MLB

Weekly Prospect Update: Chicago White Sox

Carson Fulmer

The Chicago White Sox have been working on rebuilding their farm system for the past two seasons. They’ve sold off big pieces and received solid young talent in return. While they may not be ready to compete just yet, their future is definitely bright.

10. Jake Burger, 3B

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 1(11) – CWS
  • MLB.com lists: Top 10 3B (#8)
2017 stats: (Single-A Kannapolis, RK- AZL): 51 games, .263/.336/.412, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 25 R, 14 BB, 30 K.

Burger was widely considered the best power hitter in this past year’s Draft. The White Sox liked him enough to take him with the No. 11 overall selection. While his power stands out the most, Burger has plenty more MLB-worthy tools. He can hit for contact, work his walks, and doesn’t get himself out at the plate. Burger performed well in his professional debut, batting .263 with five homers and 29 RBI. Burger could work his way through the minors quickly and make his MLB debut sooner than most in his Draft class.

9. Carson Fulmer, RHP

  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2015, 1(8) – CWS
2017 stats: (Triple-A Charlotte): 126 IP, 7-9, 5.79 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 96 K, 65 BB. (MLB – Chicago): 23.1 IP, 3-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 19 K, 13 BB.

It’s been a bumpy ride with a lot of ups and downs for Fulmer. He’s bounced back and forth between the reliever and starter roles but started games for much of the 2017 season. Though he didn’t perform particularly well at Triple-A, the White Sox deemed him ready for the big leagues. He made seven appearances, five starts, with the team and performed well. In 23.1 innings, he was 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. His control was solid at times, but he still issued too many walks. With the shape the White Sox are in now, Fulmer should have a shot at making the rotation out of spring training.

8. Dane Dunning, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(29) – WSH
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
2017 stats: (Single-A Kannapolis, High-A Winston-Salem): 144 IP, 8-8, 2.94 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 168 K, 38 BB.

Chicago acquired yet another first-round Draft pick in Dunning. They brought the righty over from Washington in the Adam Eaton deal last season. Dunning is considered a sinkerball pitcher that does a great job at inducing ground balls. He also has a solid, durable frame that should help him pitch deep into games and handle a lot of innings. In his first full season, Dunning was 8-8 with a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 144 innings. His strikeout numbers were among the best in the system, with a K: BB ratio of 168: 38. Dunning’s competitiveness and makeup should help him quickly climb through the minors.

7. Zack Collins

  • Drafted: 2016, Round 3(97) – HOU
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • MLB.com lists: Top 10 Catchers (#8)
2017 stats: (High-A Winston-Salem): 101 games, .223/.365/.443, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 63 R, 76 BB, 118 K. (Double-A Birmingham): 12 games, .235/.422/.471, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 11 BB, 11 K.

The White Sox made Collins the No. 10 overall selection in the 2016 Draft. His combination of power and patience identified him as one of the best offensive prospects in the Draft. Collins didn’t have the best season in 2017, but there was still plenty to like about his performance. In 101 games at High-A, he hit 17 balls out of the park, knocked in 48 runs and worked 76 walks. He batted just .223, but the White Sox liked what they saw enough to give him some at-bats at Double-A.

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6. Alec Hansen, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 2(49) – CWS
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#91)
2017 stats: (Single-A Kannapolis): 72.2 IP, 7-3, 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 92 K, 23 BB. (High-A Winston-Salem): 58.1 IP, 4-5, 2.93 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 82 K, 25 BB. (Double-A Birmingham): 10.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 17 K, 3 BB.    

Hansen may not have been taken in the first-round like many of his peers in the top 10, but he’s certainly a first-round talent. Though shaky at times, when Hansen is on his game, he looks like he could easily slot in at the top of any rotation. It was a fantastic all-around season for him, as he made 26 starts across Single-A, High-A, and Double-A. He posted ERAs under 3.00 in both the lower levels and a WHIP of 1.10 and 1.15 in Single-A and High-A, respectively. The most impressive thing about his 2017 campaign was his control. Across all three levels, he walked just 51 batters while striking out a staggering 191. 2017 was a breakout year for Hansen and a sign that he’s on his way to the big leagues.

