2012 Fantasy All-Stars: American League Edition

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2012 Fantasy All-Stars: American League Edition

Posted on 04 July 2012 by Bryan Geary

Mike Trout

The real life All-Star rosters were announced over the weekend, which means it is a great time for us to look at the 2012 Fantasy All-Stars to date. Some things that will be taken into account include: the ESPN Player Rater, Fangraphs leaderboards, average draft position, and my own personal expert (just kidding) analysis. So, without further ado, I present to you the 2012 mid-season fantasy baseball All-Stars for the American League.

Catcher

Real-life pick: Mike Napoli 

Player Rater pick: A.J. Pierzynski

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Joe Mauer

My pick: A.J. Pierzynski

For me, this was a pretty easy decision. While Mauer has certainly had a bounce back year and Matt Wieters has been solid aside from a putrid May, if you are looking at production across the board, Pierzynski has seperated himself from the pack. The 35-year-old catcher has become a power hitter in 2012, with his 14 dingers to date only 4 shy of the career high 18 home runs he hit in 2005. His power spike is evidenced by a ridiculous increase in both his ISO and his HR/FB numbers. In 2012 his ISO of .231 not only ranks 12th in the American League, but it is nearly 100 points higher than his career mark of .142. His HR/FB ratio of 20.3% is more than double his career mark of 8.9%. I have no idea if the power spike is sustainable, but Pierzynski deserves recognition for the awesome first half he has had.

First Base

Real-life pick: Prince Fielder

Player Rater pick: Edwin Encarnacion

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Edwin Encarnacion

My pick: Edwin Encarnacion

This was a very tough decision for me because Paul Konerko has been so good and Encarnacion has only played 31 games at first base this year. But the Blue Jays slugger had to be on my list somewhere, and he did so at the expense of Konerko’s excellent first half. Sorry White Sox fans. Basically, Encarnacion is in the midst of a career year in every sense of the word: he has already set a career high in home runs and is on pace to set career highs in plate appearances, hits, RBI, steals, and walks. His wOBA (weighted on base average) of .397 is 8th in American League. He is also in the top 10 in home runs, RBI, ISO, SLG, and wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). In a word, Encarnacion has been incredible.

Second Base

Real-life pick: Robinson Cano

Player Rater pick: Jason Kipnis

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Robinson Cano

My pick: Jason Kipnis

Another tough decision here, but what may have swayed me is the average draft position: while Cano’s ADP was 7.6, Kipnis’ was 183.3. Cano’s power numbers are undoubtedly more impressive and he would be a deserving selection, but with the value Kipnis owners are getting based on expectations, I had to give him the nod. Another thing that separates Kipnis has been speed. His 19 steals are good for second in the American League behind only Mike Trout. When you pair that type of speed with possible 20-25 home run power, you get a player that is incredibly valuable for fantasy purposes. His overall line of .275/.335/.426 is nothing to scoff at either. It looks like Kipnis has crashed the elite second basemen party, at least for the first half of 2012, and he deserves to be recognized.

Third Base

Real-life pick: Adrian Beltre

Player Rater pick: Edwin Encarnacion

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Brett Lawrie

My pick: Miguel Cabrera

This was an incredibly tough choice. If fantasy leagues had a way to quantify and score defensive contributions, the easy answer would be Beltre. But the reality is that defense does not count here, which means I am giving the nod to Cabrera. One big question coming into the season was whether Cabrera would stay healthy playing a more demanding position. He did nothing to ease the minds of fantasy owners after he took a ball off of the face in Spring Training, but he has been out there every day for the Tigers, doing what he always does. According to his standards, this has actually been a bit of a down year, especially when it comes to getting on base. His walk rate of 8.4% is way down from his 15.7% mark last year, likely due to the addition of Prince Fielder in the Tigers lineup. But when .315/.376/.541 with 16 HR and 62 RBI is a down year, you are looking a potential Hall of Famer.

