South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 86: Sam Abbott

Clubber special: If Abbott can add a bit better contact to his power, he could climb the ladder quickly. (@MiLB)


Sam Abbott
First Baseman
6´4´´
225 pounds
Age: 21
SSHP rank among all first basemen in the system: 6 

A three-time state MVP in water polo at Curtis High School in University Place, Wash., Abbott had a partial scholarship to stay on that path at Long Beach State. But in the spring of 2017 — the spring he thought would be his last for competitive baseball — he batted .438 (21-for-61) with eight doubles, two home runs and 18 RBIs to earn an eighth round draft selection by the White Sox. That year with the AZL White Sox, he got off to a good start and showed good patience at the plate. However, he struggled making contact, which caused him to slash just .225/.344/.275 with 17 walks (13.8%) and 38 strikeouts (30.9%) in 102 at-bats.

Abbott got off to an extremely difficult start with the AZL White Sox in 2018, but salvaged his season somewhat as he found his power late in the season. Overall, though, Abbott slashed just .139/.347/.306 in 72 at-bats with three doubles, three homers, nine RBIs, 18 walks (18.9%) and 33 strikeouts (34.7%) in 72 at-bats.

In 2019 with Great Falls, Abbott still fanned far too frequently but started making harder contact. In 58 games and 181 at-bats with the Voyagers, he slashed .238/.355/.459 while producing 13 doubles, nine homers, 27 RBIs, 26 walks (12.0%) and 79 strikeouts (36.4%). He hit .212/.350/.455 against lefties and fared a bit better versus righties (.243/.356/.450). Abbott does have a great degree of patience for someone so young as he’s walked 14% of the time during his professional career; however, that patience has also led to a seriously high strikeout rate of 34.5%.

It may be between Harvin Mendoza and Abbott as to who earns a promotion to Kannapolis for 1B/DH duties. While Abbott has the better power potential, Mendoza is more likely to win that promotion due to being a more polished hitter. Even if Abbott returns to Great Falls to begin the 2020 season, he likely will end the year with Kannapolis.

 

Deep Dive: White Sox rookie league first basemen

Starvin for Harvin: Mendoza enjoyed the best OPS (.819) of all White Sox first basemen who finished this season in the rookie leagues. (@gfvoyagers)


“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 article delves into the first basemen who finished the year with Great Falls, along with the Arizona and Dominican League affiliates. While there’s nobody here that is a Top 30 organizational prospect as of yet, there are a couple of interesting bats worth watching here — especially with Great Falls.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Great Falls Voyagers

Harvin Mendoza
6´2´´
175 pounds
B/T: L/L
Age: 21

Mendoza was one of four players signed on International Signing Day in 2015, along with infielder Brayant Nova, Franklin Reyes and some guy named Fernando Tatís Jr. At the time of the signing, Ben Badler of Baseball America said, “Mendoza is limited to an outfield corner, but there were scouts who liked his left-handed swing, ability to use the opposite field and hang in well for his against left-handed pitching.”

Mendoza spent his first two seasons (2016-17) in the DSL where he posted good numbers but with little power, as he combined to slash .281/.389/.358 with two homers, 61 RBIs, 78 walks (17.7%) and 76 strikeouts (17.2%) in a combined 125 games.

The Venezuela native appeared stateside with the AZL White Sox for the 2018 season, and produced slightly better numbers in 39 games by slashing .314/.381/.409 with no homers, 23 RBIs, 12 walks (7.7%) and 12 strikeouts.

This year with Great Falls, he sacrificed strikeouts for power and produced a .278/.362/.457 slash line with 17 doubles, three triples, six homers, 29 RBIs, 27 walks (10.4%) and 48 strikeouts (18.5%) in 62 games. His numbers were terrific in the first half of the season (.311/.393/.538) but slipped in the second (.243/.328/.360). He hit righties well this year (.301/.373/.519), but struggled against southpaws (.191/.321/.213). Mendoza has the projectable size to hit more homers going forward, as he is quite a bit larger than his official 175 pounds. Expect him to begin next season with Kannapolis.

Sam Abbott
6´4´´
225 pounds
B/T: L/R
Age: 20

A three-time state MVP in water polo at Curtis High School in University Place, Wash., Abbott had a partial scholarship to stay on that path at Long Beach State. But in the spring of 2017 — the spring he thought would be his last for competitive baseball — he batted .438 (21-for-61) with eight doubles, two home runs and 18 RBIs to earn an eighth round draft selection by the White Sox. That year with the AZL White Sox, he got off to a good start and showed good patience at the plate. However, he struggled making contact, which caused him to slash just .225/.344/.275 with 17 walks (13.8%) and 38 strikeouts (30.9%) in 102 at-bats.

