MLB: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox

Optimism on the Farm

The poor injury luck the White Sox have suffered has put a damper on some of the prospect watching that helps distract from the losses that continue to pile at the major league level. But while seeing the likes of Luis Robert, Dane Dunning, Jake Burger, Micker Adolfo, and others sidelined for some or all of the season has been both a setback in their respective developments and a drag from an aesthetic standpoint, there has been positive noteworthy developments on the farm, particularly lately.

  • It’s hard to imagine Eloy Jimenez will be facing Triple-A pitching for too much longer. After a 2-HR performance on Friday, the 21-year-old is hitting .351/.400/.622 in 20 games since being promoted to the level, and has shown no signs of being slowed by the left adductor strain that sidelined him at the beginning of the month. Jimenez’s presence is one of if not the most obvious reasons the second half of 2018 is compelling despite the White Sox standing, as a solid two or so months of a lineup featuring him, Yoan Moncada, and Tim Anderson will offer a further glimpse into the future.
  • Speaking of exciting players who might soon be in Chicago, Michael Kopech has put together two really good starts in a row, which is something we haven’t been able to say much this season. The 20 strikeouts in 12 innings across two starts is cool, but nothing new. What is new is that he only walked one batter a piece in those two outings, which is certainly a good sign for a pitcher whose struggled with command throughout the season. Kopech’s struggles certainly gives credence to those who think he’s more late-inning reliever than ace-level starting pitcher long term, but we’re a long way from that becoming a reality. It would be surprising if he doesn’t get his first crack at facing a major league lineup at some point before this summer ends.
  • While BP’s Midseason Top 50 doesn’t include this year’s draft class, first-round pick Nick Madrigal was ranked No. 33 on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100, and he was the White Sox third highest ranked behind Jimenez and Kopech. Since joining the organization, Madrigal has been to the plate 36 times between the AZL and Low-A Kannapolis and he’s reached base 17 times. He’s walked twice, been hit by a pitch four times, and has struck out zero times. That Madrigal has found immediate success as a polished college bat at the lowest levels of the minor leagues isn’t exactly surprising, but him doing exactly as expected is certainly better than the alternative.
  • James Fegan of The Athletic profiled minor league reliever Ian Hamilton, whose success this season has him knocking at the door of a major league opportunity. Hamilton dominated Double-A during the first two months of the season and has put up zeros across all but one of his 11 appearances since being promoted to Triple-A Charlotte last month. Hamilton was an 11th round pick after spending his senior season at Washington State as a closer, so his trajectory as a reliever has never been in question. But him ascending to the majors for the White Sox would be a solid developmental win.
  • Dylan Cease has been the biggest bright spot among White Sox prospects this season. The 22-year-old has pitched to somewhat mixed results in his four starts since promotion to Double-A, but has at the very least showed the type of swing-and-miss stuff that’s worth dreaming on. Perhaps more importantly, Cease has stayed healthy throughout the season, and after his last start sits at 93 1/3 innings on the season, which is tied for a career high with another month and a half or so left in the minor league season.
  • Not that this would necessarily be considered a “success,” but the White Sox finally made the move to put Carson Fulmer in the bullpen after the 24-year-old’s struggles continued even after his demotion to Triple-A. It’s a disappointing but not unexpected outcome for the 2015 first rounder, and while it’s far from a guarantee, the hope is that he can reinvent himself as a reliever to still be a reliable part of the next White Sox contender. He’s made five appearances since the transition, giving up a pair of runs in one of them but zeros otherwise. He’s walked three and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings of work. That’s very much a “scouting the stat line” report, but it will be interesting to see what’s said about Fulmer once scouts get a look at how his stuff plays out of the bullpen.

Lead Photo Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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