Chicago White SoxOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Chicago White Sox Team Projection
2013 was a season to forget for White Sox fans after finishing with a record of 63-99.
1. SP Chris Sale
Sale improved in just about every area in 2013, with the exception of wins. He set a career high in K's (226) with a career low in walks (46) and dominated LH batters (.135 - 3 extra base hits in 148 at bats). His command (1.9) is elite with a rising K rate (9.5), while his overall strike % was a career high at 67%. Chris pitched 7 or more innings in 23 of his 30 starts, and had double digit K's 6 times. As good as his season looked, he did allow 4 runs or more 7 times. Chris missed 1 start in May due to a sore shoulder. Sale did struggle with HR's over a 5 game stretch in late August into early September (9 HR's in 36 innings). His AFB (93.1) was 1.5 mph stronger than 2012 and the value of his changeup is rising, which he threw a career high 19% in 2013. His #2 pitch is a plus slider. Sale came into the league looking like a tooth pick with a delivery that many thought would lead to an injury. As he fills out, he could add more velocity. Overall, he has 3 plus pitchers with elite command. Lefties have no chance against him due to his side winding style and his improved trust in his secondary pitches. He did take a step backwards against righties (23 HR's and .252 ERA). If he improves against RH batters, he has a chance to lead the league in ERA with 250+ K upside.
2. SP Erik Johnson
Johnson has shot up through the White Sox system over the past 2 seasons. He is 18-8 in his minor league career with a 2.21 ERA and 220 K's in 236.3 innings. His success in 2013 led to a September call up. Chicago gave him 5 starts in September. He finished with a solid ERA (3.25), but his command (3.6) couldn't match his minor league career (2.7). This led to a low K rate (5.9) and a huge HR rate (1.6). Lefties crushed him in the majors (.348 with 4 HR's allowed in 69 at bats). His AFB was 92.0, while Erik threw a slider as his #2 pitch plus a solid curveball and an occasional changeup. Johnson has an upside arm as his fastball can reach the mid 90's. Both his slider and curveball are plus pitches. Erik is expected to start the year in the starting rotation. While Johnson has enough talent to make a nice step forward in 2014, he needs to prove he can handle left handed batters. I expect some growing pains, but his end results will be more than serviceable. His innings shouldn't be capped this year.
3. SP Jose Quintana
Quintana made a very nice step forward in 2013. His K rate (7.4) was 2 full K's higher than 2012, while his command (2.5) made a slight improvement. His success was in line with his minor league resume (2.76 ERA), with the exception of his command (3.9 in his minor league career). His AFB (91.4) was 1 MPH stronger than 2012. Jose had more confidence in his changeup and relied more on his curveball than his cutter. Quintana had more success against righties (.242) than lefties (.260). While he pitched his best ball after the All Star break (3.24 ERA with 7.7 K rate), Jose was fairly consistent in 2013. He never allowed more than 5 runs in any start and allowed 2 runs or less 16 times. His command has been much better over the last 3 seasons, and his minor resume suggests his K rate may have more upside. Last year, he threw more first pitch strikes (66%) than overall strikes (63%). If his command holds up, he has enough talent to make another baby step.
4. SP John Danks
Danks missed the first 7 weeks of last season after having left shoulder surgery. When he returned, his fastball (89.3 - career low) had less velocity. His command (1.8) was elite, but his K rate (5.8) was short and too many fly balls ended up in the seats (28 HR's in 138.3 innings). Overall, he struggled with both RH (.270) and LH (.293 batters). His ERA was under 4.00 only once (August - 3.86). Over his last 4 starts of the year, Danks allowed 19 runs and 39 base runners in 21.3 innings. He clearly wasn't 100% healthy last season. This season, he needs more life on his pitches in the strike zone. John's K rate lacks any upside. This season, he'll need volume of innings to deliver any value. His command suggests he still can pitch in the majors, but he needs to make better pitches. Maybe a 3.75 ERA with 150 K's if he shows some life in spring training.
