Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis second basemen

Subbing in: Mitch Roman, saddled by a .604 OPS, head this collection of A-ball second basemen, who all seem to be settling for utility roles in the organization. (@Roman_Around)

“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

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of long-term talent at Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, so this trio needs to prove some people wrong in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)

Winston-Salem Dash

Mitch Roman
190 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop, Left field, Right field
Age: 25

In his final two years with Wright State University, Roman was consistently good. Roman’s junior year saw him hit .336/.401/.428 for the Raiders in 62 games with 10 doubles, five triples, one homer, 42 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 23 walks (7.8%) and 29 strikeouts (9.8%). Based upon his speed and defensive range, the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. It just so happened that Roman’s numbers with Great Falls paralleled his numbers from his last two years with Wright State. For the Voyagers in 67 games that year, he slashed .332/.392/.418 with 10 doubles, six triples, 33 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 21 walks (7.3%) and 42 strikeouts (14.6%).

Roman struggled to maintain that momentum with Kannapolis in 2017, as he slashed just .254/.305/.306 in 516 at-bats with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers, 45 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 31 walks (6.0%) and 120 strikeouts (23.3%). He bounced back in Winston-Salem the following year, as he slashed .292/.362/.377 in 297 at-bats with 14 doubles one triple, three homers, 41 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 34 walks and 70 strikeouts; Roman received a late promotion in 2018 to Birmingham, but struggled with a .530 OPS.

The 2019 season saw Roman return to Birmingham, where he struggled to the tune of a .165/.266/.231 slash line in 40 games. After being demoted to Winston-Salem on June 6, he bounced back a bit and slashed .269/.325/.328 for the Dash in 69 games. Combined with both squads, he slashed .237/.306/.298 in 109 games with 14 doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 36 walks (8.3%) and 112 strikeouts (25.9%). As sad as his .604 OPS was, it still topped the OPS of the two second basemen who finished with Kannapolis this year. Roman has a chance to begin 2020 with Birmingham, thanks in part due to his tremendous defensive versatility. Roman will be available for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, but likely won’t be selected.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Amado Nuñez
178 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: First base, Third base
Age: 22

Nuñez was part of a small four-member class of international players who received signing bonuses from the White Sox during 2014’s International Signing Day (along with Jhoandro Alfaro, Felix Mercedes and Ricky Mota). Nuñez actually started his professional career with the AZL White Sox the following year, and struggled mightily with an unsightly .385 OPS. He performed much better in 2016 with the AZL squad, however, and slashed .287/.320/.370 with 11 doubles, two triples, one homer, 26 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 10 walks and 52 strikeouts.

After playing the first two games of the 2017 season with the AZL Sox, Nuñez finally received the long-awaited promotion to Great Falls but struggled in his new digs. That year for the Voyagers in 34 games totaling 142 at-bats, Nuñez slashed .183/.247/.246 with just six doubles, one homer, 17 RBIs, one stolen base, 12 walks (7.8%) and 31 strikeouts (20.1%). However, after returning to Great Falls for the 2018 campaign, Nuñez enjoyed his best season to date by slashing .357/.394/.568 in 60 games with 21 doubles, six triples, six homers, 52 RBIs, three stolen bases, 15 walks (5.8%) and 71 strikeouts (27.4%).

Nuñez struggled with his first taste of full season ball with Kannapolis in 2019, as he scuffled with a .206/.256/.326 slash line in 86 games with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, five stolen bases, 19 walks (5.8%) and 105 strikeouts (32.3%). It seems that he struggles with every new stop, but bounces back big-time when he repeats the same level. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him succeed this year with the Cannon Ballers. While Nuñez still struggles defensively, he did lower his error rate in 2019. Nuñez will be eligible for December’s Rule 5 draft.

Ramon Beltre
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Left field, Center field, Shortstop
Age: 23

Beltre’s been in the White Sox organization for an even longer time than fellow Dominican native Nuñez, as Beltre signed with the White Sox on Nov. 19, 2013. While Beltre posted respectable numbers during the 2014-16 seasons with the DSL White Sox, he still had not received his long-awaited promotion. It wasn’t until his fantastic start to the 2017 season (.335/.393/.477 in 42 games) that Beltre received the call to join the AZL Sox. He finished well for the AZL squad for that year, with a solid .308/.339/.383 slash line.

Beltre did quite well for Great Falls to begin the 2018 season, and received a promotion on August 2 as a reward for his efforts. Though he struggled for the Intimidators in 28 games, Beltre still finished the year by slashing a combined .270/.292/.410 in 60 games with 10 doubles, three triples, five homers, 31 RBIs, one stolen base, eight walks (3.4%) and 56 strikeouts (23.7%). Beltre struggled upon his return to Kannapolis this year, as he slashed a paltry .207/.236/.311 in a career-high 125 games with 23 doubles, six triples, four homers, 33 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 13 walks (2.8%) and 130 strikeouts (27.5%).