5. Dylan Cease, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 6(169) – CHC
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#58)
2017 stats: (Single-A South Bend): 51.2 IP, 1-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 74 K, 26 BB. (Single-A Kannapolis): 41.2 IP, 0-8, 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 52 K, 18 BB.

Cease was putting together the best season of his young career with the Cubs before they shipped him to the White Sox in July. Cease headlined the package of prospects for starting pitcher Jose Quintana, and with good reason. He’s already made huge strides and adjustments that have helped him along the way. In 51.2 innings with the Cubs’ Single-A affiliate, Cease posted a 2.79 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He had similar success after joining the White Sox, posting a 3.89 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 41.2 innings.

4. Blake Rutherford, OF

  • Age: 20
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(18) – NYY
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#40)
2017 stats: (Single-A Kannapolis): 101 games, .260/.326/.348, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 52 R, 10 SB, 38 BB, 76 K.

The White Sox acquired Rutherford, another first-round pick, from the Yankees in July. Rutherford has shown the potential to be a future, five-tool player. In 101 games at Single-A, he batted .260 with a couple of homers, 35 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. While the power numbers haven’t come around yet, Rutherford has plenty of raw power. Once he adjusts his line-drive approach and starts to tap into his raw power, he could be a 20-25 home run threat.

3. Luis Robert, OF

  • Age: 20
  • Signed out of Cuba in 2017 – CWS
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#23), Top 10 OF Prospects (#8)
2017 stats: (RK-DSL): 28 games, .310/.491/.536, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 17 R, 12 SB, 22 BB, 23 K.

After defecting from Cuba in early 2017, the White Sox signed Robert for $26 million in May. He’s drawn comparisons to fellow Cuban prospect and the current White Sox infielder, Yoan Moncada. Like Moncada, Robert has plenty of tools that he showed off in Cuba and continued to show them off after coming to the states. In 28 games with the Rookie-level White Sox, Robert batted .310 with three homers, 12 stolen bases, and 14 RBI. He also nearly worked as many walks as strikeouts and showed great discipline at the plate. He’s just 20 years old, but Robert has already jumped high up on prospect lists.

2. Michael Kopech, RHP

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 1(33) – BOS
  • Acquired by trade in 2016
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#10), Top 10 RHP Prospects (#2)
2017 stats: (Double-A Birmingham): 119.1 IP, 8-7, 2.87 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 155 K, 60 BB. (Triple-A Charlotte): 15 IP, 1-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 17 K, 5 BB.

It’s been a complicated start to a professional career for Kopech. While he’s one of the best pitching prospects the game has seen the past few seasons, he’s lost significant development time. He was suspended in 2015 and missed a chunk of 2016 after breaking his hand in a fight, but put those incidents behind him in 2017. Kopech showed off his electric fastball and had hitters scratching their heads all season. He spent time at both Double-A and Triple-A, succeeding at both. Combined, Kopech threw 134.1 innings and was 9-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Kopech has the ability to develop into either an ace or a lights-out closer, but he’ll have to remain out of trouble and on track.

1. Eloy Jimenez, OF

  • Age: 21
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 – CHC
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#5), Top 10 OF Prospects (#2)
2017 stats: (High-A Myrtle Beach, Winston-Salem): 71 games, .315/.480/.550, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 43 R, 30 BB, 56 K. (Double-A Birmingham): 18 games, .353/.397/.559, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 11 R, 5 BB, 16 K.

Jimenez broke out in 2016 and brought home the Midwest League MVP award at just 19. He continued that success in 2017 and was the centerpiece in the package from the Cubs for Jose Quintana. Jimenez has both great power and the ability to hit for contact at the plate. He also doesn’t get himself out, and rarely chases pitches out of the zone. In 71 games at High-A, Jimenez batted .315 with 16 homers and 58 RBI. He jumped to Double-A shortly after joining the White Sox and continued to impress despite the higher competition. The White Sox acquired a special player from the Cubs in Jimenez and he should play a huge part in the team’s future success.

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