White Sox have group of prospects rising fast

Engel, May among talented youth nearing Major League callups

February 17th, 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Shortstop Tim Anderson and right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer almost always come up whenever talk of Major League-ready White Sox prospects arises -- they're players who could contribute in 2016.

Right-handed pitcher Chris Beck is also part of that conversation, although he's on the rebound from nerve repositioning surgery in his right elbow. But there are more players among the White Sox Top 30 Prospects who aren't too far away, as assistant director of player development and scouting Del Matthews explains.

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Adam Engel, 24, hasn't played above the Carolina League. But with his 65 stolen bases last season and his 2015 Arizona Fall League Most Valuable Player performance, Engel has put himself in position to reach the Majors sometime this season.

"I definitely think that [Engel] has a chance, at some point, to come up, depending on how his season goes," said Matthews of the outfielder, who will take his adjustments made at the plate to Double-A Birmingham at the season's outset. "He's probably our most exciting defensive player in the outfield.

"He goes from gap to gap. They call him 'Superman' down in Winston-Salem. He is an animal. He's a physical specimen. He can run."

Jacob May, 24, is another plus-speed talent on the big league cusp. The switch-hitting center fielder should begin at Triple-A Charlotte.

"Even a little bit of an older guy, Jason Coats, who we really, really like," said Matthews of the soon-to-be 26-year-old, who has three straight seasons with at least 81 RBIs. "He has a chance to impact the club with the bat if there's a need at some point."

Matthews points to Jordan Guerrero, who joins Coats, Engel and May as non-roster invites to big league camp opening on Friday, atop the pitchers who are somewhat flying under the radar. The 21-year-old southpaw fanned 148 over 149 innings last season, featuring a "really good changeup."

"We are seeing [Guerrero] mature before our eyes, and the growth and the strides that he's made," said Matthews.

Brandon Brennan, who is on the 40-man roster, and Robinson Leyer are two other pitchers whom Matthews thinks are on their way. Leyer is described as having high velocity with good command, and he is working on refining his breaking ball.

"A great thing about player development is sometimes we use our past experiences and what we think guys are going to do," Matthews said. "But sometimes guys just really take to the development process and what they are being taught, with their hard work they put in the offseason or instructional league the prior year, and they come back and you really see them develop day by day.

"When it clicks, when it pops, sometimes these guys have the ability to really exceed your expectations. They make you move them faster than you otherwise would have, and we have seen that [over the years] in several cases with guys in our system."