30. Daylan Holt, 23 - R/R -OF – (High-A Winston-Salem)
2003 (Birmingham-AA): .000 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 2 BB, 7 K
2003 (Winston-Salem-AA): .299 AVG, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB, 14 BB, 26 K
2002 (Midland-AA): .279 AVG, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB, 15 BB, 50 K
2002 (Visalia-A): .291 AVG, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 3 SB, 29 BB, 75 K
2001 (Modesto-A): .179 AVG, 2 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 40 BB, 90 K
2000 (Vancouver-R): .271 AVG, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 10 BB, 26 K
Holt, who was the second "player to be named later" in the Billy Koch for Keith Foulke trade, was literally in a yearlong slump until 2002. Holt finally showed some promise last year, hitting 20 HRs and driving in 88 runs between A and AA ball. When his stroke is good, Holt has jaw-dropping power to all fields. Because he is prone to long slumps, the goal for Holt is to keep his stroke consistent. Unfortunately, he suffered a meltdown at the beginning of the season with Birmingham and was sent down to Winston-Salem. Holt must not have taken the news lightly: he's proceeded to absolutely annihilate the baseball in High-A, raking up a .303 batting average and .505 slugging percentage. Unless an outfielder at Birmingham is promoted or released, Holt will have to stay down below his level in Winston-Salem.
29. Ryan Rodriguez, 18 - LHP, SP – Great Falls White Sox (Rookie)
2002 (Arizona-A): 5-2, 3.74 ERA, 69.1 INN, 47 K, 16 BB
Rodriguez was a fourth-round pick out of Texas' Keller High School last year. At 18 years old, Rodriguez will play another year at Great Falls and come up slowly through the Sox system. He had a very impressive debut, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts. He pitched 69.1 innings, which is a moderate amount considering he had already undergone a full season of high school baseball. Rodriguez did show very good control for a youngster, walking just 16. He throws a very good curveball, as well as a low 90's fastball that has exceptional movement. Rodriguez still has a lot to learn, but he's a very talented lefty that should develop over the next few years into a front line starter. The Sox plan on having him develop a few more pitches, one of which would most likely be a changeup. He should have a bright future, but the true tests will come with pitching at higher levels.
28. B.J. Lamura, 22 – RHP, SP – Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A Ball)
2003: 5-3, 2.64 ERA, 61.1 INN, 54 K, 34 BB
2002 (Bristol): 1-2, 4.50 ERA, 18.0 INN, 20 K, 7 BB
Lamura was one of the many solid picks made by the Sox last season: he was drafted in the fifth round out of Clemson, and in some scouts' minds was possibly the university's most talented pitcher. He had a solid debut last season, posting a 4.50 ERA as the Sox worked on improving his mechanics and honing his potential. Thus far, the work seems to have paid off. He is Kannapolis' best starter with a 2.64 ERA in 11 starts.
It shouldn't be long until Lamura moves up to Winston-Salem. Lamura features a good fastball (89-91) and can throw it harder if necessary. All of his other pitches are works in progress, but many are confident that Lamura will turn into a very solid big leaguer. He's still a few years off from reaching Chicago and, when speaking of most prospects, I like to say that you don't know what you've got until they reach AA.
27. Tetsu Yofu, 29 - RHP, SP/RP – Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 3.1 INN, 3 K, 2 BB
2003 (Birmingham-AA): 3-3, 2.96 ERA, 45.2 INN, 38 K, 11 BB
No, that's not a typo; the 29-year-old Japanese import has quite a unique name, and has already made quite a unique impact on this organization. Making his debut with the Birmingham Barons this past month, Yofu has compiled some impressive stats; Yofu is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA and has recorded 2 saves. Yofu has dabbled a bit in a starting role, yet many scouts don't believe he has the stamina to effectively last as a major league starter. If Yofu continues to impress as he has, the White Sox could be looking at their own version of Kaz Sasaki.
26. Heath (Mike) Phillips, 21 - LHP, SP – Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A Ball)
2003: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8.0 INN, 2 K, 1 BB
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): 6-15, 3.52 ERA, 179 INN, 112 K, 50 BB
2001 (Kannapolis-A): 2-7, 3.64 ERA, 72 INN, 54 K, 18 BB
Last year was a good year for Heath Phillips. Not only did he have a great season in Kannapolis, but he started drawing comparisons to current Southsider Mark Buehrle, who won 19 games in just his third major league season. The Sox have high expectations for Phillips, to say the least. Those expectations became cautions earlier this year as Heath was shut down and kept in extended spring training for medical concerns. The good news is Heath is back. He made his first start for Kannapolis last week and it was a beauty -- he went eight innings, giving up three hits and no runs. Heath doesn't have brilliant stuff, but he can throw all of his pitches for strikes and does a great job changing speeds and staying ahead of the hitters. His best pitches are a high 80's fastball that has exceptional movement and a slider. Heath should make the jump to Winston-Salem after a few starts and should end the season in Birmingham (AA). Despite having good control, Heath does have work to do, because he has to have perfect control if he hopes to have similar success to Buehrle. Look for a healthy Heath to climb up the charts and the system: he should find himself in Chicago in 2004 or 2005.
