Deep Dive: rookie league left-handed relievers

Fast mover: Sammy Peralta, seen here pitching for the University of Tampa, dominated for both the AZL White Sox and Great Falls after being selected in the 18th round this year. (@Sammyfp16)

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

Rookie leagues often carry a multitude of pitchers, as they are not restricted to 25-man active rosters. That’s why you’ll see four left-handed relief pitchers with Great Falls and three with the DSL squad. These relievers, especially those with the Great Falls and AZL affiliates, definitely showed some promise in 2019 and it’ll be interesting to see how they progress through the system.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020

Great Falls Voyagers

Sammy Peralta
205 pounds
Age: 21

Peralta, a native of Queens, was a well-traveled collegian who pitched for San Jacinto CC, Palm Beach State College and Division II powerhouse University of Tampa. Other than a high walk total that caused his ERA and WHIP to balloon a bit, he supplied his Spartans enough strikeouts to entice the White Sox to select him in the 18th round of this year’s draft. In 2019 for Tampa, Peralta posted a 4.93 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 22 appearances (42 innings) by allowing 33 hits and 25 walks (13.2%) while striking out 74 (38.9%). Excluding his first four outings, he was terrific over his final 34 1/3 innings, posting a 2.62 ERA and 1.08 WHIP during that span.

After four outstanding appearances for the AZL White Sox this year, in which he allowed just three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings while striking out 13, Peralta was promoted to Great Falls on July 4. Peralta continued his mastery of rookie league hitters with the Voyagers, as he kept his walks and hits down while striking out 45 hitters in just more than 30 innings. Combined with both teams in 18 outings spanning 36 2/3 innings, Peralta compiled a 1.96 ERA and 0.95 WHIP by relinquishing just 25 hits (.182 OBA) and 10 walks (6.7%) while fanning 58 (38.7%). When hitters made contact off him, they hit grounders over 43% of the time. While lefties hit Peralta at a .250 clip this year, he held righties to a .165 average.

In addition to a fastball which he uses to set up hitters, Peralta features a wipe-out curveball and changeup to help put them away. Peralta is likely to begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis.

Trey Jeans
195 pounds
Age: 24

Like the aforementioned Peralta, Jeans was also a well-traveled collegian as he attended the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Seminole State College and the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He posted his best season with Louisiana-Monroe this year as a senior, compiling a 3.76 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 15 starts. In his 79 innings for the Warhawks, Jeans surrendered 61 hits (.213 OBA) and 37 walks (11.0%) while striking out 69 (20.5%). As a result of his efforts, Jeans was selected in the 33rd round of this year’s draft.

Jeans sailed through the AZL season in 18 relief outings, while he pitched his final three games for Great Falls. In a total of 27 2/3 combined innings, he allowed 28 hits (.252 OBA) and just five walks (4.2%) while fanning an eye-popping 43 (36.4%). Righties (.253) and lefties (.250) hit Jeans at about the same rate this year.

Like Peralta, Jeans offers a three-pitch repertoire including a fastball, curveball (his plus pitch) and changeup. Although he only pitched three games at Great Falls, Jeans is also likely to begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis due to his age. It’s unclear, however, if he’ll be a starter or reliever at the next level. Based on his results this year, it seems that Jeans may be better suited out of the pen.

Rigo Fernandez
190 pounds
Age: 22

Fernandez suffered through a difficult three seasons with Cal State-Dominguez Hills — especially with his control. In 12 starts totaling 57 2/3 innings during his junior year for the Toros, he posted a 4.99 ERA and 1.72 WHIP as he ceded 47 hits (.229 OBA) and 52 walks (19.0%) while striking out 80 (29.3%). However, in part because Fernandez is a lefty and also because he struck out his fair share of hitters, the White Sox selected him in the 24th round of the 2018 draft. Later that year for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls, he actually posted solid numbers in 18 combined games. In a total of 38 innings, Fernandez had a solid 2.13 ERA and 1.11 WHIP by relinquishing 27 hits (.199 OBA) and 15 walks (9.5%) while striking out 40 (25.3%).

This year for the Voyagers, Fernandez posted a 4.91 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 19 games spanning 33 innings as he allowed 28 hits (.228 OBA) and 20 walks (13.5%) while fanning 45 (30.4%). Much of the damage against him came in one June game; in a perfect world where that was treated as a mulligan, his ERA and WHIP would’ve been just 3.09 and 1.22.

Baseball America lists Fernandez as featuring a fastball that runs from 86 to 91 mph, while he also features a solid curve and change to help him put hitters away. Righties hit just .222 against Fernandez’s offerings while lefties hit .244 against him. With a combined 2.16 ERA for the months of July and August, Fernandez has also made his case to begin the 2020 season on the Kannapolis roster.

