Q: I never see White Sox righthander John Ely mentioned in prospect rankings. He went 14-2, 2.82 in Double-A this year, but Chicago has four set starters in the major leagues and prospect Daniel Hudson ahead of him. What do you see for Ely?
A: Don’t say never— Ely came in at No. 9 and No. 11 in our White Sox rankings lists in the last two Prospect Handbooks. A third-round pick out of Miami (Ohio) in 2007, he led the Southern League in victories and strikeouts (125 in 156 innings) and finished second in ERA. Not that wins are the most telling stat for a pitcher, but Ely consistently racks them up and has posted an 83-27 record going back to his days as a high school star in suburban Chicago. Ely can’t overpower hitters with his fringe-average fastball and his curveball is inconsistent, but he does have a nifty changeup. That repertoire doesn’t give him a huge ceiling, but he does locate his pitches down in the zone and rarely beats himself by surrendering walks or home runs. He’s a favorite sleeper of mine and I wouldn’t rule out Ely carving a niche for himself in the back of someone’s rotation. White Sox GM Kenny Williams isn’t afraid to trade prospects, and Ely could find a better opportunity elsewhere. He’ll probably open 2010 in Triple-A.