Player Development Now Key to Chicago White Sox Success

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Yoan Moncada #10 of the Chicago White Sox prepares to bat against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning on August 11, 2017 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

After a flurry of activity in the offseason and even more at the trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox are essentially devoid of marketable assets. Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia are the only players who could bring some consequential talent in return, but for the moment it looks like the team would prefer to hold onto them. With the exception of draftees, it’s unlikely that the White Sox will be adding any meaningful prospects to the farm system. Player development is the next key step to the Chicago White Sox rebuild.

Improving Player Development is Now the Key Challenge

Player development has been a challenge for the White Sox. The team has demonstrated a remarkable ability to develop starting pitchers. Just look at the haul they got for Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Unfortunately, cultivating position players from the farm system has been the polar opposite. The list of top draft choices in the last decade is overflowing with long forgotten names, such as Jared Mitchell, Josh Phegley, Keenyn Walker, Courtney Hawkins, and Keon Barnum.

More recent picks, such as shortstop Tim Anderson, the recently-promoted-to-Double-A catcher Zack Collins, and third baseman Jake Burger project to have more upside. Yet, a question remains as to whether or not the new director of player development, Chris Getz, has the infrastructure in place to turn it around.

James Shields Trade Haunts Hahn

In what may have been a fireable offense for many GMS, the trade for James Shields last June hit the trifecta in a lose-lose-lose scenario for the White Sox. First, the contract: at the time of the trade, the 35-year-old hurler had approximately $30 million left on a deal that runs through 2019. Next, the performance: since joining the team, Shields has not been a major league level pitcher. With Chicago in 2016, he posted an ERA of 7.01 and a WAR of -1.9. He hasn’t fared much better in 2017, featuring an ERA of 6.42 and a WAR of -0.4. Factor in that he’s only made 13 starts and eaten 68.2 innings, and it becomes apparent how little he’s contributed in the last year and change. Finally, the compensation: the White Sox included then-17-year-old shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. in the deal. Tatis recently set a record, clobbering 21 home runs in Low-A for the Padres this season. He’s also stolen nearly 30 bases for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps.

Tatis Jr.’s Taters have White Sox Fans Asking Questions

Tatis, Jr. was the key to the deal for the Padres, so obviously they saw something in him that the White Sox player development staff did not. Which leads to a number of questions. Are the White Sox lacking in the area of talent evaluation? Is player development the culprit? If it isn’t one of those two, why were they willing to give up such a promising young player for an aging, overpaid pitcher?

At this point of the rebuild, let’s hope Getz has found the answers to these questions. Given that the White Sox farm system is now rated number one in baseball, it appears that the Chicago has collected the talent necessary to build a contending team in 2-3 years. White Sox fans are hoping that Getz is able to find the key to developing the mind-boggling array of talent they’ve amassed. If not, the team could reignite their interest in older, high-priced, marginally talented veterans. Adam Dunn part two, anyone?

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