Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis right fielders

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:

  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

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)


Winston-Salem Dash

Tyler Frost
5´10´´
183 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Center field
Age: 24

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

Alex Destino
6´2´´
215 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 24

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.  

Bryce Bush
6´0´´

200 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base
Age: 20

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.

 


 

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. 

 


 

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. 


 

 

Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis shortstops

Cannonball run: Lenyn Sosa is the second-ranked shortstop in the Sox system according to MLB Pipeline. (@KCannonballers)


“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

In A-ball, Lenyn Sosa is clearly the better of the two prospects, as he’s four years younger than Johan Cruz; he’s also the second-ranked shortstop prospect in the organization (behind only Yolbert Sánchez) according to MLB Pipeline.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Johan Cruz
6´2´´
188 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Second base
Age: 24

All the way back on Sept. 11, 2012, Dominican native Cruz signed with the White Sox. After a rocky start with the DSL squad in 2013, he got off to a great start upon his return to the DSL and soon found his way to the team’s AZL affiliate. The 2015 season saw Cruz move up they system’s prospect rankings (25th), as the 19-year-old slashed .312/.338/.442 for Great Falls in 65 games as he produced 17 doubles, six homers, 38 RBIs, 12 walks (4.2%) and 61 strikeouts (21.4%).

After a respectable if uninspiring injury-marred 2016 season in Kannapolis in which he slashed .255/.323/.371 in 65 games, Cruz struggled with his promotion to Winston-Salem in 2017 as he slashed just .218/.256/.350 with six homers in 75 games. Demoted in 2018 to Kannapolis, he continued his struggles at the dish as he slashed .227/.297/.286 with one homer in a career-high 91 games.

This year was a much better one offensively for Cruz. Beginning the season with Winston-Salem but ultimately demoted again to Kannapolis, he caught fire with the Intimidators, earning him yet another opportunity with the Dash. Combined with both teams, Cruz slashed .270/.342/.410 in 82 games with 18 doubles, one triple, seven homers, 38 RBIs, one stolen base, 31 walks and 79 strikeouts.

Cruz is an above-average defender with a utility/organizational-depth profile due to his relatively low hit tool and lack of game-changing speed. While he may be given the opportunity to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him return to Winston-Salem instead. Cruz will be eligible for selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.


Kannapolis Cannonballers

Lenyn Sosa
6´0´´
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base
Age: 20

It was easy for Sosa to get lost in the shuffle, as he was one of a nine-member 2016 International Signing Day class that included Josue Guerrero, Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas. Yet so far, it’s this Venezuelan shortstop (who signed for $350,000) who has advanced further than anyone from that class.

The Sox brass liked Sosa so much that he actually skipped the DSL and instead began his career with the AZL squad. For that team, in which he was nearly three years younger than league average, he slashed .270/.330/.358 in 42 games with four doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, three stolen bases, 14 walks (7.8%) and 24 strikeouts (13.3%). Sosa continued his progress in 2018 with Great Falls as he slashed .293/.317/.406 in 65 games with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, two stolen bases, seven walks (2.4%) and 36 strikeouts (12.4%).

This year, Sosa took a step back but still showed promise. In 122 games with Kannapolis spanning 501 at-bats, he slashed .251/.292/.371 with 35 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 51 RBIs, six stolen bases, 27 walks (5.0%) and 102 strikeouts (19.0%). He began turning on the ball in a tough ballpark for hitters, and while he still doesn’t walk a lot, provided glimpses that he could still have a future in a White Sox uniform. For example, when Sosa should have wearied at the end of the season (as he’d nearly doubled his career-high in games played), he slashed .429/.455/.714 over his last 10 games. Sosa did commit 14 errors at shortstop, which actually is quite good for such a young player — competing this year about 2 1/2 years younger than his competition — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him begin the 2020 season with Winston-Salem. Sosa currently ranks 30th among all White Sox prospects, and second among the system’s shortstops behind only Yolbert Sánchez, according to MLB Pipeline.


Deep Dive: White Sox A-ball third basemen

The waiting is the hardest part: Jake Burger, seen here playing for Kannapolis in 2017, is still the team’s No. 1 third base prospect despite missing two full seasons due to injury. (@Kcannonballers)


“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 two third basemen who finished the year with Winston-Salem and Kannapolis have been disappointing, but for different reasons. While Yeyson Yrizarri has yet to advance to Birmingham despite spending nearly 2 ½ years with Winston-Salem, Jake Burger hasn’t even participated in game action for two years due to injuries. With that said, both guys are still young enough to attain their high ceilings — but 2020 will be a big year for both.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Yeyson Yrizarri
6´0´´
175 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Shortstop
Age: 23

Yrizarri was born in Venezuela but grew up in the Dominican Republic, where played in the International Prospect League. He’s the nephew of Deivi Cruz, a former major league shortstop who played in the majors from 1997-2005. Yrizarri’s aunt played on the Dominican national softball team and his older brother, righthander Deibi Yrizarri, pitched for three years in the Washington Nationals system. Based upon his talent and pedigree, the Rangers signed Yeyson to a $1.35 million bonus during 2013’s International Signing Day.

