The White Sox farm system isn't as strong as it was two offseasons ago, but there are still plenty of high-impact players we could see on the South Side of Chicago by the time their playing careers end. We all know there are some future all-stars and possible MVP candidates at the top of the system, but there are also some very intriguing young players in the lower minors of the White Sox system. These are my rankings of some of the best players playing in the minor leagues for the White Sox.
30. OF Benyamin Bailey
I'm aboard the Bailey train. This 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder made a name for himself in the Dominican Rookie League last year, as he was one of the best hitters in that league. Bailey hit .324/.477/.454 last season in 55 games, culminating in almost 185 at-bats. He’s seen as a possible steal in the international ranks, as he signed for just $35,000 in April of 2019. He walked more than he struck out (52:40), had an eye-popping ability to get on base, and even showed the potential for power with 17 of his 60 hits being for extra bases. Baseball America gave him a shout out on their Twitter page recently, meaning Bailey is definitely a youngster to keep your eyes on. With lackluster players in the higher minors, he gets my 30th spot.
29. OF Luis Mieses
Still yet to fill out, the 19-year-old Mieses has skills to dream upon. He has shown raw power potential, contact ability, and a strong arm in right field. However, when he saw the Pioneer league last year, his free-swinging approach was exploited as a weakness. He showed a discouraging .264 on-base percentage and struck out 46 times in 59 games. He only walked seven times, which really hurt his ability to impact games. For his big 6-foot-3 frame, he didn’t show much power either last year, only clubbing four homers. Due to previously said lackluster prospects in the upper minors, Mieses’ tools and potential land him on the back-end of the top 30.
28. 3B Bryan Ramos
Another young player with a high ceiling, Ramos showed his polish in the Arizona League last year. He impressed many scouts and personnel with a .277/.353/.415 slash line in his 51-game professional debut, in which he displayed an ability to hit to all fields. Ramos has a nice frame at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds to stick at third base, and he also has plenty of arm to stay there. The real question is as he ages and matures, will he have enough range and athleticism to stay there? Ramos is the player to watch at this level this year, as he will most likely begin in Great Falls once they open their season.
27. RHP Kade McClure
I’m higher on McClure than most, but I truly think this former sixth-rounder will end up as a big-league starter someday. After a nasty knee injury, McClure came back last season for Kannapolis and Winston-Salem as a 23-year-old and threw well in 121.2 innings. He had a 3.25 ERA with an acceptable 1.23 WHIP. The impressive part for Kade last year was his ability to limit the home-run ball, allowing 0.8 HR/9. I’ll look for this 6-foot-6 righty to continue along his delayed path to the big leagues this year and continue to get stronger each season.
26. 3B Jake Burger
We may never know if Jake Burger will ever play again. In fact, many are just hoping he’ll just be able to show up in Glendale and do baseball activity with no pain this spring. I couldn’t get myself to leave the former first-rounder off this list just yet, but if he doesn’t get to an affiliate by June, he’ll be off my list completely. We know his profile already; he has a big bat with big questions on whether or not he can stay at third base. That question is even bigger now after his disappearance from action. I hope this young man figures his health out quickly because I do think he has a bright future in the game with that bat. Time will tell if Burger is a late bloomer or just another Sox first-round bust.
25. SS Lenyn Sosa
Sosa has been a Sox mainstay in the 20s of this list for years now. He’s developed into one of the better middle infield prospects the White Sox have now. The 20-year-old saw a full season of baseball in Kannapolis last season, where he hit .251 with seven home runs and 51 driven in. He has a strong arm and makes consistent contact with potential for power, all of which give Lenyn a higher floor than most of his teammates. He’ll probably see Winston-Salem this upcoming season, where his hit tool will once again be tested. The Venezuelan doesn’t have a standout tool, but he also doesn’t have a glaring weakness, which keeps him on my list.
24. RHP Codi Heuer
Since moving to the bullpen, Heuer has seen his effectiveness increase. Last year between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, he worked to a 2.39 ERA in almost 68 innings. He had a fantastic WHIP of 1.09, showing that he can limit baserunners with a sinking fastball that usually sits in the mid-90s. Heuer does need to watch his control, however, as a 2.5 BB/9 isn’t all that great for a reliever. The biggest thing that attracts the White Sox to Heuer is that he didn’t give up a home run at all last year and has only given up four in his professional career. If he continues to be effective like he was last year, Codi could find himself on the fast track to 35th and Shields pitching out of the left-field bullpen.