Shortstop

Real-life pick: Derek Jeter

Player Rater pick: Elvis Andrus

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Elvis Andrus

My pick: Elvis Andrus

I understand why the fans picked Jeter — he has had an excellent year and he is Derek Jeter — but for fantasy purposes he does little for owners outside of average. With Andrus, we are seeing the maturation of young hitter, particularly with his ability to get on base. The key for base stealers, of course, is maintaining a high OBP. Andrus has improved in this area every year of his career and this year he is getting on base at a .381 clip. Though he will never be a source of power, that high OBP means increased chances to steal and to score runs in that high-octane Ranger offense. To me, Andrus is clearly the best shortstop in the American League at this point and not too long from now everyone will start to see that.

Outfield

Real-life picks: Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista

Player Rater picks: Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Adam Jones

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones

My picks: Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Jose Bautista

With all due respect to Granderson, Jones, and surprise contenders Mark Trumbo and Josh Reddick, they come up just short for me. The great thing about the three players that I selected is that they have all had a month in which they went absolutely bonkers. Trout’s big month is fresh in our memories, as the 20-year-old hit .372/.419/.531 with 14 steals in June. Bautista also had an insane month of June, going for a .271/.408/.750 mark with 14 home runs. For Hamilton, his big month came in May (though you could argue March/April) when he hit .344/.405/.781 with 12 home runs. All three guys have carried fantasy rosters for an extended period of time, which is not something that you can say about too many players. They are also your respective AL leaders in home runs (Bautista – 26), RBI (Hamilton –  73), and steals (Trout – 22). A pretty impressive group to say the least.

Designated Hitter

Real-life pick: David Ortiz

My pick: David Ortiz

The Player Rater does not have a category for DH-only players and the Fangraphs Leaderboard includes guys like Joe Mauer, so I skipped them here. Besides, this is a pretty easy choice anyway. As much as I love the seasons that Adam Dunn and Billy Butler are having, Ortiz is the clear choice here. He seems to have slimmed down noticeably and as a result he is having perhaps his best season since 2007. He ranks 2nd in the AL in runs (57), 4th in OBP (.397), 6th in home runs (21), 7th in RBI (53), and 12th in average (.305). Ortiz has been a stud across the board this year and ranks 14th overall on the Player Rater, which is a great value consider his ADP was 74.9. What a year it has been for the 36-year-old.

 

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Organizational Outlook: Cleveland Indians

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Organizational Outlook: Cleveland Indians

Posted on 28 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

This is part four of thirty in the Organizational Outlook series. For those of you interested in minor league baseball, and I know you are out there, keeping up with all the top players can be a tall task. This series will take you through each team in baseball and get you up to date on their top prospects.

Only two years ago, the Cleveland Indians farm system was ranked 3rd in all of baseball, loaded with potential impact talents throughout its top 10. But several promotions and one big trade later, the Indians are now the second worst system in the bigs according to Baseball America. The good news is that the last two drafts have replenished some of the top end talent that went missing. In fact, according to Keith Law (subscription), their top 10 prospects for the coming year will be, “full of 2012 draft picks”.

Of course Cleveland fans cannot be too upset about the system’s poor ratings, as they are right in the thick of the AL Central race . Much of this season’s success can be attributed to Jason Kipnis, the team’s number 2 prospect back in 2011. He and Asdrubal Cabrera lead almost every offensive category. Righty Ubaldo Jimenez has not been the rotation savior fans envisioned when Cleveland sent top pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to Colorado at last year’s deadline, but neither of those two seem ready to contribute yet. With the Central very much up for grabs, having Jimenez still gives them a better chance to win now.

(All prospect rankings according to Baseball America.)

For Indians fans, everything starts with Francisco Lindor. A true shortstop prospect out of Montverde (FL) Academy, Lindor was the 8th overall selection in last year’s amateur draft. He is easily the team’s best prospect and their only representative in BA’s Top 100 list. Aside from his excellent physical tools, Lindor is lauded for his instincts on the field and has shown leadership ability in the past, captaining the U.S. 16-and-under team that won gold in 2009. Incredibly, Lindor has been switch hitting since he was 13 and scouts love his swing from both sides of the plate. Even more incredible is that the young shortstop is still just 18 years old and playing well in his first full season of professional ball. As the second-youngest player in the low-A Midwest League, Lindor is putting up a .285/.369/.410 line with 4 HR, 23 RBI, and 14 SB. To say that this is impressive at his age would be an understatement. He is truly one of the game’s elite prospects. Look for Lindor in this year’s Futures Game during All-Star weekend.

