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.


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 20, 2019

Monster effort: Luis Robert, barely able to raise his arms for high-fives in the dugout after hitting his 13th homer this week, is gonna go full Rumpelstiltskin “any day now.” (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


Charlotte Knights 9, Durham Bulls 3

Luis Robert (CF): 2-for-4, HR (13), 1 RBI (32), 3 R, 1 BB (.310 BA, 1.025 OPS)
Nick Madrigal (2B): 3-for-5, 2B (3), 2 R, 0 K (.311 BA, .733 OPS)
Yoán Moncada (3B): 3-for-5, 2B (1), 1 RBI (6), 3 R, 0 K (.409 BA, 1.136 OPS)
Daniel Palka (RF): 1-for-2, HR (26), 3 RBI (69, nice), 3 BB, 0 K (.274 BA, .942 OPS) *MVP*
Justin Nicolino (SP): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (W, 8-6)

In a shocking turn of events, fatigued center fielder Luis Robert was able to overcome the need of a fainting couch and hit another danged homer over that sweet LED Monster in Left Field out in Durham. The top three hitters of Madrigal, Moncada, and Pantera (aka the first-inning batting order of the next White Sox championship team) combined to go 8-for-14 with 2 2B, 2 HR (YoYo is ret-to-go), and eight runs scored. It’s a damn shame the weary burdens of dominating Triple-A weigh heavy on the bodies and minds of our prospects, cheating Sox fans of … hmm … I feel I’ve lost track of the narrative.

Oh, yes! MVP honors go to Palkamania because he mashed a tasty three-run tater and reached base three times via the free pass. Also, because the poor guy needs it, dammit. The Knights are 71-56, control their destiny in the IL wild card chase, and at this point are a slight underdog in a straight-up matchup with Ricky’s Boys.

(South Side Hit Pen has confirmed where Luis Robert’s Home Run from Monday landed, seen here in this undoctored photo. Can you imagine if Robert wasn’t so fatigued!)


Birmingham Barons 9, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 3

Laz Rivera (2B): 3-for-4, 2 HR (2), 4 RBI (36), 3 R, 1 SB (9) (.259 BA, .605 OPS) *MVP*
Blake Rutherford (DH): 2-for-4, 2B (13), 2 R (.263 BA, .669 OPS)
Damek Tomscha (LF): 3-for-4, 2B (5), 1 RBI (24) (.287 BA, .767 OPS)
John Parke (SP): 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (2.55 ERA)

Just like their Triple-A compadres, the Barons defeated their opponent 9-3, sautéing the Jumbo Shrimp in butter, lemon juice, and some parsley. That’s about all the interesting bits, but MVP honors go to Laz Rivera, who is no longer listed as missing on the side of a milk carton, with two dingers and four ribbies tonight. 57-67 is the Barons record and [Forrest Gump voice] that’s all I have to say about that.


Winston-Salem Dash 5, Lynchburg Hillcats 2

Steele Walker (DH): 1-for-4, 2B (24), 1 BB (.284 BA, .802 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn (1B): 0-for-5, 1 RBI (15) (.250 BA, .765 OPS)
Zach Lewis (SP): 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (W, 6-6, 5.85 ERA) *MVP*

The Dash didn’t have to do much offensively (see: five hits) to maximize their run efficiency, with five runs in their victory over the Hillcats. A big thank-you to Hillcat Jodd Carter (yes, that’s his name, no matter how hard autocorrect wants to make it Jody) for the throwing error leading to the rare two-run sac fly, giving the Dash a 2-1 lead. A lead that Zach Lewis would hold up, only getting touched for two unearned runs in six innings, with six Ks. The Dash are 66-54.


Rome Braves 14, Kannapolis Intimidators 4

Ramon Beltre (3B,P[!]): 2-for-4, 2 RBI (33) (.218 BA, .577 OPS); .1 IP, 1 H (0.00 ERA) *MVP*
Alex Destino (RF): 2-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K (.302 BA, .861 OPS)
Davis Martin (SP): 4 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (L, 7-9, 5.26 ERA)

Not much slugging from the Intimidators bats tonight, as 12 hits equaled just 13 total bases. Starter Davis Martin (already worthy of a wary eye as a Two Last Names guy) didn’t have it, nor received much help, with two errors behind him. Ramon Beltre gets begrudging MVP honors for knocking in 50% of Kanny’s four runs and committing 50% of its four errors, while also pitching (!) one out of the game. The Intimidators record slip-slides down to 55-70.


Billings Mustangs 10, Great Falls Voyagers 6

Caberea Weaver (CF): 2-for-5, HR (2), 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K (.260 BA, .707 OPS)
Joshua Rivera (2B): 1-for-4, HR (2), 3 RBI (3), 1 R (.200 BA, .603 OPS)
Dan Metzdorf (SP): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K (3.38 ERA) *MVP*

Things started off swimmingly for the Voyagers, as they scored five runs in the second inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Joshua Rivera! Ramon Pineda pitched the fourth inning with a 5-0 cushion and boy howdy, did those wheels came off in a hurry.

A leadoff error by SS Lency Delgado set an ominous tone for the rest of Pineda’s outing, as he loaded the bases on walks and a HBP. A sac fly cut the lead to 4-1, and Pineda would have gotten away with minimal damage if it weren’t for that meddling Connor Reich who, coming in after Pineda left with the bases loaded, promptly unloaded three more runs on his bill by giving up a first-pitch grand slam to Renal Ozuna. A five-run lead suddenly became a brand-new ballgame.

Caberea Weaver gave the Voyagers a brief reclaiming of the lead in the fifth inning with a solo homer, but Great Falls’ bullpen would continue the leakage by giving up five more runs, and the Voyagers record fell to 23-33.


AZL White Sox 8, AZL Brewers (Gold) 7

Micker Adolfo (DH): 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K (.306 BA, 1.016 OPS)
Logan Glass (CF): 3-for-4, 2B (4), 1 RBI, 1 R (.226 BA, .583 OPS)
Mac Welsh (P): 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K (SV 3, 0.00 ERA) *MVP*

Down 7-1 after four innings of ungood pitching from starter Luis Rodriguez, the AZL Sox chipped away at the deficit until busting thru in the sixth inning with five straight two-out hits. That added up to four runs and a 8-7 lead, a lead that held up thanks to four scoreless innings from the Sox bullpen (one hit, five Ks). I’m giving MVP honors to Mac for getting 2 Ks in the ninth with the tying run on for the save! Bless those baby Chisox hearts, as the win shoots their record up to a scintillating 14-37.


DSL White Sox 8, DSL Orioles 3

Yolbert Sánchez (SS) *Co-MVP* – 5-for-5, 2B (13), 1 RBI, 1 R (.283 BA, .766 OPS)
Richard García (C) – 2-for-2, 2 RBI (11) (.286 BA, .724 OPS)
Elijah Tatís (SS): 2-for-4, 2 R (.203 BA, .545 OPS)
Homer Cruz (SP): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K (W, 5-4, 3.86 ERA) *Co-MVP*

The DSL Sox jumped out to a first-inning, three-run lead over the Orioles in a way that would make the 1906 “Hitless Wonders” White Sox blush with pride, scoring three runs without the benefit of a batter striking a ball with his bat so that it lands in fair territory that is not the result of an error or fielder’s choice … otherwise known as a hit!  OK, Yolbert got a single, but the runs came in the forms of an RBI groundout, throwing error on a stolen base attempt, and some #wildpitchoffense!

Starter Homer Cruz was dominant, with six strikeouts in five innings of shutout ball. He certainly did not live up to his first namesake down in the DSL today.