Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis left-handed starters

Solid gold: Konnor Pilkington, who finished the season well for Winston-Salem, is currently the 16th-ranked White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline. (@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

While the highest-ranked southpaw in the system is on this list (Konnor Pilkington), there are several other interesting left-handed arms that finished the season at Winston-Salem and Kannapolis who are worth watching.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020


Winston-Salem Dash

Konnor Pilkington
6´3´´
225 pounds
Age: 22

Pilkington, who had a great first two seasons with Mississippi State, had a down year as a junior that caused him to fall from first to second round consideration, in part because his fastball had lost a couple of ticks. His college stats are listed below:

2016: 2.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 43 IP, 38 H, 15 BB, 42 K
2017: 3.08 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 108 IP, 76 H, 47 BB, 111 K
2018: 4.47 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 102.2 IP, 106 H, 33 BB, 107 K

On the positive side, Pilkington continued to strike out hitters and reduce his walk ratio. Unfortunately, he became much more hittable so an apparent lack of command may have been the issue. With that said, when Pilkington slipped to the third round, the White Sox felt it was a no-brainer to select him. He pitched for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls and his numbers weren’t good, but a low number of innings (14) made it too small a sample size to judge.

Pilkington started the 2019 season with Kannapolis, and pitched terrific ball in his six starts. He posted a 1.62 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 33 1/3 innings, allowing just 15 hits (.132 OBA) and 11 walks (8.5%) while fanning 42 (32.6%). On May 11, Pilkington was promoted to Winston-Salem, where he struggled for most of the year. In 19 starts for the Dash spanning 95 2/3 innings, Pilkington compiled a 4.99 ERA and 1.44 WHIP by allowing 99 hits (.270 OBA) and 39 walks (9.4%) while striking out 96 (23.2%). While those numbers certainly weren’t pretty, he did show significant improvement over his final six outings: 2.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 31 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 32 K. Another important thing to note is that Pilkington was mre than two years younger than the average Carolina League player.

MLB Pipeline ranks Pilkington 16th among all White Sox prospect, though he doesn’t have any exceptional tools. MLB grades his changeup as 55, which fades against righthanders, while his slurvy curveball and slider are both graded at 50. MLB also stated that Pilkington’s fastball has run up to 96 mph in the past, but now tops out at 94 while generally running 87-93. His control is graded at 50 but perhaps could be better, as Pilkington sometimes rushes through his delivery and finishes stiff and upright. That could be a factor in his lack of command and velocity. Since Pilkington finished relatively strong last year, there’s a possibility he could begin 2020 with Birmingham. However, it seems likelier that Pilkington returns to Winston-Salem with a shot for an early promotion if he starts the season well.

Taylor Varnell
6´1´´
190 pounds
Age: 24

Varnell pitched one year for Western Oklahoma C.C. before transferring to Oral Roberts. While his first two seasons for the Golden Eagles were quite good, Varnell’s senior season was a bit of a disappointment as he produced a 5.95 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 16 outings (11 starts) spanning 59 innings. In those innings, Varnell relinquished 58 hits and 30 walks while striking out 62. His stock fell as a result of his struggles, but the White Sox selected him in the 29th round of the 2018 draft.

Varnell pitched exclusively for the AZL White Sox in 2018, and put up superb numbers. In 10 starts spanning 45 2/3 innings, he compiled a microscopic 1.97 ERA and 0.88 WHIP as he allowed 30 hits (.175 OBA) and 10 walks (5.7%) while fanning 61 (35.1%). This year, Varnell pitched the vast majority of the season for Kannapolis and acquitted himself nicely, with a 3.23 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 106 innings and just 86 hits (.221 OBA) and 34 walks (7.8%) while striking out 115 (26.3%). After a surprisingly late promotion, Varnell did nicely for the Winston-Salem Dash in four starts with a 3.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings, as he ceded 20 hits (.263 OBA) and 10 walks (11.1%) while striking out 21 (23.3%).

Varnell’s fastball typically runs upper-80s to low-90s, but has run as high as 94 mph according to Baseball America. Other pitches in his arsenal include an above-average changeup and an outstanding Barry Zito-esque 12-6 curveball. Varnell’s fourth pitch is a slider, which is especially effective against lefties. He’s a little long-in-the tooth for someone in High-A ball, so if Varnell gets off to a good start with Winston-Salem next year, he should be earning a promotion to Birmingham by midseason.

