Deep Dive: Rookie league left fielders

Head of the class: Anderson Comas is one of the top outfield prospects in the system — although the DSL’s Benyamin Bailey is gaining quickly. (Phrake Photography/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:

  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

Although not currently on the Top 30 list of White Sox prospects found on MLB Pipeline, these outfielders all have the upside to appear on that list relatively soon — especially Benyamin Bailey. The 2020 season will be big for all of them, as they hope to make big strides forward.

(age as of April 1, 2020)

Great Falls Voyagers

Anderson Comas
185 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Center field, Right field

Age: 20

Ranked as Baseball America’s 37th best international prospect, the Dominican Republic’s Comas received a $450,000 signing bonus from the White Sox on July 2, 2016. He was highly-touted by Ben Badler of Baseball America, although Comas didn’t play ball for the DSL Sox until the 2017 season, when he slashed a respectable .291/.316/.329 in 63 games with five doubles, two triples, 17 RBIs, one stolen base, eight walks (3.2%) and 45 strikeouts (18.2%). He followed that up with an even better 2018 season with the AZL Sox in which he slashed .306/.339/.388 in 41 games with six doubles, two triples, one homer, 22 RBIs, five stolen bases, seven walks (4.1%) and 26 strikeouts (15.1%).

Comas struggled unexpectedly with Great Falls in 2019. In 54 games and 194 at-bats with the Voyagers, he slashed just .222/.251/.351 with seven doubles, six triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, seven walks (3.4%) and 58 strikeouts (28.6%). According to FanGraphs last year, Comas’ swing has gotten “disconcertingly long” which could equate with his struggles. For someone as lanky as he is, that evaluation makes sense. Provided he can make adjustments, Comas has the potential to gradually move up the system. Because of his relatively limited range, he really profiles as a corner outfielder. He’d have to hit better in order to fit that profile, however, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see him return to Great Falls to hone that swing a bit.      

Arizona League White Sox

Anthony Coronado
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Right field
Age: 19

Part of the same 2016 international signing class as Comas, Venezuelan outfielder Coronado received a significantly smaller signing bonus of $150,000. Badler said this of him at the time, “He’s 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with above-average speed and a fringy arm. He’s a right-handed hitter with gap power now but the physical projection to hit 12-15 home runs down the road, though there is swing-and-miss in his game.”

Coronado acquitted himself nicely in his first professional season in 2017, as he combined with the AZL and DSL squads in 58 games to produce a .265/.354/.425 slash line with 20 doubles, four homers, 28 RBIs, one stolen base, 17 walks (7.4%) and 60 strikeouts (26.1%). However, he struggled in his first full season with the AZL squad (in part due to lack of consistent playing time) as he slashed just .145/.229/.194 in 21 games with one double, one triple, four RBIs, six walks (8.6%) and 23 strikeouts (32.9%).   

Coronado’s playing time increased in 2019, and his results reflect this. In 28 games totaling 101 at-bats with the AZL Sox, he slashed a respectable .307/.358/.475 with seven doubles, two triples, two homers, 14 RBIs, five walks (4.6%) and 27 strikeouts (24.8%). Even though this was Coronado’s second full season playing for the team, he was still a tad younger than league average. Although he played some right field this year, Coronado really does profile best at left due to his fringy arm. In all likelihood, he’ll begin 2020 with Great Falls.

DSL White Sox

Benyamin Bailey
215 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Right field, Center field
Age: 18

Bailey, a native of Panama, received a minimal signing bonus from the White Sox on April 27, 2019, with literally no fanfare. However, by the time he ended the season, Bailey was the best-known prospect on the entire DSL roster. In 55 games totaling 185 at-bats, he slashed an incredible .324/.477/.454 with 12 doubles, three triples, two homers, 19 RBIs, 52 walks (21.4%), 40 strikeouts (16.5%) and 10 stolen bases. Bailey’s OBP was hovering around .500 for most of the year, before a late-season slump dropped him to .477. With that said, Bailey still led the league in that department and was near the top in walks and OPS as well. In most cases, the DSL leaders are either returning players and/or much older than the league average; in Bailey’s case, this was his first year in professional ball and he was about six months younger than his competition. 

