(CBS) Among the many happy people these days at the intersection of 35th and Shields is Nick Hostetler, the amateur scouting director of the rebuilding White Sox who has seen his organization reshape its future the last eight months with blockbuster deals.
The latest came Thursday, with the White Sox sending left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs for a haul of four prospects that included outfielder Eloy Jimenez, viewed as a top-10 prospect in the game, along with right-hander Dylan Cease, another major prospect.
Hostetler has a great feel for both of these new prized pieces to the White Sox farm system, which may now be the best in baseball. Jimenez joins a mix of position players that includes Yoan Moncada, ranked as the top prospect by MLB.com, and fellow outfielder Luis Robert, who signed out of Cuba in May.
Last week, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that Jimenez compares to White Sox great Jermaine Dye. Hostetler joined Hit and Run on 670 The Score on Sunday and declined to give a comparison for the 20-year-old Jimenez, but his belief in him is strong.
“Eloy’s just a tremendous talent,” Hostetler said. “When you have a chance to see him in person and to see how big and strong he is — and to think that he’s still only 20 years old with that type of power — I can see why a Jermaine Dye comp has been put on him. Jed’s an extremely smart man, and I wouldn’t argue with him on a comp he gives.”
Cease joins the White Sox as the latest talented pitcher to join their organization. They’d previously added Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning in trades last December. Now, Cease enters the fold as a 21-year-old with an electric arm.
Hostetler scouted Cease out of high school in Georgia, before Tommy John surgery dropped his draft value in 2014.
“He was a three-pitch mix with front-line starter ceiling,” Hostetler said of Cease. “It was about 97, 98 miles per hour on the fastball with a breaking ball that falls off the table. He’s got a solid feel for a changeup. Obviously, the numbers show there’s going to be some refinements that need to be done with the mechanics to help him throw some more strikes.
“Look, with our track record with pitching, I’ll put that up against anybody in the league. I feel very confident turning a pitcher with his abilities over to our pitching guys.”
The White Sox have made tremendous progress in their rebuilding efforts in short time. Their first major move toward a rebuild came with the deal of Chris Sale to the Red Sox in December, which acquired Moncada, Kopech and two others. Days later, the White Sox dealt Adam Eaton to the Nationals for Giolito, Lopez and Dunning.
With the move of Quintana to the Cubs, the White Sox have further stocked a farm system with major prospects. MLB.com ranks the team with nine of the top 68 prospects in baseball. Hostetler knows well that there are more names in the pipeline, too.
Rebuilding became the best route after the White Sox were “mired in mediocrity,” as general manager Rick Hahn declared almost a year ago. They’ve become better for the future by trading Sale, Eaton and Quintana.
“Obviously, this is not something you want to have to do when you’re working for a club and you’re a scout or scouting director or GM,” Hostetler said. “You don’t want to have to do these things. But at times, you have to. We know that the effort that’s been put in now and 2016, ’17 and ’18 to hopefully, whenever that time comes that all these guys come up and start playing well for us and we’re winning championships, it’s all going to be worth it.”