Greg Minier
235 pounds
Age: 24

Minier is another southpaw who pitched for multiple schools during his career. After pitching for Bethune-Cookman and Ventura Junior College during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he spent his final two college seasons with the University of Washington. In 33 relief outings (43 innings) for the Huskies during his senior season, Minier posted a 3.53 ERA and 1.43 WHIP by allowing 48 hits (.296 OBA) and 14 walks (7.4%) while striking out 41 (21.8%). The White Sox liked him enough, after that season, to select him in the 32nd round of the 2017 draft. Later that year for the AZL White Sox, Minier succeeded by throwing strikes. In 15 games spanning 17 2/3 innings, Minier compiled a 1.53 ERA and 1.30 WHIP by surrendering 21 hits (.304 OBA) and just two walks (2.8%) while fanning 16 (22.5%).

After struggling in eight appearances with an 8.05 ERA and 1.68 WHIP, he didn’t pitch the last several weeks of the Voyagers season in 2018 — presumably due to injury. Minier was assigned to extended spring training on June 11 of this year, but never actually pitched in a real game. This could be the end for Minier, but if not, he likely would return to the Voyagers for the 2020 campaign.

AZL White Sox

Garvin Alston Jr.
175 pounds
Age: 23

Alston is the son of long-time respected pitching and bullpen coach Garvin Alston, so he’s had baseball in his veins since birth. After strugging in two seasons as a reliever with Arizona State University, Alston transferred to the University of South Carolina-Aiken for his junior and senior seasons. As a senior this year, Alston was converted to the Pacers rotation and fared reasonably well despite a serious lack of control. In 16 appearances spanning 70 innings, he allowed 78 hits (.276 OBA) and 53 walks (15.3%) while striking out 63 (18.2%). The White Sox liked Alston, though, enough to select him in the 37th round of this year’s draft. Ironically, he was drafted in that exact same round four years ago by the White Sox, when he opted for Arizona State.

Alston seemed like a new pitcher with the AZL White Sox. In 13 relief outings totaling 18 innings, he compiled a solid 3.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP by ceding 18 hits (.254 OBA) and just four walks (5.3%) while striking out 22 (28.9%). Lefties hit just .238 against his offerings this year, while righties fared a bit better at .260. When hitters made contact against Alston, they hit grounders at a frequent 51.1% clip. A limited repertoire presently of a fastball and curveball may mean he’ll be a reliever going forward, but that’s likely Alston’s best opportunity to ascend the ranks anyway. Look for him to begin the 2020 season with Great Falls, with perhaps a late promotion to Kannapolis if all goes well.

DSL White Sox

Jorge Ferrer
180 pounds
Age: 19

Shortly after signing an international contract with the White Sox as a native of the Dominican Republic, Ferrer pitched two games and allowed nary an earned run before being socked with a 72-game suspension for using Stanozolol, a steroid and performance-enhancing drug. This suspension essentially ended his 2018 season.

Ferrer was slowly worked into the DSL bullpen for the 2019, and for all intents and purposes, performed surprisingly well despite his rust. In seven outings totaling 9 2/3 innings, he posted a 2.79 ERA and 1.34 WHIP by allowing nine hits (.243 OBA) and four walks (9.5%) while striking out 10 (23.8%). Hitters grounded the ball against him 48.1% of the time this year, and lefties hit just .167 against him in an albeit small sample size. It’s possible Ferrer merits a promotion to the AZL squad based on his production during two very abbreviated seasons; it wouldn’t be a surprise, however, to see him return to the DSL for 2020.

Oriel Castro
175 pounds
Age: 18

Castro, a native of Panama, signed an international contract with the White Sox on January 2018 as a 16-year-old. In his first season in the organization, he unsurprisingly struggled in his 12 appearances with a 5.23 ERA and 1.74 WHIP for the DSL Sox. In his 10 1/3 innings last year, Castro allowed just five hits (.143 OBA) and 13 walks (26.0%) while striking out 14 (28.0%).

In a much more expanded role this year, Castro continued to struggle with his control. Over 15 appearances (six starts) encompassing 40 innings, he compiled a 4.73 ERA and 1.75 WHIP by relinquishing 30 hits (.216 OBA) and an unsightly 40 walks (21.7%) while fanning 38 (20.7%). Lefties hit .250 against Castro’s offerings this year while righties fared much worse, at .202. However, it won’t mean a thing until Castro throws more strikes. As a result, expect him to return to the DSL next year.

Jose Jimenez
195 pounds
Age: 17

Jimenez, no relation to Eloy, signed an international contract with the White Sox as a 16-year-old just a month before the DSL season began. He didn’t enter many games, but in the games he did pitch in, he struggled immensely. He’s fairly big for someone so young, so mechanics (in addition to confidence) may be the culprit. In five games this year totaling 5 2/3 innings, Jimenez posted a 12.71 ERA and 2.29 WHIP as he allowed seven hits (.292 OBA) and six walks while striking out five. While it’s way too early to give up on him, Jimenez seems a virtual lock to return to the DSL White Sox for the 2020 season.


2 thoughts on “Deep Dive: rookie league left-handed relievers

  1. Off topic, but I really want to know why Parker Rigler retired. College lefty didn’t look too bad in two seasons. I’ll bet if he read your fine prose about his abilities, he would be tearing up the AFL right now.


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