White Sox finally have help in the farm system
It takes a village to get through the 162-game grind of a major-league baseball season, and that's where the minor leagues come into play.
In past seasons, the White Sox didn't have much farm talent to tap, but that has changed with higher draft picks and a bigger financial commitment under general manager Rick Hahn.
Baseball America ranks the Sox' minor-league system No. 20 this season, up from No. 22 last year and No. 29 in 2013.
It's only a matter of time before an injury or a poor performance prompts the White Sox to bring up a prospect, and there finally are some quality options.
Here are five minor-league players to keep an eye on:
Carlos Rodon, Charlotte
Last year's No. 3 overall draft pick is going to be in the Sox' starting rotation at some point this season, maybe by the end of this month. The 22-year-old lefty already has a nasty slider and a plus fastball, and his changeup is showing steady improvement.
Rodon just needs a little more minor-league polish.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder pitched only 24⅔ innings after signing with the White Sox last season. This year Rodon has gone 5 innings in each of his first 2 starts with Class AAA Charlotte, allowing 4 earned runs while striking out 13.
Look for Rodon to eventually replace either Hector Noesi or John Danks and make an immediate impact.
Trayce Thompson, Charlotte
Is this the year the 24-year-old outfielder finally makes it to the majors?
The early numbers say yes.
Drafted by the Sox in the second round in 2009 out of high school, Thompson experienced the expected growing pains over parts of six minor-league seasons.
This spring training he opened some eyes while batting .412 (7-for-17), and Thompson has continued producing at Charlotte. The 6-3, 210-pounder hit safely in his first nine games with the Knights, going 14-for-35 (.400) with 1 home run and 7 RBI.
If he continues to deliver, Thompson could join the White Sox before rosters expand in September.
Courtney Hawkins, Birmingham
The first-round draft pick in 2012 made a name for himself in spring training, leading the Sox with 4 home runs while batting .412. Hawkins still is trying to cut down the big strikeout totals, but he is only 21 and could be in the major leagues at some point in 2016.
In his first seven games with Birmingham, Hawkins was batting .172 (5-for-29) with 13 strikeouts and 2 home runs.
Tim Anderson, Birmingham
Another 21-year-old talent, Anderson is off to a great start with the Barons, batting .367 with 7 RBI in seven games. Equally impressive, Anderson made only 1 error in the early going. If his fielding stays strong, he could be the White Sox' starting shortstop next season.
Tyler Danish, Birmingham
The 20-year-old starter is moving quickly up the ladder, and he could be with the Sox at some point in 2016. Danish won his first start of the season for the Barons, allowing 1 run on 5 hits in 5 innings.