Baseball Prospectus posted its midseason Top 50 prospects Thursday, which more than anything provides us with a glimpse of how evaluators believe the top prospects in baseball have progressed since the season began.
Before the season, BP had four White Sox prospects in its Top 50 and six in the Top 101, which of course was helped by an offseason in which the White Sox traded away their two best players for a plethora of young talent. This updated version, with 51 fewer names, also has four in the Top 50, but not the same four as were there in the preseason.
Let’s look at where BP has these guys slotted as well as some of our own thoughts on the progress of these players. For the full list, which is absolutely worth your time, click here.
No. 1: Yoan Moncada
Moncada is BP’s top prospect in baseball, which isn’t a controversial pick as you’ll find his name at or near the top of literally any other publication’s list of top prospects. Moncada was No. 5 on the preseason list, but his four spot jump can be misleading. Of the four ranked ahead of him, two are no longer eligible for the list because of promotion (Dansby Swanson, Andrew Benintendi), one had Tommy John surgery shortly after the initial list was published (Alex Reyes), and one has flat out stunk this season (J.P. Crawford).
That isn’t selling Moncada short, of course. If you’re anywhere near the top of this list, it’s for good reason. And Moncada has performed at Triple-A this season about as well as one could have expected. As you’ll see in the write-up from BP’s prospect team, Moncada remains a five-tool talent with the only legitimate question coming about his hit tool. He’s still striking out a ton — 27.6 percent strikeout rate in Charlotte this season — while displaying otherwise phenomenal power and speed.
When the season began, many believed we’d see Moncada in Chicago relatively soon. That hasn’t happened, whether because of service time, the injury that cost him a few weeks and saw him slump badly upon his return, neither, or both, but it likely won’t be long before we see him get another shot at the big league level after a short, forgettable promotion with the Red Sox last fall.
No. 25: Michael Kopech
Kopech made a small jump from No. 36 in the preseason to No. 25 on the current iteration, and the White Sox were aggressive with him from the onset of the season as he’s spent the entire season at Double-A after spending most of last season in High-A with the Red Sox.
He’s pretty much been as advertised from when the White Sox acquired him over the winter, with an electric fastball that reaches triple digits on a regular basis, a plus slider, and all sorts of command issues. He’s had mixed results in Birmingham, striking out an absurd 101 in 78 1/3 innings, while also walking 53 batters.
Kopech’s progress over the next couple years will be as interesting as any of the guys on this list, given the thin margin for error there is for a guy with his repertoire between being a lights-out frontline starter and a hard throwing bullpen dude who struggles to find the strike zone. He won’t turn 22 until the first month of next season, so there’s plenty of time, and you know the White Sox are going to do everything in their power to make sure he ends up the former.
No. 31: Lucas Giolito
Giolito, along with Reynaldo Lopez (not on the Top 50 after being ranking No. 30 in the preseason) both fell from their preseason positions on BP’s list. Giolito was the No. 10 prospect in baseball according to BP just 3 1/2 months ago, but hasn’t done much to alleviate the concerns over his declining velocity.
We’re not very far removed from Giolito being considered by many to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, and there’s still plenty of hope. The White Sox have only been able to work with him for a few months now, and their reputation for both fixing and developing starting pitchers means there are worse places for Giolito to be, but his struggles thus far make it easy to see why he’s taken such a fall in the rankings.
No. 42: Alec Hansen
The biggest riser among White Sox on this list is Hansen, who was No. 97 on the preseason version. Hansen’s ceiling might not be all that high, but BP sees two plus pitches and mid-rotation upside, which is a hell of a projection when you consider just 13 months ago he was a second round pick who fell in the draft after a hellacious final season of college ball at Oklahoma.
Bonus: Luis Robert
Robert was left off the midseason list, but as noted within the article, it was mostly because the prospect team hasn’t yet gotten a look at the 19-year-old Cuban outfielder the White Sox inked to a $26 million deal less than a month ago. You’ll likely see him rank highly on most prospect lists going forward, but there’s a clear line between teams and evaluators who like Robert and those who don’t. Which side of the line BP’s prospect team falls is still to be determined.
Omission: Reynaldo Lopez
As mentioned above, Lopez was No. 30 on the preseason Top 101 and failed to make the Top 50 this time around. Whether or not a pitcher can last as a starter once reaching the big leagues is a question surrounding any pitching prospect, but the concerns seem much greater concerning Lopez than any of those who made the list, hence the omission. The White Sox obviously express publicly confidence that Lopez will remain a starter, and of the top pitchers in the system, he’s the one guy who seems closest to major league promotion at the moment, so we may find out if that’s truly the case sooner than later.
Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports