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03/18/2008 9:00 AM ET
White Sox farm still strong on lower levels
Chicago boasts inexperienced talent after trading top prospects
John Shelby III batted .301 with 16 homers and 79 RBIs for Class A Kannapolis in 2007. (Tony Farlow/MLB.com)

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The future success of every Major League team lies in its Minor League system. With that in mind, each preseason, MLB.com takes a top-to-bottom look at all 30 organizations, from top prospects to recent draft picks.

The White Sox gave up a lot this offseason in trades that brought over outfielders Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin from Oakland and Arizona respectively. They dealt away five top prospects, all of whom, coincidentally, are now with the Athletics organization: Southpaw ace Gio Gonzalez, promising right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, upper-level outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Aaron Cunningham and power-hitting young first baseman Chris Carter.

The deals admittedly thinned the ranks of Chicago's Minor League system, but it certainly didn't drain it. The White Sox added depth to their big-league outfield picture, and the main difference now is that much of the talent is a little further away from the Majors.

The organization is particularly strong when it comes to pitching, middle-infield depth and some toolsy outfielders further down the line. Look, especially, for the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators to be a ton of fun to watch this summer.

10 Spot
Ten prospects to watch out for in 2008:

Lance Broadway, RHP:
After opening eyes with eight strikeouts in six shutout innings in his Major League debut, the 2005 first-rounder from Texas Christian University showed that he would be back up to the bigs before long.

A durable workhorse who went 8-9 with a 4.65 ERA in 155 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, he heads back to the Knights rotation to start 2008 and continue to refine his new two-seam fastball (instead of the four-seamer he threw in college), a plus changeup and good curveball.

"He's a work in progress because he's throwing a lot more sinkers than he ever had in his career," said Alan Regier, White Sox Director of Player Development. "We're really happy with him. He's knocking on the door, a good competitor and hard worker."
Audio: Broadway notches eighth K

Jack Egbert, RHP:
One of the breakthrough pitchers in the system in 2007, the 13th-rounder from Rutgers in 2004 has great control and was a standout at Double-A Birmingham, going 12-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 28 starts, striking out 165 in 161 innings.

Over four pro seasons, Egbert has posted a 2.99 ERA with an average fastball but good secondary pitches.

A slightly tweaked elbow at the beginning of Spring Training set him back just a bit, so the Major League staff didn't get a good look at him. He heads to Triple-A Charlotte to join a solid rotation there.
Audio: Egbert gets 12th strikeout

ON THE VERGE
Here are a few players on the brink of breaking into the Major Leagues:

Dewon Day, RHP -- Day, who was taken from Toronto in the 2005 Minor League Rule 5 Draft, has the stuff to be a stalwart in the big-league bullpen. But he still needs to show he can harness consistent control. Coming off a good Arizona Fall League season and a Major League stint in '07, he'll work on that control for now in Triple-A Charlotte's bullpen. His best pitch is a nasty slider and he offsets that with a plus fastball.

Alexei Ramirez, IF -- The Cuban defector played seven years in his homeland, hitting a combined .335 and a league-best .338 last year. Signed by the Sox in December, he'll probably start his US career at Charlotte. The 27-year-old's bat speed and ability to play several infield and outfield spots could get him to Chicago in a hurry.

Chris Getz, 2B:
An upper-level prospect who could play second base in the Majors right now, Getz's 2007 season at Birmingham was limited to 72 games due to injury. Combined with the glut of middle infielders, Getz could return to the Barons to start 2008. That doesn't mean the Sox don't think highly of him -- quite the opposite.

He batted .299 with the Barons, bringing his average up more than 40 points from 2006, and continued to show good strike-zone discipline.

A fourth-round pick in 2005 out of Michigan, Getz does all the little things well and is a tireless worker.
Audio: Getz leads off with a blast

Jose Martinez, OF:
Martinez, 19, is already a part of the White Sox family, the son of the late Chicago infielder Carlos "Café" Martinez -- best known for hitting the home run that bounced off of Jose Canseco's head.


