Deep Dive: White Sox rookie league shortstops

Step forward: Lency Delgado, a fourth round pick from 2018, hit .274 for Great Falls this year. (@lency_delgado)

“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

There is indeed some rookie league talent at shortstop, with a decent degree of upside both offensively and defensively. In fact, the talent level here may actually exceed any at the higher levels, with the possible exception of Lenyn Sosa.

(age as of April 1, 2020)

Great Falls Voyagers

Lency Delgado
215 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base
Age: 20

Delgado, a native of Miami, played his varsity ball with Doral Academy prior to being selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the White Sox. After receiving an over-slot $525,000 bonus that pried him from his verbal commitment with Florida International, Delgado received his first taste of professional ball with the AZL White Sox last year. Not surprisingly, he struggled with the speed of the game and slashed just .233/.309/.301 in 38 games with four doubles, one triple, one homer, 22 RBIs, four stolen bases, nine walks (6.0%) and 40 strikeouts (26.7%).

This year with Great Falls, Delgado turned in a much better season as he slashed .274/.325/.377 in 57 games with 14 doubles, one triple, two homers, 32 RBIs, one stolen base, 14 walks (6.0%) and 87 strikeouts (37.5%). However, there are obvious concerns regarding his high strikeout totals. Many scouts believe that, in part because of his size, he makes a better fit as a third baseman. If he does end up switching positions, he’ll eventually need to tap into his above-average power. Delgado does have a long swing, so with extra work and a few adjustments, it is hoped that he could indeed become much closer to reaching his full potential — Delgado is still only 20, after all. It seems likely that he’ll begin next season with Kannapolis.

AZL White Sox

Jose Rodriguez
175 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base, Third base
Age: 18

Rodriguez received a signing bonus from the White Sox in February 2018 and was inserted into the DSL lineup just a few months later. He turned out to be was one of the few bright spots on a miserable 2018 DSL squad, slashing .291/.318/401 in 60 games with 13 doubles, three triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, nine walks (3.8%) and 29 strikeouts (12.1%). Rodriguez even participated in that year’s DSL All-Star game.

This year with the AZL White Sox, he started hitting more homers while avoiding any significant decline in any of the other batting categories (besides strikeouts). In 44 games spanning 188 at-bats, Rodriguez slashed .293/.328/.505 while producing seven doubles, three triples, nine homers, 31 RBIs, seven stolen bases, nine walks (4.5%) and 45 strikeouts (22.5%). He walloped southpaws by slashing .423/.423/.788. Rodriguez did commit 13 errors in his 32 games with the AZL team this year, so he still needs improvement on that front. He has played multiple positions during his first two seasons, and may be establishing himself as a power-hitting utility infielder going forward. Expect Rodriguez to begin next season with Great Falls.

DSL White Sox

Yolbert Sánchez
176 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 23

After playing three years in the Cuban professional league, including the final two seasons with the Industriales de La Habana, the White Sox paid Yolbert Sánchez a $2.5 million signing bonus on this year’s International Signing Day, designating him as one of the top international prospects of 2018 and 2019. Sánchez has a reputation as an excellent fielder, with a plus throwing arm and speed; the only concerns are with the bat. He ranks 22nd among all White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, and is the system’s top-ranking shortstop. MLB gives him a 60 grade for fielding, 55 grades for his arm and running, and lower grades for hitting (45) and power (40).

For tax purposes, Sánchez played this season with the DSL squad and did reasonably well. In 33 games totaling 111 at-bats, Sanchez slashed .297/.386/.441 with eight doubles, two triples, one homer, 12 RBIs, three stolen bases, 15 walks (11.8%) and 12 strikeouts (9.4%). It’s difficult to translate these stats. On one hand, Sánchez was more than four years older than DSL average; on the other hand, it had been a year-and-a-half between his games in the Cuban league and the DSL, which likely created some rust until he got into a certain rhythm. In Sánchez’s last 10 games he slashed .333/.442/.528, which seems to bear that out.

