South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 76: Ian Dawkins

Stuck in low gear: It was a shock that Dawkins wasn’t promoted from Kannapolis to begin 2019 — and a bigger one that he never advanced from there last season. (@KCannonBallers)



Ian Dawkins
Center Fielder
5´11´´
195 pounds
Age: 24
SSHP rank among all center fielders in the system: 8
South Side Sox 2019 Top Prospect Ranking: 96

Ian Dawkins played his first two seasons of college ball with Chabot Junior College in his hometown of Heyward, Calif., where he put up terrific numbers. He transferred to Sacramento State for his junior season and continued to hit, with his senior season being arguably the better of his two years with the Hornets as he slashed .359/.415/.528 in 58 games with 18 doubles, six homers, 33 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 22 walks (8.0%) and 41 strikeouts (14.9%).

In part due to lacking leverage as a college senior, and also in part to his lack of significant power, he slipped to the White Sox in the 27th round of the 2018 draft. Dawkins immediately paid dividends that year, as he slashed a combined .303/.351/.390 in 65 games with Great Falls and Kannapolis with 13 doubles, three triples, 21 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 16 walks (5.9%) and 43 strikeouts (15.8%). 

Even more surprising than Dawkins being bypassed for a promotion to Winston-Salem to begin 2019 season was that he spent the whole year in Kannapolis. In part, this had to do with the lack of movement from the Birmingham outfield contingent, which ultimately stalled advancement for the likes of Steele Walker and Dawkins. However, it may actually have just as much to do with the fact that Dawkins simply may have neither the great speed of a center fielder (despite his stolen base numbers) nor the power of a corner outfielder.

Nonetheless, Dawkins still posted a rock-solid year despite a late-season slump causing his average to dip below .300. For the year, he slashed .298/.361/.396 in 131 games with Kannapolis with 38 doubles, one triple, four homers, 36 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 37 walks and 95 strikeouts. Dawkins should begin (finally) the 2020 season with Winston-Salem. 

Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis center fielders

Ascending soon: Once Luis Robert joins the White Sox, Steele Walker will become the top-ranked outfielder in the White Sox system. (@WSDashBaseball) 


“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 organization’s second-ranked outfield prospect per MLB Pipeline (Steele Walker), as well as an outfielder who’s hit for a high average throughout his young collegiate and professional careers (Ian Dawkins). Both should receive promotions to begin the 2020 season. 

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Steele Walker
5´11´´
190 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Right field

Age: 23

Walker kept improving in each of his three years with the University of Oklahoma. That’s not to say his freshman year was bad by any stretch — that year, he slashed a respectable .290/.352/.414 with three homers in 57 games. As a junior in 2018, however, he slashed .352/.441/.606 in 54 games for the Sooners with 14 doubles, 13 homers, 53 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 31 walks (12.2%) and 48 strikeouts (18.9%). Expected to be selected in the latter part of the first round that year, he was still available in the second round when the White Sox gladly snatched him up.

In his first year of professional ball, Walker slashed a combined .209/.271/.342 over 44 games with the AZL squad, Great Falls and Kannapolis with six doubles, five homers, 21 RBIs, six stolen bases, 10 walks (5.6%) and 37 strikeouts (20.9%). Obviously his numbers weren’t as good as he’d hoped they be, but that was in large part due to fatigue and playing through injuries suffered late in the season with Oklahoma.

Buoyed by a terrific start with Kannapolis (.365/.437/.581) in his first 20 games this year, Walker enjoyed a terrific bounce-back campaign in 2019. Combined with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, he slashed .284/.361/.451 in 120 games with 36 doubles, five triples, 10 homers, 62 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 50 walks (9.5%) and 78 strikeouts (14.8%). While not quite Madrigalian in making contact, a strikeout rate under 15% with a walk rate hovering around 10% is actually quite impressive for a first full professional season.

It’s important to note that Walker’s numbers were far better against righties than they were against southpaws, although it’s way too early to consider him merely a platoon-type hitter. According to MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, the bat is considered Walker’s one true plus tool (graded 55 by MLB Pipeline). That’s not to say he’s overly deficient in any one area (power, run and field tools are graded 50), except perhaps for his throwing arm (graded 45 by MLB Pipeline).

Interestingly, Walker didn’t play in left field this year though his arm is perhaps better suited for that position. Walker currently ranks sixth among White Sox prospects, and second among the system’s outfielders, by MLB Pipeline. He likely will begin the 2020 season with Birmingham, and should find his way to Charlotte by the end of the year. There’s always a possibility Walker could be traded to help reel in a high-profile hitter or pitcher during this offseason, but as the best outfield performer in full-season play last year not named Luis Robert, the Sox would prefer keeping Walker if they had their druthers.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 

Ian Dawkins
5’11”
195 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 24

Dawkins played his first two seasons of college ball with Chabot Junior College in his hometown of Heyward, Calif., where he put up terrific numbers. He transferred to Sacramento State for his junior season and continued to hit, with his senior season being arguably the better of his two years with the Hornets as he slashed .359/.415/.528 in 58 games with 18 doubles, six homers, 33 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 22 walks (8.0%) and 41 strikeouts (14.9%).

