Ever since the White Sox started to clean house last offseason with the trade of Chris Sale and then Adam Eaton, questions about the when/if status of dealing lefty Jose Quintana circulated. It turns out the when was Thursday morning.
Once again, the White Sox did extremely well in terms of adding to what is already a very deep farm system by acquiring outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease. Jimenez, No. 8 on the current Top 100 prospects list, is a two-time Futures Gamer with the power profile that will fit perfectly in right field and draws some comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton.
Cease is at No. 63 currently, but could make a healthy jump when all lists are re-ranked later this month. He's put Tommy John surgery in his rearview mirror and was easily reaching the upper-90s mph in the Midwest League during his full-season debut. Command still needs to come, but he has frontline starter potential.
Jimenez will slot in as the White Sox's No. 2 prospect currently, with Cease at No. 8, again subject to change with the re-ranks. Combining them with prospects brought in via those Sale and Eaton deals means the organization has added six Top 100 prospects in three trades. Add in the big international signing this summer of Luis Robert (also in the Top 100), nine of the organization's top 13 prospects all joined the system in the past seven months or so.
It's been a remarkable transformation as the White Sox have continued to be able to pluck the top prospects from rich farm systems. Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech were No. 1 and No. 5 in the Red Sox system at the time of the Sale deal. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez were ranked Nos. 1 and 3 on the Nationals list at the time of the Eaton trade. Now they are getting the Cubs' Nos. 1 and 2. And that doesn't mention the other solid prospects who were secondary acquisitions. To say the White Sox have maximized return would be an understatement.
Back in January, when MLBPipeline.com first unveiled all of its 2017 rankings, the White Sox system was ranked No. 3 in all of baseball, behind only the Braves and the Yankees. There will be a new top 10 organizations ranking to go along with all of the new lists, and things like Draft classes and July 2 international signings will have be taken into account, but it's hard to imagine the White Sox not ascending to the top spot of that list.
Externally, the Yankees system has taken a hit in terms of graduations (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez) and some injuries (Gleyber Torres, James Kaprielian). That probably means the Braves give the White Sox their biggest competition. They've lost Dansby Swanson from the top of the list, but they are still extremely deep, with some players making very large steps forward.
But this is really more about what the White Sox have done internally to potentially vault to that top spot. Some of the arms haven't been consistent performers, like Giolito and Lopez from the trade front and Carson Fulmer (2015 Draft) from the homegrown talent group. And 2016 first-rounder Zack Collins hasn't hit the way he is capable, though he did just attend the SiriusXM Futures Game. But even if some were to drop off the Top 100, others like Alec Hansen (2016 Draft), Dane Dunning (Eaton trade) and even Spencer Adams (2014 Draft) could find their way onto the Top 100 at some point.
The White Sox's Draft haul does not add much to the top of the list, but with a top of a list like this, that doesn't hurt their standing at all. College performers like Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets and Evan Skoug will fill in the lower two-thirds of the list, adding more depth, which was the one thing the Braves could have over Chicago.
And who knows who else is coming? There are veterans who have trade value still in Chicago, like Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and Player Page for David Robertson. If recent history is any indication, the White Sox will get more than expected in return, leaving no doubt at all about which is the top farm system in all of baseball.