CHICAGO -- "Ladies and gentlemen, here is your White Sox starting lineup for… ."Taking a page from general manager Rick Hahn, who steadfastly has avoided an official target date for the ongoing rebuilding project's conclusion, let's say the next time the White Sox truly are in playoff contention...It could be
CHICAGO -- "Ladies and gentlemen, here is your White Sox starting lineup for… ."
Taking a page from general manager Rick Hahn, who steadfastly has avoided an official target date for the ongoing rebuilding project's conclusion, let's say the next time the White Sox truly are in playoff contention...
It could be 2019. It could be '20. Whatever the season, there's plenty of players to choose from, assuming perfect continued development.
First base: Jose Abreu or Gavin Sheets
Abreu still has two more years remaining (2018-19) on his current deal, so he could be part of the picture in '19. Sheets, the team's second-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, came in as a polished hitter with raw power and could move quickly through the system.
Second base: Yoan Moncada
Presently sitting as the No. 1 prospect in the game per MLBPipeline.com, Moncada's big league timeline with the White Sox could start soon.
Shortstop: Tim Anderson
At 26 or 27 when the good times arrive, Anderson will serve as a veteran voice for this young crew.
Third base: Jake Burger
Some pundits question whether Burger will stay at third, but the hit tool possessed by the team's top pick during the 2017 Draft (No. 11 overall) will put him somewhere in the lineup. Let's not forget Matt Davidson, who at 26 now, certainly could be a power-hitting presence for years to come.
Catcher: Zack Collins
What once was a very thin position in the organization now has solid depth. Seby Zavala and Evan Skoug, as well as Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith on the current roster, all could be in play. But Collins and the White Sox believe in his everyday catching ability.
Left field: Micker Adolofo
He's come a long way this season with Class A Kannapolis and doesn't turn 21 until Sept. 11.
Center field: Luis Robert
Adolfo represented the White Sox biggest foray into the international market until they agreed to a $26 million signing bonus with Robert at the end of May.
Right field: Eloy Jimenez
When people say he has light-tower power, Jimenez actually backed up the compliment.
Designated hitter: Avisail Garcia/Davidson
The beauty of having so many talented young players is manager Rick Renteria can rotate who he wants through this spot. It could be a landing place for someone such as Skoug, Burger or even Collins.
Starting rotation: Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning, Lucas Giolito, Alec Hansen It's difficult to stop at five or even six. Let's not forget Spencer Adams, Jordan Stephens, Carson Fulmer or Bernardo Flores, who all could figure into the bullpen mix if not a part of the rotation.
Bullpen: Zack Burdi (closer), Dylan Cease, Fulmer, Aaron Bummer, Jordan Guerrero, Tommy Kahnle , Ian Hamilton, Tyler Danish. Imagine if Kopech goes the bullpen route, and the White Sox have Burdi, Kopech and Kahnle to close games, not to mention the possibility of a healthy Nate Jones. Not a bad finishing kick.
This list doesn't even include Alex Call, Jameson Fisher, Charlie Tilson, Luis Basabe or Adam Engel in the outfield or Trey Michalczewski, Nick Delmonico and Danny Hayes on the infield. It doesn't include players who could rise up from the past two Drafts, let alone high picks in an extremely deep 2018 Draft.
All of this projecting comes before free-agent spending, with Hahn saying the money will be there when the time is right. It certainly presents an optimistic picture.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.