MLB Team News & Rumors: Chicago

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Chicago White Sox

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Chicago White Sox Team Projection

The collapse in September of 2012 laid the ground work for a brutal 2013 season. The White Sox only won 63 games and had the worst offense in the American league (598 runs - 150 less than 2012). Their pitching staff finished 9th in the AL in ERA (3.98) for a 2nd straight year. In the offseason, they traded CL Addison Reed and minor leaguer OF Brandon Jacobs to Arizona for OF Adam Eaton and 3B Matt Davidson. Their biggest offseason move was acquiring Cuban slugger Jose Abreu. Chicago added RP Ronald Belisario and RP Scott Downs for bullpen depth. Overall, the White Sox offense may lack power. Their starting rotation lacks depth behind Chris Sale, plus they have a question mark at closer.

1. OF Adam Eaton

Adam Eaton fantasy baseball

Eaton was expected to be the leadoff hitter for the Diamondbacks last season, however, he suffered a sprained UCL in his left elbow. He didn't return to the majors until July 9th. Adam was unimpressive in his 250 at bats, but he does have a knack for scoring when he gets on base (over 50% in his short major league career). Last year, his walk rate (6.1%) wasn't in the elite area he showed in his 85 at bats in the majors in 2012 (13.6%) or during his minor league career (11.5%). For whatever reason, Eaton didn't steal bases last season. He is a career .348 hitter in the minors with 106 steals in 1,300 at bats. Adam should have 30 steal upside in the majors with 7 to 10 HR power. The White Sox acquired him over the winter and he has the best skill set to be their leadoff hitter. The elbow injury last season has to be a concern as it could lead to Tommy John surgery down the road. He has an intriguing skill set with upside in batting average and his price point should be fair during the 2014 draft season.

2. SS Alexei Ramirez

Alexei Ramirez fantasy baseball

Ramirez has played in 156 games or more in 4 straight seasons. He set a career high in at bats (637), hits (181), doubles (39), and SB's (30). His skill set is really tough to figure out. Early in his career, Alexei appeared to have upside in power with underlying speed. His power is almost all gone (6 HR's), while his speed has emerged (30 SB's). His K rate (10.1%) was a career low. Likewise, his walk rate (3.9%) has ranked near the bottom of the league over the last 2 seasons. Last year, his low HR rate was due to a career low FB rate (29.2%) and HR/FB rate (3.6%). His LD rate (22.1%) was also a career high. Maybe his swing path changed resulting in more solid contact but less loft. Last year, he hit over .270 in every month of the season, but only had 1 HR over the first 3 months of the year. Alexei had 501 at bats hitting 2nd and 3rd in the batting order. Overall, Ramirez had 47 extra base hits, which was somewhat in line with his previous seasons. I expect a bounce back in power and I'm hoping his speed holds up. Possible upside - .280 with 15/20 skill set.

3. 1B Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu fantasy baseball

Abreu signed a 5 year, $68 million contract in October with the White Sox. He will take over at first base. Jose hit 30 HR's or more in each season from 2010 to 2012 while only playing in 263 games. Abreu has had an elite approach at the plate over his last 4 seasons in the Cuban league (276 walks - 113 intentional and only 178 K's). His walk rate was 19.5% during that stretch with a 12.9% K rate. Last year, his power took a step back (SLG % of .604). There isn't much video available on Abreu. He had massive power in short at bats in Cuba, but the ball parks are small and the pitching talent lacks depth. Cespedes and Puig have played well in the majors after their transition from Cuba. It appears Abreu is willing to go the other way, which will help him keep his contact rate in line. I'm looking forward to watching him in spring training. I'll set the bar at .275 with a 25/90 skill set until I see him in live action.

