By: Noah Wright
The White Sox started their rebuild back in the 2016-2017 off season, and they kicked it off big time. They traded stars for some then major prospects. Now that it’s been about a year and a half since their rebuild, how has the rebuild been going? How have the prospects they traded for developed, and performed when they got to the majors?
To start, we have to see how they got the prospects they did. The rebuild started when they traded off Cy Young level pitcher Chris Sale to The Red Sox. In exchange, The White Sox got Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe. At the time, Moncada was ranked the #1 prospect in The MLB, with Kopech being ranked #30. Basbe was not a top 100 guy at the time, but ranked #9 on The White Sox list. The next major move The Sox made was trading outfielder Adam Eaton to The Washington Nationals for pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning. When this trade was made, The White Sox owned 2 of the top 5 prospects in The MLB, with Giolito ranked #3 overall. Reynaldo Lopez was still ranked high at #38 overall. The rebuild continued when they traded lefty Jose Quintana to The Chicago Cubs at the deadline. For Quintana, The Sox received outfielder Eloy Jimenez, with pitcher Dylan Cease, and utility players Bryant Flete and Matt Rose. The White Sox added 2 more top 100 guys, with Jimenez ranked as #5 and Cease ranked #58. One other notable trade they made was trading relief pitcher David Robertson, and third baseman Todd Frazier to The Yankees for Tito Polo, and Ian Clarkin. While neither are top 100 guys, it’s a trade worth bringing up.
Now nearly a year and a half later, how have the prospects developed, and how are they doing when they’ve gotten to the majors? Let's first look at the big piece that fans were excited to see; Yoan Moncada. Moncada has finally gotten a long term look at big league playing time this season. So far, he’s not performed to the degree The White Sox wanted him to, but overall Yoan has shown good power (13 home runs), speed (11 stolen bases), and defense (1 DRS, .5 defensive WAR, -3 UZR). However, one thing that Moncada still has to work on is his strikeout rate, and contact rate. Moncada has struck out nearly 33% of the time this season (32.9%), and makes hard contact 38.1% of the time. But Moncada is still just 23, so there’s still plenty of time to polish up his game. The next large piece The White Sox got to kick off their rebuild is right hander Lucas Giolito. Things haven’t gone so smooth for Giolito this season. In his 113.2 innings of work, Lucas has a 6.26 ERA, 6.09 FIP, 1.540 WHIP, and nearly identical walk/9 and K/9 rates (5.1/.5.6). While he has struggled greatly this season, he did do fairly well last season in a limited 45 and a third innings of work (2.38 ERA, 4.94 FIP, .949 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9 rate). However he’s shown signs of being able to be a major league ball player with just .261 BABIP, and a 31.3 hard hit rate. The other piece The Sox got back for Eaton is Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez has had a significantly better year than Giolito, but overall hasn’t done great. In 122 innings, Lopez has a 4.57 ERA, 5.30 FIP, and 1.393 WHIP. His walk/9 rate is a below average 4.1 to similarly matches his lack luster K/9 rate (6.3). The farm is currently one of the best in The MLB. In the minors Eloy Jimenez currently sits in Triple-A. However, the #3 top prospect in all of baseball could receive a small taste of the majors later this season during September call-ups. Between Double and Triple-A, Jimenez has batted for an amazing .342/.392/.611 line with 18 home runs, 59 RBI’s, and a very good wRC+. While he isn’t going to be winning any gold gloves in the majors, it’s clear his bat will make up for that. Their next big prospect is Michael Kopech. The one of prospect that they got back for Sale, Kopech has a 4.15 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.359 WHIP in 99 and a third innings in Triple-A. Kopech is best described as effectively wild. He has a very high 5.8 walk per 9 rate, but a 12.2 K/9 rate. His wildness mainly stems from his fastball that can reach Syndergaard levels. Like Jimenez, Kopech could also receive a late season call up to get a sample of the bigs. Dane Dunning, one of the other prospects The Sox got for Adam Eaton, is currently 23, and is excelling in double-A. Currently, Dunning has a 2.76 ERA, 2.48 FIP, and 1.290 WHIP in 62 innings in Birmingham. But unlike Kopech, Dunning has 3.3 walk rate, along with a decent 10 K/9. However, he won’t likely be MLB ready until next season. Another starter that is in the minors, but won’t be MLB ready by the end of this season is Dylan Cease. Cease has spent time in both High-A ball, and double-A. Between both leagues, Cease has pitched to a 2.71 ERA, a 2.95 FIP, and 1.100 WHIP. Further down the pipeline, The White Sox have Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Nick Madrigal who all probably won’t be ready until 2020 or later.
Right now, the rebuild hasn’t went so smoothly. Some prospects (Moncada, Giolito, Lopez) haven’t performed well, or near to where expectations were. However it’s too early to call it a failure. Moncada, Lucas, nor Lopez have yet to turn 25 yet, and The Sox still have tons of prospects waiting in the wings. While I do not see The White Sox being ready compete this season, or next season (unless they start over performing a year ahead of schedule), if prospects develop as expected, they could be serious contenders by 2020.