The Top 50 Countdown: 40-31

Wyatt Allen (Getty Images)

From 50 all the way down to 1, we will continue our countdown of the top 50 prospects in the White Sox organization with 31 through 40. Coming Soon: 21 through 30.

40. Clay Eason, 27 - RHP, RP – Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 0-0, 72.00 ERA, 1 INN, 1 K, 2 BB
2003 (Barons-AA): 1-3, 3.72 ERA, 36.1 INN, 38 K, 13 BB
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): 0-0, 4.43 ERA, 20.1 INN, 14 K, 9 BB
2002 (Barons-AA): 5-2, 2.00 ERA, 67.2 INN, 60 K, 26 BB

Clay Eason was originally a 38th round pick in the 1997 by the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent most of last season in Birmingham and, at 27, there isn't much shot of him appearing in the majors anytime soon. Eason doesn't have great stuff, but he has good control. Eason also hasn't had the best luck. He's been successful throughout his career in the minors and, although he did spend some time in Charlotte, was still stuck in AA last season. Eason was recently called up in Charlotte and was hit hard in his only appearance (eight runs, one inning).

39. Edgar Varela, 22 – Bats: Left - Throws: Right – 3rd Base – Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A Ball)
2003: .242 AVG, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 0 SB, 15 BB, 25 K
2002 (Bristol-Rookie): .330 AVG, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB, 13 SB, 29 K

Drafted in the 31st round out of Long Beach State (the same college which Jeremy Reed attended), Edgar Valera appears to be a steal for the Sox. Valera missed much of the 2002 season with a wrist injury, but the Sox took a gamble on his recovery. So far, so good: along with Anthony Webster, Andy Gonzalez, and others, Valera led the Bristol Sox to the Appalachian League championship in 2002. Valera had 8 home runs at Bristol, and was noted as having the best raw power from the Sox 2002 draft by Baseball America. Thus far in Kannapolis, Valera has struggled, hitting just six extra-base hits in 128 at bats. His current average stands at a respectable .268, but his on-base percentage is a mediocre .331. If Valera wants to prove that last year in Bristol was not a fluke, he must resume hitting with authority.

38. Casey Rogowski, 22 – L/L – 1st Base – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: .248 AVG, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 8 SB, 25 BB, 27 K
2002 (Wiston Salem-A): .255 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 16 SB, 28 BB, 46 K
2002 (Arizona-Rookie): .484 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 1 BB, 5 K

Casey is a talented left-handed hitting first-baseman who's got a beautiful swing and very good fundamentals. Casey is a great defensive player and an excellent base runner. He managed to get 16 steals (3 CS) in just 55 games. After suffering a wrist injury this past season, he is supposedly 100% and ready to further his career. Rogowski is not a power hitting first baseman: he fits the J.T. Snow role more than the Jim Thome role.

37. Thomas Brice, 21 – L/L - OF - Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A Ball)
2003: .287 AVG, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB, 17 BB, 23 K
2002 (Bristol-Rookie): .327 AVG, 0 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB, 10 BB, 11 K

One of the more talented outfield prospects with the Sox, Brice had a very strong .327 debut for Bristol last season. This season started differently for Brice: he struggled early in the season, but has since raised his average to .287 with .363 OBP. Brice, a native of Australia, was drafted by the Sox in the 24th round. He is a great low ball hitter and has a very strong arm. The Sox think he could play right field defensively, but he would lack the overall pop of a prototypical outfielder. He's yet to hit a homer this season, but most scouts feel that he'll develop some power as he grows into his body. Brice doesn't have that much to work on - he's a very savvy hitter that already has shown good discipline, (although, until he reaches the pros, could always improve.) The big keys for him will be to put on more muscle and let his body fill out. Once he does that, he could shoot up the charts and increase his likelihood of reaching Chicago. If he doesn't develop more power, he'd likely be more of a utility outfielder, but he does have the chance to be a solid everyday player.

36. Byeong Hak An, 22 - LHP, SP – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: 7-2, 3.35 ERA, 51.0 INN, 33 K, 20 BB
2002 (Winston Salem-A): 2-0, 3.80 ERA, 21.1 INN, 11 K, 7 BB
2002 (Sarasota-A): 4-7, 5.33 ERA, 98.0 INN, 58 K, 33 BB
2001 (Sarasota-A): 2-8, 3.62 ERA, 119.1 INN, 84 K, 42 BB

An, a lefty, was acquired by the Sox last season in exchange for Bobby Howry. While not the most gifted pitcher, An has done nothing but excel during his tour of the minor leagues. An is a bit old to be pitching in A ball, but he's making the best of it with seven wins and a 3.35 ERA. An has a chance to make the majors, but it's likely that eventually he'll join the bullpen, hoping to find his way as a lefty specialist. An is due for a call-up to Double A, and his numbers there will be quite a determinant of whether he has what it takes. His best pitch is a slurve, which he complements with a solid change and fastball (high 80's).

35. Guillermo Reyes, 21 – S/R – Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003: .194 AVG, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 6 SB, 12 BB, 26 K
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): .308 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 SB, 0 BB, 1 K
2002 (Winston Salem-A): .279 AVG, 4 HR, 49 RBI, 30 SB, 35 BB, 71 K
2001 (Winston Salem-A): .208 AVG, 0 HR, 24 RBI, 16 SB, 14 BB , 33 K
2001 (Kannapolis-A): .279 AVG, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 29 SB, 27 BB, 30 K
2000 (Bristol-Rookie): .296 AVG, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 21 SB, 22 BB, 24 K
1999 (Arizona-Rookie): .250 AVG, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 18 SB, 20 BB, 25 K

Guillermo is one of the most talented middle-infield prospects in the organization. He has great speed, a strong arm, and great range. Unfortunately thus far he's shown no offense, but, as one of the younger players in the Southern League, he has plenty of time to develop. He's a bat away from being one of the best prospects in the game. In order to develop a better bat, he'll have to cut down on the strikeouts and increase his walk total. Last season he made great strides at the plate, but those strides can't be seen in Birmingham where he is hitting .194.