While it’s likely that he won’t steal in the double digits going forward due to his size, it’s hoped that Bailey’s size will help enable him to hit the long ball. In the meantime, his batting eye and hitting prowess have certainly earned him the opportunity to play ball for either the AZL Sox or Great Falls in 2020. Also, expect to see him mentioned in some prospect lists next year as well.   

Lazaro Leal
210 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Right field, First base
Age: 23

Leal, a native of Cuba, played for the Pinar del Rio squad in 2016 before legally emigrating to Mexico. During the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he played ball in the Mexican League’s AA and AAA circuit before signing with the White Sox on February 5. Leal was assigned to the DSL squad for the 2019 season, with the hopes that he could perhaps move Stateside by season’s end. However, the year didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped. In 55 games totaling 182 at-bats, Leal slashed .225/.372/.357 with 13 doubles, one triple, three homers, 23 RBIs, two stolen bases, 38 walks (16.8%) and 29 strikeouts (12.8%). He has the athleticism to play both corner outfield spots fairly well, and his plate discipline should warrant him another opportunity in the minors. With his age, he likely won’t return to the DSL in 2020. Provided he stays in the organization, he’s likely to begin the season with Great Falls.


2019 DSL White Sox season recap

Bonus baby: Top international signee Yolbert Sánchez was old for the level, but performed well in the DSL. (@Cuba_Lite)

Though the DSL White Sox did not make the playoffs at 36-34 on the season, this team was a massive improvement over 2018. A year ago, the DSL Sox finished an abysmal 18-54 — so they won twice as many games this season, and it certainly seemed like they had twice the talent.

But before we get to the top talent, a little update on a couple of more minor DSL figures. First, Francisco Benitez:

At 18, Benitez had a 8.06 ERA in 22 1/3 innings pitched in the DSL. If he stays with the Sox next season, he will still have some time to serve on his PED suspension.

Luis Rodriguez is the other notable update, because he was the only player from the 2019 DSL squad to receive a promotion to the States. Rodriguez left the DSL with a 4.34 ERA and 3.12 FIP in 29 innings. He was used mostly as a starter, but his walk rate fell considerably and so at 19, he was ready to go play in the States. In the AZL, Rodriguez did not do as well. He had a 6.54 ERA, and his K-BB rate was only 3.3%. Though it was not a great first stint, it is notable that Rodriguez was the only promotion, and that he is just 19, playing baseball in unfamiliar Arizona.

But on to the guys that played all their baseball in the Domincan Republic, and quite a few played excellently — especially a few young teenagers.

Benyamin Bailey

Bailey took fans and the DSL by storm early, and though he struggled some down the stretch, the tools are there. FanGraphs now has him as the 30th-best prospect in the White Sox system, with a 35+ future value grade (check out their full rankings here). FanGraphs highlights Bailey’s build, which for a 17-year-old is astounding, and a little unbelievable, at 6´4´´, 215 pounds. That build helps Bailey to be projected as a power-hitting corner outfielder, but he’s 17, and a lot can change with a body. For what it’s worth, FanGraphs lists Bailey’s ETA to the big leagues as 2024, so yeah, a lot can change. For what Bailey actually did this season, the plate discipline is the big reason why he was so successful and why outlets like FanGraphs paid attention. Bailey walked (21.4%) more than he struck out (16.5%). Some might say it’s the DSL, where the umpires are not great and the pitchers are not polished enough to hit the zone regularly, but Bailey is 17, and what he did was impressive, even in the DSL. He ended his season with a slash line of .322/.477/.454, with a couple of homers and a .130 ISO. It will be interesting to see where he ends the year next season, but hopefully Bailey’s 2020 starts in the AZL.

Yolbert Sánchez

With the Luis Robert signing restrictions finally over, the Sox went out and signed one big-dollar free agent in Sánchez. The middle infielder signed with the Sox to the tune of a $2.5 million bonus. He is rated as the 22nd-best White Sox prospect by MLB Pipeline and the 24th-best per FanGraphs. Sánchez is known more for his defense, as it is his strong suit. He should rise up the ranks quickly next season, especially if hit bat develops. Scouts also point out his plus speed. Most of Sánchez’s production with the bat came down the stretch. He ended the year with a .297/.386/.441 slash line and also walked more than he struck out (though he is old for the level at 22, and accomplishing that in the DSL). Sánchez hit two home runs on top of that, but his profile doesn’t suggest he will have much power as he moves up the ranks.

Ronaldo Guzman

Guzman was a highlighted by Ben Badler before the season because of his 89 mph fastball and an advanced change. He didn’t sign for much ($75,000), but Guzman is one of the few interesting DSL White Sox pitchers. The now 17-year-old was great this season, even with an ERA at 4.53. For what it’s worth (and in the DSL, not sure how much it means), but Guzman did have a much better-looking 3.19 FIP and 2.97 xFIP. This is mostly from a great K-rate at 33.5%, probably from that advanced fastball-change combo. Guzman should start next year in the AZL, and with the great stuff he already has, he could move on quickly.

The Rest

Because of the ages and DSL experience, it will always be difficult to surmise who can be a “guy” in the future. The three players above, because of their pedigree, age, and in Sanchez’s case, bonus money, are easy players to keep an eye on down the road. The rest are not so easy.

Of the hitters, there are a couple of note to keep an eye on. Johnabiell Laureano had just as great a season as Bailey, but he is more than a year older. In Laureano’s second DSL season, he had a wRC+ of 167 and gained 137 points on his batting average.

There are a few catchers of note, although Luis Pineda is notable for not reaching the expectations of his bonus. He only played in 24 games, hitting a balmy .185 with a 36.3% K-rate. Jefferson Mendoza and Ruben Benavides were the positives of the position. In Mendoza’s second season in the Dominican, everything went right. He showed a much better hit tool and played up to his previous max bonus of $300,000. Benavides had the highest wRC+ of the group, but it was in just 80 plate appearances. He showed pop, with 11 extra-base hits, and is newly 18, so he has a bit more of a youth advantage.

Back to the downside of the group, as some relatively high dollar players faltered this year. Alberto Bernal, Elijah Tatís, and Lazaro Leal all failed to reach their potential this year. Bernal and Tatís are both younger and will probably stay in the DSL next season. Bernal was a regular player, but had the worst batting average on the team. Tatís certainly has not looked like the other Tatís, who shall not be named. Leal was signed from Cuba and is already 22, so a down year in the DSL at that age is concerning. Though Leal did walk more than he struck out, the bat-to-ball skills were not there, with a .225 batting average.

The better side are a pair of 17-year-olds in Wilber Sanchez and Anthony Espinoza. Espinoza was more high-profile than Sanchez to begin the year because of a larger bonus; he finished with a .263 average but without much power. Sanchez had a similar season, but his BABIP and BB-rate were a little better. He finished with a slash line of .288/.391/.395 and after a season like that, should be in the AZL to start 2020.

On the pitching end, there is not much else besides Guzman. There was another 16 year-old for the DSL in Jose Jimenez, but he only pitched in 5 2/3 innings. Some pitchers did do well, but they were relievers like Manuel Veloz, or a little on the older side like Erick Perez and Homer Cruz, so their ceilings are not too high. Though Veloz, who had an ERA of 0.91 in 39 2/3 innings, and Perez, who had a 1.92 ERA in 51 2/3 innings, were fantastic.

It was unnerving to learn the Sox did not spend their full bonus allotment in the first year out of the restrictions from the Robert signing, as they traded $1 million of it to the Rangers. Hopefully next season the organization will look to add some younger top talent to their DSL ranks in order to replenish what was a good but older team overall.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 15, 2019

Almost perfect: John Parke had a magical game for Birmingham on Thursday. (Hannah Stone/Birmingham Barons)

Charlotte Knights 7, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 5

Nick Madrigal: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K (.288 BA, .675 OPS)
Luis Robert: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (.323 BA, 1.025 OPS) **MVP**
Zack Collins: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 K (.282 BA, .938 OPS)
Seby Zavala: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K (.224 BA, .792 OPS)
Justin Nicolino: 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (6.05 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
Matt Foster: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (3.51 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

A power barrage gave the Knights enough run support to withstand the late-inning RailRiders rally to win, 7-5. The Knights hit four home runs tonight, including three that helped them get out to a 6-1 lead. Seby Zavala started the power surge with a solo homer in the second. Luis Robert, who had been slumping (for him) at the plate, crushed a solo homer in the third. Zack Collins hit another bomb in the sixth that finally pushed the Knights that 6-1 lead. Meanwhile, the pitching obviously had to be pretty good. Justin Nicolino cruised through six innings with just one earned run and four hits allowed. The seventh inning give him some trouble, as Nicolino allowed three runs in the inning off of two home runs — yeah, it was a home run kind of night. Thanks to Matt Foster, who earned the save in the ninth, and Daniel Palka, who added the last run for the Knights via a homer, the win was sealed.

Birmingham Barons 2, Mississippi Braves 1

Luis Basabe: 2-for-4, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.245 BA, .653 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 1 K (.260 BA, .665 OPS)
Gavin Sheets: 3-for-4, 0 BB, 0 K (.274 BA, .769 OPS)
John Parke: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (2.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) **MVP**
Codi Heuer: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (1.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)

A long pitchers’ duel finally fell Birmingham’s way in a late, 2-1 win. John Parke was outstanding, throwing seven shutout innings and took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Parke allowed one hit, but the most amazing part of his performance was the fact he only had two punch outs. Instead, he relied on 18 outs in play — and when that many balls go into play, there will probably be a few errors. The Barons had two errors during the game, one that was costly.

Birmingham had nine hits, including three extra-base hits. They just weren’t able to string any together until the eighth, when Laz Rivera drove in Luis Basabe for the first run of the game. Codi Heuer took over for Parke after one batter faced (reaching on an error by Ti’Quan Forbes). Now, that error came around to score, but since it was an error, the run was unearned. On top of that, since Heuer was on the mound when the run scored, he was credited with a blown save without any run being tied to him, or that run even being earned. Baseball has some weird scoring. In the ninth, Forbes made up for that error when he drove in the game-winning run with a double ,and this time, Heuer didn’t let anyone get home, earning the win.

Winston-Salem Dash 6, Carolina Mudcats 4

Steele Walker: 2-for-5, 0 BB, 0 K (.283 BA, .798 OPS)
Tyler Frost: 3-for-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.260 BA, .773 OPS) **MVP**
Andrew Vaughn: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K (.265 BA, .826 OPS)
Konnor Pilkington: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (5.54 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
Andrew Perez: 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (1.44 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Jacob Lindgren: 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP)

Another close win for the Sox organization! This time, it was the Dash coming back late to take and hold the lead. Konnor Pilkington started the game and threw a lot of pitches. After getting just 12 outs, he already had 88 pitches and was pulled. I mean, it’s the end of the season, there’s no reason to push it, but Pilkington was doing all that bad. In four innings he only allowed one run, and had five strikeouts. However, by the end of the fifth, the Dash were down by one. Then a four-run sixth gave the Dash a lead they held until the end. Mitch Roman drove in the tying run to score Tyler Frost (who homered earlier in the game). Johan Cruz cleared the bases later, giving the dash a 5-2 lead. Though it got a little too close in the sixth, the bullpen was able to hold on for the last three innings thanks to Jacob Lindgren and Will Kincanon.

Lexington Legends 4, Kannapolis Intimidators 2

Ian Dawkins: 1-for-4, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.307 BA, .777 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K (.244 BA, .642 OPS)
Tyler Osik: 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K (.258 BA, .797 OPS) **MVP**
Jason Bilous: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (3.55 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

The I’s got lucky to start, but very unlucky the rest of the way. In the first inning, Kannapolis scored two runs because of a fielding error. Tyler Osik doubled home those two runs, but that was really it for the I’s in terms of offense. For the rest of the game, they only tallied two more hits and no runs. Meanwhile, Jason Bilous did not have his best outing. He looked fine through the first two frames, but the third was trouble. He allowed three runs, including a homer, and was pulled after the inning. But the damage was done. The offense couldn’t get anything going, even with stellar performances out of the I’s pen, in the 4-2 loss.

Great Falls Voyagers 1, Rocky Mountain Vibes 0

Caberea Weaver: 1-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K (.257 BA, .685 OPS)
Harvin Mendoza: 2-for-3, 1 BB, 0 K (.319 BA, .932 OPS)
Chase Solesky: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (6.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) **MVP**

The Voyagers win a game that only saw one run cross that plate. That lone run came in the fourth inning off of a sacrifice from Luis Curbelo that scored Caberea Weaver. That was all the GFV pitching needed. Chase Solesky started the game with four innings. Though he allowed the most hits of the Voyagers pitchers, he struck out five in what was his best outing of the year. Nate Pawelczyk and Karan Patel went the next four innings and only allowed one hit. Caleb Freeman came out for the ninth to close and struck out all three batters for his first save in the Pioneer League.

AZL Padres 3, AZL White Sox 2

José Rodriguez 0-for-4, 0 BB, 2 K (.277 ERA, .802 OPS)
Bryan Ramos: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.256 BA, .736 OPS)
Chase Krogman: 1-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.167 BA, .334 OPS)
Yoelvin Silven: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K (2.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) **MVP**

The AZL Sox had the lead for much of the game, but the bullpen gave up the lead late. Yoelvin Silven had a fantastic start, which is why the Sox were in control for most of the game. He went six shutout innings and didn’t walk a single batter. He even struck out nine to lower his ERA to 2.25 in what was just his second start of the season (14th overall appearance). The offense gave Silven the lead in the first inning with a Bryan Ramos RBI single. However, once Silven left with the meager 1-0 lead, it quickly fell apart. The Padres scored a run in the last three innings of the game and took the lead twice in the process, in what was a bumpy game for the pen.

DSL Reds 7, DSL White Sox 6

Johnabiell Laureano: 3-for-4, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.373 BA, 1.020 OPS)
Benyamin Bailey: 0-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K (.333 BA, .952 OPS)
Elijah Tatís: 0-for-3, 0 BB, 0 K (.145 BA, .437 OPS)
Yolbert Sánchez: 0-for-1, 0 BB, 0 K (.239 BA, .670 OPS)
Ruben Benavides: 2-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K (.333 BA, .987 OPS) **MVP**
Carlos Mola: 4 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (5.63 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

A back-and-forth game till the very end, but the DSL Sox come up with the loss. There were two big sticks for the Sox and they were Johnabiell Laureano and Ruben Benavides. Laureano had the most hits on the day with three, but Benavides brought the power. He hit his third home run of the year, a three-run shot that gave the Sox a brief lead. Alberto Bernal also added a home run of his own to tie the game, but the Sox pitching came up short. Carlos Mola started the game, and really did not do well. He allowed three runs, thanks to two home runs allowed. Though the bullpen was better overall, Edgar Navarro blew the save in the ninth as he allowed the tying and walk-off runs. For the notables, Benyamin Bailey was in the lineup but was mostly a non-factor with just one walk. Elijah Tatís had another 0-fer day today.