Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis left fielders

Like a hurricane: Among several versatile lower-level left fielders, Romy Gonzalez might possess the most upside. (Phrake Photography/South Side Hit Pen)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

Most of the best White Sox outfielders played either right or center field in 2019, as many of the players on this list were either drafted in the later rounds or are considered better suited for utility roles. Who knows, though? Perhaps one of the late-round selections, like Cameron Simmons or Jonathan Allen, could surprise in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Jonathan Allen
6´3´´
200 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Right field, Center field
Age: 23

After a terrific junior season with the University of San Francisco in which he slashed .308/.393/.480 in 57 games with seven homers and 12 stolen bases, Allen’s numbers slipped in 2019 as he slashed just .252/.370/.562 with 10 doubles, two triples, 17 homers, 59 RBIs, three stolen bases, 34 walks (13.3%) and 60 strikeouts (23.5%). It seems that he sacrificed some average for the long ball, and while that strategy didn’t especially pay off, it was at least enough for the Sox to select him in the 32nd round in 2019.

Combined with the AZL Sox, Great Falls and Winston-Salem, Allen slashed .260/.311/.420 in 40 games with 13 doubles, one triple, three homers, 22 RBIs, six stolen bases, nine walks and 46 strikeouts. Much of that production came in the last two games of the year with Winston-Salem when he went 5-for-9 with two homers, five RBIs, and a stolen base. He has the reputation of a solid glove man, as he only committed a combined two errors during his collegiate and professional play.

Because he only has two games under his belt with the Dash, expect him to return to Winston-Salem for 2020. Oh, I almost forgot: Allen happens to be the grandson of former major league outfielder Don Landrum, who played for the Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs and Giants from 1957-66. 

J.J. Muno
5´11´´

190 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Second base, Shortstop, Right field
Age: 26

Muno is the younger brother of former White Sox farmhand Danny Muno. After redshirting his freshman year with UC-Santa Barbara, he played three years for the Gauchos. Muno’s best year was as a redshirt sophomore, when he slashed .294/.370/.450 with five homers and 17 stolen bases in 64 games. He slumped the next year, however, as he slashed just .246/.333/.342 with three homers and 14 stolen bases in 55 games. The White Sox liked his versatility enough, however, to select him in the 27th round of the 2017 draft. That year, he split time with the AZL squad and Great Falls as he slashed a solid .294/.415/.422 in 38 games.

The 2018 season saw Muno play for Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham, where he combined to slash just .224/.300/.296 over 38 games. In 2019, Muno saw much more playing time, exclusively for the Dash. For the year, he slashed .238/.351/.377 with seven doubles, six triples, four homers, 34 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 31 walks (11.5%) and 55 strikeouts (20.4%). He’s valuable as an organizational depth piece, as he’s played all positions on the diamond except catcher, and has kept his errors to a minimum. He’s the classic utility player, as he can do a lot of little things well but nothing exceptionally. He likely will begin 2020 play with Birmingham.

Travis Moniot
6´1´´

190 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: Right field, Center field, Third base, Second base
Age: 22

Moniot had a well-traveled, three-year college career after playing his high school ball in Indio, Calif. He scuffled as a freshman with the University of Oregon, as he slashed just .168/.286/.293 in 53 games. He then dominated with the Orange Coast JC squad by slashing .353/.524/.608 with seven homers in 45 games. Moniot then struggled with the University of Arizona as a junior in 2018 as he slashed just .160/.295/.240 with one homer in 22 games. Despite his lack of success in Division I ball, the White Sox selected him in the 17th round of that year’s MLB draft. Upon receiving his signing bonus, he slashed a respectable .289/.391/.412 for Great Falls with seven doubles, two triples, one homer, 14 RBIs, two stolen bases, 17 walks (12.6%) and 29 strikeouts (21.5%). 

This year was a difficult one for Moniot, however. Combined with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, he slashed just .172/.262/.207 in 19 games with two doubles, six RBIs, three stolen bases, seven walks (10.8%) and 24 strikeouts (36.9%). He was placed on the injured list on June 24 and never returned. Like the aforementioned Muno, Moniot has the ability to play most defensive positions. Moniot may not wield a strong bat, but because of his relative youth, he likely will be given additional opportunities to establish himself. Expect Moniot to return to the Dash for 2020.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Cameron Simmons
6´4´´
200 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Right field
Age: 23

Simmons enjoyed an outstanding college career with the University of Virginia, but his best year was clearly his sophomore one in 2017: .352/.432/.563 with 14 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 57 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 23 walks (9.3%) and 40 strikeouts (16.2%) in 58 games. However, a shoulder injury caused him to miss his entire junior season. Rustiness impacted his senior season with the Cavaliers in 2019, as he slashed just .260/.363/.389 in 55 games with 12 doubles, five homers, 34 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, 27 walks (11.0%) and 51 strikeouts (20.8%). When he was still available in the 20th round of this year’s MLB draft, however, the White Sox were happy to select him.

