The White Sox system is often derided as one of the worst in baseball, but while it isn’t good enough to rank as one of the game’s better collections of young talent, there is more depth here than most give Chicago credit for. Further, the drafting of Courtney Hawkins in the first round last year gives the franchise a true blue-chip prospect for the first time in several years, making it less bottom-heavy. The system had several players break out in 2012 and surprisingly few regressed. The White Sox brass has shown a knack for getting talent to the majors and succeeding despite perennially low rankings, a sign that they’re doing a nice job quietly unearthing and developing relatively unheralded talents. Expect more of the same in 2013 as the system should continue its upward trend.
1 | COURTNEY HAWKINS
Hawkins proved to be so advanced upon his entry into pro ball that the White Sox promoted him not just to Low-A, where he proceeded to hit .308/.352/.631 in sixteen games, but all the way up to High-A at age 18. He even managed to go 5-for-17 with a homer, two doubles, and just two strikeouts at that level, a testament to his polish. Like most high school outfielders, though, Hawkins’ main attraction isn’t necessarily his present production (impressive as that is); rather, it is his excellent athletic package. He is an imposing physical presence with good swing leverage that could allow him to be a 25-HR player, and he has enough speed to swipe some bases and stick in center field.
As impressive as his numbers were last season, they did come with a 56/11 K/BB ratio and a .324 on-base percentage, and Hawkins will need to learn how to work counts as he matures, though he’s so far ahead of the age curve that it’s tough to get too worked up about that at this point in his career. He also does need significant refinement in his defensive fundamentals and could outgrow center field. Still, Hawkins has All-Star tools and is more advanced than almost every other player his age, making him the easy choice as the guy White Sox fans should be really anticipating.
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