02/09/12 11:00 AM ET
White Sox org. preview, Top 20 Prospects
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The White Sox have gotten some instant gratification from their farm system in the last few seasons, and they'll likely add another impact arm this year in Addison Reed. But after Reed and perhaps Nestor Molina in a year, Chicago may need some time for more prospects to marinate.
The strength of Chicago's organization lies in projectable arms, but most of them will have to take the long developmental route to the Major Leagues. Nick Capra, Chicago's director of player development, said the White Sox are patient and ready to wait for reinforcements.
"Right now and in the past, the focus has been pitching," Capra said. "We've had some guys expedited to the Majors in Gordon Beckham and Chris Sale, and now in Addison Reed. It doesn't happen often like that, but we've had three players move pretty quickly to the big leagues."
The White Sox, in this case, have gotten mixed results for their efforts. Beckham played just 59 games in the Minor Leagues and has struggled at second base, but Sale -- who threw just 11 games in the Minors -- has found such success as a reliever that the White Sox will try him as a this spring.
Now, the White Sox will have Reed, who made a stunning march through the Minors last year in his first full professional season. The former third-round draftee started at Class A Kannapolis and made it all the way to the Majors on the strength of a wicked fastball and pinpoint control.
Reed worked 78 1/3 innings at four Minor League stops last season, racking up a 1.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts against just 14 walks. He flashed the same stuff in the Major Leagues, where he struck out 12 batters in six appearances before the end of the season.
"He will be a closer, but I don't know how soon it will be," Capra said. "He's got the stuff to close, but it's tough to get to the big leagues and be called a closer right away."
Top 20 Prospects
The White Sox acquired Molina from Toronto for closer Sergio Santos, and Molina will likely start out at Double-A Birmingham next year. The 23-year-old Venezuela native was impressive at Class A Dunedin last year, where he went 10-3 with a 2.58 ERA and just 14 walks.
Chicago got Jhan Marinez from Florida as part of the compensation for losing manager Ozzie Guillen, and the White Sox got Simon Castro from San Diego as part of a deal for Carlos Quentin. Castro struggled last year, but Chicago thinks he'll be able to reassert himself in 2012.
"He was kind of dealing with some mechanical issues and he wants to get back to the guy he was in 2010," Capra said. "But we were just down in the Dominican Republic, and we got a chance to see him. He looks good. He's got a power arm."
The White Sox have two homegrown arms in Jacob Petricka and Erik Johnson, and Eduardo Escobar is a glove-man who could help the parent club as a utility man this season.
Capra credited shortstop Tyler Saladino for playing several positions in the Arizona Fall League, and he said Chicago may have two gems in outfielders Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker.
"Trayce has a chance to be an impact player," Capra said. "He had a heck of a year last year, even if his batting average doesn't show it. But he's a potential five-tool guy. Walker just needs to play baseball. He's an athletic kid that we took from a junior college last year in the Draft."
top white sox prospects
Under the radar
Outfielder Jared Mitchell was a first-round draftee in 2009, but he missed all of the 2010 season while recovering from a catastrophic ankle injury. He got back on the field last year for Class A Winston-Salem and batted .222 with a .304 on-base and a .377 slugging percentage.
"He was a big-time pick, but he got hurt and missed a year," Capra said. "He hasn't played a lot of baseball. But he'll come to Spring Training and be in the mix to play at [Double-A] Birmingham."
Tyler Kuhn doesn't have Mitchell's pedigree but may still be able to hit his way to the Majors. Kuhn, a 25-year-old utility man and former 15th-round draftee, hit .341 and logged a .401 on-base mark for Birmingham last year, and he batted .297 in a 23-game audition for Triple-A Charlotte.
Hitter of the Year
Andrew Wilkins was originally drafted as a third baseman, but he's settled in at first base and proved himself as a pretty interesting hitter. The former fifth-round draftee batted .278 with 23 home runs for Winston-Salem, priming himself for a big year against upper-level pitching.
Wilkins drew 56 walks and struck out just 91 times last year, and he ranked second in the Carolina League in home runs and second in RBIs (89). He'll have to maintain his control of the strike zone to thrive at Birmingham, and if he does, he'll be a year or two away from the Majors.
Pitcher of the Year
Molina moved into the rotation last season, and he proved that he may move quickly through the upper levels with a five-start audition for Double-A New Hampshire in Toronto's organization. Molina only threw 22 innings in five appearances, but he recorded a 0.41 ERA at that level.
The right-hander logged an incredible 9.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season, and he's given up just 14 home runs in 103 Minor League appearances. Molina is probably going to be a star at Double-A, and the only question is how long the White Sox will leave him there.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.