After a terrific 12-game stretch with Great Falls to begin his professional career, Simmons leveled off a bit with Kannapolis to finish the year. In a combined 44 games with both teams, he slashed .275/.342/.458 with 11 doubles, five homers, 21 RBIs, five stolen bases, 13 walks (8.1%) and 47 strikeouts (29.2%). With his shoulder surgery in 2018, he’s likely best suited as a left fielder going forward. Expect Simmons to return to Kannapolis for 2020, with the possibility of promotion to Winston-Salem by midseason if all goes well. 

Romy Gonzalez
6´1´´
210 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: First base, Second base, Third base, Right field, Center field
Age: 23

Like Simmons, Gonzalez enjoyed his best collegiate season as a sophomore. Playing for the University of Miami, he slashed .265/.344/.462 in 58 games with nine doubles, 11 homers, 38 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 27 walks (10.6%) and 58 strikeouts (22.8%). Gonzalez slumped a bit (especially in the power department) for the Hurricanes as a junior, however, as he slashed .273/.358/.394 in 52 games with eight doubles, four homers, 30 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, 21 walks (9.2%) and 60 strikeouts (26.3%). These struggles caused him to slip to the White Sox in the 18th round of the 2018 draft. He played for Great Falls that year, and performed well by slashing .254/.323/.498 with 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 18 walks (8.1%) and 65 strikeouts (29.1%).   

Gonzalez struggled this year in the pitching-friendly environment of Kannapolis, as he slashed just .244/.329/.364 in 101 games with 22 doubles, four triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 38 walks (9.4%) and 108 strikeouts (26.7%). He did display plenty of versatility by playing all defensive positions sans shortstop and catcher.

Gonzalez is an above-average athlete and seems like the type of guy who could have 20-20 seasons if he can begin making stronger contact at the plate. Expect him to begin next year with Winston-Salem, where he will hopefully produce better power numbers. 


 

 

2019 Winston-Salem Dash season recap

Surging starter: Jonathan Stiever had the best season of any White Sox pitching prospect in 2019. (Winston-Salem Dash)

The Dash had one of the better records for the MiLB White Sox teams (72-61), as they barely missed out on a “wild card” playoff berth. It may not have been the most prospect-heavy team to to start the year, but by the end, there were some big names, especially on the pitching side.

This recap will start a little differently because, well, we have our first manager snapshot. Justin Jirschele was the manager of the Kannapolis Intimidators in 2017 and 2018 — both of those teams made the playoffs, so was promoted to the Dash for this season. Jirschele’s MiLB record so far is 217-198. He will only be 30 next season, but that would fit the recent mold of teams in the majors hiring younger managers. He also fits the Jerry Reinsdorf hiring mold, since he has been in the White Sox organization since 2012, when he was a player. Jirschele has managed most of the top prospects over his tenure, so he has familiarity with the important parts of the rebuild. There is not really much else to add about his managing style and philosophies, but here is an MLB.com from 2017.

But I’m sure you all care more about the players more than the manager, right?

The Dash had the two best hitters in the farm system to start the year, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, who made it all the way to Charlotte by season’s end. Robert was clearly too good for High-A (and basically every other level) but he left the Dash with a 305 wRC+. Madrigal started out slower but got going enough to get an early promotion. But that was really it for hitter promotions. Zach Remillard is not in the same talent conversation as those other two, but he was promoted as well. After hitting .289 in 95 games (a personal MiLB best), he was sent up to Double-A.

There was a bit more positive movement for the Dash on the pitching end. Kyle Kubat also started here and earned his way all the way up to Charlotte. He was one of the quicker promotions, and left after four starts with a 1.23 ERA. We forget now, but Alec Hansen looked far better with the Dash than the Barons. Hansen only played nine games and left with a 2.13 ERA, but carried a walk problem that traveled with him to Birmingham.