25. Josh Rupe, 20 - RHP, RP – Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A Ball)
2003: 2-2, 4 SV, 0.99 ERA, 27.1 INN, 37 K, 18 BB
2002 (Bristol-R): 3-3, 5.26 ERA, 38 INN, 40 K, 22 BB
The White Sox organization is notorious for drafting pitchers based on radar gun readings and pure potential, and the drafting of Josh Rupe is no exception. Like Corwin Malone, Josh Rupe was drafted as a project. The Sox saw something they thought they could fix, and liked the possibilities of that project succeeding. Immediately after signing, the Sox started to work on Rupe's mechanics and getting him into a consistent arm slot. Rupe has an amazing curveball, which was rated a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale by some. The changes in Rupe's mechanics will take numerous innings to learn, but he might have caught on already. Rupe has already opened the eyes of Sox officials in Kannapolis, as he has put together some very solid numbers, most notably his 28 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched, out of the bullpen. Alongside Rick Hummel, Rupe has turned the Intimidator bullpen into the most solid aspect of the team.
24. Brian West, 22 - RHP, SP – Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 5.0 INN, 2 K, 2 BB
2003 (Birmingham-AA): 2-4, 5.56 ERA, 45.1 INN, 31 K, 24 BB
2002 (Birmingham-AA): 9-11, 4.34 ERA, 149 INN, 91 K, 71 BB
2001 (Winston-Salem-A): 7-12, 3.46 ERA, 169 INN, 130 K, 70 BB
2000 (Winston-Salem-A): 0-1, 11.37 ERA, 6 INN, 3 K, 6 BB
2000 (Burlington-A): 8-9, 3.78 ERA, 148 INN, 90 K, 73 BB
1999 (Bristol-R): 1-2, 10.50 ERA, 18 INN, 17 K, 14 BB
1999 (Arizona-R): 0-1, 13.50 ERA, 5 INN, 3 K, 2 BB
Brian West's year in AA Birmingham can be simply described as both good and bad. The good? West improved on limiting the amount of hits he gave up: his Batting Average Against dropped almost 50 points from the previous year to .236. The bad? West's strikeout total dropped dramatically from 130 in 170 IP two years ago to 91 in 149 IP last year. West has been forced to spend another year in Birmingham, and the results so far have been downright awful. West has yielded 48 hits and 15 walks in only 34 2/3 innings in his second season with the Barons. Unless West makes drastic changes to his approach to pitching, he will most likely fall by the wayside as a non-prospect. Oddly enough, West was actually promoted to AAA Charlotte, but I suspect this was only a fill-in start. As of right now, West does not deserve to be in AAA.
23. Ryan Meaux – 25 - LHP, RP – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: 0-3, 5 SV, 0.88 ERA, 41.0 INN, 30 K, 2 BB
2002 (Kannapolis-A): 0-2, 6 SV, 1.35 ERA, 13.1 INN, 13 K, 0 BB
2002 (Haggerstown-A): 4-3, 17 SV, 2.63 ERA, 54.2 INN, 44 K, 12 BB
2001 (Salem-Kaizer-A): 2-2, 5.59 ERA, 29.0 INN, 27 K, 11 BB
A product of Kenny Williams' fire sale last season, Ryan Meaux has proved that Felix Diaz was not the only pitcher of note in the deal that sent Kenny Lofton to San Francisco. Meaux doesn't have noteworthy velocity, but gets good sink on his fastball and good results from his curveball. At age 25, Meaux is having a great start to 2003 (0-1, 0.29, 4sv's). If he hopes to make the majors, however, he'll need to progress to AA sooner rather than later.
22. Frankie Francisco, 23 - RHP, SP – Winston-Salem Warthogs (High A Ball)
2003: 3-2, 3.83 ERA, 42.1 INN, 29 K, 21 BB
Frankie Francisco started last year in the Boston Red Sox organization as a top ten prospect. After it was revealed that Francisco is actually nine months older than he'd reported to the team, he soon fell out of favor within the organization and was summarily traded to the South Siders in a deal for Bobby Howry. Francisco has been moved back and forth, in and out of the rotation in his young career. It appears that Francisco finally has settled in a starting role with the Winston-Salem Warthogs. While Francisco can hit 95 mph on the radar gun and can get batters out with his curveball, he still has trouble when he goes deep into counts. Off to a fast start, Francisco could be moved up a level to AA, possibly even AAA, if an opportunity presents itself.
21. Aaron Miles, 26 - S/R - 2nd Base – Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003: .320 AVG, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, 9 BB, 21 K
2002 (Birmingham-AA): .322 AVG, 9 HR, 68 RBI, 25 SB, 40 BB, 45 K
After a sub-par season at AA Birmingham (batting only .215 at home), Aaron Miles destroyed the Southern League in 2002 and garnered the attention of the White Sox. Miles has been compared to Anaheim Angels shortstop David Eckstein, but with more power. Miles, like Eckstein, is very small in height, but exerts maximum effort on the field. At 26, Miles is somewhat old for AAA, but age hasn't been prohibitive for him. He's continued his hot streak from last year, hitting a robust .353 with six homeruns at Charlotte. With current shortstop Jose Valentin in the last year of his contract, Miles may be the eventual successor at 2nd if D'Angelo Jimenez is moved from 2nd base to shortstop.
By Jason Gage, Mike Doyle, and Mark J. Jacobsen