Cristian Castillo
6´0´´
190 pounds
Age: 25

Castillo, a native of Mexico, signed an international minor-league contract with the Kansas City Royals on Dec. 15, 2014 as a 20-year-old and pitched in their organization through the 2018 season. Castillo’s first season was spent with the Royals DSL squad in 2015, while his second season was spent with their Appalachian League team at Burlington — he pitched quite well for both teams and his future looked pretty bright. Castillo was promoted from rookie league ball in 2017, going straight to A+ Wilmington where he started 26 games with middling results (4.13 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .277 OBA, 7.7 BB%, 16.8 K%, 31.1 GB%) while achieving his career-high total to date of 141 2/3 innings. After Castillo’s numbers regressed in 2018 with Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, in part due to injury-related issues, he was traded to the White Sox for cash considerations on March 20, 2019.

Castillo started 11 games for Winston-Salem and actually performed quite well. In 56 2/3 innings for the Dash, he posted a 3.49 ERA and 1.38 WHIP by surrendering 65 hits (.286 OBA) and 13 walks (5.3%) while fanning 54 (22.0%). He did improve his ground ball rate as well to a career-best 45.6%. As has been the case for Castillo throughout his career, lefties hit him a bit less this year (.270) than righties (.290). Unfortunately, he went on the injured list on June 8 and never returned.

According to Royals Farm Report in 2018, Castillo possesses a low-90s fastball, which obviously isn’t overpowering but gets the job done with his change of speeds. His arsenal also includes a curveball with downward movement, a back-door slider, and a plus-change which terrific sinking action which helps neutralize righties. Because of injuries, Castillo has only pitched a combined 137 2/3 innings over the past two seasons. As a result, expect him to return to Winston-Salem for 2020 but in a different role: middle reliever who can be a spot starter when needed.

Andre Davis
6´6´´
230 pounds
Age: 26

After a successful junior season with Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2015, in which he posted a 2.28 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 27 23 innings allowing 19 hits and nine walks while striking out 35 hitters, the Kansas City Royals signed Davis to a $25,000 bonus after drafting him in the eighth round. Davis began his professional career shortly afterward, but struggled with the Royals Appalachian squad in Burlington, where posted a 7.26 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. Davis did improve upon his return to Burlington in 2016, where he posted a 4.76 ERA but nifty 1.13 WHIP over six starts, thanks in large part to a 33-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 13 innings.

Davis posted similar numbers in 2017 with the Royals A-squad in Lexington, as he posted a 4.83 ERA but a higher 1.39 WHIP in 85 23 innings, allowing 96 hits (.280 OBA) and 23 walks (6.1%) but striking out 87 (23.1%). Because the Royals were interested in a postseason run in 2017, they traded Davis and right-handed starter A.J. Puckett to the White Sox for outfielder Melky Cabrera on July 30. After the trade, Davis made four appearances with Kannapolis (two starts) and did quite well, with a 2.84 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Davis has shown good command of all his pitches, and his funky delivery helps an otherwise-fringe slider play up against left-handed hitters. Davis sits 92-94 mph with some movement, and there’s a lot to like with his sturdy build. His strikeout rate has been a solid 23.3% throughout his career, while his walk rate has been a manageable 7.7% despite his large size. Like Puckett, Davis has been on the injured list in both of the last two seasons.

With a combination of injury history, age, limited repertoire and funky delivery, Davis is best suited as a reliever. He’s been equally adept at getting righties out as much as lefties throughout his career, so it’s conceivable Davis could be a one-inning guy. To ask for more than that at this point really wouldn’t make much sense. With his age, time’s of the essence for him to move up the proverbial ladder. With such a long layoff, Davis likely will begin the season with the Dash but could move extremely quickly if he can stay healthy and efficiently get hitters out.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Sam Long
6´1´´
185 pounds
Age: 24

Sam Long enjoyed a consistently solid three years for the Sacramento State Hornets as a starting pitcher, concluding what was arguably his weakest season with a 3.99 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 85 2/3 innings as he relinquished 81 hits and 35 walks while fanning 68. The Tampa Bay Rays selected Long in the 18th round of the 2016 draft, and used him primarily in relief for their Gulf Coast and Appalachian League rookie squads, where he pitched quite well.

Combined with Hudson Valley (NY-Penn League) and Low-A team Bowling Green, Long had a terrific 2017 campaign despite some control issues. In a combined 20 games totaling 31 2/3 innings, he posted a 2.27 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP by allowing 27 hits (.233 OBA) and 18 walks (12.6%) while striking out 29 (20.3%). He missed the entire 2018 season, however, due to a back injury. Long was ultimately released by the Rays in March, and was quickly snatched up by the White Sox.

This season was actually a tale of two cities, so to speak, for Long. His first 15 outings for Kannapolis this year were spent in the bullpen, with the latter half spent in the rotation. In both roles, he actually performed quite well. As a reliever in 26 innings, he posted a 2.77 ERA and 0.96 WHIP ceding just 20 hits and five walks while striking out 35. As a starter in 71 innings, Long had a 3.17 ERA and 1.07 WHIP by surrendering just 53 hits and 23 walks while fanning 77. Thus for the whole year for the Intimidators, he combined to post a 3.06 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 97 innings — allowing just 73 hits (.205 OBA) and 28 walks (7.2%) while fanning 112 (28.7%). He seemed to get stronger by year’s end, as he provided a 0.61 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in August in 29 1/3 innings by relinquishing just 15 hits and five walks while striking out 30.

