Back before Michael Jordan graced the baseball world and played a season with the Birmingham Barons, the minor leagues were not covered as much as they are today. It would be lucky for a game to be aired on TV, yet alone nationally. In today’s baseball universe people are able to see their top prospects take hacks and shove on the bump at a touch of a button.
Colson Montgomery smacks a ball 400 FT, and you can see it in a matter of seconds after he touches home base. Jackson Holiday gets called up to Triple-A at a ripe 19 years old, and some are notified before he even touches down in Norfolk, Virginia.
Or, Jackson Chourio getting a massive extension before playing in the MLB, and the world already knows he deserves that money because they have been able to watch him play.
The major league teams are covered an insane amount, and same with the top 30ish prospects in each of their respective systems. Yet, there are way more than 30 promising players on each team’s farm system.
It seems as though the ones that make the list are the ones that get the most coverage. It makes sense to me why they do, nevertheless the love needs to be shared. Especially when the list can be fluid, and not always the most accurate.
Outside the list are deserving players that are playing the same, if not more than the players you keep tabs on.
The White Sox farm system, as dry as it may seem, has players off the top-30 list that have just as much of a chance to be seen in the big leagues as some of the players that are ranked.
Players like Tim Elko and DJ Gladney are position players that, if developed correctly, could be important role players for the Sox. Same goes with hurlers like left-handed reliever Jonah Scolaro and right-handed starter Connor McCullough, who had solid numbers through multiple levels this past season.
These players deserve their flowers as much as the ranked guys. Why they don’t is something for another time. This will be solely about these players and how they could be soon ranked in the top-30, and potentially get themselves an opportunity at the major league level.
As this has already been stated, not all players get the recognition they deserve. This list of players is not in order and not supposed to exclude all the rest of the players in the organization. These players are ones that I noticed have been having or just started to turn things around that need to be looked at closer.
Let’s get this thing started with probably the most well known player that isn’t getting enough coverage, and the most likely out of this bunch to make it to the south side of Chicago.
Tim Elko – First Baseman
The captain of the first National Championship University of Mississippi baseball team sounds like he should be one of the most sought after players in the minor league system. That hasn’t always been the case for first baseman Tim Elko.
Elko was a 10th round pick by the White Sox during the 2022 MLB draft. In his first action in Low-A since being drafted, the Ole Miss product slashed .271/.292/.414 with two home runs in 17 games. Elko also finished his debut in professional baseball with a 38.9 K% and a wRC+ of 93.
After that type of an introduction, I can see why he would not have been launched into the top-30 of the Sox promising prospects. Elko finished his collegiate career with a slash line of .294/.392/.593, while smashing 46 home runs. He knew he had the stuff to deliver, it was just a matter of time till it started to show.
Luckily for him, it only took till the first game of his second year with the White Sox for the power to start coming through. In Elko’s first game of the 2023 season, he finished 2-for-5 from the dish with a home run and three RBI. Already hitting half the home runs he did a season ago.
Elko continued his dominance as he smashed six home runs and drove in 25 RBI in the first month of the 2023 season with Kannapolis. His performances continued to stack on top of each other as he was soon getting promoted up to High-A Winston-Salem 66 games into his sophomore season. Tim finished his time with the Cannon Ballers batting .297 with an OPS of 916 and 17 home runs.
The power hitter was displaying his power and how much it can boost his play once fully unlocked. However, lowering his K% to a 29.7% and raising his wRC+ to a 153 are also factors that made his promotion a no-brainer.
Elko carried his success on to the Dash as his play type adapted to the rise in competition.
Tim would only play 31 games in High-A, but would make his presence known by commanding a slash line of .319/.374/.569. He finished his stint with five home runs, 14 doubles and three triples. He was near unstoppable when at the plate when putting the ball in play as he finished with his second best BABIP of .386.
After reigning terror on the Single-A level, it was time for Elko to finally break into Double-A. Elko headed back south to SEC country for his final destination of the 2023 season.
Tim was not as dominant in his time with the Barons, but did showcase his skills. Elko finished out his last 34 games on the season with Birmingham, slashing .269/.262/.431. He collected six home runs for the Magic City, rounding out his season total of 33.
Elko still has a ways to go in his development as he is sure-handed defensively, just needs to be consistent at the plate. He has Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets ahead of him at the major league level, yet he could end up being better than both of them.
I would put money on that we see Elko at some point on the south side of Chicago.
Jonah Scolaro – Left-handed reliever
A lot of times when you talk about underdogs, it is usually surrounding a guy that is small in stature and soft spoken. That perfectly describes Jonah Scolaro.
Scolaro is currently listed at 5-foot-10, and 193 pounds. And, is the type of player to let his play speak for him.
At 25 years old, Jonah is currently sitting at a career ERA of 4.39 with 126 strikeouts and a record of 5-4. Scolaro’s career numbers are a bit inflated as his numbers in High-A are outliers to the rest of his career.
He was first brought into the club in July of 2022, after playing at Florida State University and spending some time with the High Point Rockers. At FSU, Scolaro pitched a total of 166.2 innings, earning him an ERA of 3.62.
Once with the Sox, Jonah was first placed on Kannapolis in Low-A. After six games, and four starts, he sat with a 2.31 ERA and a WHIP of 1.24. Scolaro also collected his second highest K% of his career with a 34.7%. The club felt that they wanted to see more of the newcomer, so they pushed him up to High-A.
This is where Scolaro has posted his worst ERA’s of his career. But, shockingly he didn’t pitch as bad when taking a look at the numbers.
