White Sox Top 10 Prospects
By Phil Rogers
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.
24. B-T: B-R. Ht.:
6-5. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Stanford, 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Joe Butler/Ed Pebley.
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
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.
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.
Click here for prospects 2-10.
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