A trio of starters got promotions later in the season after a good first part of the season. Blake Battenfield, Lincoln Henzman, and John Parke each got the call to the Barons, where they finished the year. Battenfield had the best season of the bunch, with a 2.83 ERA. Parke does not get much fanfare, but keeps chugging through the system. He averaged just about a quality start over 12 starts. Henzman, after an injury blip, finally got his skills together to get himself to Double-A. The stats don’t look great overall, but a 1.89 ERA in his final 19 innings was good enough.

On the reliever side, there were three promotions of note. As mentioned in the Kannapolis recap, Vince Arobio made it all the way to Double-A. Well, he had an 8 2/3 innings stint with the Dash and didn’t allow a run. It was apparently good enough to earn his second promotion. Codi Heuer is a converted starter from college and his rookie league season, and thrived in the reliever role. He left High-A with a 22% K-BB rate and a 2.82 ERA. Bennett Sousa had two promotions during his season as well. After pitching 30 innings with a 2.70 ERA in A+, he got into two games for the Barons. There is a chance he ends up in Chicago next season. More on all these guys later, but it’s time for the holdovers.


Dash Mashers

Of the hitters who spent most of their season with the Dash, Steele Walker is by far the most heralded prospect. He is currently rated as the sixth-best White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, and earned a quick promotion from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem. He started out strong and did slow down later in the season, which is what should be expected from a player in his first full professional season. His 2019 stats still look great, though. He finished with a 124 wRC+, and showed some decent pop over the season. His increased walk rate from his days with the I’s stayed with the Dash, but Walker was able to drop his K-rate even further as he continues to show his advanced plate discipline and coverage.

Of the hitters that ended their seasons with the Dash, Andrew Vaughn is the best prospect. He’s rated as the best first base prospect in baseball and 21st overall by MLB Pipeline. The 2019 first round selection looked fine in his first stint in professional baseball. With all the movement and it being Vaughn’s first time playing baseball this late in a year, him just being healthy is really the most important takeaway. From the scouting reports out of college, Vaughn is a very good hitter, and it did show. The pop and the fantastic eye was there, as he was an above-average hitter at every stop. Vaughn has a chance, though slim, to be on the South Side next season but it will depend on whether he starts 2020 in Birmingham or Winston-Salem.

After Vaughn and Walker, there is a huge drop-off in terms of hitting talent that ended the year with the Dash. Most just have one kind of tool, like Craig Dedelow. He showed good power, with a .198 ISO and 18 home runs. The same thing with Tyler Frost, although Frost’s power dipped compared to his time in rookie and Low-A ball. Both players are old for the their level and there’s not much draft capital/money tied to them. Jameson Fisher, a former fourth round selection, did have that draft hype, and he did do well with the Dash. But he was sent down from Double-A after a bad 2018 campaign, and will be 26 next season.

Yeyson Yrizarri and Evan Skoug are guys who also had some value in the past, but have since fallen flat. Yrizarri is just 22, even though his professional debut was in 2014. This past season was his third in High-A, and he has only gotten worse. His batting average has fallen to .218 to go along with an increased strikeout rate, and his defense has gotten worse too (31 errors at third this year). Skoug is kind of a worse Zack Collins. Skoug has power, walks a lot, and strikes out a lot, but routinely hits far worse than the Mendoza line. Skoug hit .172 with the I’s, and then .165 with the Dash. This should be a big offseason for him, because he has some good tools — he just has awful bat-to-ball skills.

A little note for a 2019 draft pick who played in two games for the Dash, Jonathan Allen. The 32nd rounder played in both rookie leagues — not particularly well, but he did get himself to High-A. He clubbed two homers in his two games, for a 420 wRC+. I’m guessing that won’t hold next season.


Dash Hurlers

Dash pitchers were led by a big three in terms of prospect pedigree in the starting rotation to end the year. Jonathan Stiever is now by far the most hyped, and had the best season.

Stiever should win MiLB pitcher of the year for the White Sox after finishing with a 2.15 ERA in 71 innings with the Dash. He made 12 starts, and 10 of them were quality starts, as he rode his superb stuff to a great season. He 23.3% K-BB rate and only allowed a .215 batting average against. It was a truly dominant year.

Kade McClure is next up in terms of season success. He also started 12 games, but finished his time with a 3.39 ERA. McClure did finish earlier than other starters, possibly because he was at his innings limit after a season-ending injury from last season. But McClure was great during his time. The strikeouts were down and the walks were slightly up after his promotion, but .284 BABIP really helped. McClure also kept runners on base at an 81.3% clip, so his peripherals are not as kind. But he got through this season and looked very good, again.