During his first stop with the Dash in 2022, He earned a whopping 16.20 ERA. Jonah allowed three earned runs in 1.2 IP. His two appearances were his final of the year. Scolaro could have balanced out his numbers, if given more time to do so at the level. Which was seen in his second season with the club, but shockingly not at Winston-Salem.
Scolaro kicked off the 2023 season with the Dash, appearing in five games and posting a 9.22 ERA. Jonah raised his K/9 to the second-highest of his career in 15.15, and lowered his BB% to a career low in 6.1%. In that not so stellar start to the season, the White Sox saw enough to move him up to Double-A.
Scolaro would spend the rest of the year with the Barons, posting an ERA of 3.72 across 34 appearances out of the bullpen. Jonah really started to show his skill set as he didn’t allow an earned run in his first 8.1 IP.
The southpaw started off stellar from the bump, and stayed rather consistent throughout the rest of his time in Birmingham. Scolaro posted 12 outings in which he allowed an earned run, and only two where he gave up more than two earned runs.
Jonah is still a raw talent that has to continue on this path of success to find himself moving towards the promise land of the MLB. But, if this is a sign of what he can command on the mound. The White Sox sure could use a left-handed arm out of the bullpen.
DJ Gladney – Infielder/Outfielder
DJ Gladney is a prospect that has a little extra edge to him, he is from Oak Park, Illinois and is looking to go back home as soon as possible. Gladney is currently 22 years old, and plays both infield and outfield as he logged starts at all three positions in the outfield as well as first base.
The youngster is a career .234 hitter, and starting to gain some power behind his swing.
DJ is a former 16th round pick for the Sox in the 2019 draft. Since being drafted he has been improving each year as he only went underneath the Mendoza line twice. Gladney was part of the select few that got pulled to Double-A for Project Birmingham, before that he was having a stellar season in Low-A.
Gladney was swinging the bat pure as he accrued 18 home runs along with slash line of .243/.322/.437. In the 106 games with the Cannon Ballers, DJ started to show flashes of why he may have been a steal at the position they drafted him.
He also was a part of the group in Project Birmingham that saw his production decline rapidly as it was a huge leap for him to make at the time. Thankfully, Gladney started to heat back up in 2023.
DJ played out the whole year with the Winston-Salem Dash in High-A. He played in 96 games last season and slashed .243/.308/.475 to go along with 19 home runs. Gladney matured as a baseball player throughout the season as he hit his career high in home runs, posting a .783 OPS, and earned a career low in K% with 27.9%.
As far as his defensive numbers show, Gladney is a worthy depth piece in the outfield as he didn’t dip below .980 FPCT during the 2023 season.
At that young of an age, and the lack of experience at the high levels of the minor league depth chart, I don’t think we will see him in a Sox uniform soon as he has lots of time to continue to develop.
Yet, an wRC+ of 109 last season and the defensive help that he can take off of some of the older players, could be useful as the team evaluates during a rebuild era.
Mario Camilletti – Second Baseman
Taking into account that the Sox are in a rebuilding era, and have a lot of questions to answer in their middle infield, Mario Camilletti is an intriguing option as he continues to develop.
Camilletti is mainly a second baseman, and at 24 years old could be an option to throw into the mix in the next season or two. Camilletti is an eighth round pick by the Sox in the 2022 draft. Since coming in he has raked, for the most part.
Mario only played two games in rookie ball and batted .250, getting a hit and two walks. He did not have too many opportunities to show what he could do until the 2023 season where he started with the Cannon ballers.
In Kannapolis, Camilletti posted a .289/.432/.375 slash line, while knocking 23 doubles. He led the squad in hits (98), doubles (23), RBI (60) and walks (84). To say that Mario dominated in Low-A would be an understatement.
The downside to Camilletti’s season was his promotion to High-A. His success wore off, nevertheless he kept it from dipping below the Mendoza line. Promotions always come with a learning curve, and when you play 97 games at one level, you may get too comfortable. Camilletti, however, did end the year off on a high note as he went 3-for-5 with a home run in the final game of the year.
Camilletti’s struggles could be due to not playing as much second base once the move happened. Mario only saw two games at second, while the rest were in left field.
Mario’s defensive numbers do need to improve as he was stamped with seven errors from second last season. As long as he can clean up those numbers, and repeat production as he moves up the farm system, he will find himself moving up the system faster than he thought.
Connor McCullough – Right-handed Starter
When the Sox signed Connor mcCullough to a minor league contract in July of 2022, I don’t think they thought he would produce as much as he has at 24 years old.
In his first full season with the Sox organization, McCullough posted a 4.29 ERA and a record of 8-8. Connor pitched a total of 23 games in the 2023 season, and collected 130 strikeouts for the Cannon Ballers and the Dash.
McCullough has the stuff to be stellar and consistency to not put your team in a bad stop with its bullpen. The right-hander only went under 4.0 innings pitched in three of his starts. And, went 6.0 plus in seven.
Despite his control on the mound declining with the bump up to High-A, his strikeout numbers stay stellar. McCulllough posted an ERA of 2.17 in Low-A and a 5.33 ERA in High-A.
Connor does possess some nasty stuff, nevertheless. McCollugh tossed a 7.0 inning no-hitter for Kannapolis, while also leading the Sox system in WHIP (1.07) and K-BB rate (23.1), according to MiLB.com.
The right-handed hurler has time to develop as he is still on the younger side of his baseball career. However, if he is able to prove he can continue to move up in the organization, he will be paired with some MLB ready arms that the Sox have been able to acquire at the top of their prospect list.