The Rest of the Top 10

Dillon Howard — RHP — 6’4″/210

One of the top prep arms in last year’s draft, a lackluster senior season and signability questions pushed Howard back to the 2nd round, where Cleveland gave him an over-slot deal. Howard apparently had a, “tired arm” in spring, leading Cleveland to hold him back in extended spring training. Armed with an excellent two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90′s, Howard is a potential top of the rotation starter who should see time at low-A Lake County at some point this year.

2012 (ExST): 3 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 K, 2 BB

Nick Hagadone — LHP — 6’5″/230

Hagadone was drafted back in 2007 by the Red Sox and came over in the Victor Martinez deal. Currently in the major league bullpen, he is thought to have late-inning reliever potential, largely because of a fastball that has reportedly touched 98 at times. Walks had been a problem, but he has made big strides in that area.

2012: 23 G, 4.91 ERA, 22 IP, 18 H, 23 K, 11 BB

Chen Lee — RHP — 5’11/175

The Indians signed Lee out of Taiwan in 2008 and he has been solid ever since. Scouts love the movement he gets on the fastball which tops out a 95. His low arm slot translates into lots of groundballs. A potential set-up man, Lee may get a chance in the big leagues at some point this year, but for now he is a AAA Columbus.

2012: 5 G, 2.57 ERA, 7 IP, 5 H, 8 K, 1 BB

Luigi Rodriguez — OF — B-T:S-R — 5’11″/160

An international free agent signing in 2009, Rodriguez is a speedy outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He was actually signed as a second-basemen, but his reported lack of defensive instincts made for a quick change to the outfield. Rodriguez is a switch-hitter with more doubles than home run power. He is at low-A Lake County this year.

2012: .285/.338/.415, 297 PA, 5 HR, 13 SB, 23 BB, 72 K

Zach McAllister — RHP — 6’6″/240

McAllister was once a highly regarded prospect for the Yankees before coming to Cleveland as a Player To Be Named Later in the Kerry Wood deal. His lack of a true out pitch is what really holds him back, as his secondary stuff is nothing special. He does, however, throw strikes with a sinking fastball that can touch 94. McAllister has made four starts in Cleveland this year, but is currently at AAA Columbus.

2012 (MLB): 1-1, 3.96 ERA, 25 IP, 25 H, 22 K, 6 BB

Tony Wolters — SS — B-T:L-R — 5’10″/165

Drafted as a shortstop, the 2010 3rd round pick has split his time between short and second base this season at high-A Carolina. Wolters lack of range may send him to second base full time in the future, especially as Lindor moves up. At the plate he is a contact first hitter who has decent gap power, but he has struggled so far this year.

2012: .226/.293/.329, 279 PA, 1 HR, 4 SB, 22 BB, 59 K

Austin Adams – RHP — 5’11″/185

Adams became one of the team’s top pitching prospects after signing as a 5th round pick in 2009 and even challenged for a big league roster spot this spring. Though he was ticketed for AAA, he went down with a shoulder injury in May and surgery will sideline him for the entire year. When healthy, he shows a big fastball that can touch 100 MPH but not much secondary stuff. Though he has pitched out of the rotation, some believe his future is as a reliever.

2011 (AA): 11-10, 3.77, 136 IP, 147 H, 131 K, 63 BB

Scott Barnes — LHP — 6’4″/185

Drafted back in 2008 as an 8th rounder, Barnes came to Cleveland from San Francisco a deal for Ryan Garko. He missed time last year with a torn ACL, but seems to be healthy as he works this year at AAA Columbus. The lefty flashes a fastball that can touch 96 as well as a decent starter. While some see a future reliever, others believe he can be a solid back end starter.

2012: 0-2, 3.73 ERA, 31.1 IP, 21 H, 35 K, 15 BB

*Zach Putnam was number 10 on Baseball America’s list, but he was traded to the Rockies in January.