Last on the top starting pitching end is Konnor Pilkington. He did not have as good a year as the others, with a 4.99 ERA. His strikeouts fell, but it was still better than one K per inning. The walks also rose, but it was not a significant rise. What hurt Pilkington was a .341 BABIP, because he didn’t really allow many homers (just seven in 95 1/3 innings). Therefore, FIP and xFIP liked Pilkington much better. Hopefully he can have a Stiever-like season in 2020, where the FIP and ERA more closely align.

For relievers, there are a couple to keep a close watch on prospect-wise and a couple more who just overmatched their competition. Jacob Lindgren is probably the most interesting, because he has the most arm talent. This was the first time Lindgren had pitched in pro ball since 2016, and he was all right. Lindgren is 26 and obviously has advanced stuff, but his success, and health, were promising. He threw 17 1/3 innings with the Dash, for a 1.53 ERA. Lindgren might not be the pitcher he was before (you know, the one who made it to the majors in one season), but the potential could still be there.

Andrew Perez is the other. The eighth round selection in the 2018 draft was lights-out with the Dash for his final 31 1/3 innings of 2019. The lefty had a 1.15 ERA, though he does allow a concerning amount of baseballs into the air (a 50% fly ball rate). The walks also went up quite a bit while the strikeouts fell, but Perez was very successful overall. With the three-batter minimum coming soon, his ability to go multiple innings as a lefty could come in handy in the future.

Will Kincanon and Luis Ledo may not be big names, but they had big seasons. Both served time as a closer, with both getting eight saves. Kincanon is probably the better prospect because he has a better arm. Kincanon had a 1.86 ERA, and though the walks slightly went up the strikeouts improved, so it seemed to be a negligible difference. Kincanon will need to cut down on his walks as he continues up the ranks, but he is a guy to watch moving forward. Ledo is a bit older, and had a good year as well. He has a 1.83 ERA and is not as big a strikeout pitcher, but still has the walk issues. Ledo’s walk issues improved significantly from last season, but he still has work to do.


Some big names from the manager to the players graced the diamond in Winston-Salem, earning the Dash the best MILB record of all White Sox affiliate. Most of the big names actually worked out pretty well this season, especially Madrigal, Robert, and Stiever. It is a possibility that when it is all said and done with the rebuild, the 2019 Winston-Salem Dash was the start of something special.

White Sox Minor League Update: September 1, 2019

High-quality performance: Starter Tanner Banks pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to propel the Barons to victory. (Hannah Stone/Birmingham Barons)


Norfolk Tides 11, Charlotte Knights 2

Kyle Kubat (SP): 3 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 3 K (5.63 ERA)
Danny Mendick (SS): 1-for-3, 2B (.282 BA, .820 OPS)
Luis Robert (CF): 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, (.301 BA, .984 OPS) *MVP*
Nick Madrigal (2B): 1-for-4 (.301 BA, .773 OPS)
Zack Collins (DH): 0-for-4, 3 K (.285 BA, .956 OPS)
Daniel Palka (RF): 0-for-4 (.262 BA, .901 OPS)

In a game with playoff implications, this one was born under a bad star. It got off to a rocky beginning, as Knights starter Kyle Kubat ran into trouble in the first. After a dreaded leadoff walk, Tides second baseman Christopher Bostick hit a triple to drive in the first run of the game. An RBI ground out scored Bostick, so the Tides led 2-0 after one inning. The Tides added to their lead in the third and fourth innings on an RBI single and an RBI double, respectively. Those hits put them up, 4-0.

Things were looking hopeless, but in the top of the fifth, White Sox outfielder Knights outfielder Luis Robert hit a two-run shot to cut the deficit in half. Why Luis Robert is not in the majors right now is beyond me. The extra service time factor should not be taken nearly as seriously as the front office is taking it, but I’m at peace with it. It will be exciting to watch Robert in Chicago next season.

Unfortunately, the Knights would never get any closer than they were after Robert’s home run. The Tides had a monster fifth inning, as they scored six runs to go up by a score of 10-2. Thanks to the Tides rally that inning, in which eight hitters reached base safely, this game got ugly. Onward.


