White Sox stacking the deck from the bottom up
It was that long ago when the Chicago White Sox looked like they were stacking the deck during the 2014 Winter Meetings and looking like a possible playoff contender.
Two subpar seasons later and the White Sox has attempted to stack the deck in a completely different direction by trading Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Todd Frazier, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Jose Quitana, David Robinson, Chris Sale and Anthony Swarzak for high level prospects since December of last year.
As a result, the White Sox have the best farm systems in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, a clear sign for a successful rebuilding project. It’s something that has been tried by many teams recently; some as successful as the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros.
While the future core of the White Sox Rotation are being groomed in the higher levels of their minor league organization with the likes of James Shields, Derek Holland and Mike Pelfrey serving as the stopgaps, the team’s young hitters are getting a chance to grow and show their stuff.
Some dividends have already been made. Third baseman Matt Davidson leads the White Sox and is third among rookies in home runs with 22. He is on pace to finish the season with 33 home runs, three less than Jose Abreu’s rookie total in 2014.
Davidson was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and played the first 31 games of his career for them in 2013 but not long enough to qualify as a rookie season. With Martin Prado as their third baseman, the Diamondbacks traded Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed in December of 2013.
Davidson isn’t the only rookie third baseman making a impressive first impression. Nick Delmonico is batting .348 in his first week in the big leagues. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 but traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Francisco Rodriguez in 2013. He was picked up by the White Sox after being released by Single-A Brevard County going into the 2015 season, making him an under the radar pickup.
The highlight of the White Sox young lineup is top prospect Yoan Moncada, who they acquired in the trade for Sale. While he has gotten off to a slow start in his career, Moncada has already belted his first career home run. The Cuban infielder has the benefit of playing alongside fellow countryman Abreu to further his growth.
This team will truly pop once their three starting pitching prospects, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen establish themselves in the big leagues. Each of them have been impressive in their own way this season. Giolito threw a no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte, Kopech — who a team scout once told me he had a more impressive physique than Bryce Harper — is 4-1 with a 0.79 ERA in his last five starts for Double-A Birmingham and Hansen currently has a 2.44 ERA in Single-A Winston-Salem.
The White Sox may be terrible now, but in short time, they will soon break out like the Astros and Royals did. Then comes the next challenging phase of the process, stacking the deck the same way they did two years ago.