The Top 50 Countdown: 10-1

From 50 all the way down to 1, we will finish our countdown of the top 50 prospects in the White Sox organization with 1 through 10. Next up will be our midseason top 50, which should come out around the 15th of July.

Written By: Mike Doyle, Jason Gage, and Mark J. Jacobsen
Stats Compiled By: Alex Ernst

Stats Updated as of Friday June 16, 2003

10. Arnie Munoz, 20 - LHP, RP - Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 1-1, 6.94 ERA, 23.1 IP, 30 K, 13 BB
2002 (Birmingham-AA): 6-0, 2.61 ERA, 72.1 IP, 78 K, 29 BB
2001 (Kannapolis-A): 6-3, 2.49 ERA, 79.2 IP, 115 K, 42 BB
2000 (Burlington-R): 2-3, 6.81 ERA, 38.1 IP, 44 K, 25 BB
1999 (Arizona-R): 0-2, 5.25 ERA, 12.0 IP, 12 K, 8 BB

The only reason Munoz isn?t higher on this list is because he?s a reliever. Munoz possesses a curve ball which rivals that of Barry Zito in Oakland, and was dynamite in the Dominican League this past winter. Munoz is a smaller guy at 5?9? and 170 lbs., and usually wears down at the 40-pitch mark; however, there have been talks within the organization that Munoz may be tried as a starter. With the ever-growing need for good left-handed pitching, Munoz is in line for a very promising Major League career. Despite a bit of a rough start in AAA, he should find himself on the major league roster very soon.

9. Felix Diaz, 23 - RHP, SP - Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 3-4, 4.25 ERA, 55.0 IP, 37 K, 19 BB
2002 (Birmingham-AA): 4-0, 3.48 ERA, 31.0 IP, 30 K, 8 BB
2002 (Shreveport): 3-5, 2.70 ERA, 60.0 IP, 48 K, 23 BB
2001 (Hagerstown): 1-4, 3.66 ERA, 51.2 IP, 56 K, 16 BB
2001 (Arizona Giants): 3-4, 4.16 ERA, 62.2 IP, 58 K, 16 BB
2000 (Salem-Kaizer): 0-1, 8.10 ERA, 3.1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB
1999 (Dominican Giants): 0-0, 0.75 ERA, 12.0 IP, 19 K, 7 BB
1998 (Dominican Giants): 0-4, 7.55 ERA, 39.1 IP, 34 K, 26 BB

Acquired along with Ryan Meaux from the San Francisco Giants for Kenny Lofton, Diaz had always been a highly prized prospect until last year or so. Passed up on the Giants? prospect list for such pitchers as Kurt Ainsworth and Jerome Williams, GM Brian Sabean deemed Diaz expendable ? and the Sox couldn?t be happier. Possessing a mid-90?s fastball as well as a hard slider and a plus change, Diaz can blow away hitters with absolute ease. The only negative aspects of Diaz?s game are his past arm problems, but they have not been recurring. Diaz has had an average year thus far in Charlotte, but this may be because he is not starting every game and doesn?t have a set schedule. Even with his slow start, the sky?s the limit for the 22-year-old right-hander, and given a regular work schedule should once again excel.

8. Jeremy Reed, 22 - CF - L/L - Winston-Salem Warthogs (High-A Ball)
2003 (Winston-Salem-A): .343 AVG, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 26 SB, 40 BB, 16 K
2002 (Kannapolis-A): .319, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 17 SB, 11 BB, 24 K

Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 Draft out of Long Beach State, Jeremy Reed met and surpassed the White Sox?s expectation of being the best college outfielder in the draft. After signing with the Sox, Reed was sent to Low-A Kannapolis to show off his tools, and did he ever: Reed compiled a solid .319 batting average, .377 on-base percentage, and 17 steals in only 210 at-bats. Being a line-drive type of hitter, Reed?s stroke is very pure and consistent with little unnecessary movement. This season, Reed has honed his bat even more so than last year ? he?s opened in Winston-Salem on fire, slugging an amazing .333 with a .431 OBP in 222 at-bats. The best facets of Reed?s start, though, are his amazing plate discipline and speed. Reed has walked 41 times, while striking out only 17 times. Reed also has 27 stolen bases, good enough for only second on his own team (11 behind the speed demon Ruddy Yan). Expect a promotion to AA Birmingham very soon.

7. Royce Ring, 22 - LHP, RP - Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003 (Birmingham-AA): 1-3, 1.76 ERA, 30.2 IP, 40 K, 9 BB, 14 SV
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): 2-0, 3.91 ERA, 23.0 IP, 22 K, 11 BB, 5 SV
2002 (Arizona White Sox-R): 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 9 K, 0 BB, 0 SV

Royce Ring made a name for himself at San Diego State -- he had mangy hair, threw as hard as he could, and would sprint in from the bullpen. And, oh yes, then there was his pitching. Ring set records for saves in a season and in a career at San Diego, which earned him a first-round draft selection. Kenny Williams and the Sox took him 16th overall. Ring?s most intriguing quality has to be his willingness to take the ball when the game is on the line, a characteristic which all great closers must possess. Ring has breezed through his early professional career and looks to be on the fast track to U.S. Cellular Field. Ring could find himself in Chicago by the end of the season.