Baseball America described Long in 2016 as having an 86-92 mph fastball, an inconsistent curveball and an above-average changeup. Based on the numbers, his curveball may have improved during this past season and his changeup was indeed excellent — impelling righties to hit just .183 against his offerings. He’s been able to consistently maintain a 40% or better ground ball rate throughout his career, which should hold him in good stead for a likely promotion to Winston-Salem for 2020.


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.

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 28, 2019

AAAA for you: Dylan Covey threw a fabulous game in Charlotte’s loss, pushing his ERA to less than 3.00. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


Durham Bulls 3, Charlotte Knights 2

Nick Madrigal: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 0 K (.304 BA, .791 OPS)
Luis Robert: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K (.301 BA, .993 OPS)
Zack Collins: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 2 K (.293 BA, .975 OPS)
Yermin Mercedes: 3-for-4, 0 BB, 1 K (.301 BA, .989 OPS)
Seby Zavala: 1-for-3, 0 BB, 1 K (.225 BA, .784 OPS)
Danny Mendick: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 K (.281 BA, .820 OPS)
Dylan Covey: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (2.84 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) **MVP**
Carson Fulmer: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K (5.01 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

It is not going well in Charlotte down the stretch. Their four-game lead in the wild card is down to one, due to a losing streak that continued tonight. Dylan Covey started the game and was very good. It seems like he and Daniel Palka are the most AAAA players in baseball history. Covey went six good innings and just allowed one run, and left with the lead. However, Carson Fulmer, who is on a rehab assignment, allowed two runs on just one out. So his rehab assignment is not close to over. Once Fulmer lost that lead the Knights never go it back, but they had two cool hits, though!

Danny Mendick hit a home run in the third inning, his 17th of the season. Luis Robert, of course, had a homer himself, his 15th of the season.


Winston-Salem Dash 12, Salem Red Sox 3

Steele Walker: 1-for-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.275 BA, .787 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.237 BA, .739 OPS)
Konnor Pilkington: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (5.15 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) **MVP**

It was an all-around great performance for the Dash, especially the top guys. Both Steele Walker and Andrew Vaughn had home runs in their 12-3 win. In fact, the Dash had a lot of homers. Craig Dedelow and Yeyson Yrizarri had bombs of their own to make four total, and eight of their 12 runs came from those hits.

The pitching was also great led by Konnor Pilkington. He went seven innings in what is his second straight quality start and third straight start of allowing two runs or fewer. Pilkington has put together quite the streak for about 30 days. His ERA has fallen from 5.98 from a month ago, now to 5.05. He again looks like the third round pick, and the Dash needed that to end their losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive.


Kannapolis Intimidators 3, Hagerstown Suns 1

Ian Dawkins: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K (.301 BA, .761 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa: 1-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.244 BA, .639 OPS)
Tyler Osik: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (.250 BA, .837 OPS) **MVP**
Kevin Folman: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (5.12 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Though they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs, the I’s are still competing, and winning. This one was off the backs of the pitchers. Kevin Folman got the start, and threw five innings of one-run baseball. That was obviously the only run allowed of the game for the I’s. Wilber Perez took over for him and went three innings. The converted starter has averaged more than two innings an appearance, and he’s turning into an interesting arm down the road. J.B. Olson closed out the game, earning his third save of the season in the 3-1 win.

Clearly, a lot of offense was not needed, and the I’s didn’t provide much. They were just very efficient. Kannapolis had three hits, and it scored three runs. Michael Hickman drove in the first run in the second inning, and Tyler Osik gave them the lead for good with a two-run homer in the sixth. Other than that, this win was all because of the pitching.


Idaho Falls Chukars 6, Great Falls Voyagers 2

Caberea Weaver: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K (.261 BA, .709 OPS)
Lency Delgado: 3-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K (.275 BA, .720 OPS) **MVP**
Luis Mieses: 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.244 BA, .633 OPS)
Sean Thompson: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (6.66 ERA)

It was not the Voyagers’ night, as they were down and out for most of the game. Sean Thompson started out looking fine through the first two innings, but he faltered in two of his last three. He allowed two runs in the third inning, and three more in the fifth. While Thompson wasn’t doing all that well, the offense was arguably worse. Its first run didn’t come until the sixth inning, on a Luis Mieses sacrifice fly. Mieses also drove in the final run for Great Falls, with a double in the eighth. The bullpen was able to do better against the Chukars. They only allowed one run in the last three innings, as McKinley Moore (14th round pick) made his Great Falls debut after the AZL season was over.

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.