White Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training one week from today, a perfect time to start reviewing top prospects.
The Sox' farm system has been widely rated as the worst in baseball, but GM Kenny Williams stockpiled some intriguing young pitchers this winters in trades for Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor.
And don't forget about Jhan Marinez and Osvaldo Martinez, who came over from the Marlins as compensation for former manager Ozzie Guillen.
Heading into camp, Nestor Molina looks like the White Sox' No. 1 prospect.
Molina came over from Toronto in the Santos trade, and Williams expects the 23-year-old right-hander to be in the starting rotation at some point this season.
Molina figures to start the season with Class AAA Charlotte. If he does well, Williams can trade Jake Peavy or Gavin Floyd to open a rotation spot.
The reviews on Molina are mixed.
Williams, of course, thinks he has ace potential, and Molina did put up some impressive numbers at Class A Dunedin and AA New Hampshire last season, going 12-3 and walking just 16 batters in 130 1/3 innings.
Critics say Molina doesn't have an out pitch and wonder whether he'll be able to command his curveball and changeup.
We'll keep a close eye on Molina throughout camp and let you know how he's doing.
Here are a couple outside opinions on Molina:
Jim Callis, Baseball America: "It's all solid - fastball, slider, changeup, occasional curveball. Not sure you'd call any of his offerings a plus pitch, but he mixes them well and moves the ball around the strike zone. Not the sexiest scouting report, but that's the type of guy who winds up in the big leagues."
John Sickels, Minor League Ball: “Molina has a solid 90-94 MPH fastball and keeps it low in the zone, picking up grounders. He also has a very good splitter. His slider is still a work-in-progress according to scouts, but his delivery adds deception and helps his stuff play up. His statistics last year were simply spectacular, and it is unusual to see a relief-to-starting conversion turn out this positively. He wasn't some old guy tricking people; he was just 22 last year. If anything, Molina still doesn't get the respect he deserves as a prospect. I currently have him rated as a Grade B+ prospect.”