After more than a century, the Chicago Cubs (broken their alleged curse and) finally won a World Series in 2016. It was one of the biggest storylines in sports and rightfully made the Cubs the center of attention, particularly in their home city, where fans went crazy after decades of frustration and futility. Hopefully, the Cubs and their fans enjoyed their time in the spotlight because it’s about to go away.
Even as the once lovable losers work to defend their title, the Chicago White Sox are about to become the most interesting team in the Windy City and one of the most intriguing teams in baseball to watch over the next few seasons.
Over the past year, the White Sox have embarked on a major rebuilding project. GM Rick Hahn has traded away one star after another in order to acquire young talent for the future. It started over the winter with the blockbuster trades of ace Chris Sale and center fielder Adam Eaton. It continued this summer with Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and even Melky Cabrera all being traded.
The results on the field this season have not been good, as the White Sox are poised to finish the season with the worst record in the American League. But the White Sox did not expect to compete this season. While they’ve been losing games, the White Sox have also been building the most impressive farm system in baseball. The White Sox currently have eight prospects who are featured on MLB.com‘s list of the top 100 prospects, including five of the top 50.
Over the past year, the White Sox have acquired baseball’s top prospect, second baseman Yoan Moncada, from the Red Sox, baseball’s second best outfield prospect, Eloy Jimenez, from the Cubs, and last year’s 18th overall pick, outfielder Blake Rutherford, from the Yankees. The White Sox also signed international free agent outfielder Luis Robert, who many believe to be the best player to come out of Cuba in the past few years.
“The White Sox now have the best farm system in baseball. This is inarguable. It’s not just (Eloy) Jimenez and Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, three of the top 10 or 15 prospects in the game. Their depth is frightening.”
On the pitching front, the White Sox have also acquired Lucas Giolito, who was once rated as the best prospect in baseball, Michael Kopech, the top right-hand pitching prospect in baseball currently, Dylan Cease, who was the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, and Reynaldo Lopez, who was impressive down the stretch last season as a member of Washington’s rotation. Those talented arms joined an already solid collection of pitching prospects the White Sox had, including Alec Hansen and Carson Fulmer.
— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) August 4, 2017
In the years to come, that impressive collection of prospects will join a core of players that includes proven slugger Jose Abreu, young shortstop Tim Anderson, young third baseman Matt Davidson, and outfielder Avisail Garcia, who has enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. Moncada has already made his big league debut and become a regular in the White Sox lineup, and many of the team’s top prospects will undoubtedly join him between now and the 2020 season.
What all this means is not only are the White Sox a team to watch for a potential meteoric rise to the top of baseball in the years to come, but they will also be a fascinating team to watch. The Cubs had a similar experience not too long ago, as young players like Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber all reached the big leagues.
Now the White Sox will have their turn to bring an army of talented prospects to the big leagues. The only difference is they will one-up the Cubs by having both highly-regarded pitchers and position players, whereas the Cubs lacked high-end pitching talent in their farm system during their run to the top.
“Wins and losses at the major-league level are the easiest thing to judge us on. It’s how we all judge ourselves. But there are going to need to be certain process and environmental improvements around here in the coming years so that when the talent is ready, it’s seamless in terms of turning that into a championship club.”
Rick Hahn, White Sox GM
It’s too early to predict whether the White Sox will be able to turn their loaded farm system into a World Series title at some point. In fact, the White Sox may experience one or two more losing seasons before they begin their ascent. But with so much talent bubbling below the surface quickly approaching the big leagues, they’ll be fascinating to watch, which is why the White Sox will soon usurp the Cubs as the most interesting team in Chicago.