Draft Recap

As I noted earlier, this year’s draft was about replenishing the system and their Top 10 list will now be stocked with 2012 draftees. Though some, including Keith Law, had top pick Tyler Naquin as somewhat of a reach, the speedy outfielder is still likely their second best prospect behind Lindor. Their next three picks drew much higher reviews from scouts, as they took high school right-handers Mitch Brown and Kieran Lovegrove in addition to high school outfielder D’Vone McClure. Of the four, only McClure is yet to sign. If you are looking for late round gambles, some picks that caught my eye were Justin Garza and Cory Raley. Garza is a right-handed pitcher out of high school who can run the fastball up to 94. BA had him ranked 130 in their Top 500 but Cleveland took him at 803. Raley is a prep shortstop who is reportedly a great athlete. BA had him 158 in their pre-draft rankings and the Indians took him at 1013. Both Garza (Cal State Fullerton) and Raley (Texas A&M) figure to be tough signs. You can check out all of Cleveland’s draft picks right here.

 

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Kipnis Shakes Things Up At Second Base

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Kipnis Shakes Things Up At Second Base

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Last season was a banner year for second basemen in terms of fantasy baseball. The usual suspects (Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Phillips) all had excellent years, while guys like Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, and Ryan Roberts also put up big years. Coming into 2012, second base was a position fantasy owners felt like they could count on for big production in the middle infield. Unfortunately, injuries and ineffectiveness have made second base one of the more spotty positions thus far. Right now, the ESPN Player Rater has second-year player Jason Kipnis easily leading the way.

Kipnis, a 2009 second-round pick, was raking in his big league debut last year before ceding to a hamstring injury in August. There were certainly high expectations for him coming into 2012, though he seemed to be overshadowed by Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley, who has been a disappointment thus far. Kipnis, however, has been a big time power speed threat, posting 11 home runs and 17 steals so far. And while his 25 home run pace may be a surprise, it is the speed that has really grabbed my attention. As a minor leaguer, he never surpassed 12 steals, so where has this speed burst come from? Kipnis has always drawn rave reviews for his baseball IQ and baserunning instincts, and he is showing why in his first full season, having only been caught once all year. Simply put, Kipnis is getting better fast.

Nothing unusual jumps out at you about the season Kipnis is having, either. His BABIP, strikeout and walk percentages, ISO, and batted ball stats are all very similar to what he has done previously. In other words, what Kipnis is doing seems very sustainable. His splits, both home/away and platoon, are really the only ugly mark on an otherwise excellent season. While players typically benefit from playing at home, Kipnis is thriving on the road this year, hitting .326/.376/.556  as opposed to a paltry .227/.287/.320 at Progressive Field. That may be a freak thing, but his platoon splits are cause for a least slight concern. Kipnis has mashed righties to the tune of a .304/.352/.484 line with 9 home runs. Against lefties, his triple slash is an ugly .218/.289/.337 with just 2 home runs. It is not uncommon for young players to have trouble with same side pitchers, and this is not to say Kipnis will not figure it out. However, it is something to keep an eye on.

The bottom line is that Kipnis is a top 5 second basemen at this point. And as far as this season, with Pedroia’s lingering hand injury, the only second basemen I would rank ahead of him are Cano and Kinsler. Other than that, I do not see better options than Kipnis. It is surely too late to buy low on him, but in keeper leagues, especially if you are out of the race this year, Kipnis is a guy you can build around.

Heating Up

Ben Zobrist was nothing short of awful over the first two months of the season, hitting a combined .203/.342/.397. This led to many frustrated owners, but with the climate at second base, there were not many other quality options. If you have not noticed, Zobrist is out of that early season funk. He has absolutely crushed the ball in June, hitting .319/.430/.500 in 20 games with 3 home runs. Especially for those in leagues that count OBP, he is back among the fantasy elite, with a 16.5% walk rate that leads all second basemen and ranks 5th in all of baseball. There may still be time to buy low on Zobrist, so do so if you can.

