2019 AZL White Sox season recap

Young guns: It was an inspiring year for the AZL White Sox, in spite of a mediocre record. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)

The AZL is always a fun league to keep an eye on. It is filled with first-time professionals, first-timers living in the United States, and full of teenagers. So, pretty much sounds like the current federal government’s worse nightmare, but for normal folk, it is full of fun and future promise.

At 22-34, finishing 11-17 in both halves of the season, the AZL Sox were not as good a team as in 2018, but that doesn’t mean they were short on talent.

Not helping matters is that some talent started in Arizona, then left — with true promotions, not just rehab assignments. For example, Andrew Vaughn left after just a couple of games where he clobbered his first professional homer.

The other position players from the 2019 draft to get a promotion have come with much less fanfare, but it was still talent leaving Arizona for Montana. The eighth round selection, Ivan Gonzalez, left after a 1.113 OPS in 10 games. Another catcher, Jakob Goldfarb, also got a promotion, along with the a pair of draft picks from the last few rounds, Jonathan Allen and Tom Archer. Tyler Osik, the 27th round selection, received a much-deserved promotion, even skipping a level and currently still raking in Kannapolis.

On the pitching side, the big promotions were courtesy of Avery Weems and Caleb Freeman. Weems was an important promotion, because he was a sixth round selection and how well he has done in both rookie leagues. He left the AZL with a nice 0.69 ERA, and ended his rookie league season on Tuesday night with a 1.64 ERA in 49 1/3 innings.

Freeman, because of his overslot bonus, is notable. He is a reliever, which isn’t necessarily a great thing at this stage for a post-10th round selection, but the Sox paid up for him and he did well after signing. He left the AZL with a 2.63 ERA — and lowered it with Great Falls after not allowing a run in five appearances.

Other pitchers to receive promotions were Sammy Peralta (who ended the year with Great Falls); Hansen Butler (promoted twice and is still pitching in Kannapolis); Declan Cronin (still pitching in Kannapolis); and finally the catcher-turned-pitcher, Justin O’Conner, who was great in the AZL and is now with Kannapolis as he still transitions to pitching.

There were also several rehab assignments from MLB players to higher level MiLB players. There were two that finished the AZL season still on the roster in Bryce Bush and Micker Adolfo. Though they still could join another MiLB team, odds are both will be in the AFL, or their 2019 season is over.

Now, time to get to the guys that starter and ended their respective seasons with the AZL Sox.


The high-schoolers

The White Sox did a weird thing in this draft — well, weird for them. They selected quite a few high-schoolers, and gave them a whole lot of money. First, the pitchers, because they have the most draft and monetary capital. Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist were selected in the second and third rounds, respectively, and didn’t play much in their first professional stints. Thompson appeared in two games and threw a couple of innings. Dalquist did just a bit more and pitched in three games, one inning apiece. There is not much to glean from them yet, but they are going to be top prospects going forward.

Already, Thompson is rated sixth on the White Sox by Baseball America, 13th by FanGraphs, and 14th by MLB Pipeline among prospects.

For Dalquist, he is rated seventh by Baseball America, 14th by FanGraphs, and 15th by MLB Pipeline.

For the hitters, there were quite a few high school draftees. DJ Gladney led the way, starting out as hot as hot one could be. Fans even started to clamor for a Bryce Bush-type promotion schedule during his opening 2018 season. However, Gladney did not end his first pro stint well, mostly because of some plate discipline issues. He struck out 37.3% of the time and didn’t walk enough to make up for it. He showed some pop with eight homers, but he will not be on the fast track anytime soon.

On the other side of value, monetary, James Beard led the way, though he was under-slot for the 110th selection. The speed is what people and scouts know about Beard — in fact, MLB Pipeline gives him an 80 grade for speed. Beard did show some speed, with nine stolen bases, but really was not successful besides that. He hit .213 and two homers in 138 plate appearances. He will probably be back in the AZL to start his 2020 season.