Abbott got off to an extremely difficult start with the AZL White Sox in 2018, but salvaged his season somewhat as he found his power late in the season. Overall, though, Abbott slashed just .139/.347/.306 in 72 at-bats with three doubles, three homers, nine RBIs, 18 walks (18.9%) and 33 strikeouts (34.7%) in 72 at-bats.

In 2019 with Great Falls, Abbott still fanned far too frequently but started making harder contact. In 58 games and 181 at-bats with the Voyagers, he slashed .238/.355/.459 while producing 13 doubles, nine homers, 27 RBIs, 26 walks (12.0%) and 79 strikeouts (36.4%). He hit .212/.350/.455 against lefties and fared a bit better versus righties (.243/.356/.450). Abbott does have a great degree of patience for someone so young as he’s walked 14% of the time during his professional career; however, that patience has also led to a seriously high strikeout rate of 34.5%.

With Tyler Osik likely to begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis, it may be between Mendoza and Abbott as to who could join him for 1B/DH duties. While Abbott has the better power potential, Mendoza is more likely to win that promotion due to being a more polished hitter. Even though Abbott may return to Great Falls to begin the 2020 season, he likely will end the year with Kannapolis.

Franklin Reyes
6´4´´
225 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 21

Reyes, like Mendoza, was an outfielder when the White Sox gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus in 2015. Reyes, a Dominican native whose brother Franmil played for the Padres and Indians this year, was actually given a 70 grade for power — higher than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the time. Unfortunately, Reyes also came with a 30 grade hit tool per MLB, while Baseball America described his approach as being “aggressive, raw, with a lot of swing-and-miss, especially against breaking pitches” and they called his swing “long and loopy.”

His first professional season (2016) saw him slash just .171/.189/.251 in 217 at-bats with the AZL White Sox as he hit 10 doubles, two triples, one homer, and 16 RBIs while walking just five times (2.3%) and striking out 71 (32.7%). Reyes played in Great Falls the following year, and although his stats did improve, he still produced disappointing results: .249/.270/.361 in 241 at-bats with 12 doubles five homers, 34 RBIs, five walks (2.0%) and 68 strikeouts (27.2%).

Reyes has missed the past two seasons due to back injuries. If he’s healthy in 2020, expect Reyes to return to Great Falls and hopefully tap into his immense potential.


AZL White Sox

Sidney Pimentel
6´1´´
160 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: Second base, Shortstop, Third base
Age: 19

Pimentel, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed with the White Sox on International Signing Day in 2017. The Dominican Prospect League said of him at the time, “Pimentel has the length and range for SS and possesses soft hands that allow him to field grounders and get rid of the ball without wasted movement.” They also note that Pimentel is built to be a leadoff hitter that “sprays balls into the gaps.”

Unfortunately, Pimentel hasn’t done much with the bat yet. In 2018 for the DSL White Sox in 17 games, he slashed just .167/.219/.300 with two doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, two stolen bases, four walks (6.3%) and 18 strikeouts (28.1%). This year for the AZL White Sox, Pimentel slashed .181/.271/.219 in 27 games as he produced four doubles, eight RBIs, 10 walks (8.5%) and 40 strikeouts (33.9%).

His best attribute to date has been his defensive versatility, as he played all four infield positions while committing just four errors. Pimentel, with his size, essentially played out of position this year, as he’s better suited for a middle-infield slot.


DSL White Sox

Matthew Mercedes
6´1´´
195 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 21

Mercedes, the son of baseball scout Edgar Mercedes, signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates during 2016’s International Signing Day as a soon-to-be 18-year-old. He didn’t get into his first professional action until the following year, when he scuffled a bit by slashing .237/.323/.297 in 39 games with seven doubles, 11 RBIs, 10 walks (7.5%) and 18 strikeouts (13.4%). Mercedes improved with the DSL Pirates in 2018, as he slashed .257/.359/.440 in 39 games with five doubles, five homers, 28 RBIs, 13 walks (10.2%) and just 10 strikeouts (7.8%). However, despite his improved numbers, the Pirates released him at season’s end. The White Sox signed him as an international free agent less than three months later.

