The Cubs won the World Series last year. Now, why am I starting an article about the White Sox with their crosstown rivals? It is because the Cubs set an example of how to build a championship team through prospects with players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez all coming up through to the Cubs farm system even it wasn’t since they were drafted. The Cubs big reliever Aroldis Chapman was able to be acquired because of the many prospects they were able to offer, and they were only able to pay Jason Heyward big money because they had their other stars on affordable contracts since they’re young and haven’t been in the MLB for very long. This is a key to building a long term competitor in all sports, such as the Warriors with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and the Cowboys with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. We are seeing this trend in the Yankees this season as their season has been better than expected thanks to the success of their prospects, most notably AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge, but also Gary Sanchez and recently promoted Clint Frazier who has posted a 1.183 OPS in 7 games.
Now on to the White Sox. I was ready to write this article two weeks ago, and with the trade of Jose Quintana for more elite prospects it becomes even more apparent. The White Sox, led by Rick Hahn, have done a great job in the past year of flipping their star players for prospects that will help them build a long term contender. Hahn might not be done yet as he still holds Todd Frazier who is an extremely talented player but is having a down year which decreases his value to a contender. Here is a quick summary of the players that the White Sox have traded and the major pieces that they’ve gotten in return.
Chris Sale traded for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and other prospects
Adam Eaton traded for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and another prospect
Jose Quintana traded for Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and other prospects
In Moncada and Ramirez they were able to add two top 5(Baseball America)/top 10 (MLB.com) prospects and the other pieces gave them 3 more players within the top 100 prospects giving them 9 total per MLB.com and 7 total per Baseball America. While these prospects probably will not turn out to be the Aaron Judge, who is maintaining a 1.139 OPS this year and looking like he could win the MVP as a rookie. However, Anthony Rizzo’s .850 career OPS or Kris Bryant’s career .281 career batting average are completely attainable.
The White Sox prospects still need time to develop for the most part so their current minor league statistics are generally not useful yet except for Moncada who has been getting on base at a .385 clip this year and has had a stolen base success rate of 86% in his first two professional seasons, skyrocketing his way up to AAA ball already. Jimenez is the reigning Midwest League MVP after posting a .901 OPS in A ball and it looks as though he is finally coming into his own. When the Cubs signed him, they knew he had talent but he hadn’t really demonstrated it until last season, and if he continues to develop he will be able to contribute in a big way to the White Sox.
On the pitching end of things, Giolito and Kopech are the prizes. However, Giolito has a big asterisk mark and it is a steep decrease in production. In the last two prospect rankings by Baseball America, Giolito has fallen from 40 to 75 after once being a top tier prospect who looked like he would be the next big thing in the Nationals rotation. Kopech on the other hand still looks great as he has a 1.38 WHIP in AA and 101 strikeouts in 78.1 innings which leaves people wondering how he has a 4.02 ERA. This can happen in the minor leagues due to less skilled fielders who just cannot get to as many balls shown by his Birmingham Baron’s 34-56 record. Kopech should continue to progress into a strong MLB starter. Reynaldo Lopez has almost been more impressive this year with a 1.32 WHIP in AAA, however he does not put up the strikeout numbers that Kopech does and a put away pitch is required in the MLB, just ask Mets pitchers who faced the Royals in the 2015 World Series. Lopez throws extremely hard, almost as fast as Kopech, but can be a very up and down pitcher, struggling with his command from time to time.
At the end of the day, the White Sox have assembled a farm system that prepares them to be a contender in the next 5 years. There is belief that the Braves will be the other team that has a top tier farm system and this is 100% true so don’t be surprised if in 5 years we see a White Sox-Braves World Series. However right now I have to give the edge to the White Sox because they have 3 players in the MLB.com top 11 whereas the Braves only have 1, and the White Sox have two in the Baseball America top 5 while the Braves have none. The thing that will keep the Braves close is the star power of Julio Teheran and Freddie Freeman who should remain great. The White Sox are the team that has the best chance of succeeding in the future, so if you want to beat the other band wagoner fans start rooting for the White Sox now.