I submitted my organizational top 30 for South Side Sox today and I always feel overwhelmed when trying to undertake a “problem” like that. Although there are certainly no right answers, I don’t like that I don’t even have a process to use when putting together my list. One thing is for sure, no one’s list is going to be right and no one’s is going to be wrong. No matter the amount of work you put into it, not even every player will ever wear a big league uniform. Also… I haven’t seen every player so how can I be expected to rank them in any kind of logical order? I’m not going to lie, I haven’t seen any single player in the rookie leagues or Dominican Summer League. When I used players from those circuits I had to rely on signing bonus, draft pedigree, stats, and press clippings. I am to some degree an expert on this system, but no ONE can see them all.
Where to put Luis Robert? This kid is in great shape, chiseled like a swimmer or sprinter. He possesses great speed and tremendous power (that has only been witnessed in batting practice). Thing is he has what scouts refer to as great tools, but in my looks these tools haven’t been present. The speed always plays but the power hasn’t gotten into games because the hitting approach was bad, and not just bad, but deplorable. In my looks he swung at the first pitch over and over and over. When he fell behind in the count he often fell prey to breaking stuff or outside pitches that he couldn’t do anything with, and when he’s trying to pull those pitches the result is often a slow roller that goes to the first base side of the pitcher’s mound and turns into an easy out. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have any recollection of him hitting one of those legendary Robert “rockets.” Like I said in a previous post I saw him commit two of the worst base-running gaffes that I have ever seen in a minor league game. These made me question his baseball IQ or whether he just wants to showcase Luis Robert and doesn’t care about the team (I feel both are legitimate questions). Then I read about how opposing teams watch him take BP just to see how far he can hit it out of the ball park. I know the culture adjustment, language barrier, injury and long schedule can all be expected to weight heavily on a foreign import during his first season stateside so I am willing to give him a mulligan. However at this point in time, I feel much more confident in Micker Adolfo, Luis Gonzalez, and Steele Walker (although Walker hasn’t gotten the results yet either). I can’t help but wonder if international players were part of the draft, would he have been the consensus #1? The signing bonus wouldn’t have been 26 million, in that case it would have been between 8 and 9 million. Will he be second coming of Rusney Castillo or perhaps the Dodgers Hector Olivera who signed for 62.5 million? The Dodgers who are more historically astute in player evaluation than the White Sox have seen numerous high priced flops in their Cuban signings. I guess time will tell, but consider me to be the outlying non-believer right now. I rated him #6 or #7 on my list to avoid full fledged ridicule. I do acknowledge the ceiling is as high as anyone in the game, but at this point, the bust potential is real.
How about Alec Hansen, I loved this kid in 2016. He led the minors in strikeouts in 2018. He’s huge 6′ 8″ very wide across the chest and shoulders. Pitches from high, three-quarters arm slot with extension and downward plane with easy velocity and smooth mechanics. I would have slotted him above Kopech in 2017… Then 2018 happened and he lost most of the season due to injury. When he did return he managed to lose any semblance of control that he had resulting in 10 BB per 9 innings OUCH! Hopefully being reunited with the “Hansen whisperer” will help him regain his dominant form. I’m not ready to give up on him.
Seby over Zack-This was the biggest no-brainer of all for me. Zavala is older for a prospect, but he is also ready to contribute now. He is a great receiver and catching for polished big league pitchers will help him shine even more. He’s bilingual so he can communicate with the entire pitching staff, he’s not high strung or cocky. He’s tends to be on an even keel so I don’t think slumps will affect him. He can stifle an opponent’s running game (do not hold minor league stolen bases against catchers, the pitcher’s don’t have refined pick-off moves or quick deliveries). Seby also has big time power. His walk rate was down in Charlotte along with his power, but I attribute the power outage to a wrist injury that plagued him since before his promo from Birmingham. A healthy Seby will shine in Charlotte and I believe that Collins presence helps motivate him even more. Outwardly Seby doesn’t see it as a competition and actually the two players are friends, but I think his subconscious knows exactly what is going on.