Mercedes returned to the DSL for a third season and enjoyed his best season to date: .328/.400/.440 in 40 games with 10 doubles, one triple, one homer, 30 RBIs, 16 walks (10.3%) and 14 strikeouts (9.0%). Mercedes played against opponents more than two years younger on average this year, so his results can be taken with a grain of salt. Walking more than he has struck out in each of the past two years, Mercedes should be a good fit for the AZL White Sox in 2020. How far he progresses will likely depend upon his ability to hit the ball over the fence, because he plays a premier power position.

Alberto Bernal
6´1´´
215 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 17

Bernal, a native of Cuba, received a $250,000 signing bonus as he was selected by the White Sox on 2018’s International Signing Day. Recognized as a young man with power potential, he received his first game action this year but scuffled. Bernal was young (even by DSL standards) this year, and slashed .167/.361/.270 in 43 games with five doubles, a triple, two homers, 16 RBIs, 33 walks (19.4%) and 55 strikeouts (32.4%). His high walk rate indicates a promising degree of patience for someone so young. Expect Bernal to return to the DSL for the 2020 season, where his stats should improve significantly.


Great Falls blown out in shutout loss

Letdown: After a tight loss to snuff their playoff hopes on Wednesday, the Voyagers played like a team that had its heart cut out on Thursday. (Great Falls Voyagers)


Caberea Weaver: 0-for-2, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB, .249 BA, .679 OPS)
Harvin Mendoza: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 1 K (.279 BA, .824 OPS)
Sam Abbott: 2-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K (.236 BA, .816 OPS) **MVP**
Jason Morgan: 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (4.68 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

In this brutal defeat — there was something in the air all around Chicago this evening — the Voyagers failed to score one run. Great Falls was only able to collect four hits. Two of those were from Sam Abbott, both doubles. But Great Falls went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and obviously that one hit did not lead to one run.

The pitching was not that much better and neither was the defense. Jason Morgan and Allan Beer combined to allow five runs. The other four were courtesy of the defense. Great Falls combined for four errors in this game, leading to four unearned runs.

This was Great Falls’ first game after being eliminated in the playoffs, and it truly showed. There were a couple highlights, though. Abbott had his two doubles, though no run production. The last two bullpen arms (Nate Pawelczyk and Karan Patel) combined for two perfect innings and five strikeouts. Other than that, it was a mostly forgettable, 9-0 loss.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 30, 2019

Timely hitting: Luis Basabe got three hits and drove in a pair to help the Barons squeeze out a tight victory. (Michael Wade/Birmingham Barons)


Norfolk Tides 2, Charlotte Knights 0

Matt Tomshaw (SP): 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K (3.93 ERA) *MVP*
Danny Mendick (3B): 0-for-3 (.280 BA, .815 OPS)
Luis Robert (CF): 1-for-4 (.299 BA, .982 OPS)
Nick Madrigal (2B): 0-for-4, (.292 BA, .763 OPS)
Zack Collins (C): 0-for-2, 2 BB (.291 BA, .972 OPS)
Daniel Palka (DH): 0-for-3, BB (.265 BA, .912 OPS)

There was very little offense to be found in this game. Only Luis Robert, Damek Tomscha, and Ramon Torres got hits for the Knights, and all of them were singles. The Knights reached base a few more times via walk (one by Daniel Palka, one by Yermín Mercedes, and two by Zack Collins). But, the Knights finished 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, as they failed to cash in on any of the few scoring opportunities they had.

Knights starter Matt Tomshaw was the losing pitcher, but he pitched well enough to earn MVP. Tomshaw put the Knights in a good position to win, as he induced a lot of weak contact in his four innings of work, and he only issued one walk. However, his start went to waste, as the bats could not provide run support. One of the few highlights was this great catch by Danny Mendick in short left field.

Charlotte’s four-game lead in the wild-card race just … four days ago … has evaporated, and with three games left in the season the Knights have fallen back into a tie with the Durham Bulls.


Birmingham Barons 6, Biloxi Shuckers 5

John Parke (SP): 1 IP, 5 H, 5 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 1 K (2.70 ERA)
Luis Basabe (CF): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS (.244 BA, .663 OPS) *MVP*
Blake Rutherford (RF): 1-for-3, 2 BB, RBI, (.262 BA, .676 OPS)
Luis González (DH): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, 2 SB, 0 CS (.253 BA, .686 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B): 0-for-4, HBP (.271 BA, .765 OPS)
Joel Booker (LF): 2-for-3, BB, RBI, 1 SB, 0 CS (.255 BA, .646 OPS)

The first inning was quite chaotic, with both teams putting up a big, crooked number. In the top half, after the Shuckers had a runner on first (due to a fielding error by Laz Rivera) and two outs, the floodgates opened. The next six Shuckers reached base safely, as they scored five runs to take a big lead early on. However, the Barons answered in the bottom half. The Barons got three runs after two hits, a hit by pitch, and three walks. Two of those walks occurred with the bases loaded and two outs, and Joel Booker and Alfredo González drew those walks.

