The 2023 Minor League Baseball season finds the White Sox system returning to action after an ambitious experiment in which nearly all of their top prospects converged on AA Birmingham to finish out the 2022 schedule. Dubbed “Project Birmingham,” the experience was the brainchild of White Sox assistant general manager Chris Getz. The goal was to bring the Sox best players and top instructors together in a collaborative learning environment. An environment in which the players could feed off the energy of one another while being subjected to the rigors of playing against advanced competition. Although the Barons went 7-17 after this infusion of talent, project Birmingham should be considered largely successful. Despite somewhat disjointed playing time, the baby White Sox remained competitive while many players were significantly younger than par age for Double-A. Additionally, multiple prospects skipped entirely over High-A to land in Birmingham for this one-month crash course.
The 2022 Draft saw the Sox make a strong effort to replenish their depleted minor-league pitching depth. The success of that mission will become more apparent as the draft class begins barnstorming A-ball during the upcoming season. Another reason for optimism was the success of their DSL affiliate which will see many players make their stateside debuts in the months ahead. Although the Sox system is ranked in the bottom third in baseball, they are on a positive trajectory.
White Sox Minor League Affiliates:
Charlotte Knights – Triple-A
Birmingham Barons – Double-A
Winston-Salem Dash – High-A
Kannapolis Cannonballers – Single-A
White Sox – Rookie (Arizona Complex League)
White Sox – Rookie (Dominican Summer League)
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 providing 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
1. Colson Montgomery, SS, 20, Double-A
Montgomery, the White Sox #1 pick in the 2021 draft, exceeded lofty expectations in 2022. At one point he authored a 50-game on-base streak in which he slashed .344/.448/.519 between two levels. He possesses a lanky 6’4” frame which is built for power. Given his youth, Montgomery’s plate approach and pitch recognition are extremely advanced. His maturity is off-the-charts and will help him cope with the inevitable failures that come with playing a 162 games schedule. The sky is the limit.
2. Oscar Colas, OF, 24, Triple-A
Colas had an amazing first season stateside. He was assigned to High-A Winston-Salem to begin the season, and he mashed his way to AA by July. In September, the left-handed slugger punctuated his debut with a seven-game cameo for AAA Charlotte. Colas combined slash line for three minor league levels was .314/.371/.524 with 23 bombs. Defensively, his strong throwing arm notched 11 outfield assists in 104 games.
3. Jose Rodriguez, SS, 21, Double-A
The 2022 season saw a year of growth for the quick-twitch, athletic infielder. While becoming acclimated to AA pitching, the 21-year-old struggled mightily early on. Through May, he was hitting .235 with one home run in 170 plate appearances. Interestingly, his bat-to-ball numbers didn’t suggest that he was over his head (6% BB rate 16% K rate). When the calendar flipped to June, Rodriguez caught fire, hitting .307 the rest of the way. Over his last 300 plate appearances, he drew walks at a 9% rate while striking out at only a 12% clip. Additionally, he found his power stroke, launching ten bombs in his final 18 games before falling victim to a broken hamate which required surgery.
4. Bryan Ramos, 3B, 20, Double-A
Ramos spent the 2021 off-season in Arizona honing his skills at the White Sox spring training complex. His hard work paid immediate dividends as the slugging 3B sprinted out of the gate slashing .403/.449/.653 in April. Although he cooled off after the torrid start, Ramos posted a respectable .266/.338/.455 season. He also chipped in 22 home runs as a 20-year-old while being aggressively assigned to High-A. Ramos received a late season promotion to Double-AA, where he added three home runs and drove in 12 over the season’s final 20 games.
5. Noah Schultz, LHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
The White Sox used the 26th overall pick in the 2022 draft to acquire the services of Schultz, a towering 6’9” power left-hander. The pale hose are extremely bullish about Schultz’s long-term potential and imagine the fully evolved homegrown prodigy as a potential top of the rotation ace. There will likely be bumps in the developmental road, but Schultz ceiling is off-the-charts.
6. Lenyn Sosa, SS, 22, MLB
In his previous two MiLB seasons, Sosa hinted that he was capable of unlocking some true offensive firepower by posting month long hot streaks. The 2022 season saw those type of streaks extend for the majority of the year. Immediately following his first call up to the big club, Sosa experienced his only swoon when he slashed .223/.259/.303 for the month of July. Neither his big league or July struggles in Triple-AAA should be of concern. He has a track record of needing time to adjust after every promotion. The 2022 season was a coming-out party for Sosa, Sox fans should be excited about the encore.