King of the Hill

Everyone remembers Aaron Hill‘s crazy good 2009 season in which he had 36 home runs and 108 RBI, but two poor follow up seasons led to his departure from Toronto as well as elite fantasy status. It turns out that a change of scenery may have been exactly what Hill has needed. Since being traded to Arizona (a hitter’s haven), Hill is hitting .303/.372/.494, which is nothing short of studly. He has a massive platoon split this year — .360/.408/.655 home versus .210/.299/.311 away — but as long as he continues to play half of his games at Chase Field, does it matter that much? Hill currently ranks 6th on the player rater and a hot June (5 of his 10 home runs) is only helping.

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Time To Pounce On Jhonny Peralta

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Time To Pounce On Jhonny Peralta

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Shortstop is not an especially deep position this season — not that it ever is — and that means now is a great time to hunt for value at that spot. While the ESPN Player Rater is not a perfect tool, it is telling that only one shortstop ranks in the top 20 (Starlin Castro) and only two rank in the top 40 (Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Furcal). With Troy Tulowitzski’s groin injury and Emilio Bonifacio likely not back until after the break, owners will be looking for help, or perhaps just an upgrade. Jhonny Peralta can be that help.

Peralta’s 2011 campaign (.299/.345/.478, 21 HR) made him a top 10 shortstop and a target for many in their drafts for 2012. He did not do much to live up to the expectations over the first month of the season, hitting a dismal .236/.273/.347 without a home run in March and April. This left many owners frustrated and as a result, Peralta is now available in nearly 47% of ESPN leagues. I will tell you right now that I think that number is way too high.

One of the more astounding stats that I have come across this year is that Peralta currently ranks 4th out of 165 qualified hitters in line drive percentage, at 29%. But for as many line drives as he has been hitting, he was not rewarded in the first two months of the season. His BABIP in March/April was .304 and that number shrunk to .262 in May. Both numbers are below his career average of .314 and paired with his line drive statistics, they are evidence of a hitter that was subject to poor luck in the early goings. The good news is that things seem to be turning around in a big way for Peralta. So far in June he is hitting .385/.444/.590 thanks to a much more friendly BABIP of .405 that has taken his season number to a more appropriate .310. This number is still below his career BABIP of .314, so it is fair to assume that he settles somewhere in this range for the rest of the season.

Another reason for Peralta’s early struggles was a dip in his ISO, which stands for isolated power (SLG%-AVG). This stat measures raw power by looking at extra base hits per at bat. According to Fangraphs, league average is right around .145. Last year Peralta had a .179 ISO, which ranks as above average, while this year he is back down to an average .146 mark. Since Peralta is not a base stealer, most of his value is derived from his power numbers. After having only 13 extra base hits in his first 46 games, Peralta already has 6 in 12 games in May. While he is not going to reach 21 home runs again this season,  I would bet on 15, which is excellent from the shortstop position. All signs point to a strong second half from Peralta, so scoop him up now, especially if you are a Tulo owner.

One Overrated

Mike Aviles’ big start made him a must add early on for owners. He is currently 100% owned in ESPN leagues and ranked 6th on the Player Rater for shortstops. While Aviles has been good, I think owners should try to sell high before the fall. His season line remains respectable, especially the 8 home runs and 8 steals, but there is one glaring flaw that may spell doom. Aviles owns a walk rate of 2.9%, which is tied for 3rd worst among all qualified hitters. He makes plenty of contact (84%), but not many good hitters succeed without the ability to take a walk. Especially given that Aviles is on pace to play 161 games, easily a career high, pitchers are going to capitalize on his impatience. Over his last 43 games, he has drawn only 3 walks and is hitting .261/.269/.349. Get something for him while you can.

One Underrated 

I like Alcides Escobar, especially if you need help with average and stolen bases. He probably will not be a top 10 offensive shortstop in fantasy, but in deeper leagues I think he can be a nice asset. His .291 average ranks 4th among qualified shortstops as do his 12 stolen bases. While he has been helped by .348 BABIP which is 55 points higher than his career average, he is also hitting more line drives — 25% this year as compared to 20% in his career. If you have enough power on your roster, you could do a lot worse than Escobar as a Tulo fill-in or middle infield depth. He is also available in 57% of ESPN leagues so he is likely available in your league.

