Why He’ll Succeed: The plus power/speed combo ends up carrying the profile at whatever position he ends up. And hoo boy are the early returns there encouraging.
Baseball Prospectus put out their mid-season top 50 prospect list and there was much jubilation on White Sox twitter about having 4 listed prospects as well as the BP folks adding a footnote to their rankings that Luis Robert is most definitely in the top 50 prospects in MLB, but because of how little professional action he has had, they couldn’t figure out where to put him. So that gives the White Sox 5 top 50 prospects in MLB, (the rankings came out BEFORE the White Sox netted Eloy Jimenez in the Q deal). Most of White Sox twitter was happy, but a big chunk was bitter, because of entry #22 on the list.
Why He Might Fail: That position is unlikely to be shortstop and there is risk that he whiffs enough that the power doesn’t play in games, and he isn’t on base enough to utilize his speed.
The former White Sox farmhand was traded for Big Game James Shields, who is now Big #TankWin James Shields. This trade turned out horribly for the Sox as they are carrying a bad contract, for a bad player and could have had another prospect feather in their cap, but before we get all huffy and start screaming from the mountain tops about how Rick Hahn fucked up, let’s consider some context.
1. When the White Sox made this trade, they were trying to win a division – As much as some of you didn’t think they could win that division, they had a hot start, which they faded from and were trying to grasp for any sort of upgrade possible to fortify a team that was undoubtedly in the race at that time. They didn’t have much, so they couldn’t buy much, so they sold a 17 year old prospect for a long time solid starting pitcher. He was a starting pitcher with some bad starts in the current year, but this was all they could afford and all they could afford to pay. You can yell “SHIELDS SUCKED THEN, I DIDN’T WANT THAT BUM!!” and that is fine, but the front office is only thinking about win probabilities and what they can afford to give up to increase them. At that point in time, this was the deal they thought they could afford to do, so they did it. Turns out it sucked, but “tough titty” said the kitty.
2. 18 year old prospects are VERY RISKY – Unless you are ARod, Ken Griffey, Jr. or Doc Gooden, most 18 year old prospects are still pretty far from maturation and contain a ton of risk that they’ll ever be anything special in the majors. I took a look at Fernando Tatis, Jr. numbers in high A, and they look good, however, he’s also striking out in 30% of his plate appearances, so all you White Sox fans worried about players that strike out too much, this could very well be one of those guys. Also, when you look at a ranking like this, the folks at Baseball Prospectus outwardly say that they favor ceiling over all else, and when looking at ceiling, a player who has been at Triple A for a while crushing it is far, far different than one at Single A crushing it. For all I know, Tatis could end up the best player on this list and haunt the White Sox for years to come, or he could become Chris Young or Chris Carter, serviceable if unglamorous major leaguers that no GM would lose sleep over trading away their former prospectness. You just don’t know, so why worry about.
3. Mistakes were made – For all the bouquets thrown in the direction of a Theo Epstein or Billy Beane (whom I trust more than my wife) or Andrew Friedman, they fuck up a fair amount, so our Rick Hahn isn’t immune to making some mistakes. Let’s get past these mistakes, grab an ice cold beverage of our choice and move on with our lives. Do you still get mad when the nerdy girl you could’ve dated in jr high turned into a total babe? Do you still get pissed off about the time you caused a lane violation in that big basketball game? How about the time you drank that mysterious pitcher of alcohol that was left on the bar top and barfed because of it? See, I didn’t think so.
The last you should think about a Fernando Tatis, Jr. is the conclusion of this article.