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Johnson, Davidson make Top 100 Prospects list

Johnson, Davidson make Top 100 Prospects list

CHICAGO -- Moves made by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn this offseason have helped strengthen the young core of a team that lost 99 games in 2013.

Those deals also have given the White Sox a slight push in MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, released Thursday night on MLB Network.

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Courtney Hawkins was the only representative in the Top 100 last year, and closer Addison Reed was the team's lone Top 100 standout in 2012. Reed was traded to Arizona during the offseason, and Hawkins dropped out of the Top 100 in '14.

However, the White Sox have two Top 100 players in 2014. Pitcher Erik Johnson checks in at No. 70, while third baseman Matt Davidson earns the nod at No. 80. Davidson was acquired from the D-backs in the Reed trade.

The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis , who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch , only includes players with rookie status in 2014.

Boston topped the charts with nine prospects in the Top 100, followed by Houston and the Cubs with seven apiece. The Astros rank No. 1 in the Prospects Points list with 439, followed by the Red Sox at 436 and the Cubs at 393.

Johnson (31 points) and Davidson (21) earned the White Sox 52 points, leaving them third from the bottom in the rankings. They lead the Brewers (18 points) and the Angels, who didn't place a player in the Top 100.

This point system works with 100 being awarded to the No. 1 ranked prospect, who is Twins outfielder Byron Buxton in this instance, 99 to the second-ranked prospect and running all the way down to 1 point for Cubs right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson, who checks in at No. 100. These Prospect Points rankings are not reflective of rankings of the systems as a whole.

Johnson, who made his Major League debut on Sept. 4 at Yankee Stadium, almost certainly will break camp with the White Sox as the team's No. 4 starter. The 24-year-old right-hander had a fast rise through the Minor League ranks in '13, posting a combined 12-3 record with a 1.96 ERA over 24 starts made for Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

He fanned 131 over 142 innings, while allowing a mere 100 hits and walking 40. Over five big league starts in September, Johnson finished 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 27 2/3 innings. He is ranked third in MLB.com's Top 20 White Sox prospects list, sitting behind Davidson and Hawkins.

Davidson doesn't quite have the same certainty of breaking camp with the White Sox from Spring Training as Johnson does. The 22-year-old hit .280 with 17 homers and 74 RBIs for Triple-A Reno in 2013, to go with a .350 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. The right-handed-hitting slugger will be in the third-base starting mix with Conor Gillaspie and veteran Jeff Keppinger during the six weeks in Arizona, as mentioned by manager Robin Ventura on Wednesday.

"We still have guys who can play there, but it's a competition, definitely," Ventura said. "He has every reason to go in there and try to win the job."

"My goal is to become the most complete player I can be, whatever that entails," said Davidson during a recent interview. "I always work on everything and try to get better. I don't want to say I have more motivation but more excitement with the new team, the new city. I've never been traded, but I'm excited to get going."

At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Davidson possesses the classic power of a corner infielder. He has taken on the rap of striking out too much, with 158 recorded last year between Reno and the D-backs, and not being polished enough defensively. But Ventura quipped Wednesday that he heard similar defensive commentary early on in his career and isn't worried about such criticism.

During a minicamp held at Camelback Ranch last week, White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson liked the way Davidson used the whole field in his work. Ventura said that Davidson was bigger than he imagined and moved better than previous reports indicated.

"You start watching him, moving around, how he goes about his business, he fits the part," said Ventura of Davidson, who had three homers and six doubles over 76 at-bats with Arizona last year. "He looks like a big leaguer."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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