While we (wink, wink) wait for the Chicago White Sox to trade Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for even more young talent, the current crop of minor leaguers is off to a promising start.
In seasons past, the Sox never seemed to have more than one or two prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100. Those who did make the grade were usually rushed to the South Side or traded for veterans.
Bolstered by a nice haul of young talent acquired in off-season deals that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, the rebuilding White Sox have five players in the Top 100, and all are rated 51st or higher.
In Baseball America’s updated rankings released Thursday, Class AAA Charlotte second baseman Yoan Moncada is No. 1 overall. The switch hitter opened the season No. 2 behind Andrew Benintendi, but the outfielder is the Red Sox’s starting left fielder and no longer eligible.
Charlotte starter Reynaldo Lopez is ranked No. 23, Class AA Birmingham starter Michael Kopech is No. 24, Charlotte starter Lucas Giolito is No. 40 and high Class Winston-Salem catcher Zack Collins is No. 51.
Moncada and Kopech came over in the Sale trade, Lopez and Giolito in the Eaton trade, and Collins was the White Sox’s first-round draft pick (No. 10 overall) last June.
The early statistics say Moncada and Kopech are having solid seasons, Lopez and Collins are holding their own, and Giolito is struggling.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is forming opinions, but he won’t make hard judgments this early in the season.
“As a group I think they’re progressing roughly as we projected,” Hahn said. “Some are probably exceeding expectations, some are coming a little more quickly than projected, some are about on the pace we expected, and a few are not quite playing to the level you anticipated.
“When you have a large number of players, that’s what’s going to happen.”
The Sox have the No. 11 overall pick in next month’s amateur draft, and Hahn also is expected to make more veteran-for-prospect moves at or before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
“Our goal is to continue to add a significant cluster of players so that you have those groups that overachieve and force the issue and get here and you have guys that progress on a normal pace and as a result you have multiple options as you move forward,” Hahn said.
Moncada should be with the White Sox at some point in July, and Lopez has the look of a September call-up.
Giolito has a lot of upside, but the big right-hander is 0-5 with a 7.31 ERA in 6 starts at Triple-A.
“We have talked before about the fact that a player struggling in the minors is part of their development,” Hahn said. “So even the guys who might not be quite on the pace that we originally anticipated, or they individually might have hoped for, there is a benefit for them in learning how to deal with adversity at the minor-league level when the spotlights aren’t quite as bright as they are in the big leagues.
“Ultimately, when these players do get to Chicago they are going to encounter some difficulty, that’s the nature of the game. To be able to hearken back to those struggles in the minors and the way they pulled themselves out of it is going to serve them well in the big leagues.”
White Sox vs. San Diego Padres at Guaranteed Rate Field
TV: Comcast SportsNet Friday and Sunday; WGN Saturday
Radio: WLS 890-AM
Pitching matchups: Miguel Gonzalez (3-2) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-3) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; Dylan Covey (0-3) vs. Trevor Cahill (3-2) Saturday at 6:10 p.m.; Jose Quintana (2-5) vs. Jered Weaver (0-4) Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
At a glance: The White Sox play their first interleague series of the season. They last played San Diego in 2014, losing two of three at home. Gonzalez is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA over his last 2 starts. The Sox have seven players on the disabled list, including starters Carlos Rodon and James Shields. Heading into Thursday night’s game at Texas, Wil Myers led the Padres with a .301 batting average and 23 RBI while ranking second to Ryan Schimpf (9) with 8 home runs.
Next: Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Monday-Wednesday