South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 62: Kyle Kubat

Solid option: The Triple-A beach ball kicked Kubat’s hiney just as it did everyone else. He’s still on track to steal a spot start on the South Side in 2020. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)



Kyle Kubat
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
6´1´´
195 pounds
Age: 27
SSHP rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 6
2019 South Side Sox Top Prospect Rank: 88

Kyle Kubat ended his four-year career with the University of Nebraska on a high note, as he posted a superb 2.97 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 15 starts spanning 94 innings. However, because he only struck out 63 batters and he was a fourth-year senior, he wasn’t selected in the 2015 draft. He ultimately signed as a UDFA with the Kansas City Royals, and pitched well for the AZL Royals that year in 12 relief outings; he posted a spectacular 0.76 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 35 ⅓ innings by surrendering 26 hits (.202 OBA) and just three walks (2.2%) while fanning 26 (19.4%). After another solid campaign in 2016 split between Low-A Lexington and High-A Wilmington, Kubat was traded in March 2017 to the White Sox for cash considerations.

Kubat split the 2017 season among three White Sox affiliates (Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham) and excelled at each stop. In 35 outings (three starts) totaling 74 ⅔ innings, he surrendered just 50 hits (.184 OBA) and 12 walks (4.1%) while striking out 77 (26.5%) in posting a combined 1.69 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Despite that work, Kubat returned to Winston-Salem in 2018 and basically pitched there the entire year and did quite well despite some regression (3.55 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .279 OBA, 3.5 BB%, 20.7 K%).

The 2019 season was the first time Kubat started more than he relieved, and he acquitted himself exceptionally well. In four starts for the Dash spanning 22 innings, he posted a 1.23 ERA and 0.73 WHIP by relinquishing just 11 hits (.145 OBA) and five walks (6.0%) while striking out 19 (22.6%). He then started eight games for Birmingham, and in his 48 1/3 innings for the Barons, he compiled a 2.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP by ceding 43 hits (.239 OBA) and seven walks (3.7%) while fanning 35 (18.4%). He did meet his match, however, due to the different baseball and the favorable hitting dimensions of BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte: Kubat posted a 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP for the Knights in 12 starts totaling 56 innings, as he allowed 60 hits (.278 OBA) and 17 walks (7.1%) while striking out 35 (14.7%). All nine homers he served up this year were with the Knights.

Kubat succeeds despite not having exceptional stuff because he throws strikes, keeps the ball down (47% ground ball rate), and isn’t afraid to use any of his four pitches (upper-80s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) at any given time. While he succeeded against righties as a whole, he dominated lefties so it’s possible to see him in something of a Hector Santiago role for the White Sox if given the opportunity. In the meantime, expect him to begin the 2020 season in Charlotte.

 

South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 73: Zach Thompson

Getting closer: The bouncy ball battered Thompson in 2019, but with some adjustments, he could see the South Side in 2020. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)



Zach Thompson
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
6´7´´
230 pounds
Age: 26
SSHP rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 12
South Side Sox 2019 Top Prospect Ranking: 36

As a three-year starter for Texas-Arlington, Zach Thompson posted adequate results, but not the ones you’d expect from someone of his size and stuff. As a junior for the Mavericks, he posted a 4.64 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 16 starts (87 innings) as he surrendered 97 hits (.282 OBA) and 32 walks (8.2%) while striking out 62 (15.9%). However, in part because of his stuff and imposing build, Thompson was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.

Over 353 innings in the White Sox system from 2014-17, in which he was primarily a starting pitcher, Thompson combined for a 4.31 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .258 OBA, 10.1 BB% and 18.9 K%. Finally converted to full-time reliever in 2018, Thompson posted sensational results for both Winston-Salem and Birmingham. In a combined 43 games and 75 ⅓ innings, he posted a shiny 1.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP as he surrendered just 57 hits (.206 OBA) and 29 walks (9.4%) as opposed to 76 strikeouts (24.5%). Many fans were surprised he wasn’t protected prior to last year’s Rule 5 draft, but he went unselected.

After dominating in four outings for Birmingham to start the 2019 season, Thompson received an early promotion to Charlotte but wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunity. In 41 games spanning 70 ⅓ innings for the Knights, he posted a 5.50 ERA and 1.45 WHIP by relinquishing 79 hits (.277 OBA) and 23 walks (7.3%) as opposed to 78 strikeouts (24.9%). He was especially victimized by the gopher ball (15), even though his home numbers (4.75 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) actually bettered his road ones (6.59 ERA, 1.43 WHIP).

Thompson sits 92-95 mph with fastball, and he also features an above-average curveball. He’s likely to take another run at Triple-A batters in 2020, with a chance to get at least a cup of coffee with the big club.

 

 

 

South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect No. 89: Hunter Schryver

Top lefty: Hunter Schryver has shot to Charlotte, with an outside chance of seeing time on the South Side in 2020. (@H_Schryves23)


Hunter Schryver

Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
6´1´´
200 pounds
Age: 24
SSHP rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 7
Last year’s Top 100 Ranking: 63

As a four-year starter with Villanova, Schryver improved with each passing year. Ultimately as a senior in 2017, he posted a solid 2.44 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 12 starts spanning 73 ⅔ innings. For the Wildcats that year, he ceded 56 hits (.213 OBA) and 37 walks (11.8%) while striking out 91 (29.0%).

Because Schryver was a senior with good results, he was selected in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Rays but was paid an under-slot bonus. He started his minor league career with Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League and provided a respectable 3.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in just under 35 innings of work.

