Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 7/6/12

During the offseason, the White Sox farm system was labeled as “historically bad.”

But is the Sox system really be that bad?

While many may have said yes back in the winter, now some opinions have changed.

What has the White Sox system (and organization) produced?

Let’s take a look at the current team to see what the Sox farm system has produced.

Pitching

Starting with the pitching staff, you’ve got Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Nate Jones, and Hector Santiago as the big contributors that were drafted by the White Sox and brought up entirely through the organization.

Sale is a candidate to start the All Star game and a Cy Young front-runner at this point in the season. Reed has become a solid closer. Jones has been a stalwart out of the ‘pen.

Homegrown Nate Jones has been huge for the White Sox out of the bullpen this year with a sub-3.00 ERA. (Image credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images North America)

This brings us to the first main point of this post, which to shed light on other youngsters that the system did not technically produce, but that the organization should certainly be given credit for.

There are a lot pitchers who were not originally signed or drafted by the Sox, but who were spotted and signed by the team when they had not been given that shot or had failed with other clubs.

The guys that fall in to this category are:

  • Jose Quintana (acquired as a low-level prospect from the Yankees)
  • John Danks (acquired as a minor leaguer for Brandon McCarthy at the height of his hype)
  • Gavin Floyd (acquired as a back-end of the rotation guy from the Phillies)
  • Phil Humber (picked up as a “bust” of a high draft pick from the Mets & Royals)
  • Matt Thornton (acquired in trade from Seattle after never having success)
  • Dylan Axelrod (acquired from the San Diego Padres)

You have to credit the likes of Buddy Bell, Don Cooper, Juan Nieves, and many more developmental/scout guys for seeing talent and being able to capitalizing on it. When you see so many names in that category, you know it’s not a coincidence.

Offense

As far as hitters go, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Dayan Viciedo, Jordan Danks, and Eduardo Escobar all came up solely through the Sox’ system (excluding the time Ramirez and Viciedo spent in Cuba).

Viciedo has massive potential and could turn into a star. Beckham and Ramirez form one of the best double-play duos in the game, and each has showed flashes of competence with the bat.

And like with the pitchers, there are many more players the organization should get credit for noticing and helping unlock their potential.

Alejandro De Aza, who has been phenomenal for his entire time with the organization, was given up on by the Marlins before having his career turned around by the Sox. The “system” has to at least receive partial credit, if not more, for his development into one of the premier table-setting centerfielders in the game.

Adam Dunn and Alex Rios struggled mightily last year, but the talent that the White Sox saw when they were signed is finally coming through this year. Kevin Youkilis was acquired by flipping two fringe major league prospects.

The point I’m getting at is that the Sox may not have that many so-called big time prospects coming up through their system all the way from rookie ball to the big leagues, how much does that really matter?

I mean, I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Sox should not get credit for the likes of Alejandro De Aza and the success he’s now having on the south side of Chicago. That’s an argument that I just do not understand.

De Aza was a high-end prospect that had suffered multiple serious injuries and had been written off as “done.” The Sox as an organization spotted him and said well, if he can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can’t perform like everyone used to think he could. And the system has helped him do just that.

My other favorite example is John Danks, who was traded to the Sox in addition to a couple of other prospects for Brandon McCarthy, who many thought was the future ace of the staff. Nobody fully understood why you’d trade him for three low to mid-level prospects.

But Danks has turned out to be a good one, much better than McCarthy. I was at his first start as a pro against the Minnesota Twins, and while he took the loss, he only had one blemish throughout the game: a 3R-HR from Justin Morneau. Right then and there, I thought “hmmm, is this a Buehrle-like guy?”

Just a few years later, I’m asking the same question about Jose Quintana, who has been magnificent throughout his first couple months with the team, amassing a 2.04 ERA.

Clearly this is a pattern for the White Sox, but some people will still argue that it doesn’t mean their system is any “better.” To that, all I have to say to that is “Come on!” Then why didn’t another team scoop up Jose Quintana, Alejandro De Aza, Phil Humber, and so forth?

Their counter-argument is that whenever you look at the Sox’ minor league teams or rankings, they’re just not that good. These critics feel that while surprises like Quintana sure are nice, you can’t rely on them every year. And that’s a perfectly valid argument.

But is or was the farm system really that thin to deserve such ignominy as being called “historically bad”?

Are there really no more than a couple of prospects to get excited about? I don’t think so.

What’s left in the White Sox farm system?

To keep it simple, here’s what you’ve got: the Sox are deep in the outfield.

The major league team has three guys in place now who could be there for upcoming seasons, but the Sox have the likes of Jared Mitchell, Jordan Danks, Keenyn Walker, Courtney Hawkins, and Trayce Thompson all waiting in the wings despite there not being any current spots open.

And don’t be mistaken, those are all big time prospects.

Keenyn Walker is tearing up Kannapolis with a .272 ERA, 36 RBI, and 38 SB. (Photo courtesy MILB.)

They’re not deep in the infield, but the middle of the infield is shored up for years to come with Beckham and Alexei, and the corner infield spots aren’t something to get too worried about yet. And the infield was addressed in the recent draft with the likes of Keon Barnum and Joey DeMichele, among others.

The bullpen should actually be in very good shape for the foreseeable future, since Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Leyson Septimo, and Hector Santiago could be around for a while. Not to mention the other arms, like Duente Heath and others, that they’ve called up. There’s a lot of good arms in the AAA and AA bullpens, so like the outfield, the bullpen of the future doesn’t worry me.

Finally, you’ve got the starting rotation, which I always feel is the most important aspect of a ball club.

Going forward:

  • Chris Sale will be the top guy for years to come
  • John Danks is under contract (the biggest in White Sox history, actually)
  • Jose Quintana could certainly be around a while
  • Money will be freed up after this season with the bucks that have been going to Jake Peavy, dollars that I feel will probably go to another starter, whether it’s in a restructured deal for Peavy or a free agent.

So it looks like there is only one spot that will likely be in the next year or two.

Considering the team is currently in first place, what people said in the offseason about the farm system probably isn’t something we should even be worrying about. But it’s gotten a lot of attention, so I wanted to shed some light on the fact that the White Sox farm system is not nearly as bad as it’s been labeled.

Can you name many other teams that have brought up as many big-time contributors in one year as the Sox have this year (Viciedo, Quintana, Sale, De Aza, Jones, Reed, Santiago)?

Largely overlooked of late, Hector Santiago figures to be a staple in the White Sox bullpen for years to come.

If you check out GrabSomeBench.com often and follow @Grab_Some_Bench on Twitter, you know I like to rant about the Sox. I’m well aware that a lot of the time those rants are just fueled by emotions, considering the amount of emotions I invest in the White Sox daily.

But this time I’m certain when I say that the media is/was wrong about the White Sox system. “Historically bad?” That’s been pretty clearly disproved.

And the best part for the first place White Sox is that it has been the players who were disparaged who have done the disproving.

——————–

This was originally posted on Zach’s White Sox blog, Grab Some Bench! Visit the site at GrabSomeBench.com and follow the guys on Twitter @Grab_Some_Bench!

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