4. DH Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn fantasy baseball

Dunn has hit 34 HR's or more 9 times during his last 10 seasons, but it wasn't an easy ride. Adam only hit .156 over the first 2 months of the year with 69 K's in 173 at bats (35.3% K rate). He was a much better player over the next 3 months (.272 with 18 HR's and 51 RBI), but his K rate dropped only to 30.3%. He finished the year hitting .159 in September with 34 K's in 69 at bats (44.7% K rate). Dunn is only hitting .173 against LH pitching over the last 4 seasons. Chicago re-signed Paul Konerko to a minimal contract in the offseason. I expect Dunn only to play against RH pitching in 2014. Adam has had a K rate of over 30% in each of the last 4 seasons. His walk rate (12.5%) was still strong, but it was a clear step back from his career resume (15.9%). He has 94 HR's off of right handed pitching over the last 4 seasons. I guess the best a fantasy player can expect from Dunn at this point of his career is 25 HR's with 75 RBI and maybe a .230 batting average, if he has limited at bats against lefties.

5. OF Dayan Viciedo

Dayan Viciedo fantasy baseball

Viciedo was a bad investment last year. His power never approached his breakout season in 2013. He struggled over the first two weeks of April (.133 with 16 K's in 34 at bats). After a 4-game hitting streak (9/14), Dayan suffered an oblique injury that cost him about 3 weeks of the season. Viciedo played well in his first 12 games back in May (15/38 - .395) to raise his season average to .302. He only hit 1 HR over a 44-game stretch as his batting averaged bottomed out at .233 on July 7th. Over the 2nd half of the season, he hit .291 with 7 HR's and 28 RBI, but Dayan only played in 55 of 70 games. His K rate (20.7) was a slight improvement. His walk rate (5.1%) remains weak, but it was in line with his career average. Viciedo is a GB hitter (47.5% in his career). His FB rate (33.9%) has improved slightly over the last 2 seasons. In 2012, he dominated LH pitching (.350) while struggling against righties (.225). Last year, he was mediocre against both RH (.268) and LH (.257) pitchers. Viciedo has more upside in power and maybe the addition of Abreu will unlock the key to his potential. Many fantasy players will overlook him this season as they will feel he is the odd man out. I don't agree. He has a 20/80 skill set with batting average risk and 30 HR power down the road.

6. OF Alejandro De Aza

Alejandro De Aza fantasy baseball

De Aza was very productive in 2013, but his skill set is developing on a different path. His minor league resume suggested he had 30 stolen base upside with minimal power. In the majors, his power has emerged, but it has been at the expense of his K rate (21.8% in 2013, 18.6% in 2012, and 15.4% during his minor league career). At the same time, his walk rate (7.4% in 2013 - 9.3% in the minors) has regressed. Last year, he showed improvement against LH pitching (.302) with a lower K rate (18.9%). Over the past 2 seasons, Alejandro has had a high LD rate (24.7% in 2013 and 26.1% in 2012), which tells me he is making hard contact. However, his FB rate (34.6%) is relatively low even with slight improvements over the past couple of years. De Aza has been an above average run producer over the past 2 seasons, so he may move down in the lineup. Eaton has a much better skill set to bat leadoff. I see him as a real tricky player this year. Alejandro wants to hit for power, but less contact will invite more batting average risk. His success against lefties allowed him to hit over .250 in 2013. With a step back in this area, he could have much higher batting average risk. Based on his growth, he may be a 15/75/25 player if he hits lower in the batting order.

7. 3B Matt Davidson

Matt Davidson fantasy baseball

The White Sox really wanted to upgrade their 3B position in the offseason. They decided the combination of Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson offered more upside than a 1 inning closer. Davidson was able to get his feet wet in the majors last season, but he wasn't ready to make an impact (.237 with 3 HR's and 12 RBI in 76 at bats). His K rate (27.6%) wasn't far off of his minor league resume (24.3%). Over the past 4 seasons in the minors, Matt has 135 doubles and 78 HR's in 1879 at bats. Last year, Davidson only saw 45% fastballs as pitchers were able to get him out with off speed pitches. He doesn't have a great glove and his swing has some holes in it. His power has upside, but he is going to be a streaky hitter. I don't expect him to get full time at bats. He should hit 15 to 20 HR's with a sub .250 batting average.

