27 Outs Baseball Network

White Sox Plan to Stack the Deck from the Bottom Up

Photos by Tony Capobianco

It was not that long ago when the Chicago White Sox looked like they were stacking the deck during the 2014 Winter Meetings and looking like a possible playoff contender.

Two subpar seasons later and the White Sox have attempted to stack the deck in a completely different direction by trading Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Todd Frazier, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Jose Quitana, David Robinson, Chris Sale and Anthony Swarzak for high-level prospects since December of 2016.

As a result, the White Sox have the best farm systems in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, a clear sign for a successful rebuilding project. It’s something that has been tried by many teams recently, some as successful as the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros.

While the future core of the White Sox rotation are being groomed in the higher levels of their minor league organization with the likes of James Shields, Derek Holland and Mike Pelfrey serving as the stopgaps, the team’s young hitters are getting a chance to grow and show their stuff.

Some dividends have already been made. Third baseman Matt Davidson leads the White Sox in home runs and is in the top five among rookies. He is on pace to finish the season with over 30 home runs, which is close to Jose Abreu’s rookie total in 2014.

Davidson was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and played the first 31 games of his career for them in 2013 but not long enough to qualify as a rookie season. With Martin Prado as their third baseman, the Diamondbacks traded Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed in December of 2013.

Davidson isn’t the only rookie third baseman making a impressive first impression. Nick Delmonico is batting .348 in his first week in the big leagues. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 but traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Francisco Rodriguez in 2013. He was picked up by the White Sox after being released by Single-A Brevard County going into the 2015 season, making him an under the radar pickup.

The highlight of the White Sox young lineup is top prospect Yoan Moncada, who they acquired in the trade for Sale. While he has gotten off to a slow start in his career, Moncada has already belted his first career home run. The Cuban infielder has the benefit of playing alongside fellow countryman Abreu to further his growth.

This team will truly pop once their three starting pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen establish themselves in the big leagues. Each of them are among the organization’s top ten prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

Giolito (No. 7) may not have been pitching his best this season with the Charlotte Knights but he has thrown a no-hitter at one point. His fastball can sit at 95–98 mph and even crack triple digits. A power curveball and a sinking changeup complete his arsenal. Command is the only difference between Giolito dominating the big leagues and an imprisonment in the minor leagues.

Scouts compare Kopech (No. 3) to Noah Syndergaard, and a scout for the White Sox once told me he had a more impressive physique than Bryce Harper. Kopech has the most powerful fastball among the trio, hitting as high as 105 mph, and his slider gives him the stuff of a future elite closer. It took the presence of Chris Sale for the Red Sox to justify the trade.

Hansen (No. 9) is the youngest of the trio, having being drafted a year ago. He was signed to $1.2 million and while his fastball is close but not like that of Giolito and Kopech, his curveball and slider combo makes him a frontline starter in the minor leagues.

The White Sox may be terrible now, but in short time they will soon break out like the Astros and Royals did. Then comes the next challenging phase of the process, stacking the deck the same way they did two years ago.

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