Local product: D.J. Gladney made a huge impact with the AZL White Sox in 2019. What will next year have in store for him? (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)
“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:
- Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
- Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
- Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
- Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
- Free agent options at that position
This article delves into the third basemen who finished the year with Great Falls, along with the Arizona and Dominican League affiliates. There is indeed some talent here, though it’s mostly raw. The AZL third basemen appear to be the best of this group.
(age as of April 1, 2020)
Great Falls Voyagers
Other positions played: Shortstop, Second base
Born in Puerto Rico, Curbelo moved to Florida for his senior year of high school. Before coming to Florida, however, he played for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, whose most famous alumnus is Carlos Correa. At the time of the 2016 draft, Baseball America said of Curbelo that he “is a physical infielder with promising power potential. He has plenty of strength and produces good bat speed, enabling him to drive the ball out of the park. He has a balanced swing and does a good job of getting to his power. Curbelo is a below-average runner, limiting his range up the middle. He has good hands and a strong arm, giving him a good chance to settle at third base as a professional.”
The Sox drafted him in the sixth round that year, prying him from his verbal commitment with the University of Miami with a $700,000 bonus — more than $413,000 more than his slot value. As an 18-year-old, Curbelo struggled in his first taste of professional ball with the AZL squad in 2016 when he slashed just .226/.303/.323 with two homers in 45 games.
After a terrific three-game start in 2017 with Great Falls, Curbelo tore his miniscus and missed a year of development time. He struggled a bit with Kannapolis the following year, which wasn’t a huge surprise as he was about 16 months younger on average than his competitors. For the year in 83 games spanning 317 at-bats, Curbelo slashed .237/.282/.338 with 19 doubles, two triples, three homers, 31 RBIs, 18 walks (5.2%) and 87 strikeouts (25.4%).
This year in Curbelo’s return to Kannapolis, he hit rock bottom by slashing just .169/.216/.287 in 64 games with 11 doubles, five homers, 30 RBIs, 13 walks (5.1%) and 105 strikeouts (41.0%). As a result, Curbelo was demoted to Great Falls, where he bounced back in his 56 games to slash .262/.294/.266 with nine doubles, six triples, eight homers, 24 RBIs, 11 walks (4.7%) and 76 strikeouts (32.3%). He will obviously have to cut down on his strikeouts to better tap into his impressive power.
Expect Curbelo to begin 2020 with Kannapolis, with a chance for promotion to Winston-Salem by the end of the year if he can indeed make more contact. He will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft but likely won’t be selected.
AZL White Sox
Other positions played: First base
Labeled as a power-hitting third baseman by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Ramos received a $300,000 signing bonus from the White Sox during last year’s International Signing Day. The native Cuban skipped past the DSL and instead played the full 2019 season with the AZL team. As a 17-year-old, he was 2.4 years younger than league average but certainly held his own. In 51 games for the AZL Sox spanning 188 at-bats, he slashed .277/.353/.415 with 10 doubles, two triples, four homers, 26 RBIs, three stolen bases, 19 walks (8.7%) and 44 strikeouts (20.2%). Despite his youth, his walk and strikeout totals were quite respectable and showed some polish. As a result, he likely will begin the 2020 season with Great Falls.
Other positions played: First base
Gladney, a native of Matteson, played varsity ball with Illiana Christian Academy (Lansing, Ill.). As a product of the White Sox ACE program, Gladney caught the attention of White Sox scout J.J. Lally at the Area Code Games in 2018, as he told South Side Sox: “My initial thoughts were that he showed excellent bat speed but was a raw talent.” The White Sox gladly selected him in the 16th round of this year’s draft, and after eschewing his verbal commitment to Eastern Kentucky University by accepting an over-slot $225,000 bonus, Gladney immediately began paying dividends.
Though Gladney struggled making contact this year with the AZL White Sox, he still slashed a solid .264/.309/.428 in 50 games with five doubles, two triples, eight homers, 25 RBIs, one stolen base, 10 walks (4.5%) and 82 strikeouts (37.2%). The White Sox will likely be patient with the young man as he adapts to the speed of the game. Thus, while it’s possible he could earn a promotion to Great Falls for 2020, it may make more sense to see him return to the AZL White Sox. For additional information on him, read the terrific, in-depth piece by South Side Hit Pen’s own Dan Victor.
DSL White Sox
Other positions played: Shortstop
Peralta, a lanky third baseman from the Dominican Republic, received a signing bonus from the White Sox in February 2018. As a 17-year-old for the DSL squad, he scuffled with a .193/.322/.234 slash line in 52 games with three doubles, one homer, 18 RBIs, five stolen bases, 21 walks (12.0%) and 41 strikeouts (23.4%).
With a year of experience under his belt, Peralta enjoyed a much more successful 2019 campaign. This year in 54 games with the DSL Sox, he slashed .241/.372/.306 with nine doubles, one triple, 16 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 34 walks (16.4%) and 46 strikeouts (22.2%). He does need to improve his power numbers, though it seems he has a good batting eye with the high walk rates. Peralta also needs to work on his defense, as he committed 15 errors in his 48 games at the hot corner. With that said, we should see Peralta Stateside at some point in 2020.