7. Sean Burke, RHP, 23, Triple-A
Burke is a tall 6’ 6” starting pitching prospect with a solid combination of floor and ceiling. With a prep background as a talented basketball player, he brings elite athleticism to the mound. His pitch mix is nearly big league ready and there is a strong possibility Sox fans will get a first-hand look at Burke this season. He possesses maturity beyond his years and pairs it with an insatiable work-ethic. Those extra tools are likely to help him find success as he chases his big-league aspirations.
8. Matthew Thompson, RHP, 22, Double-A
Since Thompson was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, I have traditionally been higher on him than most. I believe in his projectability, arm-strength, and athleticism. His fastball often shows plus and there is room in the tank for more. In my live looks, the 12:6 curveball tends to be his out pitch. When he’s on, Thompson pounds the strike zone and works confidently with efficiency. Despite the quality of his stuff, he has posted numbers that are more typical of a pitch-to-contact guy.
9. Cristian Mena, RHP, 20, Double-A
The 19-year-old Mena had absolutely no trouble with his indoctrination to full season baseball. After getting obliterated to the tune of a 7.82 ERA in the Arizona complex league a year earlier, Mena mowed down Low-A hitters in 2022. His strength lies in his plus curveball which is among the best in the system. His fastball is currently a fringe average pitch. Further development of arm strength will allow him to keep hitters off balance. He was very young for all three levels to which he was assigned suggesting the White Sox believe in him.
10. Jordan Sprinkle, SS, 21, Single-A
The White Sox were pleased when Sprinkle landed in their laps with their fourth round selection of the 2022 draft. His defense is among the best in the minors, the kid can absolutely pick it. Having the benefit of multiple live looks, I believe he could capably handle the position in the big leagues yesterday. He has excellent range, footwork and lateral movement accompanied by arm strength and a high motor. On the field and in the dugout, he exudes positive energy. His foot speed is also a plus tool. Sprinkle’s glove and wheels will get him to the big leagues. The development of his hit tool will determine his future role and how fast he climbs the organizational ladder.
11. Norge Vera, RHP, 22, Double-A
After completely dominating the DSL in 2021 as a too-old-for-the-level prospect, Vera saw his 2022 debut delayed by an early season lat strain. When he arrived at Low-A Kannapolis in June, he looked like a truly elite pitcher, serving consistent high-nineties fastballs with an effortless delivery. His pitch counts were obsessively monitored which resulted in short outings but his stats were elite (24 IP 12 H 1.88 ERA 15 BB 34 K). Opposing hitters mustered a meager .143 average against him. Right before his promotion to High-A Winston, he experienced a dead arm phase that saw his fastball velocity drop precipitously. Additionally, his command disappeared as Veras gimped toward the season’s finish line. Encouragingly, the Sox didn’t shut him down and promoted him to Double-AA with their other top prospects.
12. Jonathan Cannon, RHP, 22, Single-A
Cannon was the final of three consecutive pitching selections made by the White Sox at the top of their 2022 draft. He joins the organization by way of the Georgia Bulldogs with a strong pitchability and command profile. However, with a 6’6″ frame he has strong potential to add velo with slight mechanical tweaks and continued professional coaching. Prospects1500’s draft expert Shaun Kernahan believes Cannon will be among the fastest risers from this class and given the White Sox thin pitching depth his ascension may be rocket-like.
13. Peyton Pallette, RHP, 21, DNP (Injured)
The Sox used their second round pick in the 2022 draft to add Pallette who many draft pundits saw as a high first-rounder before the hurler fell victim to TJ surgery. His undersized frame, draft pedigree and the similar circumstances of being signed while recovering from TJ elicit comps with the Dodger’s Walker Buehler.
14. Ryan Burrowes, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
Having had recent success with less heralded international free agent signings like Sosa, Rodriguez and Ramos, Ryan Burrowes has a good chance to be next in leaping from prospect obscurity. Burrowes showed a great deal of offensive potential in the DSL, where he slashed .266/.393/.392 as a 17-year-old. Additionally, he stole 12 bases and showcased the athleticism to play multiple positions. His lean 6’2″ frame offers projection and White Sox minor league hitting coordinator Andy Barkett touts him as true standout prospect in the DSL.
