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White Sox Top 10 Prospects

By Phil Rogers
December 9, 2002

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Prospect Handbook
Does 10 prospects per team only whet your appetite? How does 30 sound? If you want the more of in-depth information you're finding here on three times as many players, Baseball America's 2003 Prospect Handbook is for you.

With a pulse barely visible at midseason, the White Sox decided it was time for another purge of veterans. Turning to young kids may not have become an annual ritual but it's always an option.

In this case, out went old-timers such as Sandy Alomar Jr., Royce Clayton, Ray Durham and Kenny Lofton. In came the fresh legs of Joe Borchard, Joe Crede, Willie Harris, D'Angelo Jimenez and Miguel Olivo.

After running in place for four months, the Sox belatedly kicked it into gear. A 22-12 finish in 2002 allowed Jerry Manuel's team, which had been picked by many to win the American League Central, to save some face with an 81-81 record. More important, it set a positive tone for 2003.

For years, the White Sox have been hyping their young pitchers. Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Dan Wright all established themselves as big league starters before turning 24 but many others struggled to fulfill their potential. The untold story of Chicago's farm system was the wave of position players getting ready to arrive.

Crede, who hit .302-36-100 between Triple-A Charlotte and Chicago last year, figures to be a fixture at third base during this decade. Borchard, a switch-hitting outfielder with lots of power, and Olivo, a cannon-armed catcher, should join him by the second half of 2003, if not Opening Day. Harris and Jimenez, infielders acquired in 2002 trades, also will get opportunities to earn regular playing time.

Under general manager Ken Williams, the White Sox often have traded minor leaguers for veterans. He hasn't been burned many times but regretted the deal that sent righthanders Josh Fogg, Sean Lowe and Kip Wells to Pittsburgh for Todd Ritchie last year.

Williams, who said he was excited about the energy the Sox gained after shedding veterans, isn't likely to continue taking those types of gambles in the near future. He says his only offseason priority is adding a No. 2-type starter, but otherwise Chicago figures to sink or swim with products from the system.

There are still good arms who could help in the near future, led by lefthander Corwin Malone, 6-foot-11 righthander Jon Rauch and relievers Dave Sanders and Edwin Almonte.

While the Sox miss the contributions of highly productive scout George Bradley, who died of a heart attack in 2002, their farm and scouting departments remain the best part of the organization. Director of player personnel Duane Shaffer, farm director Bob Fontaine and scouting director Doug Laumann know players and where to find them.

Top Prospects
Of The Past Decade

1993 Jason Bere, rhp
1994 James Baldwin, rhp
1995 Scott Ruffcorn, rhp
1996 Chris Snopek, ss/3b
1997 Mike Cameron, of
1998 Mike Caruso, ss
1999 Carlos Lee, 3b
2000 Kip Wells, rhp
2001 Jon Rauch, rhp
2002 Joe Borchard, of


Prospect Archives

1999 Top 10 Prospects
2000 Top 10 Prospects
2001 Top 10 Prospects
2002 Top 10 Prospects
• Top 10 Prospects Since 1983
• Top Prospects for all 30 teams
1. Joe Borchard

Age: 24. B-T: B-R.  Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Stanford, 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Joe Butler/Ed Pebley.

Background: In September, when Borchard could have been beginning his rookie season as an NFL quarterback taken early in the first round of the football draft, he was finishing up his second full season as a full-time baseball player with a cameo in the big leagues. The White Sox gave him a record $5.3 million bonus to earn that commitment. Borchard hasn't smoothed all the rough ends of his game as fast as Chicago had hoped but still shows tremendous potential. His 2002 season began late after he broke a bone in his right foot during spring training, but he recovered fast and played in 133 games. He looked at place in a big league clubhouse, both during spring training and at the end of the regular season. The Sox believe he will bring valuable leadership skills once he's there on a full-time basis.

Strengths: Borchard is a superior athlete who has serious power from both sides of the plate. He has an uncanny ability to come through in big situations. He has a strong arm, which he once showed by throwing five touchdown passes for Stanford against UCLA. He isn't a basestealer but runs well for a big man, circling the bases on an inside-the-park homer at Kauffman Stadium in September. The Sox appreciate how hard he has worked to improve.

Weaknesses: Strikeouts are a part of the package with Borchard, who struggled at times with breaking pitches in 2002. He'll almost certainly strike out 150-plus times if he's a regular and could lead the league in whiffs if he doesn't get a better idea of the strike zone. He has played center field for two seasons but is considered a marginal outfielder. He might benefit from a move to a corner spot, his eventual destination.

The Future: The Sox face a difficult decision with Borchard. He's ready to contribute in the big leagues but they must determine if he'd benefit from at least another half-season at Triple-A Charlotte. Many scouts believe he would, pointing to his ratio of almost three strikeouts for every walk in 2002. Borchard went to winter ball in the hopes of improving his chances to stick in the spring. With Magglio Ordonez in right, Borchard will play either left field or center once he becomes a permanent part of Chicago's lineup. He could get an immediate opportunity if center fielder Aaron Rowand comes back slowly from injuries suffered in an offseason dirt bike crash.

2002 Club (Class)

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Winston-Salem (A)

.000

.667

.000

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

Charlotte (AAA)

.272

.349

.498

438

62

119

35

2

20

59

49

139

2

Chicago

.222

.243

.389

36

5

8

0

0

2

5

1

14

0

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