23. RHP Zack Burdi
Burdi possessed one of the best fastballs in his draft class, as it was given an 80-grade before his Tommy John surgery. Then, once he came back from his TJ surgery, he needed another surgery to repair a ligament in his knee. It’s easy to see why injury concerns have clouded this young man’s future, even with him striking out almost 13 hitters per nine innings before both surgeries. Burdi, like Burger, is a former first-round pick who I can’t give up on yet. At least Zack has taken the mound since his surgeries, and there’s reason to believe that he can regain dominant form.
22. LHP Bernardo Flores
Like many pitchers on this list, Flores was also recovering from injury this season. Flores continues to surprise me with his results. The highest earned run average he’s had as a pro was 4.24 in 2017, and he hasn’t had an ERA for a full season above 3.60 since. He sits in the low 90s with his fastball, has a good changeup, and has also improved his breaking pitches in his pro career. However, when we hear Rick Hahn talk about potential internal pitching additions, he speaks more about Jimmy Lambert, Dane Dunning, and Jonathan Stiever, so maybe Flores is someone the organization doesn’t value as much as others. The 24-year-old has the ceiling of a back-end starter, and he will be an interesting case to watch this season if he pitches well in Birmingham again.
21. 2B Danny Mendick
Danny is that guy that I always root for and want to see succeed, so I probably overvalue him more than anyone else (i.e., Jose Abreu). A 26-year-old, former 22nd-round pick probably doesn’t excite too many people, but here I am. Danny showed us his versatility last year when he played most of the positions in the infield. We know he can play left field, and he showed he can hit. I would love if Danny Mendick turned into our super-lite version of Ben Zobrist, which is probably unrealistic. Mendick will be on the Opening Day roster barring a major league signing, but either way, Danny will be competing for the second base job in Glendale. His grit and good showing in his short stint in the Majors last year put him higher up on this list.
20. RHP Ian Hamilton
Hamilton looked to be one of the most promising bullpen prospects the system had to offer two seasons ago before unfortunate freak injuries took away last season from him. A car crash in Spring Training and a facial fracture caused by a stray foul ball derailed Hamilton’s comeback to the big leagues last year. Still just 24, Hamilton has an above-average fastball and slider and a decent changeup when it’s on, giving him three solid offerings to hitters. In 2018, his last fully healthy season, Hamilton posted a 1.74 ERA with an outstanding 10.8 K/9 rate. I have always been higher on Hamilton than Burdi, and I hope this potential future White Sox closer has a healthy and effective bounce-back season.
19. OF James Beard
One of the young high schoolers the White Sox took in the 2019 draft, Beard has always been looked at a possible quick riser due to 80-grade speed and some power potential, both of which resulted in a fourth-round selection last year. He has been comped to former Cincinnati speed demon Billy Hamilton, but most scouts have given Beard the possibility of contributing a lot more with the bat than Hamilton ever has. There are plenty of questions on whether or not Beard will develop enough strength to produce power in the big leagues, and his below-average arm in centerfield doesn’t help his case either.
18. SS Yolbert Sanchez
This slick-fielding Cuban shortstop waited until the next signing period to sign with the White Sox, passing up signing with the newly revamped Orioles front office. His patience paid off when his defensive prowess got him $2.5 million in June of 2019. Sanchez valued the Cuban connection the White Sox have, especially since he was Luis Robert’s teammate back on the Cuban 18U team. Sanchez has a solid glove that's capable of staying at shortstop with a strong arm and decent quickness as well. His question marks come in his bat, where many people wonder if he’ll ever have any sort of power or make legitimate contributions with his offense. Sanchez comes in at 18 because his floor his high, being that of a glove-first utility man.
17. RHP Tyler Johnson
Johnson runs with a plus fastball and at times looked like the fastest rising reliever in the Sox system. The former fifth-rounder dealt with a back injury in 2019 and looked unimpressive once he returned. The 24-year-old is expected to move quickly once again if he’s healthy this year, but he’ll need to improve his secondary pitches if he hopes to get more advanced hitters out. Command of the strike zone and health will be the two biggest keys for Johnson in the 2020 season.
16. RHP Jimmy Lambert
Lambert is constantly mentioned by general manager Rick Hahn as a guy that we would’ve seen pitch in 2019 if it hadn’t been for injury problems. Jimmy only got 11 starts in 2019 before Tommy John surgery cost him the rest of his season. Lambert doesn’t have one pitch that is above the rest, but he also doesn’t have one pitch that lags behind the rest. Lambert repeats himself well, pounds the strike zone, and uses his changeup to help neutralize left-handed hitters. His floor is high and his ceiling is low, but Lambert looks like he could turn into a capable back-end starter once he polishes up his pitches in the upper minors.