The White Sox announced Tuesday that they’ve completed their September call-up plan. Added to the roster were outfielder Jason Coats, utility man Leury Garcia and reliever Blake Smith. Coats and Garcia have been seen in these parts before while Smith is on the first big league roster of his career at age 28 after moving from the outfield to the mound in the 2013 season.
With the rosters completed, I figured it’d be a good time to start a series of season wrap up pieces. We’ll do it slowly–it’s baseball after all–and we’ll do it by position.
Leading off the series is the every-sexy Organizational Depth! Before I got into a specific position, I wanted to address some of the depth we’ve seen deep in the system and even some we’ve seen hit the major leagues this year. We’ll hit some of these players once we get to individual positions but I needed space to talk a bit about:
Zach Burdi – The flame-throwing 2016 first round draft pick was not one of the call-ups to the White Sox for the last month of the season. Based on talent alone, he absolutely could have been. Burdi cruised through four levels in his first professional season and threw 38 innings. He struck out 51 hitters. A triple-digit fastball keeps hitters on their heels while command of a hard slider makes him fairly devastating. In a conversation on White Sox Weekly, White Sox scouting director, Nick Hosteler, said Burdi’s change-up, while a work-in-progress, shows signs of becoming plus-pitch. That kind of mix could get Burdi a look at being a starter eventually, but for the immediate future, the brightest piece of the Sox future rests with:
Carson Fulmer – Who’s also not coming up to make a much-anticipated start at the big league level in 2016. Fulmer’s year was most definitely a mixed bag. He was shelled in some outings. He was un-hittable in some. He couldn’t find the plate in others. I think Fulmer’s stuff plays at the major league level. Bouts of wildness seemed to attack him at times and whether that’s attributable to his high-engery, high-effort delivery or another mechanical flaw, the White Sox think they’ve got a handle on Fulmer and think they’ll be able to tame him. For Fulmer’s part, he’s a guy who’s more than willing and able to learn. He’s seems to be the kind of prospect who’s willing to adapt and grow while still walking out to the mound confident he can compete. It’s still fair to wonder whether Fulmer’s future rests in the rotation or the bullpen but the White Sox are doing the right things seeing if he can stick as a starter.
Zack Collins and Alec Hansen – Are both very much out on the horizon for the White Sox but there’s every reason for expectation. Collins mashed through two levels (rookie league and advanced A ball) though the vast majority of his work (36 games and 120 at bats) came at Winston-Salem. What excites me most about Collins is his plate discipline. The guy knows how to take a walk and, so far, seems to know what he can and can’t hit. That kind of approach, mixed with power from the left side, is enough to get excited about. As I’ve not seen it, I won’t presume to have an opinion on his work behind the plate but as a general philosophy, when a guy can hit like he can, you play him in a position until he fails. Hansen, meanwhile, could be the most intriguing pick the White Sox made in 2016. In 12 starts, Hansen struck out 81 hitters in 54.2 innings. Sure, it could simply be an instance of and advanced college pitcher facing young, inexperience bats. The Sox however, identified Hansen as a guy who was working through mechanical issues during his final season at Oklahoma. The team believes they’ve fixed those issues and the results seem to prove it.
That’s some of the high-end depth in the White Sox system. We’ll get deeper into prospects as we run the series through it’s course. Next up, we’ll look at the catchers.