CHICAGO -- The early stages of the White Sox rebuild, expertly executed by general manager Rick Hahn and his staff, produced a number of potential 2017 candidates for White Sox Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year.
But it was second baseman Yoan Moncada, MLBPipeline.com's top-rated prospect for much of the season, and right-handed hurler Alec Hansen who eventually earned the honors.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization.
Moncada, 22, hit .282 with 12 homers, nine doubles, three triples, 36 RBIs, 57 runs scored and 17 stolen bases over 80 games for Triple-A Charlotte. One of the rebuild cornerstones, acquired from the Red Sox as part of the five-player deal sending Chris Sale to Boston at the '16 Winter Meetings, joined the White Sox on July 19 and finished strong by hitting near .300 in September with five home runs. The switch-hitter's on-base percentage for the season hovered near .350.
"I've been doing the same work I've been doing since the year started, working in the cage," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "The same routine, trying to do what I can do. Lately the results have been there."
"You're starting to see some pretty good growth spurts in terms of the productivity that's coming from his approach," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "So we continue to hope that he'll be able to take that into the winter, feel good about how he has continued to improve, continue to work over the winter and then come into next spring and get ready for the season."
Hansen played through a split-season much like Moncada, but all of Hansen's movement came at the Minor League level.
In 141 1/3 combined innings, the 22-year-old fanned 191. That total, between stops at Class A Kannapolis, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, stood as tops in all the Minors. Hansen, who finished with a 2.80 ERA overall, spoke confidently of having the talent to reach the Majors by the end of the 2018 season during a recent media conference call.
"It definitely boosted my confidence being that the organization moved me up (to Birmingham) in those last 2 weeks," Hansen said. "And it really helps knowing what to expect. I hope that I start in Birmingham next year.
"I don't see why I wouldn't. Just knowing what to expect going in there, rather than it being something brand new, kind of like I got moved up to Kannapolis the year before. I just hit the ground running when the season started there this year and I hope to do the same thing next year."
Hansen, a second-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, has a chance to repeat this top Minor League honor for the White Sox in '18. But other young players will present a challenge, some who potentially have yet to join the top-rated system, as Hahn mixes more talent procurement with talent development in Year 2 of the rebuild.