Sure, the White Sox' farm system is ranked 28th by Baseball Prospectus. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of bright spots throughout Rick Hahn and Buddy Bell's farm system.
As we've discussed plenty before, the strongest unit of the team's organization is the outfield, which is set at both the major and minor league levels. In fact, four of the Sox' most enticing prospects are outfielders. Though we're working with a small sample size and none of the following is something we should get too worked up over, it is alarming to see, in some instances, how poorly those kids' seasons have started off in 2013.
Last year's first round draft pick, Hawkins has impressed early on in his professional career, quickly becoming the team's no. 1 rated prospect.
Last year, after 59 games in Bristol, Kannapolis, and Winston-Salem, he finished the year hitting .284 with 26 XBH's, 33 RBI's, and 11 SB's.
So after such a monstrous start, nobody could wait to see what he'd do in Class A Winston-Salem in 2013. But so far, nothing could be going worse. Through 15 games and 51 at bats, he's struck out 34 times. Yes, I said 34. In other words, he's striking out two out of every three at bats. So yeah ... that's a bit on the high side.
On the bright side, five of his eight hits (.157 BA) have been home runs (12 RBI's), so the power has still been on showcase, which is good to see considering it's the asset that got him drafted so high out of high school in the first place.
Should you worry about this alarming start? No, not yet. Give it some time. The kid is 19 years old ... he'll find his groove, even if he does have to head back to Kannapolis to do so.
So this guy, despite having a world of potential, is about as up-and-down as it gets.
In spring training, Mitchell was a headliner, hitting .387 with six XBH's and nine runs scored in just 31 at bats. But just like after his electric start to the regular season (minors) in 2012, he quickly took a turn for the worse.
Through 14 games and 53 at bats for the AAA Charlotte Knights, Mitchell was hitting an abysmal .132 with 27 strikeouts ... just over a 50% rate.
As far as positives for his start with Charlotte goes, it was nice to see that despite struggling so mightily, he still was scoring 0.5 runs per game and had walked ten times. It really does seem that his approach at the plate is slowly but surely becoming more and more professional.
He's now playing for the AA Birmingham Barons once again, as he looks to get going sooner rather than later. At 24 years old, the Sox don't want this waiting game with him to drag on much longer.
Keep holding your breath. This isn't going to get much better with the team's fifth ranked prospect, Keenyn Walker.
With 16 games and 61 at bats under his belt in 2013 for the AA Birmingham Barons, Walker is hitting .197 with 22 K's (36%). Of his 12 hits, only two have been of the extra base variety and he's only totaled 15 bases; less than one per game for the speedster and table-setter will not suffice.
Luckily, he's already walked 11 times, so his OBP is up at a somewhat respectable .338 mark, which has allowed him to already steal seven bases (caught stealing one time).
At 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to develop, as the team would like to see him take over as the leadoff man once Alejandro De Aza's days in town come to an end.
Okay, now you can finally exhale. Though Trayce Thompson (pictured above), the Sox' second ranked prospect (by Baseball America), isn't off to a good start, he's not struggling as much as Hawkins or Mitchell is.
Hitting .210 through 16 games and 62 at bats for the Barons, he has at least flashed his potential by hitting two home runs and four doubles, stealing four bases (caught once), and walking seven times. But the 27.4% strikeout rate, though better than everybody else we've mentioned, is still higher than we'd like to see.
Thompson is thought by some to have the highest ceiling of the Sox' prospects, as he has all five tools under his belt, drawing comparisons to Mike Trout and Matt Kemp (though we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves).
All statistics up-to-date through Sunday, April 21st, 2013