34. Wyatt Allen, 23 - RHP, SP – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: 2-2, 3.78 ERA, 52.1 INN, 40 K, 38 BB
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5.0 INN, 2 K, 6 BB
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): 8-9, 4.45 ERA, 161.2 INN, 110 K, 80 BB
2001 (Kannapolis-A): 4-5, 3.16 ERA, 62.2 INN, 45 K, 16 BB

Despite having one of the best arms in the 2001 draft, Wyatt Allen's mechanical problems allowed him to fall to 39th and into the White Sox's open arms. Allen is considered to be a project for this organization. His delivery needs much work and, although he can reach 97 on the radar gun, he had a lot of trouble finding the catcher's glove in 2002. Allen will need to harness his arm if he wants to excel in professional ball. The timetable for Allen is blurry at best: if he can locate his pitches and learn to perfect his mechanics, though, it won't be long before he quickly moves up within the system.

33. Jason Stumm, 22 – RHP, RP – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 4.0 INN, 4 K, 1 BB
2002 (Kannapolis-A): 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 40.0 INN, 45 K, 12 BB, 5 SV
2001 (Arizona-Rookie): 0-2, 2.25 ERA, 12.0 INN, 12 K, 5 BB
2000 (Burlington-A): 2-7, 4.61 ERA, 66.1 INN, 62 K, 30 BB
1999 (Burlington-A): 3-3, 5.32 ERA, 44.0 INN, 33 K, 27 BB
1999 (Arizona-Rookie): 0-0, 3.27 ERA, 11.0 INN, 9 K, 3 BB

Jason Stumm was the 15th overall pick in 1999. Stumm, 21, was once a prospect projected to be a front-of- the-rotation starter. Numerous medical concerns have put his development to a halt and will force Stumm into the pen, as a future setup man or closer. After a season in which he pitched 12 innings (2001), Stumm returned to the mound in Kannapolis. The White Sox limited him to a strict pitch count, and no more than two-inning stints. Even with those precautions in place, Stumm still felt soreness and had to be shut down again in 2002. Stumm again had minor shoulder surgery following the season. When healthy, he has a wicked fastball that varies from 93-97, and is nearly un-hittable. Stumm was recently activated by Winston-Salem and has pitched in four games. He has had mixed success, but the key is having him back on the mound and on the road to health.

32. Tim Hummel, 24 – R/R – 2nd/SS/3rd – Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003: .288 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB, 15 BB, 21 K
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): .260 AVG, 4 HR, 41 BB, 6 SB, 51 BB, 95 K
2001 (Birmingham-AA): .290 AVG, 7 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB, 62 BB, 69 K

2000 (Winston-Salem-A):.327 AVG, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 13 BB, 12 K
2000 (Burlington-A): .326 AVG, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 8 SB, 21 BB, 20 K

Last season, Hummel was considered "the future." This season, D'Angelo Jimenez is the present and future at second base. Hummel, known for his offense, struggled mightily in his first shot at AAA. He would rebound in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .303, while leading the league with an 18-10 walk to strikeout ratio. Despite a slow start, Tim is having a much better season and may have rejuvenated his status as a prospect. He has a very pretty stroke and good patience. He lacks the speed of a leadoff hitter, and would likely fit in the two hole or farther back in the lineup. Defensively, he can play anywhere in the infield and is solid at all positions. Hummel will likely make his major league debut later this season, and has a shot to be the starting second baseman next season with Jose Valentin entering free agency. If he doesn't become a starter, look for him to be a very successful utility man.

31. Jim Bullard, 23 - LHP, RP – Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003: 1-1, 4.46 ERA, 36.1 INN, 21 K, 16 BB
2002 (Birmingham –AA): 0-3, 4.50 ERA, 20 INN, 12 K, 4 BB
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): 9-8, 3.32 ERA, 143.2 INN, 89 K, 47 BB
2001 (Kannapolis-A): 3-2, 3.00 ERA, 45.0 INN, 26 K, 6 BB
2001 (Bristol-Rookie): 1-2, 3.00 ERA, 21.0 INN, 31 K, 1 BB

I sometimes wonder how Jim Bullard ever ended up in the Sox organization. As stated earlier with Josh Rupe, the Sox are notorious for drafting pitchers solely on stuff alone, not weighing other factors such as polish or location. Bullard is almost the polar opposite, using his knowledge and location of his pitches to get hitters out. Bullard has put up solid numbers, especially last year's 3.32 ERA for the Winston-Salem Hogs. After several starts at Birmingham, Bullard asked manager Wally Backman if he could be moved to the bullpen, where Bullard believes he has a better chance of making the majors. If he plans on doing so, he must somehow leapfrog left-handed prospects Royce Ring and Arnie Munoz, as well as current Sox lefties Kelly Wunsch, David Sanders, and Damaso Marte. Bullard might actually be better off suited in another organization where he may get the shot he deserves.

By Jason Gage, Mike Doyle, and Mark J. Jacobsen

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