Schryver pitched excellent ball for A-level Bowling Green and the A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs in the 2018 season. Then, just two days after the White Sox acquired left-handed relief prospect Caleb Frare from the Yankees, they also picked up Schryver in exchange for international bonus pool money. Schryver pitched well for Winston-Salem after the trade, posting a microscopic 1.20 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in nine appearances with the Dash. Overall for 2018 with three teams, Schryver combined to post a 2.12 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 40 appearances. In his 63 ⅔ innings that year, he relinquished just 47 hits (.203 OBA) and 17 walks (6.6%) while striking out 80 (30.9%.

Birmingham was Schryver’s first stop in 2019, and he continued to fare well despite the stronger competition. In 30 appearances for the Barons spanning 48 ⅔ innings, he allowed 47 hits (.261 OBA) and 17 walks (8.5%) while striking out 39 (19.4%). He ultimately received a promotion to Charlotte, and he scuffled there for the first time in his minor league career. In 11 outings for the Knights totaling 13 ⅔ innings, Schryver surrendered 16 hits (.291 OBA) and 12 walks (17.4%) despite a high punchout total of 23 (33.3%).

Baseball America assesses Schryver’s fastball at typically 87-91 mph, with a peak of 93. Additionally, he features a spike curveball and a changeup. He was able to keep the ball down at Birmingham (51.0% grounder rate), but struggled to do at Charlotte with a 30.3% grounder rate. Lefties hit .259 against Schryver this year, while righties fared better at .273. Schryver has the potential of a middle reliever for the White Sox if he can improve his command while at Charlotte next year.

South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect No. 84: Spencer Adams

Before the storm: Adams was ready to attack the 2019 season, but back injuries shortly after his spring training sidetracked the starter. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)


Spencer Adams
Right-handed starting pitcher
6´3´´

171 pounds
Age: 23
SSHP rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 12
Top Prospect ranking a year ago: 29

After Adams had a spectacular senior season for his varsity baseball team in the Atlanta area, the White Sox happily pounced on him with their second round selection in the 2014 draft. And after a terrific season for the AZL Sox that year, in which he struck out 59 batters while walking just four in 41 2/3 innings, it certainly looked like the sky was the limit for Adams.

Adams continued to post solid numbers with every new stop in the organization, but his stuff seemed to back up as his strikeout rates plummeted. In 2017 for the Birmingham Barons, he posted a 4.42 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 152 2/3 innings by relinquishing 171 hits (.281 OBA) and 40 walks (6.1%) while fanning just 113 (17.2%). He again posted decent overall numbers with Birmingham and Charlotte for 2018, but with concerning peripherals: 3.79 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 159 innings allowing 162 hits (.267 OBA) and 58 walks (8.6%) while fanning 95 (14.2%).

Adams’ 2019 just never got off the ground, due to a combination of ineffectiveness and injuries. Of course, the injuries caused many of the issues, but a combination of a lack of overpowering stuff and the live Triple-A ball didn’t help matters any. In five games (three starts, with his last outing on April 28), Adams posted an 8.00 ERA and 2.39 ERA over 18 innings as he allowed 35 hits (.412 OBA) and an unusually high eight walks (8.3%) with 10 strikeouts (10.4%). A back injury is what finished Adams’ season prematurely, and it’s hoped that he could return to Charlotte in 2020.

Adams, who was a former Top 10 prospect in the White Sox organization, did have 50 grades with his low-90s fastball and changeup, while he graded a bit better according to MLB Pipeline with his control (60) prior to his injury. He’s still just 23 years old, but it feels like his time as a prospect of note is long passed.

Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham right fielders

Late blooming: Blake Rutherford, ranked eighth among White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, hit .307 for Birmingham after May 31.


“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

For various reasons, 2019 was a difficult season for these three outfielders. Daniel Palka scuffled after a surprisingly good rookie season in 2018, as he couldn’t slug his weight with the Sox this year and has been removed from the 40-man roster. Blake Rutherford continued to struggle in his attempt to match his top-prospect expectations, and Micker Adolfo played fewer than 40 games. All three have a lot to prove in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Daniel Palka
6´2´´
220 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Left field, First base
Age: 28

After smashing 24 homers in his first two seasons with Georgia Tech, Palka enjoyed his best collegiate season as a junior in 2013. That year, he slashed .324/.436/.637 for the Yellow Jackets in 62 games with 13 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 66 RBIs, six stolen bases, 31 walks and 60 strikeouts. Trusting in his power stroke, the Minnesota Twins selected him in the third round of the MLB draft.

Palka gradually worked his way up the Twins farm system, ultimately making it to making it to Triple-A Rochester in 2016. That year, split between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester, he slashed an impressive .254/.327/.521 in 133 games with 24 doubles, four triples, 34 homers, 90 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 56 walks (9.9%) and 186 strikeouts (32.7%). The following year was a disappointing one for Palka, as he spent much of the season on the injured list. That year in 84 games, he slashed .274/.329/.431 in 84 games with 13 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, one stolen base, 27 walks (7.5%) and 80 strikeouts (22.1%). On November 3, the White Sox claimed Palka off waivers.

After starting the 2018 season well with Charlotte, Palka received the call to Chicago in late April and fared much better than expected. In 124 games for the White Sox, he slashed .240/.294/.484 with 15 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 67 RBIs, two stolen bases, 30 walks (6.7%) and 153 strikeouts (34.1%).

However, he struggled out of the gate in 2019 and never truly gained traction at the major league level despite three different stints with the club. In 30 games with the White Sox, he slashed just .107/.194/.179 with two homers, four RBIs, eight walks (8.6%) and 35 strikeouts (37.6%). For what it’s worth, Palka didn’t let his struggles in the majors affect his performance at Charlotte as he slashed a respectable .263/.374/.527 in 106 games with the Knights by hitting 23 doubles, 27 homers, 72 RBIs, 74 walks (15.3%) and 109 strikeouts (23.1%). Palka was outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, and because nobody claimed him, our favorite aerospace engineer likely will begin the 2020 season on the Charlotte roster. If an injury should occur to a corner outfielder or DH next season, Palka would likely be considered as an emergency call-up.  


