On the Cusp: Chicago White Sox
Rodon has chance to break into big leagues with another strong campaign
In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.
The White Sox could easily be one of the most improved teams in baseball. The additions of Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Jeff Samardzija, and David Robertson help provide depth to the franchise and gives them time to further develop prospects. However, there are still some young players that may graduate to the big league club this season.
Here are the White Sox prospects I think have a chance to make an impact in Chicago in 2015, listed by their rankings in the White Sox Top 20 Prospects list.
Carlos Rodon | LHP | 6-foot-3, 235 pounds | No. 1
It's hard to believe that after having been selected as the third player overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, Rodon is almost finished with his development and could appear on Chicago's 25-man roster at some point in the season. Tossing only 24 1/3 innings in the Minors, Rodon was able to make three starts in Triple-A in his first pro season. He threw to a combined 2.96 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He struck out an average of 14.1 hitters per nine innings. Amazing. But he also walked 4.8 per nine. His control is an area that needs improvement. Last season the 22-year-old did not allow a single home run. While he can bring his fastball to the high 90s, his best pitch is a wicked slider. His third pitch, used more sparingly, is an average changeup. Once Rodon shows he can command and control all three pitches consistently, he could knock on the door of the big league club and be more than welcome to enter.
Micah Johnson | 2B | 6-feet, 190 pounds | No. 4
Johnson is a bit behind teammate Carlos Sanchez (see below) on the second base depth chart. Johnson has very good speed that should lead to stolen bases. He has a .297 career Minor League batting average in parts of three seasons. He has had elbow surgery in the past, but that's now behind him. Short and quick, Johnson is a solid gap hitter with little home run power. Although he's improving, he isn't the best overall defender, and that's an area for further development moving forward.
Matt Davidson | 3B | 6-foot-2, 225 pounds | No. 8
Set to turn 24 during Spring Training, the right-handed-hitting Davidson came to the White Sox in a trade with the D-backs that sent Addison Reed to the desert. Davidson had a tough 2014 season, hitting .199 at Triple-A Charlotte in 539 plate appearances. The redeeming factor has been his power, and during that difficult season he managed to pound 20 home runs. However, he struck out 164 times. Seen as "stiff" and lacking mobility, Davidson has to prove himself at third base.
Sanchez | 2B/SS | 5-foot-11, 195 pounds | No. 10
His rookie status still intact after playing 28 games and getting 104 plate appearances last year, the switch-hitting Sanchez appears to be the front-runner to begin the season as the White Sox starting second baseman. The 22-year-old Venezuelan has played parts of six seasons in the White Sox farm system. Sanchez has a combination of good speed and good defense as his two most prominent tools. He lacks power, but his hitting tool continues to develop. He's a bit anxious and aggressive at the plate, but the White Sox will welcome his ability to hit the gaps with line drives and use his speed to leg out doubles.
Chris Beck | RHP | 6-foot-3, 225 pounds | No. 12
A long shot to see the mound in Chicago, Beck could surprise. Using both sides of the plate to his advantage, he has a good fastball that can vary from 90-95 mph as well as a solid slider that serves as his primary second pitch. He also throws a mediocre changeup.
Onelki Garcia | LHP | 6-foot-3, 225 pounds | No. 19
In November, the White Sox selected Garcia off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The big, strong lefty from Cuba can bring his fastball at 95 mph. Used primarily as a reliever for the Dodgers, that will likely be his role with the White Sox. The 25-year-old has time remaining to continue to learn his craft and become more comfortable against the quality hitters he will continue to face. If needed, he could add a valuable left-handed arm to the parent club.