The minor-league baseball season opens on Thursday, and for the second straight year the Chicago White Sox will be keeping a close eye on their large pool of prospects.
At least the prospects that are healthy.
It was a brutal spring for the Sox on the minor-league injury front, which is one of the reasons why general manager Rick Hahn has been trying to stockpile as much young talent as possible since launching a rebuild in December 2016.
Hahn has been lauded for trades like the ones that landed Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning from the Nationals for Adam Eaton and Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease from the Cubs for Jose Quintana.
The White Sox’s GM has often talked about bracing for some bumps along the way, and a string of injuries is providing an unfortunate example.
Let’s take a closer look:
Rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in the game by Baseball America, Jimenez is struggling to stay healthy for the second straight year.
With the Cubs in 2017, the power-hitting outfielder missed the first five weeks of the season with a bruised right shoulder.
Jimenez mashed when he got back on the field, hitting a combined .213/.379/.568 with 22 doubles, 19 home runs and 65 RBI in 89 games with high Class A Myrtle Beach (Cubs), high A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham (Sox).
This spring, Jimenez missed 15 games with left knee soreness, and he’s out again with a strained left pectoral muscle.
If all goes well, Jimenez should be able to rejoin Birmingham in a week or so.
He’s only got 28 games of professional baseball under his belt, and they all came with the Dominican Summer League White Sox last year.
Nonetheless, the 20-year-old Robert is going to play for Winston-Salem when his sprained left thumb is fully healed, likely in mid-May.
Robert was injured during a March 7 Cactus League game against the Reds. The thumb is still in a cast, but the outfielder showed enough earlier in spring training to bypass low Class A Kannapolis and start his season with Winston-Salem.
Ranked No. 57 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list after leading all minor-league pitchers with 191 strikeouts last year, Hansen developed right forearm soreness in early March and was limited to 1 Cactus League appearance.
An MRI showed no structural damage, and Hansen is hoping to join AA Birmingham from extended spring training at some point in April.
A 21-year-old outfielder, there’s a decent chance Adolfo is the White Sox’s designated hitter of the future.
After spraining a ligament in his right elbow during spring training, Adolfo was initially fearing season-ending surgery.
The Sox hope to sidestep that scenario. Adolfo can still swing the bat and is going to DH for Winston-Salem this season.
A strong candidate to be the White Sox’s closer of the future, Burdi is expected to miss the entire season after having Tommy John surgery last July.
The slugging third baseman was the Sox’s first-round draft pick last year out of Missouri State.
Burger is out for the season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon early in spring training.