Coming off their first playoff berth in 12 years, the White Sox have assembled their best team since their 2005 World Series championship club. Rookies will play a major role in determining how close the 2021 edition comes to winning a title.
Chicago has four American League rookie of the year candidates in first baseman Andrew Vaughn, right-hander Michael Kopech, second baseman Nick Madrigal and left-hander Garrett Crochet. Madrigal hit .340 in a 23-game trial last summer, while Crochet appears to be on the Chris Sale path after jumping from the Draft to the big leagues with a 100-mph fastball. Kopech is back throwing bullets following Tommy John surgery in 2018 and Vaughn could be Frank Thomas Lite.
Once that group graduates to the Majors, the White Sox will need to refortify their system, which currently is one of the game's top-heaviest. They spent $7.1 million and three early picks in the last two Drafts on high school right-handers Jared Kelley, Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist before shelling out $2.05 million for Cuban outfielder Yoelsqui Cespedes (Yoenis' little brother) in January and $1.5 million for Cuban righty Norge Vera a month later. They offer plenty of upside but will need time to develop because they've combined for a total of five innings of pro experience.
Behind their 2021 rookie crop, the White Sox have a group of once-touted prospects now in their mid-20s with uncertain futures. Outfielder Micker Adolfo, righty Zack Burdi and third baseman Jake Burger have been waylaid by multiple injuries, while outfielder Blake Rutherford and Luis Gonzalez and first baseman Gavin Sheets have posted mediocre numbers in Double-A.
Here's a look at the White Sox's top prospects:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2020 preseason list to the 2021 preseason list.
Jump: Bryan Ramos, 3B (2020: NR | 2021: 16) -- The Cuban defector has yet to make his full-season debut but has the potential to hit for average and power while remaining at the hot corner.
Fall: Konnor Pilkington, LHP (2020: 24 | 2021: NR) -- A third-round pick in 2018, he saw his stuff regress as a junior at Mississippi State and it never has come all the way back.
Best tools Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 70 -- Nick Madrigal
Power: 60 -- Andrew Vaughn
Run: 80 -- James Beard
Arm: 70 -- Micker Adolfo (Yoelqui Cespedes)
Defense: 60 -- Yolbert Sanchez (Nick Madrigal)
Fastball: 80 -- Michael Kopech (Zach Burdi, Garrett Crochet)
Curveball: 70 -- Jonathan Stiever
Slider: 65 -- Michael Kopech
Changeup: 60 -- Jared Kelley
Control: 60 -- Bernardo Flores
How they were built
Draft: 19 | International: 8 | Trade: 2 | Rule 5: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2021: 13 | 2022: 4 | 2023: 8 | 2024: 5
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 2 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 3 | SS: 3 | OF: 7 | RHP: 10 | LHP: 3