6. Ryan Wing, 21 - LHP, SP - Winston-Salem Warthogs (High-A Ball)
2003 (Winston-Salem-A): 7-2, 1.63 ERA, 71.2 IP, 52 K, 32 BB
2002 (Kannapolis-A): 12-7, 3.78 ERA, 123.2 IP, 109 K, 60 BB
2001 (Bristol-R): 1-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 2 K, 0 BB

Wing, a second round draft pick in 2001, led Kannapolis with 12 wins in just his first full season in the minors. The feat was even more impressive considering he was ill with mononucleosis in 2001 and made only one appearance. Wing is reminiscent of Corwin Malone - he possesses an exceptional arm and is very raw. Wing throws a low 90?s fastball with great sinking action on it. He also throws a plus slider that wreaks havoc on lefties. When it comes to lefties, Cotts is 1A in the system, and Wing?s at 1B. He has to work on becoming more consistent with all of his pitches, and on developing more secondary pitches. Unlike many younger pitchers, Wing isn?t afraid to throw inside, a trait that most good major league pitchers possess. Wing?s future is very bright: expect to hear his name more and more as he progresses through the system. He should be in Birmingham later this season and could be ready in 2006.

5. Neal Cotts, 23 - LHP, SP - Birmingham Barons (AA)
2003 (Birmingham-AA): 7-2, 2.11 ERA, 59.2 IP, 85 K, 37 BB
2002 (Modesto): 12-6, 4.12 ERA, 137.2 IP, 178 K, 87 BB
2001 (Visalia): 3-2, 2.32 ERA, 31.0 IP, 34 K, 15 BB
2001 (Vancouver): 1-0, 3.09 ERA, 35.0 IP, 44 K, 13 BB

Cotts was originally drafted by the Oakland A?s in the 2nd round out of Illinois State University, and was acquired from the A?s in the Koch-Foulke deal. Last season for Modesto (A), he showed why Ken Williams and others think so highly of him - he struck out 178 batters in 138 innings (or 11.6 KO?s per nine innings). He also limited opponents to a collective .239 AVG. Just looking over these lines, you would think he was a flame-thrower, but Cotts isn?t. His fastball occasionally touches 90, but it has tremendous movement. Cotts relies mainly on his fastball and plus change-up. He does an excellent job keeping hitters off balance by changing speeds and locations. Late last season, Cotts added a curveball to his repertoire that is quickly developing into a very good pitch. The keys to Cotts? success will be the development of this third pitch and improving his overall control (87 walks last season). If Cotts can reduce his walks, he will shoot up the list, potentially becoming the Sox? best left-handed pitching prospect ? a fact which, in and of itself, says a lot. Cotts has gotten off to a quick start in Birmingham (AA) this year: he?s 7-2 with 85 strikeouts in just 59.2 innings. Neal is on the disabled list for precautionary measures and should be back in action in the next week or so. As long as he?s healthy he has a shot to get promoted to Charlotte sometime later this year and could find himself on the South Side of Chicago as a September call-up.

4. Jon Rauch, 24 - RHP, SP - Charlotte Knights (AAA)
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): 2-1, 4.31 ERA, 62.2 IP, 45 K, 14 BB
2002 (Chicago White Sox): 2-1, 6.59 ERA, 28.2 IP, 19 K, 14 BB
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): 7-8, 4.28 ERA, 28.2 IP, 97 K, 42 BB
2001 (Charlotte-AAA): 1-3, 5.79 ERA, 28.0 IP, 27 K, 7 BB
2000 (Birmingham-AA): 5-1, 2.25 ERA, 56.0 IP, 63 K, 16 BB
2000 (Winston-Salem-A): 11-3, 2.86 ERA, 110.0 IP, 124 K, 33 BB
1999 (Winston-Salem-A): 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 7 K, 3 BB
1999 (Bristol-R): 4-4, 4.45 ERA, 56.2 IP, 66 K 16 BB

If anyone would like to see a prime example on how not to handle a pitching prospect, please follow the White Sox?s lead last year in their dealings with Jon Rauch. Coming off shoulder surgery in 2001, Manager Jerry Manuel and General Manager Kenny Williams gave Rauch a spot on the 25-man roster in 2002, and the results were atrocious. Manuel used Rauch as a spot starter/long reliever - a horrible decision in retrospect. Rauch was never given a regular schedule to pitch on, and was thoroughly shelled as a result. When sent down to AAA, Rauch regained his 2000 form and won Baseball America?s Minor League Player of the Year award. When on, Rauch throws his slider, fastball, curveball, and changeup for strikes, and has great control. Rauch does not throw very hard, only reaching the low 90?s with his fastball, but is very tough to hit because of his 6'11 height - his foreign arm positions result in numerous strikeouts. Rauch has pitched very well this year for the Charlotte Knights, even without his best stuff. Scouts have said that Rauch?s fastball is two to three MPH slower than before his injury, and his curveball is five MPH slower with less bite. Rauch has to get out of his head and stop fearing another injury, or he will only project as a middle of the rotation starter rather than a staff ace.

