Eight players on the White Sox's current 25-man roster were listed in Baseball America's top 100 prospects list prior to the 2005 season.
That seems like a hell of a statistical oddity. The eight players: Carlos Quentin (No. 22), Edwin Jackson (No. 30), Gavin Floyd (No. 35), Phil Humber (No. 50), John Danks (No. 59), Sergio Santos (No. 61), Jesse Crain (No. 63) and Mark Teahen (No. 86). Lastings Milledge (No. 11) and Dallas McPherson (No. 12) have seen time with the White Sox this season as well.
Making matters more interesting is that none of these 10 players were in the White Sox system in 2005. The Sox had five players on the list at the time—Brian Anderson (No. 37), Ryan Sweeney (No. 42), Brandon McCarthy (No. 49), Josh Fields (No. 95) and Tadahito Iguchi (No. 96).
With Jake Peavy on the disabled list, 80 percent of the White Sox's starting rotation was ranked in Baseball America's list. And 32 percent of the 25-man roster was in the rankings six years ago.
Comparatively, eight players is pretty significant. Minnesota has three players on the list—Joe Mauer (No. 1), Delmon Young (No. 3) and Jason Kubel (No. 17)—and they're about average for an organization.
But the real point isn't the odd statistical number. It's a window into how the White Sox operate as an organization.
Four of the 10 players in the organization were picked up off the scrap heap, those being Milledge, McPherson, Humber and Santos. Even though Chris Carter was a well-regarded prospect, the White Sox bought low on Quentin. Teahen and Crain were two easily-forgettable names on the list, as both were unable to break the chains of mediocrity with their respective AL Central teams.
The only players the White Sox paid a high price for were starters. Floyd was acquired along with Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia, which turned out to be an absolute fleecing of the Phillies. While Garcia's numbers were going in the wrong direction at the time, nobody could've anticipated his bodily breakdown after being shipped to Philadelphia.
It took McCarthy to acquire Danks, which turned out to be another fleecing, this time of Texas. McCarthy fizzled with the Rangers and now is back on his feet in Oakland—but Texas got nothing except a bruised ego out of the trade.
And finally, the Sox sent Dan Hudson and David Holmberg to Arizona for Jackson last summer in a move that looks like a fleecing on the other end. Hudson has been dynamite for Arizona, posting a 3.98 ERA and 2.62 FIP, and at just 24 he still has a lot of room for improvement. Holmberg, who will turn 20 in July, has a 58/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Single-A South Bend this season. While Holmberg is still years away from the majors, even if he doesn't make it Hudson likely will put together a successful run for the Diamondbacks, making the Jackson trade one of the questionable ones on Kenny Williams' résumé.
In recent years, the Sox haven't developed talent within the organization to the point of having players make significant contributions at the major league level. When they have had a talent—Sweeney, Hudson and Gio Gonzalez, for example—they've shipped those players off elsewhere for veteran talent (Nick Swisher, Jim Thome, Jackson).
This strategy can be frustrating at times, and at this juncture it's at least mildly concerning. The White Sox don't have a stable of talent from which to draw surplus value at this point, and aging veterans with big contracts could be problems two or three years down the road.
But, then again, Kenny Williams has fielded a competitive team nearly every year he's been at the helm of the White Sox. For all the frustrations with the dearth of internally-developed players—which has got a little better recently—the Sox have found a way to win.
Even if it means raiding prospects from six years ago.