On Tuesday afternoon, the White Sox made a series of roster moves, sending down almost all of their top prospects attending spring training this year. While Sox fans are still salivating about the quick work Rick Hahn did in locking up Tim Anderson, the future of the franchise will no longer be suiting up for the major league team this spring. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer will all start the year at AAA Charlotte. With those players set to spend at least one month in Charlotte, the Knights have to be expected to win almost every game to start the season. Michael Kopech was also reassigned but there has not been any word yet on where he will start the season. Kopech has never pitched above single A before so I would expect him to start the year with the Winston-Salem Dash at single A.

Sox fans should not be too worried about their prospects being sent down as all of them showed flashes of brilliance this spring. When it comes to Moncada, Giolito, Lopez, and Fulmer expect all four of them to make it to the majors at some point this season. Zack Burdi, the team’s 26th overall selction in the 2016 draft, is still in spring training camp as he appears to be the most major league ready prospect. Relief pitchers like Burdi do not have as much to learn coming out of college as they are not expected to have the endurance a starter would have. With all this in mind, a brief recap of the hot-shot White Sox prospects.

Zach Burdi has been on an absolute tear this spring training, and outside of one rough outing on March 12, he has been as close to perfect as you can be. Over 10 innings of work, Burdi has allowed 3 runs on four hits, all three of those runs and two of those hits coming on March 12 against the Seattle Mariners. He has struck out 12 batters, walked four, and held batters to an outstanding .118 batting average. Burdi prefers to stay in the bullpen and with his skill set the White Sox should be happy about that. He has great control and throws upwards of 100 mph. 62 of his 83 pitches this spring have been strikes. Burdi will be an excellent 1-2 punch with Nate Jones at the end of the bullpen for the next several years.

Lucas Giolito was the biggest prize in the Adam Eaton trade with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals seemingly gave up on Giolito after a rough major league debut despite being the #3 overall prospect at the time. During spring training this year, pitching coach Don Cooper has worked with Giolito to improve his mechanics as his mechanics fell apart at the end of last year. All in all he had some high highs and some low lows this spring. On March 14, against the Mariners, Giolito allowed four runs on four hits and did not finish the first inning (The Mariners apparently had the Sox’ number this year). If you ignore that start, Giolito allowed only two runs over his previous nine innings stretching several games. He is still giving up good contact as battesr hit .297 against him, but his ability to miss bats is slowly increasing. He will be up in the majors at some point this year but not as quickly as some other players on this list.

Reynaldo Lopez might end up being the best asset the Sox received in the previously mentioned Adam Eaton trade. Over his last 18 innings pitched he has allowed only three runs. He pitched more innings than any new Sox prospect this spring, striking out 14 and walking five. Batters hit .197 against him. In his last start, he out dueled San Francisco All-Star Johnny Cueto as Lopez pitched six shut out innings. With a 1.50 spring ERA, it is save to say Lopez is very close to major league ready.

Carson Fulmer is a name most Sox fans already know as he debuted last season with mixed results. Fulmer did not have a good spring as battesr hit .290 against him and he surrendered 10 runs on 18 hits over 14.2 innings. The only positive that comes out of his spring is that he struck out 15 batters and only walked five. He seems to have fixed any control issues but control does not matter much if he keeps throwing meatballs over the middle of the plate. I want to believe Fulmer is a future starter but his numbers keep pointing to the bullpen.

Michael Kopech threw the fewest innings out of the top pitching prospects. During his first start he gave up four runs in one inning against the Seattle Mariners (What is up with the Mariners this spring?). During his second start, he gave up one run over three innings and struck out four. His last appearance was a two inning relief appearance against some team on the North Side. He tossed two scoreless innings and struck out five, allowing only one hit. His fastball reached 102 mph on the day. Do not expect to see Kopech in Chicago in 2017. He has never pitched above single A and has control issues to work out. He is 20 years old and has an enormous ceiling. By the end of 2017, he may be a top 5 prospect in all of baseball.

Finally, Yoan Moncada showed White Sox fans that patience is a virtue. He started off spring training showing all the negatives to his game. He committed multiple errors at second base and he struck out every game. As the weather warmed up so did Moncada. In 17 total games, Moncada had a slash line of .317/.391/.683. He hit three home runs, two doubles, and drove in 13 runs. The offense is scary good when he gets going and once he tightens up his defense even a little bit he will create a terrifying middle infield combo with Tim Anderson. Moncada is under team control through 2022 if he stays in the minors for a month and a half but do not expect him to stay down there much longer than that.


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