The other high school draftees received around the same bonus but obviously, some are known or more highly regarded than the other. Logan Glass and Chase Krogman are among the more well known, but they also did not play that often. Glass, who was the best hitter among the high-schoolers, only had 73 plate appearances while Krogman had 22. Catcher Victor Torres and another outfielder, Misael Gonzalez, round out the high school bats, and expect all four of these batters to be back in the AZL in 2020.

International free agents

The pitching end for the AZL Sox from the international pool is none other than a DSL recap highlight, Luis Rodriguez. As already stated, he deserved the promotion but did not do well in his first stint in the U.S. On the hitting side though, a couple players did very well, including Jose Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is around the same age as the high school draftees, so he is age appropriate for the AZL, and it was sort of a breakout campaign. He slashed .293/.328/.505. The average and walk rate was fairly similar to his time in the DSL last season, but Rodriguez’s power came out. He hit nine home runs and 19 total extra-base hits for a .213 ISO. Not only was this power breakout unexpected this season, it was not really ever expected from a middle infielder who stands 5´11´´ and 175 pounds. At the very least, he should be in the Pioneer League next season and hopefully he appears in full-season ball by the end of theyear. He still has a lot to prove, mostly in terms of showing that power again in 2020.

Bryan Ramos was the youngest player on the AZL roster, and even skipped time in the DSL in favor of Arizona. He was one of the better hitters on the AZL roster this season, and showed good bat-to-ball skills with a .277 batting average. He showed an advanced batter’s eye for his age (a shade younger than 17.5 years old). He had an 8.7% BB-rate and a not too terrible K-rate. He primarily played third base this season with a few games at first, but at this time it is impossible to tell what Ramos could be in the future. All said, his first pro-ball experience was a positive one.

Just one more rookie league to look back on, but the Great Falls Voyagers are the last MiLB team to finish up their regular season. So a bit more known and definitely older players will soon have their years dissected. Also, a special thanks to our Sean Williams for all the pictures and video.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 22, 2019

Solid start: Matthew Thompson had another short, strong outing in Arizona tonight. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)

Charlotte Knights 4, Durham Bulls 2

Nick Madrigal: 2-for-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K (.317 BA, .821 OPS) **MVP**
Luis Robert: 0-for-4, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.302 BA, .1002 OPS)
Zack Collins: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 2 BB, 0 K (.293 BA, .974 OPS)
Dylan Covey: 5 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (3.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

A four-game sweep for the Knights puts them in a solid wild card lead. Just four games ago, the Knights and Durham Bulls were tied, and now Charlotte is up by four games. All the bats needed to do was score in one inning to get that sweep. In the third inning, they scored all four of their runs. Nick Madrigal started the scoring with a two-run double into left field. Luis Robert would drive him in with a sacrifice fly a batter later, and Zack Collins hit his 17th homer of the season to punctuate it all (hopefully, I’m writing about all of these guys next season when they are in Chicago). After that, it was all up to the pitching. Dylan Covey threw five shutout innings and the bullpen was mostly good. Caleb Frare got in trouble and allowed two runs, but Matt Foster came in for the four-out save.


Birmingham Barons 6, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 0

Luis González: 4-for-5, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 SB (.256 BA, .691 OPS)
Luis Basabe: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K (.230 BA, .620 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K (.263 BA, .672 OPS)
Gavin Sheets: 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.271 BA, .760 OPS)
Tanner Banks: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (4.50 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) **MVP**

A shutout win for the Barons was keyed by a brilliant performance from Tanner Banks. He went seven shutout innings and could have gone more, throwing only 84 pitches and attacking the zone (61 strikes, 23 balls). He allowed no walks and was able to get out of trouble with ease on the two doubles he allowed. On the hitting side, it was all about Luis González. He had four hits and added a stolen base for good measure. With those four hits, he scored twice. Laz Rivera was the only other batter with multiple hits (two doubles).


