Veras, 1B/3B, 19, Rookie (ACL)
42. Terrell Tatum, OF, 22, High-A
43. Misael Gonzalez, OF, 20, Low-A
44. Wilber Sanchez, SS/2B, 19, Low-A
45. Zach Cable, RHP, 24, Low-A
46. Alex Destino, OF, 26, High-A
47. Tyler Osik, 1B, 25, High-A
48. Bryce Bush, OF, 21, High-A
49. DJ Gladney, 3B, 20, Low-A
50. Benyamin Bailey, OF, 20, Low-A
Hackenberg is the best defensive backstop in a system that is pretty weak at the position. He threw out 44% of would-be base stealers at Low-A Kannapolis. Additionally, he displayed some prowess with the bat hitting .346 over 21 games. Luna Jr. surprised everyone throwing 15.1 scoreless innings between Rookie Ball and Low-A. He was utterly dominant, striking out 24 hitters while allowing only five hits. The southpaw reliever also possesses perhaps the best pickoff move in the system. Right-handed reliever Cable consistently flirts with triple-digit radar gun readings. Outfielder Bailey‘s season was one he’d probably like to forget. However, he’s young and only two seasons removed from destroying the DSL as a 17-year-old.