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Organizational Outlook – Chicago White Sox

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Organizational Outlook – Chicago White Sox

Posted on 14 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Courtney Hawkins

This is part three of thirty in the Organizational Outlook series. For those of you interested in minor league baseball, and I know you are out there, keeping up with all the top players can be a tall task. This series will take you through each team in baseball and get you up to date on their top prospects.

If you are a prospect loving South Sider, there has not been much to cheer about lately. Going into the 2012 season, the White Sox farm system ranked dead last on lists done by Baseball America and Keith Law (subscription for both). Kenny Williams and his draft team have become notorious for being among the most frugal spenders in the amateur draft, meaning the system has been lacking the high upside talent fans and scouts love so much.

The good news for White Sox fans heading into year was that Addison Reed, ranked as the team’s number one prospect by BA and Law, was ready to contribute in the major leagues as a bullpen arm right away. Though new manager Robin Ventura tabbed lefty Hector Santiago as the team’s closer in the early going — and then Chris Sale for an odd one week period — Reed now has the role locked down. A perfect 7 for 7 in save opportunities this year, Reed seems to be the closer for the foreseeable future in Chicago. He has been a big part of the success for the AL Central’s surprise leader thus far, but let us take a look at what else the system holds now that Reed is no longer of prospect status.

(All prospect rankings according to Baseball America.)

Chicago was not heavily represented in this year’s BA Top 100 prospects, with Reed as their only representative. However they did add an arm that has some people excited when they dealt previous closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays over the winter. Nestor Molina gained some prospect shine in 2011 when he struck out 148 batters in 130.1 innings split between A+ and AA. Originally signed as a third basemen by Toronto out of Venezuela in 2006, Molina transitioned well to a starting role because of his excellent command, as he paired those 148 strikeouts with only 16 walks in 2011. While he may lack one pitch with the “wow” factor, BA spoke of four solid offerings, including a fastball that tops out around 93. Molina was promoted to AAA Charlotte on May 7th after starting 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA at AA Birmingham. However, he only made one start at AAA and is now back in AA where his record sits a 4-5 with a 4.66 ERA and only 54 strikeouts in 75.1 innings.

Another reason fans in Chicago should be excited is their first round draft pick, Courtney Hawkins. A high school outfielder from Texas, Hawkins represents the first time the White Sox have taken a prep player in the first round since 2001. He also represents a shift from some of the conservative, low upside picks we have seen from Chicago in the past. At 6’3″/210, Hawkins is a great athlete who profiles to be a big time power hitter in right field someday, where he will flash a huge arm (he has touched 95 MPH as a pitcher). Keith Law wrote last week that Hawkins is already the Sox new number one prospect, with more upside than anyone else in the system. Given that description, White Sox fans probably held their breath when Hawkins did a backflip on live TV after being drafted. You can watch that right here.

The Rest of the Top 10

Simon Castro — RHP — 6’5″/210

Twice a BA Top 100 prospect with San Diego, Castro came over this winter in the Carlos Quentin trade. A lat injury derailed his 2011 season which saw him make it to AAA. Though his star has dimmed a bit, he still has upside as a mid-rotation starter, according to BA, thanks to a fastball that can touch 96 and a hard biting slider. He is at AA Birmingham this season.

2012: 5-3, 3.65 ERA, 79 IP, 76 H, 65 K, 15 BB

Trayce Thompson — OF — B-T:R-R — 6’3″/195

Thompson, a 2009 draftee, is the son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson and brother of current Warriors guard Klay Thompson. Power is his calling card, as he launched 24 bombs at low-A Kannapolis last season. Though he was repeating that level, scouts believe his ceiling is considerable if he can cut down on the strikeouts. He will get a chance to work on that this year at high-A Winston-Salem.

2012: .223/.313/.445, 269 PA, 8 HR, 10 SB, 29 BB, 82 K

Jake Petricka – RHP — 6’5″/170

The White Sox took Petricka in the second round of the 2010 draft after also drafting him out of high school. Though he had Tommy John surgery in college, Petricka has been known to light up the radar guns, hitting 100 MPH at times. He was having a great 2011 before going on the shelf with a back injury. Though he has been up to AA this year, he is currently at high-A Winston-Salem.

