The Golden Sombrero’s Top 50 Prospects: #18 – Chris Sale (Video) | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

The Golden Sombrero’s Top 50 Prospects: #18 – Chris Sale (Video)

#18 Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox


DOB: 3-30-89

ETA: 2011

This ranking is based entirely on Sale’s potential as a starter.  The White Sox are scaring all rational baseball fans with their use of Sale thus far, but the results have been so positive that they may waste another season of his development in 2011 by sticking him at the back end of the pen.

Sale already boasts three pitches that can grade as plus.  His fastball touches 96 mph, but generally sits a few ticks below that pace.  His best breaking ball is his slider, although he also uses a loopier curveball.  His changeup is already plus and possesses excellent arm-side action.

With a chance at three realistic plus pitches, a 6-foot-5 frame, experience as a starter college, and left-handedness, Sale should be logging around 200 innings a season.  To date he has only thrown 33.2 professional innings, but over half of them came out of the Sox bullpen.  Between the Bigs and the Minors, Sale struck out 51 guys and only walked 16.  He posted a 1.93 ERA and appears to be every bit as advertised given his 13th overall selection last June.

Sale should slot in behind John Danks for the White Sox for years, but he will need innings at either Double-A or Triple-A to develop as a professional starter.  Sox fans, pray that this is the route they take with an arm like Sale’s, because any time he spends in the bullpen this or any other season is only stalling his development.


  1. Rick B. says:

    I agree with your ranking of Sale. I think he is ranked too low on far too many prospect lists considering the amount of success he had in the majors so early in his young career. I will disagree with your statement that the Sox are wasting another year of his development though. I think we both agree that experience as a starter in the majors is just one of many considerations for a young pitcher being groomed for a starters role long term. One of the most important things to look at with a young pitcher is how many additional innings his arm is capable of throwing each year. Some teams keep their young starters on strict inning or pitch counts in the Minor leagues to keep this under control, but others put that pitcher in the bullpen, much like the Twins did with Johan. The other consideration is whether he is developing his secondary pitches against major league hitters. Yes, if Sale was a starter in AA he would be forced to develop his 3rd pitch if he got through the lineup 3 times on a pitch count. At the same time he would be developing those pitches against unproven hitters. I think the Sox are doing the right thing for Sale’s development by controlling his innings count as well as getting value from him instantly and allowing him to develop against big league talent.

  2. Estefan says:

    i really enjoyed reading what rickathee wrote for a few of reasons. first, it’s insightful. rick is an excellent evaluator of talent and an articulate writer, which is why we would love for him to write more frequently on this site. second, rick absolutely loves the white sox and i know feels very passionately about where and how their top prospect is ranked. it is nice to hear from someone who cares so much about his team and its players. third, and probably most importantly, it displays how challenging and subjective any prospect ranking system eventually becomes. i actually was considerably lower on sale than where we ranked him, not because of his stuff, but because philosophically i disagree so strongly with the way he is being used in that organization. rick fundamentally thinks differently, and so did arlo, which is why we see him ranked at the sombrero where he is ranked. as rick points out, though, there are certainly cases in which guys have been used in the way the sox used sale last year – and likely will use him in 2011 – who eventually went on to HOF careers out of the rotation. there are certainly many cases in which it has absolutely backfired as well. it is hard to agree in cases like this, and ultimately a compromise is usually reached. arlo and i eventually agreed that sale is destined for big league success in whatever role he eventually assumes. the reason i was lower is that i am not positive that the sox will ever slide sale into the rotation. we all hope and pray that they eventually make that move and that sale sits at the top of that rotation or directly under danks for years, but there is a tendency in this game and in life to not mess with success. i don’t see sale falling apart in the pen anytime soon, and i don’t think there is room in the top 25 – or top 50 for that matter – who throw 60-80 innings annually. thanks for taking the time to write this, dude. it brought to light some important aspects to ranking prospects.