While his defense may be major league ready, Sánchez’s bat certainly isn’t. Expect him to begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis, and work his way up the system rapidly provided he can hold his own offensively.

Wilber Sánchez
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base
Age: 18

Wilber Sánchez, a native of Venezuela, received a signing bonus from the White Sox in February, to little fanfare. With that said, despite the fact that he was the lesser-known Sánchez on the DSL squad, he still found a way to make a name for himself. In 52 games totaling 177 at-bats, Sánchez slashed .288/.391/.395 with 13 doubles, three triples, 25 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 28 walks (13.5%) and 33 strikeouts (15.9%). Interestingly, he fared far better versus righties (.304/.416/.415) than he did southpaws (.238/.304/.333). Sánchez was about seven months younger than his competition, so there’s nothing fluky about his stats. When Yolbert joined the team, Wilber moved over to second base, where he played fairly well. He made a combined 13 errors this year, which could likely be attributable to his youth and perhaps the quality of the playing field. Sánchez should be ready for a promotion to the AZL squad in 2020.

Saving baseball from itself, Part 1: a relegation fantasy

Barred: Perhaps there is a way to separate a foolish team from its money.

Can anything subdue Major League Baseball’s suicidal urges? Can the incredible dullness of homer/strikeout ball be abated? Can teams be stopped from engaging in wholesale tanking rebuilding?

The swelling dullness of the game is easily solved by changing the ball, reversing the juice that made 2019 a joke and also altering the sphere to cut down on ever-increasing pitch speeds. MLB could do it by next season, if it had the brains. Big if.

But that’s for Part 2.

Right now, it’s time for Part 1 of saving MLB from itself, ridding the leagues of the scourge of tanking alleged rebuilding that has made so many games meaningless. It’s pure fantasy, because it would involve some of the Scrooge McReinsdorfs volunteering to lose income. They might not care about baseball or fans, but they sure as hell care about the bottom line, so we need a system that provides severe financial penalties for tanking re-evaluating options.

One of the causes of the rush to the bottom among so many teams today is that their incomes are becoming less and less dependent on fielding good product. With so much sharing of revenues from TV and internet rights and such, actual ticket sales are becoming a relatively minor concern. Who cares about dropping $50 or $80 million in ticket sales, if you can still rake in all the other cash while slicing $100 million from what your payroll should be? Especially since, thanks to the egos of billionaires and Greater Fool Theory, you can always bail out for way, way more than you paid for the team.

The dream may not be about Jeannie, but it would take a genie to make it real.

Still, let us dream — beginning, as dream sequences should, with poetry:

Two, four, six, eight,
Baseball gotta relegate.
No way to save the sport of the nation
Without starting relegation.

Most of you are familiar with the concept of relegation, used in sports leagues all around the world. The most noted model, in the U.S. anyway, is British soccer. The process is simple.

The top-of-the-heap British Premier League has 20 teams. Each season, the bottom three get relegated — that is, sent down — to the next level, which is Football League Championship. In turn, three teams from 24-member FLC move up. All told, there are eight levels, and relegation exists all the way to the bottom.

That’s not a system that can be copied in professional baseball, because minor league teams here aren’t independent entities. You could end up relegating a team down to Triple-A and elevating the same team’s Triple-A farm team.

So what we need is a whole new league, one the worst MLB teams can fall into, at least temporarily. A proper name would be something like Loser League, or Dumped League. This being America, though, we have no use for accurate descriptions and a tendency to give the loftiest titles to the lowliest examples, so, for working purposes, let’s call it the Wonderful League, or WL.

How would it work?

Fair question. For our fantasy purposes, let’s assume that all the talk about expansion isn’t idle chatter, and that two teams will be added to the majors after the next round of union negotiations. Expansion teams are always lousy for a while, so they become the first two teams of the Wonderful League — let’s call them Portland and Las Vegas.

Portland and Las Vegas will need some company, and there are plenty of really bad teams to provide it. Since the expansion will create a total of 32 teams, including the WL, a sensible division is to keep 12 in each of the current leagues and send six to the WL the first season. To keep the leagues in balance in the first (adjustment) year, three teams each from the AL and NL would be relegated.

