Pitchers Chris Sale and Addison Reed were selected just two years ago in the 2010 draft, and are now the White Sox's wins leader and closer, respectively.
Reed, ranked as the White Sox's top 2012 prospect by MLB.com, saved seven games before taking his first loss of the season on June 2. Sale, the American League Pitcher of Month for May, had an even smoother transition to becoming a starter, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.30 ERA in 10 starts this year.
Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Jose Quintana, all part of the top 20 prospects in the White Sox organization, are all also on the 40-man roster and making a difference for the South Siders' pitching staff. Jones and Quintana have ERAs under 2.00, while Santiago's sits at 3.66.
Doug Laumann, director of amateur scouting for the White Sox, said outfielder Jordan Danks will likely be the next prospect to make the jump to the big leagues.
Danks, a seventh round pick in 2008 and the younger brother of White Sox pitcher John Danks, has seen his batting average rise from .257 last year to .302 this year in Triple-A Charlotte.
"He's really swinging it," Laumann said. "He's hitting around .300, and just playing outstanding defense."
In addition to the handful of young prospects currently at the big league level, a couple other pitchers may have the opportunity to reach the Majors by season's end.
Jhan Marinez, part of the compensation package sent to the White Sox for manager Ozzie Guillen, has struggled to stay healthy in the past, but is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA for Triple-A Charlotte this season.
Simon Castro, who was acquired in the Carlos Quentin trade with the Padres in December, struggled in 2011 between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson, finishing with a 7-8 record and 5.63 ERA. The 24-year-old starter settled down this season in Double-A Birmingham, posting a 5-2 record and 3.45 ERA.
"If we need help later in the year, they've both shown the promise that we wanted, to have a big arm and having the physical ability," Laumann said. "It's a matter of them refining their game, throwing the strikes and doing the things you need to do to get to the Major League level."
Outfielder Keenyn Walker, the White Sox top pick in the First-Year Player Draft last year and the No. 6 ranked prospect, is hitting .251 at Single-A Kannapolis, but he's already stolen 32 bases in just 54 games.
Pitcher Erik Johnson, the White Sox's second pick last season, was shut down with shoulder fatigue early this year, and has since returned to throw one scoreless start at Kannapolis.
"Walker has been kind of what we expected," Laumann said. "He's an athletic, crude kid that's hitting about .250, .260, but he's got 30 bags, so he's kind of progressing somewhere along the way. Erik Johnson, our second guy, has been a little bit slower. But he made his first start the other night at Kannapolis, got a win, pitched 5 1/3 and was up to 96."
Laumann is more excited about the progressions of Jared Mitchell, a 2009 first-round pick by the White Sox out of LSU. The former two-sport athlete made the jump to Double-A this season and saw his average soar to .296.
Mitchell is another guy who has the opportunity to reach the big leagues within the next year if he can keep his strikeouts down. Mitchell struck out 183 times in 129 games last season, and has fanned 67 times in 57 games this year.
Laumann said it can be difficult to take progressions slowly with top picks, but the benefits can be worth the wait.
"Athletes sometimes take a little longer," Laumann said. "We waited a little bit for Mitchell. We think Mitchell now has turned the corner, he's hitting almost .300 in Double-A and he's getting closer."
Trayce Thompson would fall under Laumann's category of athletic players needing time to develop. The White Sox's No. 3 prospect, selected in the second round in 2009, is currently hitting .213 at Single-A Winston-Salem, though he still has Laumann's confidence.
"We all still like Trayce," Laumann said. "We think he's got a chance to be a great player, and an impact player. It's been three years now, and he's hitting .200 in A-ball. Those kids sometimes just take longer."
Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less