After holding his own with the Rangers DSL and AZL squads in 2014, Yrizarri actually began the 2015 season with a jump up to Triple-A Round Rock. Although he held his own in nine games there by slashing .273/.294/.364, he was sent down to Spokane (short-season A-ball), where he finished the year. Yrizarri spent the entire 2016 season with Hickory (A), and then split time with Hickory and Down East (A+) in 2017 prior to the White Sox acquiring him for international bonus pool money on July 15, 2017. In 31 games for the Dash that year, he slashed .295/.304/.330 with a homer.

Yrizarri has spent the last two seasons with the Dash, but his numbers have regressed during that time. In 2017 under the tutelage of Omar Vizquel, Yrizarri slashed .247/.296/.363 in 101 games with 21 doubles, two triples, six homers, 46 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 18 walks (4.5%) and 75 strikeouts (18.6%). This year for the Dash, Yrizarri slashed just .218/.262/.296 in 107 games with 17 doubles, one triple, three homers, 36 RBIs, five stolen bases, 17 walks (4.5%) and 90 strikeouts (23.6%).

This was the first year that Yrizarri was a regular third baseman, and it showed as he made 31 errors in just 97 games at that position. Right now, it’s doubtful if Yrizarri has the range of a shortstop or the power of a third baseman — looking more like a second baseman going forward. Yrizarri is still young, as he was about seven months younger than the Carolina League player last year. With that said, it’d be nice to see him make enough progress to earn a spot next year on the Birmingham roster.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Jake Burger
6´2´´
210 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 23

After a good rookie season with Missouri State, Burger really tore up the Missouri Valley Conference during his final two years. As a sophomore in 2016, he slashed .349/.420/.689 in 56 games with 13 doubles, two triples, 21 homers, 72 RBIs, three stolen bases, 23 walks (8.6%) and 35 strikeouts (13.0%). His junior year was as good as his sophomore one, as he slashed .328/.443/.668 in 63 games with 13 doubles, 22 homers, 65 RBIs, three stolen bases, 43 walks (14.1%) and 38 strikeouts (12.5%). With the White Sox needing third base help, the White Sox selected Burger with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Burger struggled a bit during his 2017 stints with the AZL squad and Kannapolis. In 51 combined games with both teams, he combined to slash .263/.336/.412 with 10 doubles, two triples, five homers, 29 RBIs, 14 walks (6.5%) and 30 strikeouts (13.8%). Burger likely was battling a little fatigue, as this would’ve been his longest baseball season to date.

Then the injuries began.

Burger tore his Achilles while running to first base during a spring training game in February 2018. He re-tore the same tendon 10 weeks after the initial injury while walking in his backyard, which caused him to miss not only the entire 2018 season but much of the 2019 season as well. Then, to add injury to insult, Burger severely bruised his heel during his rehab — ultimately derailing any chance of playing time in 2019. As a result, when Burger does step on the field again for an actual game, it would be the first time in approximately 30 months.

At the time of the 2017 draft, Baseball America said “Burger’s power is some of the best in this draft class. He’s a fastball hitter with above-average bat speed who can catch up to premium velocity, but he’s also aware enough of the strike zone and has the pitch recognition to lay off tough off-speed offerings to put himself in fastball counts.”

Burger still ranks 17th among White Sox prospects and first among the team’s third base prospects per MLB. And the Pipeline still gives him 55 grades for power and throwing arm, with respectable 50 grades for his hitting, fielding and running tools. While that latter tool will be in question thanks to Burger’s recent injuries, all the other tools should still be in play. Just expect a little rust when he returns to the field, which will likely be as a member of the Winston-Salem Dash to begin the 2020 season.


Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis second basemen

Subbing in: Mitch Roman, saddled by a .604 OPS, head this collection of A-ball second basemen, who all seem to be settling for utility roles in the organization. (@Roman_Around)


“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

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of long-term talent at Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, so this trio needs to prove some people wrong in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Mitch Roman
6´0´´
190 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop, Left field, Right field
Age: 25

In his final two years with Wright State University, Roman was consistently good. Roman’s junior year saw him hit .336/.401/.428 for the Raiders in 62 games with 10 doubles, five triples, one homer, 42 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 23 walks (7.8%) and 29 strikeouts (9.8%). Based upon his speed and defensive range, the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. It just so happened that Roman’s numbers with Great Falls paralleled his numbers from his last two years with Wright State. For the Voyagers in 67 games that year, he slashed .332/.392/.418 with 10 doubles, six triples, 33 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 21 walks (7.3%) and 42 strikeouts (14.6%).

Roman struggled to maintain that momentum with Kannapolis in 2017, as he slashed just .254/.305/.306 in 516 at-bats with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers, 45 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 31 walks (6.0%) and 120 strikeouts (23.3%). He bounced back in Winston-Salem the following year, as he slashed .292/.362/.377 in 297 at-bats with 14 doubles one triple, three homers, 41 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 34 walks and 70 strikeouts; Roman received a late promotion in 2018 to Birmingham, but struggled with a .530 OPS.

