By: Mark Lester
Even though they missed out on all the big names this offseason, the The White Sox have one of the most exciting farm systems in baseball at the moment, and Spring Training is giving us a fresh opportunity to take a look at some of the top prospects in the White Sox system. Seeing that the White Sox aren’t anywhere near contending, we’re bound to see plenty of call ups over the course of the season. So before the 2019 season kicks off, let’s take a close look at three of the new faces we’re most likely to see in the South Side this upcoming season.
Eloy Jimenez (LF)
The first and most obvious potential call up is left-fielder Eloy Jimenez, arguably one of the most exciting prospects in baseball today. He’s currently the number 3 prospect in baseball, behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Fernando Tatis Jr. Last year in AAA Charlotte, he had an insane slash line of .343/.388/.589. He also hit 12 home runs and 33 RBI’s in 54 games. There is little doubt that Jimenez has the ability to dominate in the big leagues. Should he avoid injury in the near future, there’s pretty much zero doubt that we’ll see Jimenez in the show this year, the question only being when he’ll be called up. And the cherry on top, of course, is that he was acquired in a trade with the Cubs for Jose Quintana. That makes me smile.
Dylan Cease (RHP)
In 2018, Michael Kopech was a top-10 prospect, and had the stage set to take over the ace role in the Sox rotation for 2019. But then, disaster struck in the form of a torn UCL, followed up by Tommy John surgery. The door is now wide open for Cease to drop into the big leagues and make an immediate impact. We haven’t seen him in Spring Training yet, but scouting reports say that he has a blistering fastball and a devastating changeup to go with his money pitch, a nasty 12-6 curveball. The White Sox had one of the worst staffs in baseball last year, so Cease is a sure bet to be in Chicago at some point this season. That is, of course, if he doesn’t get injured, which is far from a certainty. He had Tommy John before he was even drafted in 2014, and has struggled to stay of the DL (IL) ever since. But given what we’ve seen from him in the minors up to this point, he will probably come up this year into a middle of the rotation role or a long reliever. If he stays healthy, he has the potential to be an anchor in the Sox rotation. Oh, and he was also picked up in the Quintana trade.
Nick Madrigal (SS - 2B)
And finally we have Nick Madrigal, easily one of the best pure hitters in the 2018 draft. He’s already well on his way to the MLB. Despite this, Madrigal is more of a maybe to come up in 2019, given his age and lack of minor league experience. Whenever he comes up, he’ll certainly have an immediate impact on the White Sox offense. He doesn’t have the typical build of a major leaguer (5’7”, 165 lbs.), but that’s never stopped anyone (*cough* Altuve *cough*). The 4th overall pick in last years draft hit .324 with 8 stolen bases in 38 games of Low and High A ball, and he hasn’t had much injury trouble. He also will fill a need at shortstop if he continues his transition from second base in A ball. So if the White Sox end up having a solid year this season, I’d say he’s a potential September call up, and if he keeps up the pace he’s at right now, we might see him in a Sox uniform even sooner than that.
And there you have it, three prospects who are destined to make an impact in the big leagues, and are bound to do it quickly. There are several other young prospects coming up in the Sox system, such as Kopech, Luis Robert, and Dane Dunning, all top-100 prospects. Even though the White Sox have continued and most likely will continue to miss out on big time free agents, with the class of prospects coming up from Chicago’s farm system, it’s very possible that we’ll see a team that doesn’t look like a AAA team in a few short years.