The Chicago White Sox have done well to take one of the worst farm systems in baseball and turn it into one of the best in under two years and the future got a little brighter on Thursday with the trade of closer Joakim Soria.
In a system that bolsters seven prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100 and with another half dozen players within striking distance, Kodi Medeiros and Wilber Perez might not turn heads. However, Medeiros, in particular, fits an area of need for the White Sox and two potential future Major-Leaguers for a 34-year-old reliever isn’t a bad haul by any means.
Medeiros was formerly the No. 12 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, taken nine spots after the White Sox landed Carlos Rodon. The Hawaiian high-schooler had a few rough seasons adjusting to the druthers of professional baseball, but he’s found his rhythm in 2018.
At 22, the left-hander has rejuvenated his career with a 3.14 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 103.1 innings at double-A Biloxi in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Though his fastball has lost a little juice, he still runs it up at 91-93 MPH with a low three-quarters delivery and leans on a wipeout slider to generate swings and misses.
The White Sox have a wealth of power arms in their farm system, but the majority of them are right-handed. In Medeiros, the White Sox have found a lefty who comfortably projects into a Major League bullpen with upside to potentially reach the highest level as a starter.
He’s no lock and he’s probably only on the fringe of being one of the organization’s 30 best prospects, but he’ll have a shot thanks to the funk in his delivery and being left-handed. That in and of itself wouldn’t be a horrible return for a reliever who was unlikely to have his option picked up next season, but when you add Perez in things look even brighter.
Perez is an unknown for the most part. He’s a 20-year-old who is still pitching in the Dominican Summer League, where he’s more than a year and a half older than the average prospect.
However, he’s been converted into a starter this year and is carrying a 2.01 ERA. Even better, he’s averaging 10.5 K/9, has only walked 13 in 40.1 innings and hasn’t surrendered a home run this year.
It’d be a lie to pretend to know about his stuff, his arsenal and how it might project to the Major League level, but you have to give Rick Hahn, Nick Hostetler and the international scouting department the benefit of the doubt at this point. Nobody would have been upset with Medeiros as a return for Soria on his own, but they thought they could extract value by adding Perez to the deal and did exactly that.
Throughout this process, the White Sox have squeezed just about every last drop out of the veterans they’ve been dealing to rebuild the farm system and Joakim Soria is just the latest example of that. With international bonus money and a few other arms of value left to deal, they might not be done either.