Birmingham Barons

Blake Rutherford
6´2´´
210 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Left field, Center field
Age: 22

Baseball America noted that some scouts saw Blake Rutherford as a possible “power-hitting center fielder in the Jim Edmonds mold” prior to the 2016 MLB draft. At this point, the White Sox might be happy with Rutherford as a center fielder in the Jim Eisenreich mode.

Rutherford was selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Yankees. By 2017, the lefty was playing for the Yankees A-squad in Charleston when he was traded with Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard to the White Sox for David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier on July 31. That year, combined with Charleston and Kannapolis, he slashed .260/.326/.348 in 101 games with 25 doubles, two triples, two homers, 35 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 38 walks (8.6%) and 76 strikeouts (17.3%).      

Rutherford enjoyed his best season to date in the Sox organization in 2018 with Winston-Salem, as he slashed a respectable .293/.345/.436 in 115 games with 25 doubles, nine triples, seven homers, 78 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 34 walks (7.0%) and 90 strikeouts (18.5%). However, in a far less favorable hitting environment in Birmingham in 2019, he slashed just .265/.319/.365 in 118 games with 17 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 49 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 37 walks (7.7%) and 118 strikeouts (24.6%). While those numbers admittedly weren’t all that good, it could’ve been much worse. Through the end of the May, he was slashing just .185/.228/.291. From June 1 on, something clicked and he hit a much more respectable .307/.370/.401. He did struggle versus strong competition in the Arizona Fall League this year, as he slashed .179/.281/.385 with four doubles, three triples and two homers in 21 games.

In order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, the White Sox added Rutherford to the 40-man roster in December. One thing to watch for in 2020 will be his splits, as he slashed .286/.337/.398 versus righties as opposed to just .216/.276/.291 against southpaws. He currently ranks eighth among White Sox prospects, and third among outfielders (behind only Luis Robert and Luis Basabe) per MLB Pipeline. That site gives him 50 grades in all tool categories (run, hit, fielding and arm) except power (45). In actuality, Rutherford has plenty of power; he just hits way too many balls on the ground. This year alone, he hit grounders 50.2% of the time, while hitting fly balls (30.3%) and line drives (19.6%) at much lower clips.

Rutherford will likely begin the 2020 season at Charlotte, and if he gets off to a great start, he could be considered for promotion due to his status on the 40-man roster if an outfield injury at the major league level should arise. He’s good enough defensively to play all three outfield positions. 

Micker Adolfo
6´4´´

255 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: None
Age: 23

Thanks in large part to his power bat and arm, Dominican native Adolfo received what was then the highest international signing bonus in White Sox history at $1.6 million on July 2, 2013. However, his professional career has had trouble gaining traction primarily due to his inability to stay on the field. As a result, Adolfo found himself playing for the team’s AZL squad for all of 2014 and 2015, finally earning a promotion to full-season Kannapolis in 2016. Of course, he missed significant time that year as he slashed just .219/.269/.340 in 65 games with 13 doubles, one triple, five homers, 21 RBIs, 14 walks (5.3%)and 88 strikeouts (33.2%). Adolfo played his most complete season to date (112 games) with Kannapolis in 2017 as he slashed .264/.331/.453 in 112 games with 28 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 68 RBIs, 31 walks (6.6%) and 149 strikeouts (31.5%). To avoid the risk of losing him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft that year, the White Sox added him to the 40-man roster.

Due to elbow pain, Adolfo missed the first half of the 2018 season with Winston-Salem, and when he returned he was limited to DH duties. Despite his injury, he still posted a career-high .833 OPS by slashing .282/.369/.464 in 79 games with 18 doubles, one triple, 11 homers, 50 RBIs, 34 walks (10.1%) and 92 strikeouts (27.4%). After undergoing arthroscopic injury during the offseason, he was limited to just 36 combined games with Birmingham and AZL (rehab assignment) and produced subpar results as he tried to shake off the rust. Despite hitting four homers in 15 games in the Arizona Fall League this year, his results were still lacking as he slashed just .167/.262/.389.

Since Adolfo turned pro, he’s missed time due to injuries in each of his six seasons. Based upon his massive potential, however, he still finds himself ranked 10th among White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline. Not including 2019 due to its small sample size, Adolfo had been gradually improving his walk and strikeout rates. It’s hard to believe, but he is still just 23. MLB Pipeline gives him an impressive 70 grade for arm, which makes him an ideal right fielder and is no doubt where he’ll play in 2020. His power is graded 55 as would be expected; his running and fielding are both graded 50, however, which is actually quite good considering his size. His weakest tool is a hit tool of 45, based in part to his large strikeout totals.

Due to only playing 23 games in Birmingham last year, Adolfo likely will begin the 2020 season there; however, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him promoted to Charlotte fairly quickly due to his 40-man roster status.


 

 

 

 


 

Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham center fielders

No. 1 with a bullet: Luis Robert, with a 30-30 season under his belt, is arguably the most exciting player in the White Sox organization. (@KnightsBaseball) 


“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

This list includes the three of the organization’s Top 12 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. Oddly enough, they all share the first name of Luis. Should we call this group “Tres Luises?” All have plus arms, good speed and decent power, although Luis Robert is the only one to consistently shine thus far. It’ll be fun to see how these three fare in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Luis Robert
6´3´´
185 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Right field, Left field

Age: 22

A native Cuban, Robert was easily the most sought-after player on the international market in 2017. After all, when playing for Ciego de Avila in the Cuban League earlier that year against players typically 10 years older, Robert slashed .401/.526/.687 with 12 doubles, 12 homers, 40 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 38 walks (16.4%) and 30 strikeouts (12.9%) in just 53 games. When the White Sox ultimately signed him to a $26 million bonus (the second-highest in baseball history behind only Yoán Moncada), it sent shock waves throughout the country that the recently-minted White Sox rebuild was going full speed ahead. Was it the recruiting by the likes of José Abreu, Moncada and Ricky Renteria that won him over, or was it simply cash that was just slightly more than what the St. Louis Cardinals were offering? Perhaps a little of both. Robert did play for the DSL Sox that year for tax reasons, and did quite well (he missed significant time due to injury) in slashing .310/.491/.536 in 28 games with eight doubles, one triple, three homers, 14 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, 22 walks and 23 strikeouts.

The 2018 season was a difficult one for Robert. He was primarily hampered by thumb injuries during the year, and as most players can attest, it’s hard to do much damage when that’s the case. It’s not like Robert was atrocious; he just simply couldn’t hit with the power expected of him. For the year split between the AZL Sox, Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, he slashed .269/.333/.360 in 50 games with 11 doubles, three triples, no homers, 17 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 12 walks (7.2%) and 52 strikeouts (25.0%). On an encouraging note to end the year, he played exceptionally well for Glendale in the Arizona Fall League as he slashed .324/.367/.432 in 18 games with two doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs, and five stolen bases.

To put it mildly, Robert played out of his mind in 2019. All he did in 19 games with Winston-Salem was slash .453/.512/.920 with five doubles, three triples, eight homers, 24 RBIs, eight stolen bases, four walks (4.8%) and 20 strikeouts (23.8%). After earning a promotion to Birmingham on April 30, all he did for the Barons (with half his games in one of the best pitching parks in the minors) in 56 games was slash .314/.362/.518 with 16 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 29 RBIs, 21 stolen bases, 13 walks (5.3%) and 54 strikeouts (22.1%). After laying waste to Double-A pitching Robert received a promotion to Charlotte, where he slashed .297/.341/.634 in 47 games with 10 doubles, five triples, 16 homers, 39 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 11 walks (4.9%) and 55 strikeouts (24.7%).

Combined with all three teams, Robert slashed an amazing .328/.376/.624 in 122 games with 31 doubles, 11 triples, 32 homers, 92 RBIs and 36 stolen bases while making fantastic defensive plays on the diamond. The only minor quibble is he walked only 28 times while striking out 129, but it’s hard to argue with that when his production was otherwise outstanding. This was Robert’s longest season to date and he seemed to only be getting stronger as the season waned. He was one of just two minor leaguers with 30-30 seasons (joining Houston’s Kyle Tucker). While I mentioned plate discipline before, it’s OK if he doesn’t walk too much provided he finds himself in good hitting counts. After all, he did slash .398/.545/.892 when he was ahead in the count this year.    

Needless to say, Robert deserved plenty of fanfare after such a terrific season. Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and MiLB.com all named him this year’s Minor League Player of the Year, and he was named the Double-A All-Star Game MVP earlier in the year as well. Now ranked third on MLB Pipeline’s top prospect list (behind only Tampa’s Wander Franco and L.A.’s Gavin Lux), Robert has all the tools to succeed at the next level. MLB Pipeline grades his running at 65, power and arm at 60, fielding and hitting at 55. His only weakness may be a lack of patience at the plate, which could be exploited in the majors; with that said, Robert is likely be the preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year in 2020. Of course, he may be held back for three weeks in April in order for the Sox to control him an extra year, but perhaps a preseason extension may resolve that issue.  


Birmingham Barons

Luis Basabe
6´0´´ 
160 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: Left field, Right field
Age: 23

For his 16th birthday on Aug. 26, 2012,  he (along with his twin brother Luis Alejandro) received a signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox as his gift. Basabe’s first two seasons in that organization were spent in the DSL, where the Venezuelan posted decent but unspectacular numbers. After playing in the New York-Penn League in 2015, Basabe started moving up the prospect charts in 2016 with Salem (A) and Greenville as he combined to slash .264/.328/.452 in 110 games with 26 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers, 53 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. Then in December of that year, Basabe was traded along with Moncada, Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz for ace hurler Chris Sale in a blockbuster deal.

In Basabe’s first year in the White Sox organization, he struggled with Winston-Salem at .221/.320/.320 in 107 games with 12 doubles, five triples, five homers, 36 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 49 walks (11.3%) and 104 strikeouts (23.9%); the struggles were due in large part to a torn meniscus. At the end of the season, Basabe was added to the 40-man roster to prevent him from being snatched from another squad via the Rule 5 draft. The 2018 season was Basabe’s most successful in the White Sox system, as he combined with Winston-Salem and Birmingham to slash .258/.354/.445 in 119 games with 21 doubles, eight triples, 15 homers, 56 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 64 walks (12.4%) and 140 strikeouts (27.2%). 

Injuries (Basabe broke the hamate bone in his left hand during spring training and lost more at-bats to a recurring quadriceps injury during the season) greatly impacted Basabe in 2019. As a result, he slashed just .246/.324/.336 in 69 games for Birmingham with 12 doubles, one triple, three homers, 30 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 29 walks (10.0%) and 85 strikeouts (29.2%).

Basabe is still ranked eighth among all White Sox prospects by MLB Pipeline, based more on talent than production levels at this point. If healthy, he certainly has significant tools as his running and arm are both graded 60, fielding 55, power 50 and hitting 45. Despite his low homer output (likely due to that hamate injury), Basabe does indeed have 20-homer power as evidenced by his blast off a 102-mph fastball from Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. The biggest concern is Basabe’s bat, as like earlier versions of  Moncada, he strikes out far too often after taking way too many called third strikes. Like fellow Barons outfielder Micker Adolfo, Basabe is now down to one option remaining, which means the Sox would like to see what he can do. Expect him to begin the season with Birmingham, though because of his few options left, Basabe could begin with Charlotte instead. Even if Robert is the long-term future at center, Basabe definitely has the sufficient arm to play right field. 