Monday, Feb. 25Chicago Cubs
Tuesday, Feb. 26Milwaukee Brewers
Wednesday, Feb. 27Cincinnati Reds
Thursday, Feb. 28Astros and Pirates
Friday, Feb. 29St. Louis Cardinals
Saturday, March 1Baltimore Orioles
Sunday, March 2Tampa Bay Rays
Monday, March 3Boston Red Sox
Tuesday, March 4Toronto Blue Jays
Wednesday, March 5New York Yankees
Thursday, March 6Los Angeles Angels
Friday, March 7Seattle Mariners
Saturday, March 8Oakland Athletics
Sunday, March 9Texas Rangers
Monday, March 10New York Mets
Tuesday, March 11Atlanta Braves
Wednesday, March 12Philadelphia Phillies
Thursday, March 13Nationals and Marlins
Friday, March 14Cleveland Indians
Saturday, March 15Kansas City Royals
Sunday, March 16Minnesota Twins
Monday, March 17Detroit Tigers
Tuesday, March 18Chicago White Sox
Wednesday, March 19Colorado Rockies
Thursday, March 20Arizona Diamondbacks
Friday, March 21Los Angeles Dodgers
Saturday, March 22San Francisco Giants
Sunday, March 23San Diego Padres

At 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds, with a similar lanky build to his dad, Martinez still has a projectable body to go with a strong arm and outstanding tools across the board.

After hitting .282 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 12 steals at Class A Short-Season Bristol, he's likely to head to Kannapolis for his first full summer.
Audio: Martinez hits run-scoring single

Kyle McCulloch, RHP:
A first-round pick in 2006 out of Texas, McCullock went 7-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 22 starts at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem last summer with a brief taste of Birmingham down the stretch.

He returns to the Barons rotation to start '08, bringing with him his plus changeup and fastball around 90 mph as well as the splitter he added to his repertoire last summer. A converted outfielder, he has good command and continues to work on his sinker.
Audio: McCulloch fans his sixth

Sergio Morales, OF:
A raw talent from the Virgin Islands who was drafted in the 12th round of 2006 out of community college in Florida, the 20-year-old Morales hit .270 with six homers, 24 RBIs and 11 steals at Bristol. He's expected to start his first full season in center field at Kannapolis.

"He's probably one of the best five-tool athletes in camp," Regier said. "He has a chance to hit, hit for power and run well."
Audio: Morales goes deep

Aaron Poreda, LHP:
The club's top pick in 2007 out of San Francisco with the 25th overall selection is on the fast track.

With a blazing fastball that has touched 100 MPH -- and remember, this is a left-hander -- he is also working on secondary pitches, trying to develop a slider and changeup. If he does, he'll remain a starter and if not, he could be a key bullpen cog.

In his pro debut at rookie-level Great Falls, the 6-foot-6 240-pounder posted a 1.17 ERA and limited Pioneer League hitters to a .181 average, adding two scoreless playoff outings. This spring, he made quite an impression on White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen in his B-game outings.

"Ozzie comes to the backfield as much as any manager in baseball," Regier said. "He caught his eye and rightfully so."
Audio: Poreda gets seventh K

Adam Russell, RHP:
Poreda is not the only intimidating-looking guy on the mound in a White Sox uniform. The 6-foot-8 250-pound Russell will continue his conversion from starter to reliever at Charlotte this year. The new role could be a perfect fit for his next step to Chicago.

Drafted in the sixth round of 2004 out of Ohio, Russell throws a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, a plus curveball, and he's posted a 3.97 ERA over four pro seasons.

He shows flashes of great stuff and just needs to work on consistency to make that final step up.
Audio: Russell picks up sixth strikeout

John Shelby III, 2B:
The son of longtime Major League star outfielder and coach John "T-Bone" Shelby, the fifth-rounder from 2006 out of Kentucky is back at his home position of second base after a brief experiment in the outfield.

In his first full season in 2007 he hit .301 with 16 homers, 79 RBIs and 19 steals and adds great makeup to a package of solid tools across the board.

He's been working this spring with new director of instruction Buddy Bell, and the Sox are excited about what the season could hold for him, most likely at Winston-Salem.

"He has a lot of athleticism," Regier said, "And it will be a smoother road to the big leagues for him at second base as well as having more value for us."
Audio: Shelby blasts grand slam

Juan Silverio, SS:
Just 16 years old -- he will celebrate his 17th birthday in April -- Silverio is a five-tool shortstop prospect who hits to all fields and dazzles on defense. Because of his age, he'll probably start the year in extended Spring Training with a planned arrival in Bristol in June, but it's not out of the question that he could win a spot on the Kannapolis club by April.