5. SP Felipe Paulino
Paulino didn't pitch in the majors last year after having Tommy John surgery in June of 2012. He pitched 7 poor starts in the minors in 2013 (8.24 ERA). Prior to his injury, Felipe had a plus fastball (95.1). He threw a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by a changeup and curveball. His command (3.6) has been poor during his entire major league career, but his plus arm gives him upside in K's. In 2012, he had a career high K rate (9.3). He signed a $1.75 million contract in December. Paulino is expected to compete for a starting job with the White Sox this spring. Talent wise he has upside, but his lack of command makes him a tough ride. Possible flyer if you believe in his arm. A fantasy player will need positive spring training reports before taking this deep gamble.
6. SP Eric Surkamp
The White Sox claimed Surkamp off of waivers from the Giants in December. He had Tommy John surgery in July of 2012. Eric was able to make it back on the field in 2013. He made 16 starts in the minors (2.78 ERA), which was in line with his minor league resume (2.84). His K rate (7.4) was below his career average (10.0). Surkamp was bombed in his one major league start in September (7 runs in 2.7 innings). He has a short fastball (86.8) and throws a curveball as his 2nd best pitch, followed by good changeup and a cutter. Surkamp is a soft tossing lefty with a very good minor league resume. Last year was the first time he pitched at AAA. His lack of a fastball will make him an easy player to overlook. Surkamp has a 7.36 ERA in 7 major league starts, and needs to walk before he can run.
7. SP Andre Rienzo
The White Sox gave Rienzo 10 starts last year (allowed 3 runs or less 6 times). Andre was overmatched and appeared to be pitching scared, evidenced by him only throwing 48% first pitch strikes. His HR rate (1.8) was off the chart. Rienzo also has an unacceptable walk rate (4.5) and can't get himself out of any jams due to a poor K rate (6.1). Andre has a 3.46 ERA in the minors with a much stronger K rate (9.7), but his walk rate (3.6) was only slightly better. He only throws his fastball (90.8) 45.2% of the time, while his cutter is his #2 pitch with a solid curveball and an occasional changeup. Low upside player with plenty of downside risk.
8. RP Nate Jones
The closer job is wide open in 2014 for Chicago after Addison Reed was traded to the Diamondbacks. Jones has an elite fastball (97.7) with a plus slider. Nate's GB rate (50.5%) is rising, which is a very good sign when you add in his improving K rate (10.3). His command (3.0) made a nice step forward last year. In the minors, he was a much better pitcher as a reliever. His lack of a 3rd pitch restricted his upside as a starter. In 2012, he saved 12 games at AA. Big fastballs are sexy for closers, but his command will determine his longevity. Last year, RH batters hit .261 against him. I like the improvement of his command, but I can't push too hard due to a weak resume.
9. RP Ronald Belisario
His resume doesn't look closer worthy, but he has a solid fastball (94.4) with a huge GB rate (60.8% in his career). Ronald has one of the shortest FB rates (17.7%) in the league, but his big downside is his lack of command (3.7). His K rate (6.5) declined sharply in 2013 after showing upside in 2012 (8.7). Last year, he struggled with LH batters (.305) with equal walks (14) and K's (14). Belisario struggled over the 2nd half of last season (4.62 ERA and 5.0 K rate), which led to him being released by the Dodgers. Overall, he has pitched 2 plus seasons in the majors (2.04 ERA in 2009 and 2.54 ERA in 2012). During both seasons, his success was delivered by a much stronger K rate. His resume has plenty of warts, but he may surprise with better command. Last year, 10 of his 28 walks were intentional.
10. RP Tyler Danish
Danish probably has no chance of pitching in the majors this season. He was drafted out of high school by the White Sox last season. He has a mid 90's fastball with a plus slider, and throws the ball from a low 3 quarters delivery with a quick motion to the plate. Last year, Chicago used him in relief to limit his innings. He had a 94 inning scoreless streak at a Florida prep school. If the White Sox decide to keep him in relief, he could move very quickly through the system. I just wanted to put his name on the radar just in case he emerged quicker than expected.