If that occurred in 2018, the White Sox would have been one of the teams, but they’d escape that ignominy with their stirring 2019 performance. This year, those being sent down would be Detroit, Baltimore and Kansas City from the AL, Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego from the NL. Voila — eight-team league!

The existing leagues would stay with three divisions each, but with four teams per division. There would be plenty of shuffling needed among divisions, and, eventually, between leagues, but that can be a good thing.

Since the WL would be a sub-major rather than minor league, there could be interleague play, as there is now. To keep a 162-game schedule, AL and NL teams would play the other three teams in their division 18 times each and the others in their league 10 each, for a total of 134. That leaves 28 to divide between playing each other, as now, and playing the WL.

That would give the Wonderful League teams 42 games each against National and American league outfits, leaving 120 within the WL. Divide the WL into two four-team divisions, and they’d play each team in their own division 20 times, each in the other division 15.

The remaining teams in the current leagues could have playoffs just as now, three division champs plus two wild cards, which means 10 of 24 teams would have postseason play, roughly the same percentage as the NFL. Plenty to shoot for at the top, plenty to try to avoid at the bottom. No playoffs for the WL, unless an extra game is needed to determine who moves up.

I hear you saying, “Cute, but what the hell are we accomplishing with all this?”

Another fair question. What we’re doing is making almost all games meaningful. There would be battles for the top in the AL and NL, but also battles to avoid the very bottom and consequent relegation. And the WL teams would have large incentive to end up in the top four.

After the first year, relegation would be reduced to four teams, two each from AL and NL going down, four from the WL going up. Again, that may require some realignment but that is by no means bad — ask Milwaukee and Houston how much they’ve suffered from switching leagues. Heck, we could even end up with a whole bunch of Sox-Cubs games.

How does this confusing mess help anything?

By hitting the Scrooge McReinsdorfs right where it hurts: the wallet. By making tanking engaging in corrective steps for future improvement — while not giving a damn about the team or its fans — really expensive.

First, because the WL is a sub-major, not a minor league, all the players keep their major league salaries, their major league benefits, the MLBPA rules. The players would lose out on possible playoff shares, but they’re already on teams that had no chance, or even intention, of making the playoffs.

The players’ statistics count, just as statistics from games against the Marlins or Tigers or Orioles count now, even though those are sub-major teams. That means the miser owners can’t cut major expenses.

Second, because they get their income cut. Big time. Being sub-major is apt to reduce attendance, of course, but the White Sox, for example, have seen little attendance dive during their seven years in the wilderness.. The big change, what is really important, would be cutting into all those shared revenues the cheapskates depend on — slice all their shares in TV, web, and other shared revenues in half.

Instead of those revenues being split 32 ways (post-expansion), each team in the AL or NL that season would get a 1/28th share … so they fare better than now … and those in the WL would get a 1/56 share. That’s a difference of at least tens of millions of dollars.

That provides a serious incentive not to tank fail. No longer would teams not in serious contention be dumping players at the trade deadline to slice payrolls; they’d have to hang on to everyone they’ve got in hopes of avoiding relegation. Every game would be important, at least until mid-September.

The system would widen demand for top players, hiking pay for free agents. That should make the union happy.

Those teams that are relegated would not be sentenced to permanent lower status, but given a help in improving. Heck, if they’re really rebuilding instead of tanking it could even be a good thing … except for the money. They would still get to be in the draft — taking the first eight spots — and they could still trade and bid on free agents and use all the other ways of acquiring players.

Aristotle said, “Change in all things is sweet.” The Scrooge McReinsdorfs of MLB may not agree.

The alternative to relegation is to leave things as they are, with much of the league playing meaningless games for most of the season, with most games involving at least one team whose owners aren’t even trying. MLB can stagger on that way, but it’s staggering a path to oblivion.

Relegation — it’s a way to save major league baseball from itself. And in the land of the greed and the home of the knave, pure fantasy.