8. C Josh Phegley

Josh Phegley fantasy baseball

The battle for the starting catching job in Chicago is between two weak options. Phegley made a step forward at AAA last season (15 HR's in 231 at bats), but his minor league resume doesn't support his success. His K rate (19.3% in the majors and 16.8% during his minor league career) is much stronger than Tyler Flowers (34% during his career), but his walk rate (2.4%) barely had a pulse in the majors last season. Josh is a career .263 hitter in the minors with 44 HR's in 1440 at a bats. Phegley has a solid arm, but he struggles blocking balls in the dirt. He hit .190 against RH pitching with a .266 SLG % in the majors in 2013. Low upside player with no chance at regular playing time. No fantasy value.

9. 2B Gordon Beckham

Gordon Beckham fantasy baseball

Beckham suffered a wrist injury on April 9th that sidelined him for 8 weeks. He carried a .300 batting average until August 20th, but had no power after his wrist injury. His K rate (13.6%) was a career best, while his walk rate (6.9%) has been short over the last 4 years. Last year, Gordon improved against RH pitching (.287), but he struggled against lefties (.195). Beckham will enter 2014 at age 27. He hasn't reached his potential over the past 4 years. His power was cut short last season due to his wrist injury. Overall, he did show a couple of minor signs that he was making some improvement. He has double digit power with low speed. He'll have a real tough time hitting at the top of the order, so he has no upside in runs. Beckham will have some value as a cheap power infielder in an AL only league and may be a serviceable replacement player in a deep mixed format. He needs to hit better against lefties.

10. DH Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko fantasy baseball

It looks like this could be the end of the line for Konerko. He has had a very good major league career (.281 with 434 HR's and 1390 RBI). Over the last 2 years, his RBI rate (14%) has dropped below the major league average. Last year, he hit less than 20 HR's for the first time since 2003. Paul signed a one year, $2.5 million contract in the off season, which probably means he will be a part time player in 2014. He battled a knee, back, and neck injury in 2013. I expect him to see at bats against LH pitching (.313 last year) at DH. If he plays well, he could push Dunn to the outfield. He has a long major league resume with a low K rate (14.2%). His low projected at bats will lead to a discounted price. Maybe he just wasn't healthy last year. I'll leave the door open slightly for a bounce back season.

11. C Tyler Flowers

He is a career .200 hitter with a 34.2% K rate during his major league career. Tyler has 22 HR's in 529 at bats. Flowers had right shoulder surgery in September. He will compete for at bats at catcher with Phegley.

12. MI Jeff Keppinger

Last year, Jeff proved he couldn't handle being an everyday starter. His plus batting average in 2012 (.325) turned into .253 in 2013 with no power or RBI's. Keppinger had right shoulder surgery in September. He is expected to be ready for spring training. Jeff will be the utility infielder this season and could steal some at bats away from Davidson at 3B.

13. SS Marcus Semien

He made a step forward last season (.284 at AA and AAA with 19 HR's and 24 SB's). Marcus didn't have much of a bat when he was drafted out of college. Semien made an adjustment at the plate in 2012, which led to a bump in power. Marcus made it the majors last season (.261 with 2 HR's and 7 RBI in 69 at bats) after a couple of injuries at 3B for the White Sox. His 1:22 BB:K ratio suggests he may need more time in AAA. He will compete with Davidson for at bats at 3B. Semien has the better glove.

14. OF Avisail Garcia

He played well in Chicago after a mid season trade (.304 with 5 HR's and 21 RBI in 161 at bats). Avisail is a big guy (6'4" and 240 Lbs.), but only had 44 HR's in 2213 at bats in the minors with a very low walk rate (4%). Garcia has a free swinging approach at the plate much like Viciedo, but hasn't shown as much upside in power. He is expected to be the White Sox 4th outfielder this season.


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