Winston-Salem 9, Lynchburg Hillcats 4

Steele Walker: 0-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB (.284 BA, .807 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K (.250 BA, .787 OPS) **MVP**
Manny Bañuelos: 4 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (4.15 ERA, 2.08 WHIP)

It took awhile to get going, but the Winston-Salem Dash finally got their offense in gear by the end to win. Manny Bañuelos continued his rehab assignment and did fine. He only allowed two runs in four innings, but he also let 12 batters reach base. Jake Elliott was not much better in his two innings, and the Dash found themselves down late in the game. Andrew Vaughn did most of his work before that, though. He hit his second home run with the Dash in the fourth inning, tying the game at one. The big inning didn’t come until the eighth, though, with a little help from the opposing pitcher. In total W-S scored six runs that inning, two of which came on bases-loaded walks. After Elliott, the bullpen was fantastic. José Nin and Will Kincanon combined for three shutout innings to preserve the win.


Rome Braves 14, Kannapolis Intimidators 4

Ian Dawkins: 1-for-5, 0 BB, 1 K (.305 BA, .771 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa: 0-for-5, 0 BB, 0 K (.235 BA, .618 OPS)
Tyler Osik: 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.296 BA, .934 OPS) **MVP**
Johan Dominguez: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (3.05 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

It was just not Kannapolis’ day today. They grabbed the lead right in the top of the first, and then gave it right back in the bottom half. Tyler Osik gave the team that 2-0 lead with his first home run with Kannapolis. The I’s grabbed the lead again in the third inning, as Tyler Osik homered and the very next batter, Corey Zangari, added a homer of his own. Again, the I’s gave away the lead quickly, though this time, it took a whole inning, not a half. Then the wheels fell apart in the seventh. The offense was scuffling and not really threatening. The pitching ended up not helping, either. In the seventh inning, two Kannapolis pitchers combined to allow nine runs in the inning to give the Braves a 10-run lead, and that is where it would stay.


Great Falls Voyagers 7, Missoula Osprey 6 (10)

Harvin Mendoza: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.310 BA, .906 OPS)
Lency Delgado: 1-for-5, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K (.272 BA, .719 OPS)
Luis Mieses: 0-for-5, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K (.251 BA, .653 OPS)
Anderson Comas: 4-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.233 BA, .646 OPS) **MVP**
Sean Thompson: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K (6.62 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

A walk-off winner for the Voyagers! It was a back-and-forth affair, whenever the offenses actually scored. The Osprey started out the scoring with a four-run third inning, but the Voyagers scored five in the next two innings, including a four-run inning of their own. Anderson Comas helped propel the first of the four runs with an RBI triple, his sixth triple of the season. The Osprey came back in the eighth inning to tie the game, and it went into extra innings. After Missoula took the lead in the 10th inning, the Voyagers came back to win it in the bottom half, as Luis Curbelo hit a single for the walk-off hit.


AZL White Sox 16, AZL Brewers 15

James Beard: 2-for-7, 2 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K (.195 BA, .523 OPS)
Jose Rodriguez: 3-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K(.277 BA, .808 OPS)
DJ Gladney: 3-for-6, 2 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.265 BA, .746 OPS) **MVP**
Matthew Thompson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)

Another walk-off in the rookie leagues, this time to end an offensive barrage. The AZL White Sox combined for 24 hits and 16 runs scored in their win, and all but one hitter from the starting lineup had multiple hits. The most amazing part of this game were the type of hits, or lack thereof. The AZL Sox only hit two extra-base hits and 22 singles. Bryan Ramos and Samil Polanco led the way with the offense with four hits apiece, and several others had three. The pitching though, was not good. Matthew Thompson did get some action on the mound, his second game as a pro, but it was just one inning. The defense didn’t help at all, either. Seven of the 15 runs scored by the AZL Brewers were unearned, though one of those errors was by a pitcher.


DSL Dbacks 6, DSL White Sox 2

Yolbert Sánchez: 3-for-5, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (.306 BA, .839 OPS) **MVP**
Carlos Mola: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K (5.31 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

It was not a great game for the DSL Sox today, though, there were two notable performances. Yolbert Sánchez took the MVP in this game, leading the way with three hits. Two of those hits were doubles, as his hot streak continues. He is even hitting better than .300 now. Carlos Mola, who started today’s game, was almost as good from the pitching side. He went five very good innings, with no walks and nine strikeouts. It was one of his better outings of the year and probably his last of the season. Obviously, after Mola left the game things got out of hand. The bullpen quickly coughed up five runs the next two innings and couldn’t put anything together.