Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis shortstops

Cannonball run: Lenyn Sosa is the second-ranked shortstop in the Sox system according to MLB Pipeline. (@KCannonballers)

“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

In A-ball, Lenyn Sosa is clearly the better of the two prospects, as he’s four years younger than Johan Cruz; he’s also the second-ranked shortstop prospect in the organization (behind only Yolbert Sánchez) according to MLB Pipeline.

(age as of April 1, 2020)

Winston-Salem Dash

Johan Cruz
188 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Second base
Age: 24

All the way back on Sept. 11, 2012, Dominican native Cruz signed with the White Sox. After a rocky start with the DSL squad in 2013, he got off to a great start upon his return to the DSL and soon found his way to the team’s AZL affiliate. The 2015 season saw Cruz move up they system’s prospect rankings (25th), as the 19-year-old slashed .312/.338/.442 for Great Falls in 65 games as he produced 17 doubles, six homers, 38 RBIs, 12 walks (4.2%) and 61 strikeouts (21.4%).

After a respectable if uninspiring injury-marred 2016 season in Kannapolis in which he slashed .255/.323/.371 in 65 games, Cruz struggled with his promotion to Winston-Salem in 2017 as he slashed just .218/.256/.350 with six homers in 75 games. Demoted in 2018 to Kannapolis, he continued his struggles at the dish as he slashed .227/.297/.286 with one homer in a career-high 91 games.

This year was a much better one offensively for Cruz. Beginning the season with Winston-Salem but ultimately demoted again to Kannapolis, he caught fire with the Intimidators, earning him yet another opportunity with the Dash. Combined with both teams, Cruz slashed .270/.342/.410 in 82 games with 18 doubles, one triple, seven homers, 38 RBIs, one stolen base, 31 walks and 79 strikeouts.

Cruz is an above-average defender with a utility/organizational-depth profile due to his relatively low hit tool and lack of game-changing speed. While he may be given the opportunity to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him return to Winston-Salem instead. Cruz will be eligible for selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Kannapolis Cannonballers

Lenyn Sosa
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base
Age: 20

It was easy for Sosa to get lost in the shuffle, as he was one of a nine-member 2016 International Signing Day class that included Josue Guerrero, Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas. Yet so far, it’s this Venezuelan shortstop (who signed for $350,000) who has advanced further than anyone from that class.

The Sox brass liked Sosa so much that he actually skipped the DSL and instead began his career with the AZL squad. For that team, in which he was nearly three years younger than league average, he slashed .270/.330/.358 in 42 games with four doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, three stolen bases, 14 walks (7.8%) and 24 strikeouts (13.3%). Sosa continued his progress in 2018 with Great Falls as he slashed .293/.317/.406 in 65 games with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, two stolen bases, seven walks (2.4%) and 36 strikeouts (12.4%).

This year, Sosa took a step back but still showed promise. In 122 games with Kannapolis spanning 501 at-bats, he slashed .251/.292/.371 with 35 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 51 RBIs, six stolen bases, 27 walks (5.0%) and 102 strikeouts (19.0%). He began turning on the ball in a tough ballpark for hitters, and while he still doesn’t walk a lot, provided glimpses that he could still have a future in a White Sox uniform. For example, when Sosa should have wearied at the end of the season (as he’d nearly doubled his career-high in games played), he slashed .429/.455/.714 over his last 10 games. Sosa did commit 14 errors at shortstop, which actually is quite good for such a young player — competing this year about 2 1/2 years younger than his competition — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him begin the 2020 season with Winston-Salem. Sosa currently ranks 30th among all White Sox prospects, and second among the system’s shortstops behind only Yolbert Sánchez, according to MLB Pipeline.


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