After his RBI double put the Barons on the board in the first, Luis Basabe had an RBI single in the fourth to reduce the Barons’ deficit to one. The following inning, Alfredo González tied it with a sacrifice fly to drive in Zach Remillard. In the sixth, an RBI groundout by Gavin Sheets put the Barons in front, 6-5. Despite finishing the night 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position, the Barons escaped with a close victory. The bullpen allowed zero hits and issued only one walk in eight innings of work. Hats off to relievers Kodi Medeiros, Tyler Johnson, and Danny Dopico, who did their jobs and then some.


Winston-Salem Dash 5, Lynchburg Hillcats 1

Taylor Varnell (SP): 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 5 K (3.38 ERA)
Craig Dedelow (LF): 1-for-4, HR (.246 BA, .749 OPS)
Steele Walker (CF): 1-for-4, (.272 BA, .777 OPS)
Jameson Fisher (1B): 1-for-4, HR (.241 BA, .716 OPS)
Johan Cruz (SS): 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI (.242 BA, .632 OPS) *MVP*
Mitch Roman (LF): 2-for-4, 2 SB, 0 CS (.280 BA, .681 OPS)

This game got off to a fast start, as Craig Dedelow hit an inside-the-park home run in the top of the first to give the Dash a 1-0 lead. The home run was Dedelow’s 18th of the year, all with the Dash. It also gave the Dash a lead that would remain until the bottom of the sixth.

In the sixth, the Hillcats got back-to-back hits to open their half of the inning, and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Gavin Collins drove in the tying run. Fortunately, that was the only run the Hillcats scored against starter Taylor Varnell, or any Dash pitcher, for that matter.

The Dash took the lead for good in the top of the eighth. With the bases loaded, shortstop Johan Cruz sliced a double to right field that cleared the bases and put the Dash up, 4-1. The Dash would tack on one more in the ninth on a solo home run by Jameson Fisher. That was Fisher’s ninth home run of the season, all with the Dash.


Kannapolis Intimidators 4, Delmarva Shorebirds 3

Davis Martin (SP): 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 6 K (5.04 ERA)
Michael Hickman (C): 2-for-4, 2B (.208 BA, .620 OPS)
Ian Dawkins (CF): 0-for-4, BB (.298 BA, .756 OPS)
Alex Destino (RF): 1-for-5, (.295 BA, .843 OPS)
Cameron Simmons (LF): 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI (.253 BA, .726 OPS) *MVP*
Tyler Osik (DH): 1-for-4, 2B (.271 BA, .888 OPS)

The Shorebirds put a big, crooked number on the board in the fourth to break a scoreless tie. In that innings, Intimidators starter gave up four hits (three singles and a triple), as the Shorebirds took a 3-0 lead. During the earlier part of this game, the Intimidators squandered a few scoring opportunities, and it appeared to be one of those games. However, things changed in a big way in the sixth inning.

After hits by Lenyn Sosa and Tyler Osik, Corey Zangari drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. That brought Cameron Simmons to the plate in a high-leverage situation, and Simmons delivered in a huge way. He launched a grand slam to put the Intimidators in front by a score of 4-3, and the score remained that way for the rest of the game. Relievers Lane Ramsey and Austin Conway pitched very well to shut things down in the latter part of this game.


Great Falls Voyagers 6, Billings Mustangs 4

Jason Morgan (SP): 8 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 3 K (4.58 ERA)
Lency Delgado (3B): 1-for-5, RBI (.277 BA, .723 OPS)
Caberea Weaver (CF): 0-for-3, BB (.252 BA, .689 OPS)
Kelvin Maldonado (SS): 0-for-4, 3 K, 2 E (.260 BA, .611 OPS)
Sam Abbott (1B): 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI (.230 BA, .809 OPS) *MVP*

Both teams’ starting pitchers got off to very strong starts, as there was a scoreless tie entering the bottom of the fourth. That ended when Sam Abbott launched a two-run homer to break the ice. The home run was Abbott’s ninth of the season, and all nine have been with the Voyagers. Abbott had the only multi-RBI performance for the Voyagers in this close victory. This is also Abbott’s second straight MVP award from SSHP.