15. Yoelquis Céspedes, OF, 25, Double-A
As the number one ranked international free-agent of the 2021 signing period, Cespedes joined the organization with a lot of hype and expectations. Thus far he has shown flashes playing strong outfield defense and boasting a rocket arm and plus speed. His bat-to-ball skills will need improvement for Cespedes to be a major league regular. His 30% K-rate at Birmingham was disappointing. He has several plus tools (power, speed, defense, and arm strength) so a 2023 breakout isn’t out of the question.
16. Carlos Perez, C, 26, MLB
Since being signed all the way back in 2013, Perez has evolved as a player. He began as a slap hitting, defense-first catcher. His bat-to-ball skills are uncanny and possibly the best in the system. Perez had 66 plate appearances for Triple-AAA Charlotte before notching his first strikeout. In the last two seasons, he has added some pop to his repertoire as well. After hitting only seven HR in his first six seasons, Perez broke out by hitting 13 HR in 2021 and 21 more this season. With his glove, bat-to-ball skills, and recent addition of pop, Perez has the chance to carve out a lengthy career.
17. Jared Kelley, RHP, 21, Double-A
Kelley entered the Sox system after being selected in the second round of the 2020 draft. He spent the 2020 season with top Sox minor league prospects at the team’s remote site and got his feet wet in full season Kannapolis in 2021. He entered 2022 repeating at Kannapolis but advanced to Double-AA for the last month of the season. He is a power pitcher with a plus fastball that typically sits 95-96 and touches 98. His changeup is likely his best secondary which is atypical for a prep drafted pitcher. Entering his third season the right-hander is only 21-years-old. Trouble repeating his delivery has led to some high walk totals (5.5 per 9 IP) and a less that optimal strike percentage (58% in 2022). The good thing is his stuff will play. Kelley just needs reps and consistency to unlock his potential.
18. Wilfred Veras, 1B, 20, Double-A
As the son of former big leaguer Wilton Veras and cousin to Fernando Tatis Jr. no one can question Veras baseball genetics. He’s also been gifted with a potent bat. In his 19-year-old season the youthful slugger saw action at Low-A Kannapolis before skipping over High-A and landing in Birmingham. The AA experience had to build Veras confidence as he hit three home runs in 12 games while posting numbers very similar to those he had in Low-A. The strength of his game is power. As a primary 1B, he’s going to have to continue raking to prove his status as an impactful prospect.
19. Luis Mieses, OF, 22, Double-A
Mieses development path demonstrates the power of projectability. During his 17 through 19-year-old seasons, he toiled in the rookie leagues posting pedestrian offensive numbers. After missing the 2020 campaign due to the pandemic, he began 2021 with an aggressive promotion to High-A. The assignment proved too aggressive, as Mieses floundered to a .185/.189/.366 line before a merciful demotion. However, in Kannapolis the outfielder found his footing and raked his way back to Winston-Salem before the season’s final month. With newfound confidence entering 2022, Mieses didn’t look back. Repeating High-A, he held his own and found himself promoted to AA to finish the season.
20. Wes Kath, 3B, 20, Double-A
Kath had a rough introduction to full season minor league baseball as he hit .233 with a 34% K rate between Low-A Kannapolis and AA-Birmingham. The lanky 6’3″ left-handed hitting third baseman displayed good pop when making contact and has projectability. He also displayed occasional defensive chops but made the kind of errors you’d expect to see from a teenager getting his feet wet in the deep end of minor league baseball. With a full-season of experience behind him, it will be interesting to see the adjustments he makes and the work he puts in during the off-season.
21. Gregory Santos, RHP, 23, MLB
Santos is a big-bodied power arm reliever with a swing-and-miss fastball/slider combination. He’s only 23 and has big league experience. His prospect shine has tarnished recently as Santos served an 80-game suspension for PED use in 2021. He has also walked four hitters per nine innings during his minor league tenure while whiffing only a modest 7.6 despite possessing power stuff. Now in his third organization, he has the potential to work into a setup role.