Expect a return to Kannapolis for Beltre, who though a better defensive player than Nuñez doesn’t have as the same offensive upside. Like the other players in this piece, Beltre is also eligible for the December’s Rule 5 draft.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 27, 2019

Starting force: Tanner Banks threw seven strikeouts in just five innings, pacing Tuesday’s runaway win for the Barons. (Hannah Stone/Birmingham Barons)

Durham Bulls 10, Charlotte Knights 6

Zack Collins (DH) 3-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI (73), K (.297 BA, .897 OPS)

Nick Madrigal (2B) 2-for-4, R, 2B (6), HBP, CS (3) (.316 BA, .822 OPS)

Luis Robert (CF) 1-for-4, R, RBI (36), K (.302 BA, .987 OPS)
Manny Bañuelos (SP) 4 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, BB, 2 K, 3 HR, L (0-1), HB, 53-of-82 strikes (15.75 ERA)
Yermín Mercedes (C) 0-for-2, RBI (55), BB (.290 BA, .978 OPS)

Very strange, what we have going on here in the stretch run to the IL playoffs. First, of course, neither Durham nor Charlotte want to seize control of the race. Second, each team is dominating on the other’s home field. The Knights were done no favors by a horrible outing from Bañuelos, as the Bulls were up 9-1 by mid-game. Collins did everything he could to keep the Knights in it, and Charlotte did rally for four in the eighth, courtesy of Collins and Robert singles, and a Mercedes sac fly. But the entire Knights pitching staff spit the bit tonight. Charlotte’s lead in the wild-card race is back down to just two games.

Birmingham Barons 11, Tennessee Smokies 3

Joel Booker (RF) 3-for-3, 2 R, 2 2B (10), 2 RBI (32), 2 BB (.254 BA, .643 OPS)

Gavin Sheets (DH) 2-for-5, R, 2B (18), 2 RBI (81), BB, 2 K (.275 BA, .744 OPS)

Luis González (LF) 1-for-4, R, RBI (59), 2 BB, K (.253 BA, .686 OPS)
Tanner Banks (SP) 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R/2ER, BB, 7 K, W (4-7), 2 HB, 67-of-91 strikes (4.46 ERA)
Luis Basabe (CF) 2-for-5, R, 2 K, SB (8) (.235 BA, .645 OPS)
Alec Hansen (RP) 2 IP, 4 BB, 4 K, 25-of-51 strikes (5.73 ERA)

A nice laffer for the Barons, a team who has needed one all year. This win was sparked by Booker at the No. 9 slot, reaching base all five times in the game. Check out Hansen’s odd line, a hitless and scoreless outing, but, whoo boy, more balls than strikes thrown. Birmingham scored in every frame but the first, eighth and ninth, putting his one away early.

Salem Red Sox 5, Winston-Salem Dash 1

Craig Dedelow (RF) 1-for-4, R, RBI (60), HR (16) (.246 BA, .744 OPS)

J.J. Muno (LF) 1-for-2, BB (.238 BA, .728 OPS)

Andrew Vaughn (1B) 1-for-4, K (.227 BA, .702 OPS)

Just a bad game … does it seem like the Dash have had an ugly stretch here, as they’re supposed to be making their playoff push? W-S drops to 30-33 in the second half, and its elimination number now stands at one.

Kannapolis Intimidators 5, Hagerstown Suns 4

Amado Nuñez (2B) 1-for-3, R, 2B (8), 2 RBI (33), K (.209 BA, .588 OPS)

Austin Conway (RP) 1.2 IP, 2 K, Sv (11), 18-of-29 strikes (1.69 ERA)

Lenyn Sosa (SS) 2-for-4, 2 RBI (48), E (13) (.244 BA, .637 OPS)
Ian Dawkins (CF) 2-for-4 (.303 BA, .765 OPS)

Another big effort from the nine-spot in the order, with Nuñez doing damage for the I’s. He contributed a one-out, ground-rule double that drove in two and put Kannapolis up, 3-1, in the fourth. The Intimidators scored all they needed to in that fourth inning, with a crooked number that would hold up for the win. Conway pitched a superb eighth and ninth, walking the tightrope for his 11th save.

Great Falls Voyagers 4, Idaho Falls Chukars 3

Avery Weems (SP) 5 IP, 5 H, ER, 6 K, W (4-2), HB, 53-of-69 strikes (1.96 ERA)

Sammy Peralta (RP) 2 IP, 4 K, Sv (3), 16-of-21 strikes (2.73 ERA)

Caberea Weaver (CF) 2-for-5, 2B (12), 3B (5), R, RBI (17), 2 K (.261 BA, .710 OPS)
Kelvin Maldonado (SS) 3-for-5, R, RBI (17), K (.270 BA, .635 OPS)

Hate to be hyperbolic, but the story of the 2019 draft to date for the White Sox has been Avery Weems. The sixth-rounder out of Arizona quickly earned a ticket from the AZL to the Pioneer League, and he’s been aces as a Voyager. I’ll have the numbers next month, but I wouldn’t be surprised if every one of his starts has earned him an MVP … amazing. Aside from Trey Jeans, the GFV pitching staff was killer tonight, with 13 Ks and no walks! I’d left the Voyagers for dead this season, looking at the crummy 28-36 overall record, but Great Falls improves to 13-14 in the second half and hold an elimination number of 3; closer to the postseason than Winston-Salem! This win moved the Voyagers ahead of the Chukars and out of last place overall in the Pioneer League South.