In part due to lacking leverage as a college senior, and also in part to his lack of significant power, he slipped to the White Sox in the 27th round of the 2018 draft. Dawkins immediately paid dividends that year, as he slashed a combined .303/.351/.390 in 65 games with Great Falls and Kannapolis with 13 doubles, three triples, 21 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 16 walks (5.9%) and 43 strikeouts (15.8%). 

Even more surprising than Dawkins beginning the 2019 season with Kannapolis was that he actually spent the whole year there. In part, this had to do with the lack of movement from the Birmingham outfield contingent, which ultimately stalled advancement for the likes of Walker and Dawkins. However, it may actually have just as much to do with the fact that he simply may have neither the great speed you’d like to see in a center fielder (despite his stolen base numbers) nor the power you’d like to see out of a corner outfielder. Nonetheless, Dawkins still posted a rock-solid year despite a late-season slump causing his average to dip below .300. For the year, he slashed .298/.361/.396 in 131 games with Kannapolis with 38 doubles, one triple, four homers, 36 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 37 walks and 95 strikeouts. Walker should begin the 2020 season with Winston-Salem. 

 


 

2019 Kannapolis Intimidators season recap

Tough year: But Kannapolis ended on a pretty good note. (Tiffany Wintz/South Side Hit Pen)


The Kannapolis Intimidators finished the year at 64-74, after an abysmal first half and a decent second thanks to the addition of 2019 draft picks. However, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 because the reinforcements did not come quick enough — or in Andrew Vaughn‘s case, left too quickly.

Low-A baseball is a big step for players. Maybe there is not a big talent gap between advanced rookie leagues, but Low-A is the first stop in playing a full professional season. The leagues start in April and players travel to different states, though not as frequently as a Triple-A or MLB team. It is the first taste of what a grind a baseball season is, and as such it weeds out some of the younger players.

But some players definitely rose above the rest in Kannapolis this season. Though it is best to note, as in rookie league evaluation, age and previous Low-A experience is an important factor in assessing Low-A players.

First off, the promotions and other cameo appearances (like Vaughn, who played 23 games for the I’s). Steele Walker started the year with the I’s before earning a promotion after a great 20 games, in which he had a 189 wRC+. Johan Cruz started with the I’s as well and was more of a peripheral player to start, but because of his hot bat finally earned a promotion to the Dash. Cruz left the I’s with a .296 batting average, and some surprising pop. Evan Skoug rounds out the list of player promotions, but it seems like his was more out of necessity to get another catcher to Winston-Salem than talent. Though with Skoug’s eye and power, maybe a swing change could unlock that potential.

The pitching side is a bit more fun with some much bigger names. Konnor Pilkington, Jonathan Stiever, and Kade McClure each started the year with the I’s. Pilkington had the best year of the bunch, and earned his promotion more quickly as he left with a 1.62 ERA.

Next up was McClure with a 3.09 ERA and finally, Stiever. Stiever’s ERA did not look good in Low-A, but his peripherals showed a more advanced and much improved pitcher (as you will see in the Dash recap, Stiever was, simply, awesome). Taylor Varnell became sort of a prospect-buff favorite with multiple fantastic starts in Low-A, and the 24 year-old finally got a much deserved promotion later in the year.

A few notable relievers jumped to High-A baseball as well. Vince Arobio started his season with the I’s before eventually ending the season in Birmingham. Andrew Perez and Bennett Sousa were promoted at the same time after a dominant half-season in the Kannapolis bullpen. Perez left with a 2.25 ERA, Sousa with a 2.51.

That is a lot of players on the move, but some of note stayed the entire year, or ended their seasons with the I’s and helped them to a much better second-half record.


The Hitters

Two hitters that played well and stayed the entire season shared the outfield together, Ian Dawkins and Alex Destino. They ended the season with the same batting average (.298), but got there in very different ways. Dawkins is more of a slappy hitter, with speed and not much power. He had a fantastic first half of the season, but slowed down in the second. Dawkins finished with a 124 wRC+ and 23 stolen bases in 31 attempts. He has a fine walk rate at 6.3%, and the reason it is fine is because Dawkins hit almost .300, and he also has a below-average K-rate. Destino has the bigger bat, with 17 homers and 39 total extra-base hits. He walks more than 10% of the time, but also strikes out out at a decently high rate, so he is just a typical hitter who has some power. The downside is that both guys are older. Destino is about to turn 24, and Dawkins already is 24. In Dawkins’ case, he had 37 games in Low-A in 2018, so it was familiar territory. They are outfielders to keep an eye on, but both will need to show something more with the Dash.

