One of those fun, pointless exercises that used to be a staple of prospect lists and is still a feature of delirious prospect hugging online is a projected future lineup. Fun, because any peek into the future is fun, and it can function as a minor league depth chart of sorts. Pointless, because the next all homegrown lineup will be the first, the lists basically assume a 100 percent hit rate for prospects, and teams don’t just slowly migrate the Triple-A roster into the majors because they would have massive holes at the major league level.
Even if we did perfect world stuff like put Zack Collins at catcher in 2021, the Sox would then have corresponding hole at first base. Anyway, here goes:
2021 White Sox
C I dunno, let’s say Seby Zavala
1B Nick Delmonico?
2B Yoan Moncada
SS Tim Anderson
3B Luis Curbelo
CF Luis Basabe
RF Alex Call
DH Zack Collins
Beyond Anderson, the assertion that Collins is going to hit dingers somewhere, and that Basabe is the best, albeit an extremely risky outfield prospect, I could throw all this out in five months. I’d like to throw some of it out right now. Moncada is the centerpiece of the system and probably starts the year in the Triple-A, and we don’t even know what position he will play. Catcher is lacking for any prospects even moderately close to the majors, pretty much any consistent bat that emerges, or one that they acquire (foreshadowing) will have the corner spot of their choosing.
Compare this to the pitching staff, where it’s easier to find a bunch of names to dream on.
1. Carlos Rodon
4. Dane Dunning
CL Zack Burdi
MR Alec Hansen
MR Brian Clark (LHP)
LR Tyler Danish
That’s a lot of confidence on Stephens, but done largely for effect, to show that the Sox could have plenty of the high-octane, headline-grabbing arms become relievers, and still have the depth to produce a rotation, without even knowing where Spencer Adams fits in. Debates over the back end of the 2021 rotation are, well, I still haven’t decided what to write for on Friday, after all. They also need another lefty.
This is all for effect, actually, to make a condescending point about position prospects. Like many comments I have received, I too would be interested to see some more position prospects brought into the White Sox system, because it would provide a clearer vision of the future, and it would be easier to write about the team and track progress of specific individuals I knew would be involved down the road, it would guarantee more exciting prospect debuts over the next three years, and because Alex Verdugo is a fun name to say.
That last bit is thrown in as a joke, but has the same level of importance as all the rest: window dressing that is entirely non-essential to making sure the 2020 or 2021 team is any good. Moncada and Basabe and drafting a big bat with a big hitch in his swing like Collins shows the Sox are not gunshy about acquiring position prospects in need of development, but the heart of this rebuild is resting on pitching development, and probably a great deal on Don Cooper.
Like the Cubs, who have churned out surplus bats and then fenced them to give themselves elite closers for back-to-back seasons, the Sox will need to generate surplus pitching and swap it fill out positions of need. Who knows what those positions will be–I would bet on every outfield corner and catcher but they could just as easily be swapping starter prospects for proven relievers and so on, and so forth.
Prospect lists are no substitute for and do not equal a full and coherent roster, but they are more useful than trying to shape one for the future out of what’s currently present. The Sox are trying to acquire pieces that they can project as part of their future, but have no need to fit them together yet, so it can take on the appearance of a big, shapeless glob of value.
Learn to cherish the glob.
Photo by Mark J. Rebilas