Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as an early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Tim Anderson (SS): The club’s first round pick from 2013, Anderson was promoted to the majors more quickly than expected and performed much better than expected. With that said, some regression should be expected for 2017. His 27% strikeout rate is very high for someone with limited home-run pop and that needs to get on base to take advantage of his speed. He walked just 13 times in 99 games — good for a minuscule 3% walk rate. However, if he learns to tighten his approach at the plate, he could develop into a top-of-the-order threat with potentially plus defensive skills.
The Riser: Adam Engel (OF): The majority of the Sox’s top prospects come from recent trades or the 2016 draft so I’m going to take a flyer on Engel, who could be poised to surprise a lot of people in 2017. The club doesn’t have great outfield depth so this 2013 draftee could see some significant time in The Show. He may not hit for a great average but he has gap power, game-changing speed and excellent defence in center field or any other outfield position. If he can hit .250-.260, he could be an all-star — but he’ll need to make more contact after striking out 131 times in 129 games over three levels last year. Engel, 25, may out-play the likes of Charlie Tilson, Willy Garcia and maybe even Avisail Garcia in the coming year.
The Tumbler: Micker Adolfo (OF): The White Sox love their raw, toolsy — and powerful — project hitting projects but they have yet to show an ability to develop them. Like former first rounder Courtney Hawkins (likely a complete lost cause now), Adolfo has been a mess as a pro thanks to a terrible plate approach (14 BBs, 88 Ks in 65 games). The Sox pushed him to full-season ball in 2016 but he was clearly not ready and will have to repeat the level in 2017 at the age of 20. He has impact-power potential but it’s hard to imagine him making enough contact to make use of it — even at the higher levels of the minors, let alone the majors.
The ’16 Draft Pick: Zack Collins (C): The Sox currently appear to be ready to open 2017 with Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez behind the plate — with a combined 41 games of big league experience between them. So, yeah, catching depth in the system isn’t great… and could be why the Sox targeted Collins – a solid college catcher – with the 10th overall selection in the 2016 draft. He The jury is still out on his ability to stick behind the plate but he can hit. In his debut, he walked 33 times (next to 39 Ks) in 36 games and went deep six times. The bar for catchers’ offence is very low and Collins could well exceed average. He should split 2017 between high-A and double-A, although his defensive work could slow down his ascent to The Show.
The Lottery Ticket: Dylan Covey (RHP): A Rule 5 pick, Covey will either spend the year in the Majors with the Sox or have to be sent through waivers and offered back to his original organization, the A’s. A former fourth round pick, the right-hander’s career hasn’t gone quite as hoped. His stuff has tailed off since his prep years and he’s had to learn to balance his diabetes with pro ball. Although he doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, Covey has solid control, command of four-pitches, has been durable (outside of 2016) and induces a ton of ground-ball outs. He’s actually quite a smart Rule 5 pick. He has a strong chance of being an innings-eating reliever and spot starter for the rebuilding Sox.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.