22. Jonathan Stiever, RHP, 25, Triple-A
23. Yolbert Sanchez, SS/2B, 25, Triple-A
24. Kohl Simas, RHP, 23, Double-A
25. Tanner McDougal, RHP, 19, DNP (Injured)
26. Tommy Sommer, LHP, 24, High-A
27. Lane Ramsey, RHP, 26, Triple-A
28. Loidel Chapelli, 2B, 21, Rookie (DSL)
29. Erick Hernandez, OF, 17, Rookie (DSL)
30. Adam Hackenberg, C, 23, Double-A
31. Jason Bilous, RHP, 25, Triple-A
32. Declan Cronin, RHP, 25, Triple-A
33. Tyler Schweitzer, LHP,22, DNP
34. Jacob Burke, OF, 21, Single-A
35. Luke Shilling, RHP, 25, Double-A
36. DJ Gladney, 1B/OF, 21, Double-A
37. Nick Avila, RHP, 25, Double-A
Stiever was once among the top pitching prospects in the organization but missed nearly all of the 2022 season due to injury. If he rebounds strong he’s likely to spend some time with the big club this season. McDougal will be returning after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. He’s a tall lanky right-hander with a lot of projection and a high ceiling. Chapelli laid waste to the DSL but was playing at an age two years older than par, he could move quickly when he comes stateside. His coaches laud his work ethic and makeup. Hackenberg‘s genetics seem as if he was created in a mad scientist’s lab in an effort to build a professional athlete. His mother, father and uncle all played collegiate sports. His brother Christian was an NFL quarterback, his brother Brandon plays in the MLS, and his youngest brother Drue went 10-2 as a college freshman for Virginia Tech. The White Sox Hackenberg; Adam, is a premium defensive catcher with power potential, and Chicago had him play in the 2022 Arizona Fall League. Gladney fluidly transitioned from 3B to 1B/OF and showed his prodigious power hitting 18 home runs for Single-A Kannapolis. He’s going to have to tame the strikeouts but he hits the ball extremely hard.
38. Andrew Perez, LHP, 25, Triple-A
39. Andrew Dalquist, RHP, 22, Double-A
40. Colby Smelley, C, 22, High-A
41. Caleb Freeman, RHP, 24, Double-A
42. Terrell Tatum, OF, 25, High-A
43. Carlos Jimenez, 1B, 20, Rookie (DSL)
44. Tyler Osik, 1B/C, 26, Double-A
45. Godwin Bennett, OF, 20, Rookie (DSL)
46. Sammy Peralta, RHP, 24, Triple-A
47. Cameron Butler, OF, 20, Rookie (ACL)
48. Alsander Womack, 2B, 23, High-A
49. Chase Krogman, OF/LHP, 21, Single-A
50. Duke Ellis, OF, 24, Double-A
Tatum lost time to a PED suspension, but the left-handed outfielder has some tools. Jimenez was older than typical DSL players but put together an impressive slash line .343/.409/.564/ Hitting coordinator Andy Barkett lauds Jimenez power potential despite being raw and suggests he has “big upside.” Osik, the son of former big leaguer Keith, won the SAL batting title by hitting .310. Bennett had his way against younger DSL competition hitting 11 home runs, he has a chiseled body that looks like a NFL fullback. Sox fans should take a wait-and-see approach with last year’s DSL performers and see how their skills translate to full season leagues. Womack is the son of former NL stolen base champion Tony. The younger Womack has excellent bat-to-ball skills and is surprisingly athletic for his stocky fire plug build.
Dan Victor grew up in the fandom of the White Sox and Cubs in a place commonly referred to as “da region.” He has been extensively covering and tweeting about the White Sox farm system since 2016. He currently resides in North Carolina within an hour and a half circle of three White Sox minor league affiliates (Kannapolis Cannonballers, Charlotte Knights and Winston-Salem Dash). In addition to writing about Sox prospects, Victor and his wife help support the minor leagues by serving as a host family for Kannapolis farmhands. He has written features for Notes from the Sally, South Side Sox, South Side Hit Pen (Sports Illustrated’s White Sox site), Future Sox, Ranger Ball, and Buc’s Dugout. In the past year he has interviewed Andrew Vaughn, Futures Game MVP Sam Huff, and Pittsburgh Pirates minor league player of the year Mason Martin.
Darío Borrero?? AVG .313 in azl and 16% k 52 hit. 9 azl ave. 6 azl hits,
1 equipo ave, OPS, hits. En azl ? Y no está estre los 50 ????
Nice write up Sly Danno
Where does Shawn Goosenberg rank in list of top prospects