Luis González
6´1´´
195 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Right field, Left field
Age: 24

Born in Mexico, González payed high school ball in Arizona before playing collegiately with the University of New Mexico. He was a solid and consistent performer for the Lobos during his three years, and enjoyed arguably his best year as a junior by slashing .361/.500/.589 in 55 games with 22 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 42 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 58 walks (20.0%) and 32 strikeouts (11.0%). Due to his consistency and the fact that he did a lot of things well, González was selected in the third round of the 2017 draft by the White Sox. Combined with Great Falls and Kannapolis, he slashed .236/.351/.348 in 63 games with 14 doubles, four triples, two homers, 15 RBIs, two stolen bases, 42 walks (14.0%) and 53 strikeouts (17.7%).

González enjoyed an outstanding 2018 split evenly between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, as he combined to slash .307/.367/.498 in 117 games with 40 doubles, five triples, 14 homers, 71 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 48 walks (8.9%) and 103 strikeouts (19.0%). However, like many of the other highly-rated outfielders on the Birmingham roster to begin 2019, González struggled badly out of the gate. Prior to the All-Star break, he slashed just .230/.288/.324; he did improve a bit during the second half by slashing a more respectable .266/.345/.397. For the year, González slashed .247/.316/.359 in 126 games with Birmingham with 18 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 59 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 47 walks (9.9%) and 89 strikeouts (18.8%). Likely nearly every hitter on the planet, González fared far better with a favorable count (.314/.479/.600) than when he was behind (.216/.220/.263). Unlike many lefties, he actually fared better against southpaws (.263/.342/.361) than versus righties (.241/.305/.359). 

Despite his struggles this year, Gonzalez still ranks 12th among the White Sox prospects by MLB Pipeline. His throwing arm (60 grade) is easily his best tool, and would work especially well in right field. González’s run, hit and field skills are all rated average while his power tool is weakest (40 grade) despite the fact he clubbed a respectable 14 homers in 2018. Like many of the Birmingham outfielders last year, González is a borderline choice to begin the season with Charlotte. Based in part because three of those outfielders (Basabe, Adolfo and Blake Rutherford) are now on the 40-man roster, that may mean González will be asked to repeat in Double-A. Regardless, he should get plenty of at-bats with Charlotte before the end of the year.  


 

Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham left fielders

Bouncing back: Speedy Joel Booker struggled between Birmingham and Charlotte in 2019, but was on the fast track in prior seasons. (@BhamBarons)


“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

This is quite the small list, with Joel Booker as the only player still in the organization who finished the season as the primary left fielder in either Birmingham or Charlotte. (Charlie Tilson, who finished the season in Charlotte and played more games in left than anywhere else, is now a free agent.)

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Birmingham Barons

Joel Booker
6´1´´
190 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Center field, Right field

Age: 26

After spending his first two collegiate seasons at Indian Hills (Iowa) JC, Booker played his final two years with the University of Iowa. As a senior for the Hawkeyes, he slashed .370/.421/.532 in 56 games with 19 doubles, two triples, five homers, 37 RBIs, and 23-for-25 stolen bases. The results were good enough for the speedster to be selected in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft. He immediately paid dividends, as he slashed an impressive .312/.403/.404 in 65 combined games with the AZL Sox and Great Falls with 16 doubles, one triple, two homers, 31 RBIs, 41-of-43 stolen bases, 27 walks (8.9%) and 49 strikeouts (16.2%).

The 2017 season saw Booker split his time with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, combining to slash .274/.329/.349 in 123 games with 17 doubles, two triples, five homers, 44 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 27 walks (5.1%) and 107 strikeouts (20.2%). And it was in 2018 when Booker began seeing his name on a few prospect lists, as he earned the Carolina League’s All-Star Game MVP while concluding the season with Birmingham. Although he did struggle a bit with the Barons, he still finished the year with a combined 26 stolen bases and a career-high 44 walks.

After beginning the 2019 season well with Birmingham (.351/.400/.446 and eight stolen bases in 20 April games), Booker was promoted to Charlotte. However, he had difficulty hitting there, slashing just .203/.276/.304 in 26 games. After his demotion to Birmingham on June 21, Booker continued his struggles by hitting just .222 for the remainder of the year. In a combined 102 games with both teams, he slashed .245/.308/.322 with 13 doubles, one triple, four homers, 36 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 24 walks (6.2%) and 89 strikeouts (22.8%).

It was a disappointing year for Booker, as thanks to the struggles of most of the Birmingham outfielders this year, he had an opportunity to make a case for himself as at least a potential reserve outfielder in Chicago. He likely will begin the 2020 season with Charlotte, provided he isn’t selected in this year’s Rule 5 draft.


 

 

Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham shortstops

Rivera 2020: After a terrific 2018, Laz crashed to earth with Birmingham in 2019. Will he be able to bounce back? (@BhamBarons)


“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

All three shortstops at the upper levels seem to fit the bill of utilityman profiles, but don’t have the upside of a Lenyn Sosa, Lency Delgado or Yolbert Sánchez.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Ramon Torres
5´11´´
190 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: Second base, Third base, Left field, Right Field, First base
Age: 27

Torres, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed with the Kansas City Royals as a 17-year-old. He ever-so-slowly worked his way through their system, and finally made it to the majors in 2017 where he slashed .243/.291/.284 in 33 games. He spent much of the 2018 season in Triple-A Omaha, though he did play nine games for the Royals but struggled with a .179/.207/.214 slash line.

