You heard it here first.
Yes it is my prediction that three years from now, the South-Siders will be crowned the World Champions, and here’s why:
In case you haven’t been paying much attention to the MLB offseason, a month ago the Chicago White Sox shipped off their number 1 Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in a three team trade that would send prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez.
The Sox are stockpiling arms, with the addition of Giolito, Kopech, and Lopez, they join Carson Fulmer, Carlos Rodon, and Zach Burdi in the White Sox system. Here is where things get interesting; everyone on that list hits over 95 on the radar gun. The Sox are piling up the power arms, all of whom are supposed to be be Big League ready by 2018, not to mention the fact that everyone on the list is also under the age of 25.
Lets get into it:
Rodon has been a decent number three man in the Sox rotation, however with the departure of Sale and eventually Quintana, Rodon will be pushed to the top of the rotation behind Veteran James Shields, and injury riddled Derek Holland. Rodon is 24 years old, at NC State, was considered one of the best pitchers in the NCAA. He was then taken 3rd overall in the 2014 draft and spent a very minimal amount of time in the minors before heading to the big leagues. He has turned in somewhat pedestrian numbers over the past year. However, he has only served a little over a year in the bigs. However, lets get back to the man’s skill set. He sits 94 to 95 from the left side and has one of the best sliders in baseball. His change is average, but when one has two exemplary pitches, an average third pitch plays just fine. He strikes out nearly 9.1 hitters per nine innings, but he walks 3.7 batters per nine as well. However Rodon doesn’t have the control problems most young pitchers have, typically young pitchers have trouble missing out of the zone. Rodon misses in the zone, partially why he gives up as many runs as he does. Once again, I just want to state that he is only 24, and with some more innings under his belt, Rodon should be a front line starter and anchor this White Sox rotation.
Carson Fulmer surged onto the national stage when he was the Vanderbilt ace with the unbelievably fast motion and the electric arm. Standing at only 5’11 you wouldn’t believe that the man’s fastball can touch triple digits, however he sits around 96-97 and he also has above average offerings in his changeup and slider. All of the makings of a frontline starter. Taken in the first round of the 2015 draft, Fulmer will be big league ready by the upcoming season, him partially being one of the reasons the White Sox felt comfortable letting Chris Sale go. Fulmer strikes out around 9.3 hitters per every nine innings however he has had some control problems. He walked 65 hitters in 131 innings last year. If Fulmer gets his control together he could be a dominate starter and weapon for the South Siders, and if he doesn’t pan out as a starter he could easily be moved to the back of the bullpen as a closer or set-up man.
Zach Burdi is a little different then the first two pitchers on this countdown as he is predominantly a relief pitcher. Burdi was touching 101 with heavy sink in most of his outings this last Spring. After being taken 26th overall in the 2016 draft, Burdi has been tearing it up in the lower levels of the White Sox minor league system with hitters only hitting .176 against him and striking nearly 12 batters per nine innings. Look for Burdi to fly through the minor league ranks and arrive in the White Sox bullpen by next summer or 2018 at the latest.
Behind Giolito, Kopech has by far the best upside of any of the pitchers in this article, maybe even in baseball for that matter. At 6’3 205 pounds Kopech has the frame and the arm strength to head this White Sox rotation in the near future. Drafted out of a Texas high school at 33rd overall, Kopech has always had the potential to be an electric big league pitcher. After an elbow injury last year, Kopech spent his time rehabbing his elbow and putting on nearly 20 pounds of muscle. After his return to the mound, he reportedly hit 105 on the radar gun several times. He also has an above average slider and an average changeup that he can consistently throw for a strike. However, the 20 year old prospect has already found himself in trouble multiple times in his young career. He was suspended 50 games for a banned stimulant last year and got into a fight with a teammate. If he gets passed all of the childish crap, Kopech could be an incredibly special talent.
Now who knows if all of these minor league arms will fulfill their potentials, but if they do, they could be vital in the Sox’s rotation or as potential trade pieces to bring a top ten hitter to the South Side by 2020.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-reference.com