With the game tied at two in the sixth, the Voyagers put together a huge, four-run inning to take the lead for good. They used three hits, a hit by pitch, and an error to put themselves up, 6-2.

After an excellent performance through eight innings, Voyagers starter Jason Morgan ran into some trouble in the ninth, though his defense did him no favors. Two unearned runs crossed the plate, and Morgan missed out on a complete game, but he got the victory. Reliever Allan Beer came on in relief and shut the door, as he struck out Mustangs second baseman Jonathan Willems to end the game.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 29, 2019

Future shock: After Thursday, Jonathan Stiever has 10 quality starts in 12 High-A outings. (Winston-Salem Dash)


Biloxi Shuckers 5, Birmingham Barons 3 (11)

Luis Gonzalez: 0-for-6, 0 BB, 4 K (.250 BA, .678 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 2-for-3, 2 BB, 0 K (.262 BA, .673 OPS)
Gavin Sheets: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K (.273 BA, .771 OPS)
Bernardo Flores: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K (3.33 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) *MVP*

The Barons tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but they ended up losing after a two-run 11th by the Shuckers. Bernardo Flores started the game, in what should be his final game action until the AFL. He showed a pretty good out pitch, with 10 strikeouts over six innings. He left with another quality start, and a much better performance than his last start. The bullpen was great behind him, too combining for five innings and just two runs. They also added eight more strikeouts, so Birmingham pitchers had 18 on the day.

The hitting started slow, but finally got going, with a little luck, when it mattered the most. For eight innings, the Dash only scored one run, off of a Nate Nolan double. In the ninth, Zach Remillard singled to drive in two runs to send the game into extras. Unfortunately, it was the Shuckers who scored runs in extras, as the Barons fell 5-3.


Salem Red Sox 1, Winston-Salem Dash 0

Steele Walker: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 1 K (.272 BA, .779 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn: 2-for-4, 0 BB, 0 K (.247 BA, .748 OPS)
Jonathan Stiever: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (2.15 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) **MVP**

Winston-Salem pitchers did all they could to win; it was just one little mistake from Jonathan Stiever that was the difference in this 1-0 loss. Stiever allowed a solo homer in the third inning, and it was the game’s lone run. He was fantastic besides that one big hit allowed, lowering his High-A ERA to 2.15 in what has been a breakout year. Unless the Dash make the playoffs, this might have been Stiever’s last game of the season, and he should be the minor league pitcher of the year for the White Sox. Obviously the hitters didn’t do anything, but at least Andrew Vaughn had two hits.


Kannapolis Initmidators 5, Hagerstown Suns 4

Ian Dawkins: 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K (.298 BA, .756 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa: 3-for-5, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.248 BA, .649 OPS)
Tyler Osik: 3-for-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (.272 BA, .895 OPS) **MVP**
Devon Perez: 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (3.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

Some scoring in the first half of the game led to a close 5-4 win by the end o the night. In the first five innings, the I’s scored all of their runs. Tyler Osik hit his fourth homer since his promotion, and added another RBI later. Corey Zangari accounted for an RBI as well, but it was on a bases-loaded walk, so it was more of a bad pitching thing. Cameron Simmons added the final two runs in the fifth inning: He drove in Lenyn Sosa, who had three hits on the night, as well as Osik on a double. This is was Devon Perez’s second start of the season, and he was just fine. The later bullpen arms of Caleb Freeman, in his Low-A debut, and Justin O’Conner kept the lead intact.


Great Falls Voyagers 9, Idaho Falls Chukars 6

Caberea Weaver: 0-for-4, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.256 BA, .695 OPS)
Harvin Mendoza: 1-for-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K (.292 Ba, .866 OPS)
Lency Delgado: 1-for-5, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K (.273 BA, .712 OPS)
Sam Abbott: 1-for-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K (.230 BA, .798 OPS) **MVP**
Chase Solesky: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (6.75 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

A big win for the Voyagers came after a big eighth inning put them on top for good. The first two arms out of the bullpen for Great Falls were not all that great. Solesky and then Rigo Fernandez allowed five runs in their six innings pitched. The offense was fine during that span with three runs, but they were down for the majority of the game. In the eighth inning, GFV put up six runs to take a commanding lead, but they were not conventional runs at all. Caberea Weaver opened up the scoring with a sacrifice fly, and Joshua Rivera scored on an error with the next batter. Luis Curbelo came home on a wild pitch, and then the Chuckars loaded the bases. Their pitcher proceeded to walk three straight batters for the final three runs of the inning. The new four-run lead quickly slimmed to three, but it was still enough to get the Voyagers the win.