The 2019 season saw Roman return to Birmingham, where he struggled to the tune of a .165/.266/.231 slash line in 40 games. After being demoted to Winston-Salem on June 6, he bounced back a bit and slashed .269/.325/.328 for the Dash in 69 games. Combined with both squads, he slashed .237/.306/.298 in 109 games with 14 doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 36 walks (8.3%) and 112 strikeouts (25.9%). As sad as his .604 OPS was, it still topped the OPS of the two second basemen who finished with Kannapolis this year. Roman has a chance to begin 2020 with Birmingham, thanks in part due to his tremendous defensive versatility. Roman will be available for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, but likely won’t be selected.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Amado Nuñez
6´2´´
178 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: First base, Third base
Age: 22

Nuñez was part of a small four-member class of international players who received signing bonuses from the White Sox during 2014’s International Signing Day (along with Jhoandro Alfaro, Felix Mercedes and Ricky Mota). Nuñez actually started his professional career with the AZL White Sox the following year, and struggled mightily with an unsightly .385 OPS. He performed much better in 2016 with the AZL squad, however, and slashed .287/.320/.370 with 11 doubles, two triples, one homer, 26 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 10 walks and 52 strikeouts.

After playing the first two games of the 2017 season with the AZL Sox, Nuñez finally received the long-awaited promotion to Great Falls but struggled in his new digs. That year for the Voyagers in 34 games totaling 142 at-bats, Nuñez slashed .183/.247/.246 with just six doubles, one homer, 17 RBIs, one stolen base, 12 walks (7.8%) and 31 strikeouts (20.1%). However, after returning to Great Falls for the 2018 campaign, Nuñez enjoyed his best season to date by slashing .357/.394/.568 in 60 games with 21 doubles, six triples, six homers, 52 RBIs, three stolen bases, 15 walks (5.8%) and 71 strikeouts (27.4%).

Nuñez struggled with his first taste of full season ball with Kannapolis in 2019, as he scuffled with a .206/.256/.326 slash line in 86 games with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, five stolen bases, 19 walks (5.8%) and 105 strikeouts (32.3%). It seems that he struggles with every new stop, but bounces back big-time when he repeats the same level. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him succeed this year with the Cannon Ballers. While Nuñez still struggles defensively, he did lower his error rate in 2019. Nuñez will be eligible for December’s Rule 5 draft.

Ramon Beltre
5´11´´
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Left field, Center field, Shortstop
Age: 23

Beltre’s been in the White Sox organization for an even longer time than fellow Dominican native Nuñez, as Beltre signed with the White Sox on Nov. 19, 2013. While Beltre posted respectable numbers during the 2014-16 seasons with the DSL White Sox, he still had not received his long-awaited promotion. It wasn’t until his fantastic start to the 2017 season (.335/.393/.477 in 42 games) that Beltre received the call to join the AZL Sox. He finished well for the AZL squad for that year, with a solid .308/.339/.383 slash line.

Beltre did quite well for Great Falls to begin the 2018 season, and received a promotion on August 2 as a reward for his efforts. Though he struggled for the Intimidators in 28 games, Beltre still finished the year by slashing a combined .270/.292/.410 in 60 games with 10 doubles, three triples, five homers, 31 RBIs, one stolen base, eight walks (3.4%) and 56 strikeouts (23.7%). Beltre struggled upon his return to Kannapolis this year, as he slashed a paltry .207/.236/.311 in a career-high 125 games with 23 doubles, six triples, four homers, 33 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 13 walks (2.8%) and 130 strikeouts (27.5%).

Expect a return to Kannapolis for Beltre, who though a better defensive player than Nuñez doesn’t have as the same offensive upside. Like the other players in this piece, Beltre is also eligible for the December’s Rule 5 draft.


Kannapolis unveils new moniker

On Wednesday, October 23 the Single-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox formerly known as the Kannapolis Intimidators announced their team’s name change in front of an exuberant crowd that had gathered at one of the town’s most iconic landmarks, the Gem theater.

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Once the audience was seated, it was treated to a screening of a slickly- produced documentary from Temerity Baseball, about the city of Kannapolis and its rich minor league baseball history. The production also paid homage to Kannapolis founding father J.W. Cannon, and the city’s favorite son, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, whose highlights on the screen elicited an appreciable roar from the attendees.

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At 7 p.m., with great anticipation, the “Kannapolis Cannon Ballers” were revealed, along with their bushy-mustachioed mascot who is currently awaiting a name. In using the word “Cannon” along with the new mascot (who bears a resemblance to Earnhardt), the Ballers appear to have made a cognizant effort to meld the city’s origins and proud history to its baseball team.

After the “Big Reveal,” baseball fans were given access to the team store for a first chance at purchasing new gear. A fireworks show lit up the night sky over the footprint of the construction site that will be home for the Cannon Ballers beginning on Opening Day 2020. Judging from the size of the crowd and the overwhelmingly favorable feedback heard at the event, it was a great night for the city of Kannapolis and its baseball team.