A few other hitters deserve attention, but for different reasons, first off, the underperformers: Gunnar Troutwine, Corey Zangari, Ramon Beltre, Bryce Bush, and Lenyn Sosa. Troutwine probably had the best season among them, but might also be less of a prospect than the other four. He had a 106 wRC+, so a fine season, but he struck out more than 30% of the time and didn’t show improved bat-to-ball skills or extra power in his first full season. His defense was also, in a word, atrocious. Zangari was finally healthy, kind of, but fell flat. He hit only .204, but showed fantastic power with a .224 ISO. He also struck out more than 30% of the time, and a big reason why his season was salvageable was his very good walk rate. Beltre played the most, but probably had the worst season of this group and was even worse in his second Low-A stint.

Finally, Bryce Bush and Lenyn Sosa, the teenagers. Bush finished the year in the AZL but will definitely be back in Kannapolis in 2020. He barely hit above the Mendoza line and showed a concerning K-rate of 31.9%. Though he is definitely the best hitting prospect of this group, is still just 19, and had an injury-riddled year. Still, he looked impressive at times:

Sosa is a smidge younger than Bush, by about a month, and did have a better year in terms of play and health, though I’m sure the organization expected better. The international signee had his first full season this year and finished with a 93 wRC+. Instead of struggling down the stretch, which would have been understandable given a personal record amount of games played, Sosa was much better after the All-Star break. His batting average rose by almost 50 points and OPS went up over 100 points. Hopefully that translates over to next season, and Sosa gets a quick promotion to Winston-Salem.

Two non-Vaughn 2019 draft picks did make their way onto the I’s roster as well. Tyler Osik, a 27th round pick, ended with a 160 wRC+ in 108 plate appearance for the I’s. Osik showed a lot of power, probably unsustainable power at a .278 ISO, but the walk and strikeout rates stayed relatively the same from his rookie league statistics. Cameron Simmons, a 20th round pick, crushed it in Great Falls and earned a promotion. He didn’t do as well in Kannapolis but was right at average production. He did seem a little overmatched, as his K-rate went up a good amount, and the walks fell.


The Pitchers

After Pilkington, McClure, and Stiever left, there was obviously huge holes to fill in the rotation, and it was mostly filled by pitchers who were relievers earlier. Jason Bilous was the most fit for the role, but Johan Dominguez and Sam Long took over and did well. Bilous was much better as a reliever than starter, with a 2.86 ERA as a reliever and 4.01 ERA as a starter. However, a lot of Bilous’ struggles came late in the season, just like his struggles after being drafted in 2018. It is tough to say whether he will stay in a starting role, but hopefully Bilous can continue his progress and be better late in seasons. Dominguez and Long are older and probably aren’t players who will make it to the bigs, but they had good seasons as a reliever and as a starter. Dominguez ended the year with a 2.98 ERA, Long with a 3.06 ERA.

One starter who stayed with the I’s all season and didn’t miss a start was Davis Martin. Martin had an abysmal April and May, with an ERA of more than 7.00. He was able to figure himself out later in the year and had a 3.87 ERA in the second half. The peripherals like him a lot more because of his above average K-rate and pretty low walk rate. Martin ended with a 3.90 FIP, which is much better than his 5.04 ERA, so 2020 will be a big year to see who he truly is.

After Perez and Sousa left on the reliever side, again there were holes to fill, but the Kannapolis bullpen was already the strongest part of the team, and they continued to be successful thanks to three outstanding performances. There isn’t much fanfare with these players because they don’t carry any prospect expectations, but as relievers in Low-A all they need to do is throw hard.

Up first is Lane Ramsey, who SSHP’s Dan Victor likes quite a bit.

Ramsey had a 2.75 ERA this season, but his K numbers are low; he probably does not have a very good or developed breaking/off-speed pitch. If he is able to get an out pitch to use with his high-90s fastball, Ramsey could be a guy to watch going forward, maybe driveline isn’t a bad idea for the kid. Wilber Perez was a bit of a surprise to land in the Kannapolis bullpen after being in the DSL in 2018. Perez fit in well, and was terrific down the stretch. He had a 2.83 ERA and was mostly used in multiple-inning scenarios. Perez did show good strikeout numbers, but he has a significant control problem. Austin Conway rounds out the bunch, and he had the best season of all. He had 13 saves to go with his 1.59 ERA and even earned a cameo showing with the Dash, but was eventually sent back down. Conway already is 24, so take his success with caution, but he was fantastic.


Kannapolis was not the most talented team in terms of prospect hype, like it had been in previous seasons, but it did have appearances and performances from good players. Most of the above players will go to Winston-Salem in 2020, but the 2019 draft and a few 2020 draft prospects will be heading to Kannapolis’ new ballpark to replace them in the spring.

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.