Vaughn leads four Sox in the top 56 on the MLB prospect rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
White Sox Fans’ attention has turned away from looking at prospect rankings and towards watching what is happening on the pitch.
The team has opened its battle window after years of rebuilding and has World Series ambitions – and expectations – heading into the 2021 season.
But people should not take note of the latest update MLB.com’s list of the 100 best prospects in baseball. The White Sox placed four players in the top 56, all four of whom have the potential – and are expected in most cases – to play huge roles for this year’s team.
Andrew Vaughn led the way and ranked number 14 in the game. While he may be the furthest from the South Side Lighthouse on the list – the only one not yet debuting – he is also a legitimate candidate to take over the daily DH role for most of the 2021 campaign. Although there are valid questions about whether someone who has not played above A-ball can be an everyday contributor to a team with championship goals, the White Sox have been cruel about Vaughn’s advanced bat since choosing him with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft.
MLB.com ranked him as the best first base prospect in baseball last week, and he was the lone White Sox player on Keith Law of The Athletic’s own top-100 list earlier this week, at No. 10. However, a 2021 arrival in the majors would almost certainly come as a DH, with reigning American League MVP José Abreu anchored at first base for at least the next two seasons.
Michael Kopech was ranked as the No. 39 prospect in baseball, and although he made his major league debut in 2018, he has only logged 14.1 rounds of work since. His 2019 season was wiped out when he recovered from the Tommy John surgery, and he chose not to play during the 2020 season due to personal reasons.
It’s been a long time since Kopech knocked off a major league pile, but he seems to be one of the leading candidates for a back-end spot in the White Sox rotation in 2021. Kopech excited everyone with his lone inning of Cactus League work last spring , during which he repeatedly hit triple digits on the radar gun. But the White Sox may still have started him in smaller leagues to build him back to full stamina and handle his workload. It may be an option again in 2021, but the White Sox expect Kopech to play a big role this year, and positive answers to questions after the operation about his ability can give the South Siders one of the most threatening rotations in the game.
White Sox everyday second baseman, Nick Madrigal, came in as No. 40 on the list. A campaign during the season and an injury on the list meant that Madrigal only played in 29 matches during the pandemic shortened 2020 campaign, but he was as advertised and got lots of contact and almost never knocked out. Madrigal hit .340 in the limited action and hit a jaw-dropping .321 with two strikes, earning him the nickname “Nicky Two Strikes” from broadcaster Jason Benetti.
Although Madrigal himself admitted, he spent last season feeling the effects of the separated shoulder he suffered in one of his first major league games. He told Our Chuck Garfien on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that he is expect me to be back in full force in the middle of spring and hope for much bigger things in 2021.
The last of the White Sox quartet on MLB.com’s list was Garrett Crochet, who blew away batteries and blew his mind in 2020 and went from the South Side’s first round draft in June to an important bullpen cog along the stretch of the regular season. Due to the effects of the pandemic, Crochet barely hit during his final season at the University of Tennessee and did not get into any pro games after being drafted until he was called up in September. All he did was dominate opposing hitters with a speed ball of 101 miles per hour.
While the White Sox see Crochet as a starting pitcher in the long run, it will be difficult to keep him away from the big bullpen of 2021. Developing him as a starter in minors is an option, but as effective as he was as a liberator in it. great, White Sox could put him back directly as part of an electric ‘pen which now contains All-Star closer to Liam Hendriks.
For so long, White Sox fans saw these prospect rankings as a look to the future. But these guys are here now and ready to contribute now along with all the previous potential fans who have been following for years. It’s still a sign of the White Sox’s long-term promise. But it is just as much a sign of their current promise when the winning season comes on the south side.
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