Prior to the 2009 season, we identified 10 prospects to watch in the White Sox farm system. Of those 10, four remain on the 2010 list.
Jordan Danks, OF: Danks, the younger brother of White Sox starting pitcher John, was taken out of Texas in the seventh round in 2008, the second time the club drafted him (he was also selected out of high school). After making a successful pro debut at Kannapolis that summer, hitting .325 in 10 games, he moved up to Winston-Salem and Birmingham in 2009 and though inconsistent and slowed by a sprained ankle and finger injury, he continued to show off his tools at the higher levels. He combined to hit .266 with nine homers, 41 RBIs and 12 steals, batting .322 with the Dash before his promotion to Double-A. He has plate patience, a quick bat and a strong arm.
Eduardo Escobar, SS: A switch-hitting shortstop with dazzling defensive abilities, the Venezuelan-born Escobar saw some time at second base as well in 2008 when he was briefly paired with rapidly rising Gordon Beckham in the middle infield at Kannapolis, but returned full time to shortstop this year with the Intimidators and hit .256.
Tyler Flowers, C: The White Sox knew he could hit when they acquired him from Atlanta in a trade for pitcher Javier Vasquez, but they have to be happy how quickly his defense has caught up to the bat, thanks in large part to his work ethic. In fact, Flowers, who finished the year in the big leagues and is heir apparent to veteran AJ Pierzynski, was named the best defensive catcher in the Southern League in 2009. He has great power potential and a live bat, and his .423 on-base percentage was among the top 10 in the Minors among full-season players. Overall, he hit .297 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 108 games between Birmingham and Charlotte before his callup to Chicago, where he hit .188 in 10 games.
Dayan Viciedo, 1B/3B: The Cuban prospect, who made his pro debut at Birmingham last summer, just turned 21 but had hit .296 in three seasons in his home country before signing with the Sox. He has power to all fields and great makeup and attitude. He batted .280 with 12 homers and 78 RBIs for the Barons in his debut before being shut down with a sore elbow in the Arizona Fall League. A third baseman by trade, he is seeing time at first base this spring and that could be his eventual position.
These six players were on our 2009 list but are not on the 2010 list, due to the loss of rookie status, trade, poor performance, injury, the addition of other prospects to the list, etc.
Brandon Allen, 1B: The hard-slugging fifth-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Texas was traded to the Diamondbacks in July for reliever Tony Pena. He finished the year as Arizona's starting first baseman.
Gordon Beckham, SS: Less than a year after he was drafted eighth overall out of Georgia, Beckham was installed in the Majors for good, hitting .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs after a two-month stint in the Minors to open the summer. A shortstop by trade, he's been shifted around the infield in Chicago.
Chris Getz, 2B: The Michigan product, like Beckham, lost rookie status in 2009 as he hit .261 with two homers and 31 RBIs to go with 25 steals in 107 big league games in Chicago. He spent only a week in the Minors to open the season before the promotion.
Aaron Poreda, LHP: The White Sox's first-round pick in 2007 out of San Francisco was one of four pitchers dealt to San Diego for Jake Peavy. The trade rumors started in June but did not culminate until late summer. Overall, he posted a 2.70 ERA in 14 big league games between Chicago and San Diego.
Prospects to watch
|Brandon Allen, 1B||Jordan Danks, OF|
|Gordon Beckham, SS||Eduardo Escobar, SS|
|Jordan Danks, OF||Tyler Flowers, C|
|Eduardo Escobar, SS||Miguel Gonzalez, C|
|Tyler Flowers, C||David Holmberg, LHP|
|Chris Getz, 2B||Daniel Hudson, RHP|
|Aaron Poreda, LHP||Jared Mitchell, OF|
|Clayton Richard, LHP||Brent Morel, 3B|
|John Shelby III, OF||Clevelan Santeliz, RHP|
|Dayan Viciedo, 3B||Dayan Viciedo, 3B|
Clayton Richard, LHP: Richard, like Poreda, was dealt to San Diego for Peavy but had already lost his rookie status anyway, spending the entire 2009 season in the big leagues after an impressive breakthrough 2008 campaign. He posted a 4.65 ERA for the Sox and then a 4.08 mark in the Padres rotation.
John Shelby III, OF: The 2008 Minor League Player of the Year for the White after hitting .295 with 15 homers, 80 RBIs and a system-high 33 steals at Winston-Salem, Shelby's numbers slipped in his promotion to Birmingham and he was edged off the list this year after batting .243 with 10 homers, 49 RBIs and 30 steals. Still working on his outfield play since moving from second base, he has tireless work ethic and makeup, so look for him to regroup in 2010 and return to this list. He already has the speed-power combo you look for.
The following six players are new additions to the White Sox Prospects to Watch list.
Miguel Gonzalez, C: The 19-year-old catching prospect from Venezuela hit .311 with four homers and 19 RBIs at Rookie-level Bristol in his stateside debut. A line drive hitter with power potential and a plus arm, he also has good makeup.
David Holmberg, LHP: The club's second-round pick out of high school in Florida, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder already has four solid pitches, including a fastball around 90, a 12-6 curve, a changeup and a slider and mixes them with the maturity of an older player. He posted a 4.73 ERA in 14 games at Bristol in his debut.
Daniel Hudson, RHP: MLB.com's Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2009, the 2008 fifth-rounder out of Old Dominion combined at four levels to go 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 147 1/3 innings. He finished the year in Chicago, posting a 3.38 ERA in six games, two of them starts. The Sox need to decide whether they'd rather have him in the bigs as a sixth starter/reliever/swingman or send him back to the Minors to pitch every fifth game, but he should be in the bigs for good before long.
Jared Mitchell, OF: A likely pick for the system's Minor League Player of the Year in 2010, the 2009 first-rounder out of LSU suffered a torn tendon in his left ankle during Spring Training, while making a spectacular outfield catch, which will cost him most of the season. When healthy he may be the best athlete in the system and hit .296 with 10 RBIs and 12 doubles in 34 games at Kannapolis in his pro debut last summer. A football star who only recently focused fully on baseball, he has already shown great instincts to go with the athleticism and tools. It remains to be seen how the injury will affect his great raw speed down the line.
Brent Morel, 3B: The 2009 Carolina League All-Star was a third-round pick out of Cal Poly in 2008 and hit over .300 in his brief pro debut that summer. This year, he hit .281 with 16 homers and 79 RBIs at Winston-Salem, showing off the grit and hustle the organization loves about him. He has a strong arm and shows good defense at third and is a line drive gap hitter with more doubles power than pure home run pop.
Clevelan Santeliz, RHP: A setup man extraordinaire at Birmingham last summer, the Venezuelan prospect was added to the 40-man roster after posting an 0.96 ERA in 40 games and striking out 52 batters in 56 1/3 innings. He moved to the closer role at the end of the season and collected 10 saves. Throwing a fastball in the mid-90s and a plus slider, he pitches with a lot of energy and is a ton of fun to watch.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.