Last year saw Torres play 58 games for Birmingham, and when fellow ex-Royal Alcides Escobar was released in Charlotte, was promoted to the Knights for his final 21 games. While his results were mediocre with the Barons (.210/.244/.318), the switch-hitter was absolutely fire with the Knights as he slashed .343/.352/.612 in the more friendly hitting environment. For the year combined with both teams, he slashed .250/.277/.406 with 15 doubles, four triples, four homers, 25 RBIs, eight walks (3.4%) and 38 strikeouts (16.0%).

Torres is now a minor-league free agent, so he can sign with any team of his choosing. If he opts to return to the White Sox, he would likely begin the 2020 season with Charlotte.


Birmingham Barons

Laz Rivera
6´1´´
185 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base
Age: 25

After a college career that spanned three years with different levels (University of Miami, Chipola JC and Div. II University of Tampa, Rivera was selected by the White Sox in the 28th round of the 2017 draft. He was immediately inserted into the AZL lineup, where he slashed .296/.374/.446 in 47 games with 12 doubles, five triples, two homers, 24 RBIs, three stolen bases, eight walks (3.8%) and 26 strikeouts (12.2%).

Rivera enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2018. In his 63 games with Kannapolis, he slashed an impressive .346/.395/.502 with 15 doubles, two triples, six homers, 24 RBIs, seven stolen bases, six walks (2.3%) and 48 strikeouts (18.1%). While not as sensational, Rivera performed quite well for Winston-Salem in 61 games by slashing .280/.325/.458 with 15 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 37 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, seven walks and 44 strikeouts. Overall, Rivera finished with a terrific slash line of .314/.361/.481.

Baseball America said of him at the end of the season, “He is part of the new breed of infield prospect who hits first and asks questions later, a la Brandon Lowe and Nick Solak with the Rays. He brings above-average bat speed and a short path to the ball, which he used to post excellent numbers at both Class A levels. He’s an aggressive hitter who crushes fastballs but needs to work on not chasing offspeed pitches. He played almost exclusively at shortstop, though his 40-grade arm profiles better at second base.”

Of course, as with nearly every Sox hitter not named Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Yermín Mercedes, Rivera struggled bigtime with Birmingham in 2019. In 121 games totaling 424 at-bats, Rivera slashed just .248/.287/.318 with 22 doubles, one triple, two homers, 39 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 17 walks (3.7%) and 81 strikeouts (17.8%). A former organizational Top 30 prospect, he has fallen off most lists due to his lackluster offensive performance.

As of now, Rivera seems to be destined for a utility infield role going forward. However, barring the Sox signing a minor-league free agent for Triple-A next year, he could be slated for the much more hitting-friendly confines of Charlotte, where he can hopefully reclaim his prospect status.

Zach Remillard
6´1´´
200 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, First base, Right field, Second base
Age: 26

Remillard was a four-year starter for Coastal Carolina, but it wasn’t until his senior year when he really boosted his profile. That year for the Chanticleers, he slashed .345/.392.617 in 72 games with 17 doubles, two triples, 19 homers, 72 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 19 walks (6.0%)and 81 strikeouts (25.4%). As a result of his efforts, Remillard was selected by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 2016 draft.

After splitting time in 2016 with the AZL Sox and Kannapolis, Remillard played the entire 2017 season with the Intimidators and slashed .246/.281/.353 in 133 games with 27 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 50 RBIs, four stolen bases, 19 walks (3.6%) and 124 strikeouts (23.4%). Last year was spent exclusively with Winston-Salem, where Remillard played all positions aside from the battery and slashed .250/.316/.395 in 110 games with 16 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 52 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 30 walks (7.2%) and 103 strikeouts (24.6%).

Remillard got off to a great start with Winston-Salem in 2019, ultimately slashing .289/.358/.378 in 95 games with 15 doubles, one triple, five homers, 37 RBIs, six stolen bases, 33 walks (8.2%) and 89 strikeouts (22.2%). However, he did struggle in 27 games after his promotion to Birmingham as he slashed .232/.321/.326 for the Barons in 27 games with three doubles and two homers.

While it doesn’t look like he’ll ever fulfill the power potential shown during his senior season, he has still proven to be a valuable player nonetheless. Remillard is an athletic infielder with a plus arm, soft hands and good raw power. He has defensive versatility all infield positions, as well as the corner outfield spots in a pinch. Remillard will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. If undrafted, he likely will begin the season with Birmingham but it wouldn’t be surprising if he finds his way to Charlotte by year’s end.


Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham third basemen

Faint praise: With a modest OPS of .660, Ti’Quan Forbes led all White Sox upper-level minor league third basemen. (@TiquanF).


“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

The third basemen who finished the year with Charlotte and Birmingham are a microcosm of the lack of depth in the White Sox system, as nobody seems primed to fill in any time soon at the major league level should any kind of injury befall Yoán Moncada. With the possible exception of Camilo Quinteiro, these guys appear to be only organizational depth pieces unless they bounce back in a big way in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Trey Michalczewski
6´4´´
220 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: First base, Second base
Age: 25

As a switch-hitting third baseman with power, Michalczewski was prepared to stay in his home state to play baseball for the University of Oklahoma. However, when the White Sox offered an over-slot bonus of $500,000 to pry him from his verbal commitment to the Sooners, the seventh round pick from 2013 opted to join the White Sox organization. He played his post-draft ball with the Bristol squad, where he struggled a bit with a .236/.324/.328 line with three homers in 56 games.

