Clear-eyed for the future: Even after a difficult 2019, Bryce Bush is still considered one of the best prospects in the White Sox organization. (Sean Williams/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:
- Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
- Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
- Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
- Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
- Free agent options at that position
Alex Destino enjoyed the best OPS in 2019 of the three farmhands listed here, while Bryce Bush is considered by many to be the best prospect of the three. Tyler Frost has shown some potential as well, and has flown pretty much under the radar in his first three years in the organization. With a big year in 2020, any of these right fielders may have a chance to rapidly rise in the organization’s prospect rankings.
(age as of April 1, 2020)
Other positions played: Center field
Frost was consistently good with Gonzaga, and while he had a solid junior season for the Bulldogs, his numbers were just a shade off his sophomore year totals. As a junior, he slashed .284/.372/.442 in 53 games with five doubles, one triple, nine homers, 38 RBIs, two stolen bases, 25 walks (10.0%) and 39 strikeouts (15.6%). The White Sox liked him enough to select him in the 15th round of the 2017 draft. Later that year with Great Falls, he slashed a respectable .261/.335/.465 in 32 games with seven doubles, five triples, four homers, 26 RBIs, two stolen bases, 13 walks (8.1%) and 33 strikeouts (20.6%).
Frost again posted respectable numbers in 2018 with Kannapolis, as he slashed .241/.324/.445 in 124 games with 21 doubles, four triples, 18 homers, 65 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 46 walks (9.9%) and 129 strikeouts (27.8%).
This past season saw Frost hold his own despite striking out more frequently, as he slashed .247/.319/.412 for the Dash in 104 games with 26 doubles, three triples, 12 homers, 47 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 35 walks (7.5%) and 146 strikeouts (31.3%). He batted leadoff frequently for the Winston-Salem squad, and was more than willing to take enough pitches. Unfortunately, he had the tendency of taking too many called third strikes in the process, which has limited his batting average throughout his career. Frost has hit for more power and stolen more bases than expected to date, but his ability to advance beyond Double-A may depend his ability to make contact going forward. He has a solid arm which plays well in both center and right, and is an asset in both positions. Expect Frost to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham.
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Other positions played: Left field
After posting a nifty .882 OPS in his sophomore season, Destino struggled a bit for the University of South Carolina during his junior year. That year (2017), he slashed .255/.338/.441 for the Gamecocks with eight doubles, 10 homers, 41 RBIs, three stolen bases, 27 walks (11.5%) and 42 strikeouts (17.9%). Due in part to his power potential, the White Sox selected him in the 14th round of that year’s draft. Destino rewarded the Sox that year with a strong campaign with the AZL squad, slashing .290/.408/.432 in 49 games with 13 doubles, two triples, three homers, 23 RBIs, one stolen base, 38 walks (16.9%) and 40 strikeouts (17.8%).
The 2018 season saw Destino split his time between Great Falls and Kannapolis, but saw his combined numbers declined a bit to .248/.298/.407 in 68 games with 18 doubles, five triples, five homers, 36 RBIs, 17 walks (5.9%) and 55 strikeouts (19.0%). Aside from a brief four-game sting with Winston-Salem, Destino spent the entire 2019 season with Kannapolis and posted rock-solid numbers despite playing in a pitching-friendly ballpark. In a combined 116 games, he slashed .293/.372/.465 with 20 doubles, two triples, 17 homers, 64 RBIs, 51 walks (10.4%) and 121 strikeouts (24.6%).
Destino possesses an above-average arm ideal for right field and is considered an adequate defender. Baseball America said of him, “Plus lefthanded power is now Destino’s calling card, and he can bang hanging breaking balls and average velocity. Scouts have their doubts about his ability to hit plus fastballs.” While Destino had an All-Star season for the Intimidators, his stats should be taken in context that he performed against competition about 1.5 years younger. Destino should be a lock to begin the 2020 season with Winston-Salem, with an opportunity for promotion to Birmingham if he gets off to a great start.
Other positions played: Third base
Bush had a crazy route to the White Sox. Right off, it’s harder to gauge Midwestern talent (Birmingham, Mich.) due to the colder weather, which limited his De La Salle H.S. varsity baseball schedule. Nonetheless Bush was ranked by PerfectGame as the 52nd best varsity player in the country, and his commitment to SEC powerhouse Mississippi State seemed insurmountable to most teams. Not so to the White Sox, as they selected him in the 33rd round in 2018. Bush shocked many a Sox fan, not to mention many scouts, when the White Sox actually inked him to an over-slot $290,000 bonus. Combined with the AZL Sox and Great Falls, Bush proved worthy of that signing as he slashed .309/.396/.453 in 38 games with nine doubles, one triple, three homers, 18 RBIs, four stolen bases, 18 walks (11.3%) and 25 strikeouts (15.6%).
The bottom fell out of Bush’s basket in 2019, however, as he struggled facing tougher competition, and suffered injuries and vision issues. In 67 games with Kannapolis, he slashed just .201/.285/.346 with 12 doubles, five triples, five homers, 33 RBIs, four stolen bases, 27 walks (9.4%) and 92 strikeouts (31.9%). Bush also struggled defensively at third base and as a result was eventually moved to an easier position (right field) that can still take advantage of his throwing abilities. Don’t count Bush out going forward, however, as he was playing against competition typically 30 months older. He’s also owns a terrific work ethic and is devoted to getting better. For more information on Bush, read this terrific piece by South Side Hit Pen’s Dan Victor from last year. Expect Bush to return to Kannapolis to begin 2020.