7 top prospects among White Sox player pool

June 29th, 2020

CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced a 44-man roster for their 2020 summer camp, set to begin on Friday. As general manager Rick Hahn explained last week, this group will work out at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Additional players to fill out the White Sox 60-man player pool will be announced in the near future, as will the satellite camp site. Hahn mentioned that particular group would not report until mid-July.

Seven of the Top 10 White Sox prospects, per MLB Pipeline, are part of the 44-man roster. That list features outfielder Luis Robert (No. 1), first baseman Andrew Vaughn (No. 2), right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech (No. 3), second baseman Nick Madrigal (No. 4), right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning (No. 6), outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (No. 9) and catcher Zack Collins (No. 10).

There were 10 non-roster invites on this list of 44, competing with the others to be part of the team’s 30-man Opening Day roster. There also were six players from the White Sox 40-man who were not included but almost certainly will be part of the next 16.

It was a group fostering designs on leaving the three-year rebuild behind, having developed a good vibe when the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 13 during Spring Training. It’s a talented young crew hoping to pick up where it left off.

“We were meshing together so well in spring,” said White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who figures to be the Opening Day starter on July 23 or 24. “I like to say that our team, a lot of young players we’ve been coming up together, learning and growing together. It’s not just about being good teammates on the field and in the clubhouse, but beyond that as well.”

Let’s take a look at the 44-man roster:

Catchers (4): Yasmani Grandal, James McCann, Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes.
Likely making active roster (2): Grandal, McCann.

Grandal agreed to a four-year, $73 million deal on Nov. 21, 2019, marking the White Sox first major offseason move supporting the transformation from rebuild into a potential contender in the American League Central. The switch-hitter, who had a .380 on-base percentage in ’19 and is an expert pitch framer, will be joined by McCann, who was a ’19 All-Star.

Collins, the team’s top pick in the 2016 Draft, seemed prepared for the possibility of a Triple-A Charlotte return during the later stages of Spring Training. But with the current situation and roster configuration, it makes sense for the left-handed hitter to be part of the Major League team.

Infielders (10): José Abreu (1B), Leury García (2B), Tim Anderson (SS), Yoán Moncada (3B), Edwin Encarnación (DH), Andrew Vaughn, Andrew Romine, Danny Mendick, Nick Madrigal, Cheslor Cuthbert.
Likely making active roster (6): Abreu, García, Anderson, Moncada, Encarnación, Mendick.

Vaughn only has 55 games and 205 at-bats at the Minor League level, having never played above Class A Advanced Winston-Salem after being selected third overall in the 2019 Draft. It would be interesting to see Vaughn let it rip in this shortened season, with so many within and outside the organization giving plaudits to his offensive approach. But he’s more than likely not to see Major League time in this abbreviated campaign.

Madrigal, the fourth overall selection in the 2018 Draft, will be a part of this 60-game season even if he doesn’t break camp with the big league squad. The 26th man seemed to be the lone White Sox question mark near the end of Spring Training, with veterans Romine and Cuthbert both having a shot at that spot.

Outfielders (6): Eloy Jiménez (LF), Luis Robert (CF), Nomar Mazara (RF), Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, Luis Alexander Basabe.
Likely making active roster (4): Jiménez, Robert, Mazara, Engel

White Sox fans have waited for Robert’s Major League career to begin, and that opportunity soon will arrive for the No. 3 prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline. Delmonico had a solid Spring Training and has a shot for one of the last few roster spots.

Starting pitchers (9): Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease, Gio González, Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón, Dane Dunning, Jimmy Lambert.

Likely making active roster (7): Giolito, Keuchel, López, Cease, González, Kopech, Rodón.

Starting rotation depth looks a bit different with July approaching than it would have on the regularly scheduled Opening Day of March 26. At that point, Kopech, Rodon, Dunning and Lambert still were at various stages of the rehab comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, but all now appear ready to go.

“Early on in the season our pitching depth was a potential issue with Rodón coming back from injury and Kopech having not pitched in a year and a half or so,” Hahn said. “Not to mention some of the young players like Dunning, Lambert, [Jonathan] Stiever, who were sort of building their way back.

“Now that we've got ourselves down to a 60-game season and all those players are, knock on wood, without restrictions at this point from a health standpoint, you suddenly look around at this team and you see we're in a decent position from a pitching-depth standpoint. The expanded rosters early on are potentially going to allow us the opportunity to be creative in how we deploy that pitching depth.”

Seven starters appear to be near-certainties to break with the team, giving the White Sox creative flexibility as Hahn mentioned. Kopech could be used as an opener as a way to bring him back gradually after not pitching in a big league game since September 2018. The White Sox also could pair starters together.

Relief pitchers (15): Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Jimmy Cordero, Jace Fry, Kelvin Herrera, Steve Cishek, Carson Fulmer, Evan Marshall, José Ruiz, Ian Hamilton, Ross Detwiler, Codi Heuer, Tayron Guerrero, Tyler Johnson, Drew Anderson.
Likely making active roster (8): Colomé, Bummer, Cordero, Fry, Herrera, Cishek, Fulmer, Marshall.

Sixty games to be played in 66 days could lead the White Sox to break camp with a 16- or 17-man pitching staff. Fulmer, who was the team’s top pick in the 2015 Draft and is out of options, seemed to have the final bullpen spot locked down in late March. A healthy Hamilton presents an interesting option, and the soon-to-be 24-year-old Heuer opened eyes with a solid Spring Training showing.

Non-roster invites on the 44 (10): Anderson, Detwiler, Guerrero, Heuer, Johnson, Madrigal, Romine, Vaughn, Delmonico, Cuthbert.

Players on 40-man not included on the 44 (6): RHP Zack Burdi, LHP Bernardo Flores, RHP Matt Foster, C Seby Zavala, OF Micker Adolfo, OF Blake Rutherford.

Left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet and right-hander Jared Kelley -- the team’s first- and second-round picks, respectively, in the 2020 Draft -- are not on either of these lists. One or both could be part of the 16 players announced to complete the White Sox player pool.