In this article we will examine the top 5 Outfield prospects in the Chicago White Sox system. This is part 1 of and 8 article series. All other positions will be top 3 players. For the purposes of this article, prospects will be defined as anyone with less than a year of ML service and currently in the minor leagues. We will rank them on a combination of OSA, White Sox scouting, and stats. Fielding and hitting will both contribute to rankings but not equally. Age and organizational level will play minor roles in the rankings
Enough intro, let’s get into the rankings.
Unranked – The enigma – Steve Peters
Steve is getting mentioned here because he is either going to be a great defensive CF with solid bat or a dominant closer. The question with a 2 way player of his caliber is can he be both? Peters saw a short stint with the Major League club where it was clear he was not ready for the bigs yet. Originally drafted in 2018 in the 3rd round, the speedy 22 year old spent two years at Kannapolis playing A level ball. He didn’t get many innings from the mound so will likely spend most of 2021 at AAA deciding whether he will roam the outfield or plant himself on the mound. According to AAA Manager Luis Martinez the organization plans to start him at CF and have him close. “We should have a good idea where his future leads when this season ends.”
#5. Greg Battle
Raw talent. Greg Battle is as raw as a player gets, but if he develops this 19 year old could own Right Field for years to come. A 9th round pick in the 2020 draft Battle was drafted out of High School. Battle saw limited action after the draft in Winston Salem playing A ball. He’ll be starting this year with Great Falls in the developmental league. Battle swings a big bat and the team will look for him to be a hammer from the left side against rookie league pitching.
#4. Fernando Durant
Fernando Durant is another raw talent who was drafted in the 7th round of the 2020 draft. Another lefty with tremendous power potential and the eye to match, Durant needs to develop as a fielder if he is going to find regular playing time. Long and lean, the Canadian stands 6’5” but weighing only 195. He will also see time at 1B but he mainly played in the outfield in High School. The 19 year old will be a team mate of Battle at Great Falls this year.
#3 Wei-Qian Tang
Tang has spent the past 6 years inside the White Sox organization, 3 years in the international complex and 3 years in rookie leagues. He’ll open up this year at Kannapolis holding down the starting Left Field job. A sure handed fielder and grinder at the plate, the 22 year old from Singapore is more grit than flash. The left hander hopes to show team brass that his solid contact, doubles power and high OBP make up for the lack of homers.
#2 Mike Starks
Mike Starks is another raw talent who was drafted in the 6th round of the 2020 draft. Another high schooler with tremendous power, Starks is also a threat to steal a base every time he gets on. Very serviceable in Center Field, Starks should continue to develop into an above average defensive player. He’ll start the year at Winston Salem where he will split time between CF and DH. In 65 developmental league games last year he hit 9 home runs and stole 16 bases in 18 attempts.
#1 Jeff Taylor
The clear cut, head above the rest, number 1 is Jeff Taylor. The 10th pick in the 2019 draft is the number 1 prospect in the organization and the #5 prospect in baseball. Elite speed and baserunning instincts, Taylor also has above average tools on defense. In 2020 he made the jump to AA Birmingham where he slashed .250/.298/.441 hitting 11 home runs in 66 games. One area where Taylor could use improvement is his eye. K rate was a whopping 32.7% and his walk rate was only 5%. Taylor will start the year back in AA but expect him to push the AAA squad if the numbers follow his tools.
As you can see the White Sox outfield prospects are Jeff Taylor and then everyone else. The Front Office made strides in the 2020 draft to bolster the organizational depth, but overall the farm system in the outfield is lacking. Look to see if they draft more depth in the outfield this year. Up next we will review the top 3 backstop prospects, with another obvious number 1.