2020 Prospect Opportunities — White Sox

Today, we round out the American League Central teams in our 2020 Prospect Opportunities series by finishing up with the White Sox.

At Risk: Leury Garcia
Replacement: Nick Madrigal

If we do have a 2020 season, I’m not sure who the expected starter at second base would be, veteran Leury Garcia, or top prospect Nick Madrigal. RosterResource is showing Garcia, while our Depth Charts show Madrigal earning the lion’s share of the playing time. Garcia has posted sub-.300 wOBA marks for two straight seasons, and he hasn’t played much second base throughout his career since 2013-2014.

Madrigal is the team’s fourth ranked prospect and 41st ranked overall, and owns a truly eye-popping skill set. I’ve never seen strikeout and SwStk% rates as consistently low as his in the minors, and he walked nearly three times as often as he struck out in the minors in 2019. That’s INSANE. Unfortunately, that’s generally where the excitement ends. He has no power, hitting just four homers all seasons with ISO marks hovering around .100 and HR/FB rates in the low single digits. He also hasn’t really posted strong batting ball distributions, with low line drive rates (except at Double-A in 2019) and high IFFB% marks. He does have excellent speed though, allowing him to swipe 35 bases last season, so his potential lies in batting average and steals contributions. It’ll be fascinating to see how this skill set translates to the Majors.

At Risk: Luis Robert
Replacement: Jaycob Brugman

You might remember my post in early March explaining why I thought Luis Robert was ridiculously overvalued. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s at risk of losing his job (assuming he wins it in the first place), but in this scenario, I think that’s the case. He swings and misses at a scary high rate and rarely walks. I could easily see him stinking up the joint after a month, with lots of strikeouts and barely any walks, resulting in a pathetic OBP, en route to losing his starting job.

Remember Jaycob Brugman? He is a former Athletics prospect who was a popular AL-Only pickup back in 2017 when he made his debut. Sadly, he hasn’t appeared in the Majors since. But after bouncing around several teams, something seemingly happened last year at Triple-A when he joined the Mariners organization. His strikeout and SwStk% rose, but his power exploded. For the most part, he was a single digit HR/FB rate and low-to-mid .100 ISO guy. But he ended up posting an elite 32.4% HR/FB rate at the level and .317 ISO! Sure, he’s played at Triple-A since 2016, but it’s not like Billy Hamilton would suddenly be a power monster if he played enough at Triple-A. If Robert fails, perhaps the White Sox should use that as an opportunity to see if they have anything with Brugman.

At Risk: Reynaldo Lopez, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Kopech
Replacement: No one

With a 4.67 career ERA and 5.38 mark in 2019, Reynaldo Lopez has been a disappointment, especially because his fastball averages the mid-90s and yet his strikeout rate hasn’t even exceeded 21% yet. At some point, the White Sox might give up and try him in relief. Gio Gonzalez posted the worst skills of his career last year, but rode some good luck en route to massively outperforming his SIERA. In a hitter friendly venue in the American League, I wouldn’t bet on that happening again. Returning from TJ surgery, it’s anyone’s guess what Michael Kopech is going to do.

I searched near and far to name anyone who could be interesting to fantasy owners as a potential replacement for a failed White Sox starter, but sadly, landed on none. This is a really weak system for starting pitcher prospects, which is actually good news for the three at risk, as well as Dylan Cease, who is a risk as well, but unlikely to lose his job.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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2 years ago

Rodon could be back shortly after the season starts (if it does). He should be ready by July/August, and he could easily replace a struggling starter.

2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

Other than Giolito and (maybe) Kopech, no one else in that rotation has much upside. I’d happily get Rodon super late and see what happens. I’d much prefer him at his ADP to Keuchel at his.