2012 (A+/AA): 4-5, 5.30 ERA, 54.1 IP, 60 H, 53 K, 28 BB

Keenyn Walker — OF — B-T:S-R — 6’3″/195

A 2011 draft pick out of junior college, Walker is a center-fielder with big time wheels. The White Sox see a potential leadoff hitter here, though he did struggle from both sides of the plate in his first taste of full season ball last year. He did play with wood bats in college, however, and he is back at low-A Kannapolis to work on his swing this year.

2012: .260/.377/.347, 237 PA, 1 HR, 35 SB, 38 BB, 69 K

Jhan Marinez – RHP — 6’1″/165

Though he was signed all the way in 2006, Marinez is still only 23 years old. He came to the White Sox as part of the compensation for manager Ozzie Guillen going to the Marlins. Marinez is a fastball/slider guy who can run it up to 96 MPH. He has been almost exclusively a reliever in the minors and that is where he fits with the White Sox. Marinez is at AAA Charlotte this year.

2012: 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 28 IP, 17 H, 31 K, 19 BB

Tyler Saladino — SS — B-T:R-R — 5’11″/180

Saladino had a huge season at Oral Roberts prior to being drafted by Chicago in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. BA describes him as a “steady all-around player” but fans should be excited by the power he has showed so far. After smashing 17 home runs his last year of college, he had 16 in 2011 at high-A Winston-Salem. Saladino’s future may be in a utility role, but for now he continues to play shortstop for AA Birmingham.

2012: .235/.380/.332, 273 PA, 2 HR, 23 SB, 46 BB, 52 K

Juan Silverio — 3B — B-T:R-R — 6’1″/175

Silverio was part of a bizarre scandal in the White Sox organization that saw international scouts oversell free agents to make more money. Thus, he is not the 5-tool shortstop that the team thought they were getting. Still just 21 years old, Silverio now plays third base and is a bit error prone. He is off to a solid start this year at high-A Winston-Salem.

2012: .302/.308/.477, 92 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 17 K

Ozzie Martinez – SS — B-T:R-R — 5’10″/190

The other part of the Ozzie Guillen deal with the Marlins, Martinez has seen major league time in 2010 and 2011. He is currently at AAA Charlotte for the White Sox, where he is having an awful season with the bat. Martinez is definitely a defense first player and his future is likely as a utility infielder.

2012: .176/.220/.459, 171 PA, 10 2B, 1 SB, 8 BB, 23 K

Bonus Prospect

Keith Law mentioned in an article last week that Jared Mitchell, a 1st round pick by the White Sox in 2009, was having a nice bounce back year. Mitchell was great for low-A Kannapolis in his pro debut, but struggled mightily in 2011 after missing all of 2010 due to ankle surgery.  But as Law said, he is making up for lost time this year at AA Birmingham. A 6’0″/205 outfielder, Mitchell is hitting .279/.408/.470 with 4 home runs and 14 steals so far. Keep an eye on him, as he continues to prove the ankle is back at 100%.

Draft Recap

Though Law was a huge fan of the Hawkins pick, he was not so high on their compensation round pick, Keon Barnum (picked at #48 but ranked 155 in the BA draft 500). It is possible that Barnum was a signability pick for Chicago after they went big with their first overall pick, but he apparently had issues making contact in his senior year of high school. Law tabbed their 2nd round pick Chris Beck as a reliever who could move quick, similar to Addison Reed. Prep catcher Sammy Ayala was a three sport athlete in high school and was regarded by some teams as a 2nd or 3rd round talent. Chicago took a chance on him in the 17th round and will try to sign him away from UC Santa Barbara. Finally, I would be mistaken if I did not mention one of the top names in this year’s draft, Storm Throne. Yes you read that right. Throne, Chicago’s 25th round pick, is a 6’7″/245 RHP who was rumored to have touched 97 MPH. You can see all of Chicago’s picks here.

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