I'm done speculating on the nature of the Whites. Let's take a look at the roster.
The following players were members of the St. Louis Whites in 1888:
Tug Arundel: catcher; played on and off in the major leagues between 1882 and 1888; after the breakup of the Whites, Arundel was released and received an offer from the Kansas City Association team although he ended up with the Washington Nationals.
Jake Beckley: first base; a heck of a player, Beckley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971; he played 20 seasons in the major leagues between 1888 and 1907, ending his career with the Cardinals; after the breakup of the Whites, he was sold, along with Harry Staley, to Pittsburgh for $4500.
Ernie Burch: outfielder; played with Cleveland in 1884 and Brooklyn in 1886 and 1887.
Bart Cantz: catcher; played three seasons in the major leagues between 1888 and 1890; has a career batting average of .157; The Sporting News reported in June of 1888 that, after the breakup of the Whites, Cantz was going to join the Browns but it appears that he was sold to the Baltimore Association team.
Jack Crooks: third base; played eight seasons in the major leagues between 1889 and 1898, including two stints with the Browns (1892-1893 and 1898); was the manager of the Browns in 1892; led the NL in walks in 1892 and 1893, finished second in the AA in walks in 1890 and 1891; his 136 walks in 1892 set a major league record that stood until 1911; Crooks was sold to Omaha for $500 upon the breakup of the Whites.
Jim Devlin: pitcher; played four seasons in the major leagues between 1886 and 1889; played with the Browns after the breakup of the Whites and ended his major league career with the team the next year; I wrote a little bit about Devlin before.
Tom Dolan: catcher; played seven seasons in the major leagues between 1879 and 1888; played with the Browns in 1883 and 1884 before jumping to the Maroons (for whom he played in all three seasons of their existence); after the breakup of the Whites, Dolan rejoined the Browns; played baseball in St. Louis in four different leagues: the AA, UA, NL, and WA; after he retired from baseball, Dolan served as a fireman in St. Louis; I've written about Dolan a few times, most notably here.
Ed Herr: shortstop; played three seasons in the majors between 1887 and 1890; played with the Browns after the breakup of the Whites (and again in 1890); after he was finished with baseball, Herr worked as a carpenter in St. Louis; he died in 1933, drowning in the Mississippi.
Hunkey Hines: outfielder; born Henry Fred Hines; played one season in the majors with Brooklyn in 1895; after the breakup of the Whites, Hines was released and signed with a club in Rockford, where he lived the rest of his life.
Jerry McCormick: outfielder; played two seasons in the majors in 1883 and 1884.
Parson Nicholson: second base; born Thomas C. Nicholson, also called "Deacon"; played three seasons in the major leagues between 1888 and 1895; after the breakup of the Whites, he was released and it appears that he then signed with Detroit.
Harry Staley: pitcher; played eight years in the majors between 1888 and 1895; he finished his career playing with the Browns; after the breakup of the Browns, Staley was sold to Pittsburgh, along with Beckley, for $4,500; when Von der Ahe was attempting to sell the club, the player that most teams wanted to buy was Staley.
C. Alcott: shortstop; some sources list his first name as Charles.
Kenyon: outfielder; some sources list him as J.J. Kenyon or O.J. Kenyon; after the breakup of the Whites, Kenyon remained in St. Louis although it was expected that he would sign with a team in the Ohio League.
Fred Nyce: outfielder, pitcher; after the breakup of the Whites, Nyce received offers Kalamazoo and Canton and it was assumed by TSN that he would sign with the Kalamazoo.
I put together this roster based on box scores, articles in TSN, and the Old Judge baseball card series. All players on this list either played in a game for the Whites, was mentioned as a member of the team, or were identified in the Old Judge set as a member of the Whites. I can state with certainty that the following players played in games for the Whites: Nicholson, Beckley, Crooks, Burch, Herr, Hines, Kenyon, Dolan, Staley, Sproat, Gantz, and Nyce. There is no record that I've found of Alcott, McCormick, Devlin, or Arundel playing in a game for the club.
Looking at the roster, it doesn't seem to be that bad of a team. There was a nice mix of veterans and youth. I would say that if the intent was to create a farm team and develop talent then the Browns did a good job putting the team together. Out of the sixteen players identified as members of the Whites, Beckley and Staley were outstanding young players who the Browns would have been wise to hold on to. Ed Herr looks like a good young prospect and I know that many clubs were interested in him. What happened to his career, I can't say but I'd certainly like to find out. Jim Devlin also was a young guy who looked like a promising major leaguer and then disappeared. Jack Crooks was twenty-two years old in 1888 and went on to have a nice career. So by my count and evaluation, that's five legitimate major league prospects on a sixteen man roster, three of whom went on to have better than average major league careers and one of whom was a Hall of Famer. I don't think you can do better than that and it speaks to the Browns' outstanding scouting ability.
Tomorrow, I'm going to try and wrap this thing up.