Pay close attention to these Sox prospects
We're not going to discuss outfielder Courtney Hawkins' BABIP potential here, but there is a definite link.
Even at the tender age of 19, Hawkins is widely regarded as the best prospect in the White Sox' minor-league system.
As for his potential BABIP (batting average on balls in play), let's just say it had the potential to be high.
But know one knows for sure.
Baseball America and other outlets have again determined the Sox have one of the weakest farm systems in baseball.
Last season, the White Sox were at the bottom of the rankings but somehow managed to work in 12 rookies -- 10 of them pitchers -- before September call-ups bloated the regular 25-man roster.
And, according to FanGraphs, the dozen rookies combined for a 3.1 WAR (wins above replacement), which is surprisingly good.
Judging minor-league prospects and using sabermetrics has become a part of the game these days, a big part in many circles.
But they should be viewed as guides, not gospel.
With that, let's take a look at some of the young players the Sox will likely take a look at during the upcoming season:
Jared Mitchell, OF
It won't be long before //www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=502200">Mitchell makes his way to U.S. Cellular Field, drives a pitch to the corner and reaches third base in a few blinks of the eye.
The former LSU football-baseball star is beginning to get the hang of being a one-sport athlete, and with right fielder Alex Rios (Puerto Rico) and center fielder Alejandro De Aza (Dominican Republic) busy with the World Baseball Classic this spring, Mitchell is getting extended playing time in the Cactus League.
He's making the most of the opportunity, batting .379 with 2 triples, 1 home run, 5 RBI and 2 stolen bases in 12 exhibition games.
Barring an injury, Mitchell is ticketed to begin the season with Class AAA Charlotte.
His swing still needs some work, and Mitchell struck out 179 times in 455 at-bats last season while batting a combined .237 with Charlotte and AA Birmingham.
This spring, Mitchell has shown encouraging signs with 6 strikeouts in 29 at-bats.
Simon Castro, RHP
From the day (Dec. 31, 2011) he came over from the Padres in the Carlos Quentin trade, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound //www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=501563">Castro has drawn comparisons to former White Sox standout Jose Contreras.
Castro has the big body and arm to match, and even though he has been sent back to Charlotte, look for him to get a call from the White Sox at some point this year.
In 3 Cactus League appearances (1 start), Castro allowed 1 run in 7 innings while striking out nine and walking one.
Josh Phegley, C
He could wind up as the next Donny Lucy, spending years -- and years -- in the minors while getting infrequent calls from the Sox. With Tyler Flowers the new starting catcher and Hector Giménez entrenched as the backup, //www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=572033">Phegley will be back waiting in the wings at Charlotte.
But the club's sandwich pick in the 2009 draft (No. 38 overall) has apparently overcome a major medical issue.
In 2010, Phegley had his spleen removed after being diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rash signaling a low blood count. He's worked his way back and Phegley has a .364/.417/.636 hitting line in 11 Cactus League games.
Nestor Molina, RHP
Acquired from the Blue Jays in the Sergio Santos trade prior to last season, //www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=500882">Molina was projected to be in the Sox' starting rotation at some point in 2012. Instead, the 24-year-old starter struggled badly at Birmingham, going 6-10 with a 4.26 ERA.
Molina is heading back to Birmingham, but he exited the White Sox' major-league camp with come confidence after pitching 4 scoreless exhibition innings.
Trayce Thompson, OF
Like every major-league team, the Sox don't read too much into spring training stats due to the constant lineup shuffling and unpredictable weather conditions. That's good news for //www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=572204">Thompson, who was 0-for-14 in his first 10 Cactus League games.
The 22-year-old outfielder will be joining the White Sox in due time if he builds off the numbers (.253, 25 homers, 96 RBI) he had with Class A Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Charlotte last season.