"He's very interesting with soft hands, a strong arm, good speed. ... and the ball comes off his bat and makes that special sound," Regier said.

Under the Radar

Jason Bourgeois, IF/OF:
Signed with the Sox as a Minor League free agent after seeing time with Texas, Seattle and Atlanta, Bourgeois is still just 25 and can play at second, shortstop, third and the outfield.

Between Birmingham and Charlotte last year, he hit a combined .306, tops among all White Sox full-season Minor Leaguers, and led the organization with 38 steals, adding some pop as well with nine homers and 54 RBIs.

Add to that his clubhouse leadership and makeup, and you have a guy who should be opening Major League eyes. And that's what he's been doing in camp this spring as a non-roster invite.

"Ozzie and [bench coach] Joey Cora both like this kid," Regier said. "He's had a solid spring, he can play all over the place, has an outstanding work ethic and is highly regarded."

With the surfeit of utility infielders on the club fighting for time, Bourgeois is likely to head back to Charlotte to start the year but may have opened enough eyes to be considered seriously when a call needs to be made to the Knights.
Audio: Bourgeois jacks one
Audio: Bourgeois clubs grand slam

Lucas Harrell, RHP:
The fourth-round pick from 2004 was a highly regarded prospect until injuries derailed his young career. Harrell missed the end of 2006 with a pulled ribcage muscle and then all of 2007 with elbow soreness.

He throws a lively fastball in the low 90s, a plus changeup and a slider, and the Sox think he's healthy now. He's been a little inconsistent with his breaking pitches due to the layoff, but overall is ahead of schedule and could start the season in the Birmingham rotation. If not, it won't be long until he's there.

Christian Marrero, 1B:
The older brother of Washington Nationals prospect Chris Marrero (though it would be easy to get confused) is a 21-year-old power hitter who was taken in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft.

He has a live bat and showed it off at Great Falls last year, hitting .305 with 12 homers and 63 RBIs. With a plus arm and outstanding makeup, the club looks forward to his full-season debut at Kannapolis this year.
Audio: Marrero hits three-run shot
Audio: Marrero goes yard

2007 Draft Recap

RHP Nevin Griffith (2nd round) is a high school star from Tampa who throws a mid-90s fastball but needs to work on his command and secondary pitches this season. ... RHP John Ely (3rd) was drafted out of Miami (Ohio) and went 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 56 innings at Great Falls. He's a polished fast-tracker with three quality pitches. ... OF Lyndon Estill (8th) is a fine athlete taken out of community college in Washington who hit .247 at Great Falls with seven homers and 38 RBIs. ... SS Sergio Miranda (13th) is a switch-hitter from Virginia Commonwealth with a live bat. ... 3B C.J. Retherford went undrafted out of Arizona State but hit .318 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs at Great Falls last summer.
Audio: Ely gets career-high eighth K
Audio: Estill launches walk-off homer
Audio: Miranda hits leadoff double
Audio: Retherford blasts leadoff homer

Predictions

Organizational Player of the Year: John Shelby III
If the numbers he put up in his first full season at Kannapolis are any indication, look for "Little T-Bone" to compile big stats as he moves up the ladder, especially since he'll remain in his comfort zone at second base after all.

Organizational Pitcher of the Year: Aaron Poreda
He's already impressed manager Ozzie Guillen in his first Spring Training. For now, he'll remain a starter and should continue to dominate in his first full season.

Comeback Player of the Year: Lucas Harrell
After missing all of 2007 with a sore elbow, Harrell's recovery is ahead of schedule. If he doesn't break camp in the Birmingham rotation, his arrival in Alabama won't be too long afterwards.

Top Candidate for AL Rookie of the Year: Alexei Ramirez
While he probably won't win the White Sox second base job from veteran Juan Uribe, the multi-talented Cuban defector could come up and see time at several positions, always a bonus.

Quotable

"He'll be starting in the Minors this year to get his innings. If the secondary pitches come, then he'll stay in the rotation. Otherwise he could wind up in the pen as a Dave Righetti-type closer, but that's not to say we're going to shoe-horn him into that role right now." -- Farm director Alan Regier about the future role of 2007 first-rounder Aaron Poreda.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.