Michalczewski enjoyed an above-average year with Kannapolis in 2014, as he slashed .273/.348/.433 in 116 games with 25 doubles, seven triples, 10 homers and 70 RBIs in 116 games; however, he struggled in a 19-game stretch with Winston-Salem at the end of the season. Since then, Michalczewski has ever so slowly worked his way up the system’s proverbial ladder. His best power season came in 2017, which was split between Winston-Salem and Birmingham; that year, he combined to slash .243/.317/.388 with 13 homers. When he returned to the Barons in 2018, he slashed .253/.302/.377 in 126 games with 26 doubles, six triples, six homers, 65 RBIs, four stolen bases, 27 walks (5.4%) and 131 strikeouts (26.0%).

With his struggles, Michaelczewski was essentially a part-time player in 2019. In 48 games for Birmingham spanning 149 at-bats, he slashed just .208/.300/.309 with two homers. However, he received his long awaited call-up to Charlotte in late June but didn’t really run with it, as he slashed just .224/.327/.365 in 30 games with three homers. Thus, in a combined 78 games with Birmingham and Charlotte this year, Michalczewski slashed .214/.310/.329 with 12 doubles, five homers, 24 RBIs, one stolen base, 30 walks (11.2%) and 88 strikeouts (32.8%).

On the plus side, Michalczewski provides versatility as he has played all infield positions and left field throughout his minor league career; in addition, he does draw his fair share of walks. However, his inability to hit for a high average, along with his relative lack of game-power and high amount of strikeouts, have certainly limited his capability to latch onto a major league roster. Michalczewski is now a minor league free agent, so his return to the White Sox organization is in doubt.


Birmingham Barons

Ti’Quan Forbes
6´3´´
220 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base, First base
Age: 23

Michalczewski isn’t the only esteemed prep star who has failed to gain much traction in the minors. Forbes was a second-round pick out of Columbia, Miss. drafted by the Texas Rangers back in 2014. He slowly worked his way up the Rangers ladder, as he finished the 2016 season with Hickory (A). During the 2017 season, he received a mid-year promotion to Down East (AA), where he was slashing just .227/.280/.308 when he was traded to the White Sox that August 31 for Miguel González.

Forbes’ season with Winston-Salem in 2018 has been his best statistically to date, at least in the OPS department. In 119 games for the Dash, he slashed.273/.313/.391 with 21 doubles, six triples, six homers, 51 RBIs, four stolen bases, 21 walks (4.5%) and 74 strikeouts (16.0%). With Birmingham in 2019, Forbes slashed just .242/.333/.327 in116 games as he produced 18 doubles, three triples, three homers, 31 RBIs, four stolen bases, 45 walks (10.0%) and 106 strikeouts (23.6%).

For someone his size, you’d expect more power. While Forbes has played second base frequently throughout his minor league career, he profiles much better as a third baseman if he could begin hitting for power. On the positive side, Forbes more than doubled his walk total from the year before, so it’s possible he may be coming into his own. In the meantime, however, expect Forbes to return to Birmingham for 2020.

Camilo Quinteiro
5´11´´
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base, Shortstop
Age: 22

Quinteiro, a native Cuban, signed a minor league contract with the White Sox on September 2017. He began his professional ball not with the DSL Sox but with the AZL squad in 2018 and actually did quite well. In 46 games last year with the AZL Sox, he showed terrific plate discipline as he slashed .286/.436/.320 with two doubles, one homer, 11 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 36 walks (18.9%) and 39 strikeouts (20.5%).

After a terrific 10 games with Great Falls to begin the 2019 season in which he slashed .361/.425/.389, Quinteiro struggled in his subsequent two stops with Kannapolis and Birmingham. Combined in 32 games with those two teams, he slashed just .170/.308/.210. Realistically, he should begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis but be granted an early opportunity for promotion to Winston-Salem if he gets off to a good start. Though Quinteiro has played more third base during his young minor league career, he really profiles more as a second baseman due to his smaller build, speed, and lack of power. He may still have a future with the White Sox as a utility infielder going forward.

Luis Valenzuela
5´10´´
179 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Second base, Shortstop
Age: 26

Just weeks before the 2012 DSL was set to begin, the Dominican native Valenzuela received an international signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox. However, after less than three weeks with their DSL team, he was released after hitting just .133/.235/.267 in just nine games. The Royals signed the minor league free agent, and from 2013-15, he advanced through the ranks and reached as high as Lexington (A). Then, on Aug. 31, 2015, he was traded to the Braves for outfielder Johnny Gomes and cash.

Valenzuela played in the Braves system through Aug, 5, 2019, when he was unceremoniously released. Though he did spend 34 games with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2017, Valenzuela spent most of his time with Double-A Mississippi. His best year arguably was in 2018 which was split between Mississippi and Gwinnett, when he slashed .278/.321/.404 in a combined 78 games with 19 doubles, five triples, two homers, five stolen bases, 15 walks (5.0%) and 48 strikeouts (16.0%).

The White Sox signed Valenzuela to a minor league deal just four days after his release from Mississippi. In 17 games for Birmingham, he slashed .236/.276/.327 with two doubles, one homer, four RBIs, two stolen bases, three walks (5.2%) and 11 strikeouts (19.0%). Those modest numbers actually inflated his overall season’s totals to .202/.23/.291 over 96 games with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers, 28 RBIs, two stolen bases, 13 walks (4.1%) and 66 strikeouts (20.7%). With his ability to play the hot corner and both middle infield spots, Valenzuela appears to be organizational infield depth at best.




Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham second basemen

Star in the making: Nick Madrigal, the White Sox first-round pick in 2018, hit .311 for three teams last year. Did we mention he stole 35 bases, walked 44 times as opposed to 16 strikeouts, and won a minor league Gold Glove? (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


“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

It’s time to take a look at the second basemen who finished the year with Charlotte and Birmingham; even though Danny Mendick finished the year with the White Sox, he still has rookie eligibility and is thus detailed in this post. These two players are by far the best second basemen in the White Sox system.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Nick Madrigal
5´7´´
165 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 23

Madrigal enjoyed a terrific run with Oregon State University, which culminated in a NCAA World Series championship. For his sophomore season, he slashed .380/.449/.532 in 60 games with 20 doubles, two triples, four homers, 40 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 27 walks (9.6%) and 16 strikeouts (5.7%). Despite missing much time to a broken wrist early during his junior year, Madrigal still managed to slash .367/.428/.511 in 42 games last year with nine doubles, four triples, three homers, 34 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 16 walks (8.0%) and just seven strikeouts (3.5%). Due to his unique combination of speed, defense and hitting ability, the diminutive Madrigal was selected by the White Sox with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Madrigal played for three affiliates last year (AZL, Kannapolis and Winston-Salem) and fared reasonably well for his first professional season. In 43 combined games in 2018 totaling 155 at-bats, he slashed .303/.353/.348 with seven doubles, 16 RBIs, eight stolen bases, seven walks (4.0%) and five strikeouts (2.9%).

Like last year, Madrigal played for three squads in 2019 (Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Charlotte). Ironically, the least success he enjoyed was with the Dash, where he still posted a respectable .272/.346/.377 line in 49 games with 10 doubles, two triples, two homers, 27 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 17 walks (7.8%) and six strikeouts (2.8%). After being promoted to Birmingham on June 6, he slashed an impressive .341/.400/.451 in 42 games, including 11 doubles, two triples, one homer, 16 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 14 walks (7.8%) and just five strikeouts (2.8%). Finally, for an encore, Madrigal was promoted to Charlotte where he slashed .331/.398/.424 in 29 games with six doubles, one triple, one homer, 12 RBIs, four stolen bases, 13 walks (9.7%) and five strikeouts (3.7%). For the year, Madrigal combined to slash .311/.377/.414 in 120 games with 27 doubles, five triples, four homers, 55 RBIs, 35 stolen bases, 44 walks (8.3%) and 16 strikeouts (3.0%).

Madrigal ranks as the system’s best second base prospect, fourth-best prospect overall and 40th in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. His hit tool is graded 65 which actually seems conservative, while his field and run skills are also graded highly at 60. This year, Madrigal won the minor league Gold Glove award for second base — which likely had something to do with his terrific range and his committing only four errors in 488 changes (just one error in 77 games with Birmingham and Charlotte). Madrigal’s arm is graded 50 by MLB Pipeline which is satisfactory for second base, while his power grades out weakest, at 40. FanGraphs published an excellent piece regarding the difficulties of evaluating Madrigal’s abilities.

In part because he played just 29 games in Charlotte this year, Madrigal may well begin 2020 there. However, one should expect an early promotion to Chicago for this future South Side dynamo.

Danny Mendick
5´10´´
189 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Shortstop, Third base, Left field
Age: 26

After playing his first two years of college ball with Monroe CC (Rochester, NY), Mendick transferred to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for his final two years. For his senior year, he slashed .321/.408/.455 in 43 games with 16 doubles, one triple, one homer, 30 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 19 walks (10.3%) and 16 strikeouts (8.6%). As a result, the White Sox took a flier on this River Hawk and selected him in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft. Mendick played that season with the AZL squad and slashed a respectable .256/.340/.394 in 49 games.

Mendick enjoyed a solid season with Kannapolis in 2016 by slashing .274/.343/.355 in 98 games with 22 doubles and two homers, but struggled with Winston-Salem in his 15 games there by slashing just .125/.208/.167. However, upon his return to the Dash in 2017, Mendick slashed a more robust .289/.373/.468 with 18 doubles, seven homers, 30 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 31 walks (10.2%) and 40 strikeouts (13.1%) in 84 games. Unfortunately, he struggled with a midseason promotion to Birmingham, where he slashed just .197/.280/.293 in 41 games.

The 2018 season was spent exclusively with Birmingham, as Mendick slashed .247/.340/.395 with a career high 14 homers, 59 RBIs, 20 walks, 57 walks (10.8%) and 90 strikeouts (17.0%). He was available for the 2018 Rule 5 draft, but went unselected.

Then, in 2019 in the more hitting-friendly confines of Charlotte, Mendick re-established new career bests in most categories by slashing .279/.368/.444 in 133 games by producing 26 homers, one triple, 17 homers 64 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 66 walks (11.8%) and 96 strikeouts (17.2%). The White Sox called him up on September 3, which obviously meant they didn’t want to risk losing him in this year’s Rule 5 draft. In 16 games totaling 39 at-bats for the Sox, Mendick acted like he belonged by slashing .308/.325/.462 with two homers, four RBIs, one walk (2.5%) and 11 strikeouts (27.5%). Most players who get selected in the later rounds struggle at some point as they advance through the system, but Mendick actually has seemed to improve with each passing year.

Ranked as the organization’s No. 2 second baseman according to MLB Pipeline, Mendick is now regarded as the team’s 26th overall prospect. None of his skills stand out highly per MLB, as his arm and fielding skills are graded the highest at 50. With that said, Mendick does a lot of the little things well: (1) despite playing multiple positions frequently, he only committed four errors for the entire season (two were in Charlotte’s season-ending game); (2) he picks his spots to run, and has attained double-digit steals for each of the past three seasons; and (3) limits his strikeouts while coaxing a fair share of walks (not including the limited sample size with the White Sox).

Mendick has an excellent chance of beginning the season in the majors, as it’s quite possible that long-time defensive stalwart Yolmer Sánchez may not return to the White Sox for the 2020 campaign. Mendick’s future seems to be that of a solid infield (and perhaps even outfield) reserve.


Birmingham Barons

Since Nick Madrigal played much of the year but finished in Charlotte, and other players who played second base this year for Birmingham actually played at other positions more frequently, not one player who finished the year at Birmingham spent the year primarily at second base.