3. Anthony Webster, 20 - CF - Bats: Left - Throws: Right - Kannapolis Intimidators (Low-A Ball)
2003 (Kannapolis): .298 AVG, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 17 SB, 24 BB, 38 K
2002 (Bristol): .352 AVG, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 16 SB, 38 BB, 38 K
2001 (Arizona White Sox): .307 AVG, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 18 SB, 9 BB, 33 K

Anthony Webster is a scout's dream, and an opposing pitcher's nightmare. Webster is a phenomenal five-tool talent; with some time and extra seasoning in the minors, he could be that next great centerfielder for which this organization has been looking. Despite minimal experience, Webster's superior athleticism has helped start his professional career off with a bang, batting .330, scoring 96 runs, and swiping 34 bases in 116 games (2002 and 2001) . Webster is still a very raw talent, but it's only a matter of time until his experience catches up with his already awesome talent and creates one hell of a ball player. Webster should see the Silver and Black sometime in late 2005 or early 2006 and his progress this season is making many Sox fans and scouts drool. He should move up to Winston Salem after Jeremy Reed moves up to Birmingham. Either way Reed, Webster and Borchard look to be the basis of what could be a very good outfield.

2. Kris Honel, 20 - RHP, SP - Winston-Salem (High-A Ball)
2003 (Winston-Salem-A): 6-4, 2.60 ERA, 69.1 IP, 71 K, 22 BB
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 5.1 IP, 8 K, 3 BB
2002 (Kannapolis-A): 9-8, 2.82 ERA, 153.1 IP, 152 K, 52 BB
2001 (Bristol-R): 2-3, 3.13 ERA, 46.0 IP, 45 K, 9 BB
2001 (Bristol-R): 2-0, 2.50 ERA, 18.0 IP, 11 K, 3 BB
2001 (Arizona White Sox-R): 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 10.0 IP, 8 K, 3 BB

Honel was the first round pick in 2001 out of Providence Catholic High School in Illinois. At that time, many scouts believed he had the best breaking ball of the draft (a nasty knuckle curve), and he's only improved since then. In 2001, he dominated pitching in a combined 11 games, making eight starts between Bristol and Phoenix. He was sent to Kannapolis in 2002, where he excelled despite playing on a losing team. He was 9-8 with a 2.82 ERA. In 26 starts, he pitched 153 innings and gave up just 128 hits. He averaged a K per inning, walking 52. Scouts have little doubt that Honel will become a very good major league pitcher, but they do have some lingering concerns. Their main concern is a drop in velocity, which truthfully no longer appears to be a problem thus far this season. Along with a plus breaking pitch, Honel features a rejuvenated 94 MPH fastball that has a lot of late movement. He has good control of both pitches, but still has to develop more secondary pitches and improve upon his control. As long as Kris stays healthy, he should rise through the system very quickly and could see U.S. Cellular Field sometime in 2004.

1. Joe Borchard, 24 - CF/RF - S/R - Chicago White Sox
2003 (Chicago White Sox): .184 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 5 BB, 18 K
2003 (Charlotte-AAA): .239 AVG, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB, 5 BB, 29 K
2002 (Chicago White Sox): .222 AVG, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 1 BB, 14 K
2002 (Charlotte-AAA): .272 AVG, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 2 SB, 49 BB, 139 K
2002 (Winston-Salem-A): .000 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 6 BB, 0 K
2001 (Birmingham-AA): .295 AVG, 27 HR, 98 RBI, 5 SB, 67 BB, 158 K
2000 (Birmingham-AA): .227 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 3 BB, 8 K
2000 (Winston-Salem-A): .288 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 6 BB, 9 K
2000 (Arizona White Sox-R) .414 AVG, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 4 BB, 4 K

Borchard is an easy pick for the number one position on the list: Joe has been one of the, if not the, top prospects in the White Sox organization since he was drafted in 2000 at the number 12 pick overall. The White Sox took a big gamble on Borchard, paying him a still record $5.3 M signing bonus to pry him away from professional football. In Borchard's three years in the minors, scouts and managers have seen why he may be worth every penny. Borchard oozes potential: he has massive amounts of power from both sides of the plate, is considered to be one of the best power sluggers in the minors (behind only Mark Teixeira and Wily Mo Pena), and is believed by some to be able to hit 30-plus home runs in a full season in the majors. Borchard also has above average speed, but seems to only use it in the field (illustrated by his career mark of seven stolen bases). At this point in his career, his sole major downfall is his plate discipline. Still a bit too green and eager, Borchard struck out 139 times in only 438 at-bats last year in AAA. So far this year, Borchard has done little to impress the Sox, putting up marginal power numbers with a sub-par batting average of .224 and only five walks in 134 at-bats. Borchard did suffer a wrist injury early in the year, but he?s now healthy and in full form. He?s got to improve his lackluster numbers, or Anthony Webster or Kris Honel will bypass him on the list. All things considered, though, Borchard is definitely a player of major league caliber. Borchard had a short stint with the Sox, but is back in Charlotte, where he appears to be on the verge of figuring things out.

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