Birmingham Barons 3, Biloxi Shuckers 0

Tanner Banks (SP) 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K (4.23 ERA) *MVP*
Zach Remillard (3B): 1-for-3, 2B, BB (.231 BA, .654 OPS)
Blake Rutherford (DH): 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI (.245 BA, .685 OPS)
Luis Basabe (RF): 2-for-5, RBI (.250 BA, .670 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B): 0-for-2, 2 BB, (.267 BA, .759 OPS)
Joel Booker (LF): 2-for-4 (.257 BA, .647 OPS)

After a scoreless first inning, a two-out rally by the Barons put them on the board and gave them an early lead. With a runner on first and two outs, Luis González got hit by a pitch, which set up Luis Basabe for a single that drove in the first run of the game for either team. The next hitter, Blake Rutherford, crushed a two-run double to give the Barons a pair of insurance runs. The inning finally ended one batter later, but not before the Barons had scored three.

Meanwhile, starter Tanner Banks had an excellent game. Banks’ control was terrific, and the Shuckers struggled to make sharp contact against him. Banks made very few mistakes and earned a well-deserved victory. Also on the defensive side, Basabe had an outfield assist, as he threw out a runner trying to score. Overall, despite three strikeouts, Basabe provided a ton of value for the Barons in this one.


Winston-Salem Dash 10, Lynchburg Hillcats 3

Jorge Cavanerio (SP): 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 5 K (3.13 ERA)
Andrew Vaughn (DH): 1-for-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI (.243 BA, .742 OPS)
Tate Blackman (2B): 2-for-5, RBI (.195 BA, .581 OPS)
Steele Walker (CF): 2-for-5, 2 2B (.271 BA, .774 OPS)
Jonathan Allen (CF): 3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI (.600 BA, 2.400 OPS) *MVP*

This was an outstanding game all-around for the Dash, as they jumped out to a lead in the top of the first and never looked back. Jonathan Allen made his debut in High-A ball, and mercy, it went well for him. In 38 games with the Great Falls Voyagers and the AZL White Sox, Allen’s combined slash line was .241/.296/.369, but he was terrific today. Allen had three hits, two of which were home runs, and he set the tone for the offense.

On the other side of the ball, Jorge Cavanerio displayed excellent control, issuing zero walks in seven quality innings. Cavanerio had plenty of run support, but he barely needed any, as his quality start was more than enough for him to earn the victory.


Kannapolis Intimidators 5, Delmarva Shorebirds 2

Johan Dominguez (SP): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K (2.98 ERA) *co-MVP*
Corey Zangari (1B): 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI (.204 BA, .748 OPS) *co-MVP*
Michael Hickman (C): 1-for-3, RBI (.209 BA, .619 OPS)
Ian Dawkins (CF): 1-for-4, BB (.299 BA, .755 OPS)
Alex Destino (RF): 1-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI (.294 BA, .841 OPS)

The Intimidators’ bats got off to a fast start in this one, and strong pitching throughout allowed the offense to coast in the latter innings in this victory. Michael Hickman hit a sacrifice fly in the second, and the Intimidators led from that point onward. A Corey Zangari two-run blast in the fourth put the Intimidators up by a score of 3-0. In the fifth, Alex Destino added an insurance run, as he hit an RBI double.

The pitchers were excellent, especially starter Johan Dominguez, who got the victory. Delmarva’s only runs crossed the plate on a two-run homer by Adley Rutschman, who was the first overall pick in the draft this year. Despite that homer, this was a great team effort all-around against a strong Delmarva squad.


Great Falls Voyagers 4, Billings Mustangs 3

Avery Weems (SP): 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 4 K (2.14 ERA)
Harvin Mendoza (1B): 0-for-4 (.281 BA, .835 OPS)
Sam Abbott (DH): 2-for-5, 2B, 3B, RBI (.227 BA, .793 OPS)
Kelvin Maldonado (2B): 1-for-4, 2B (.255 BA, .603 OPS)
Luis Curbelo (3B): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 HR (.268 BA, .789 OPS) *MVP*
Lency Delgado (SS): 1-for-4, RBI (.200 BA, .607 OPS)

The Voyagers jumped out to an early lead in the first. Luis Curbelo set the table with a one-out double, and Lency Delgado drove him in with a two-out base knock. The Mustangs got that run back in the second, and the teams traded solo home runs in the third, as the score was 2-2 after three. The Voyagers’ second run of the game crossed the plate on a Curbelo home run.

The score remained 2-2 until the bottom of the sixth, when Curbelo (who else?) hit a two-run homer to break the tie. Curbelo’s two homers increased his home run total to eight with the Voyagers and 13 overall on the season. Though the Mustangs got one of those runs back in the seventh, Yoelvin Silven closed the door by pitching two scoreless innings to protect a one-run lead.