South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 52: Taylor Varnell

Roster addition: Rylee and Taylor Varnell (middle) shared the gender reveal of their daughter with the rest of the Intimidators last May. (Tiffany Wintz/South Side Hit Pen)



Taylor Varnell
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
6´1´´
190 pounds
Age: 24
SSHP rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 5
2019 SSS Top Prospect Rank: 67

Taylor 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 ⅔  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%). In 2019, 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 ⅓ 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.

 

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 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 18, 2019

1-2 punch: Could this tandem be coming to Chicago sooner rather than later? (Laura Wolff|Charlotte Knights)


Charlotte Knights 8, Columbus Clippers 2

Matt Tomshaw (SP) W (3-1) QS 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (4.39 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Zach Thompson (RP) 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (5.21 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Nick Madrigal (2B) 1-for-3, R, SB (3), 2 BB (.281 BA, .709 OPS)
Luis Robert (CF) 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR (11), 3 RBI (28), K (.306 BA, .997 OPS) **MVP**
Daniel Palka (RF) 0-for-3, R, 2 BB, 2 K (.268 BA, .923 OPS)
Zack Collins (C) 2-for-4, 2B (19), BB, K (.296 BA, .971 OPS)
Yermín Mercedes (DH) 1-for-5, 2 R, HR (14), RBI (50) (.307 BA, 1.029 OPS)
Seby Zavala (1B) 1-for-4 (.224 BA, .785 OPS)
Charlie Tilson (LF) 1-for-3, R, HR (3), 3 RBI (30), BB, K (.305 BA, .793 OPS)
Danny Mendick (3B) 2-for-3, R, HR (15), RBI (58), SB (19), BB (.283 BA, .828 OPS)

Corey Kluber pitched the first inning against the Knights, allowing two-out walks to Daniel Palka and Zack Collins but otherwise escaping the inning unscathed. Danny Mendick, however, did in fact scathe the Clippers’ Jared Robinson for a two-out, 432-foot solo bomb in the second to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead.

After Nick Madrigal coaxed a leadoff walk in the third, his teammate Luis Robert knew exactly what to do on this 2-2 pitch:

You notice I haven’t said anything about the vaunted Clippers offense to this point? That’s because Matt Tomshaw no-hit them for the first four innings. As they say, however, all good things must come to an end. The first two batters in the fifth got hits, with the first of them scoring on an RBI ground out. Tomshaw was able to get out of the inning without any further damage, leaving the fifth with a 3-1 lead.

That was soon to change, however, as Charlie Tilson’s war against Columbus saw him hitting this three-run torpedo into the Charlotte air increasing the Knights lead to 6-1.

An opposite-field blast by Yermín Mercedes extended the lead to 7-1.

Robert, unwilling to be upstaged by Mercedes, hit his second tater of the game against former White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro, of all people, to give the Knights an 8-1 lead. Though Zach Thompson relinquished a meaningless run in the eighth, the Knights came away with a very satisfying 8-2 victory.

As the score would imply, this was an excellent team effort. Tomshaw deserves kudos, and ordinarily MVP honors, for pitching a seven-inning gem allowing just one run and three hits while fanning four. Mendick, Tilson and Mercedes contributed homers, while everyone got on base via hit or walk with the exception of Ramon Torres. With that said, Luis Robert merits the coveted MVP on this day with his two-homer, three-RBI day — here’s hoping he can start another hot streak that’ll take him straight to the South Side!


Birmingham Barons 6, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 2

Lincoln Henzman (SP) QS, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (5.78 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) **MVP**
Danny Dopico (RP) 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (2.54 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
Alec Hansen (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (5.56 ERA, 1.97 WHIP)
Luis González (CF) 1-for-5, R, HR (9), 2 RBI (54) (.247 BA, .679 OPS)
Joel Booker (LF) 1-for-4, K (.253 BA, .634 OPS)
Blake Rutherford (RF) 2-for-4, R, 2 K (.261 BA, .666 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 2-for-4, R, 2B (17), 3B (1), RBI (74)
Damek Tomscha (DH) 1-for-3, RBI (23), BB, K (.279 BA, .754 OPS)
Ti’Quan Forbes (2B) 0-for-3, R, BB, 3 K (.247 BA, .673 OPS)
Zach Remillard (3B) 2-for-4, R, 2 K (.184 BA, .565 OPS)
Nate Nolan (C) 2-for-4, 2 RBI (14), K (.167 BA, .532 OPS)
Laz Rivera (SS) 1-for-4, R (.245 BA, .582 OPS)

For the first 3 1/2 innings, this looked to be another old-fashioned pitchers’ duel between Kolton Mahoney and Lincoln Henzman, as both teams were scoreless up to that point. The Barons, tired of such a duel, took matters into their own bats with one out and nobody on. Three singles, a Gavin Sheets triple and a walk later, and the Barons had a 4-0 lead after four. With the way Henzman was pitching, that appeared to be enough.

He did seem to tire a bit, however, in the seventh as he surrendered three hits to the first four bitters he faced, resulting in his only two runs. Although Danny Dopico came in and immediately allowed a single, he prevented the inherited run from scoring by fanning the next two hitters.

The Barons got those runs right back in the bottom of the seventh frame, courtesy of a leadoff single by Laz Rivera and a two-run blast to right by Luis González to return the four-run lead to the rightful owners.

Dopico and Alec Hansen finished the final two innings with nary a threat. It’s certainly a small sample size, but Hansen at long last may have finally found his groove. In his last four games spanning 4 1/3 innings, he’s relinquished just three hits and a walk while allowing nary a run to cross the plate. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sox decide to protect him prior to the Rule 5 draft this year.

This was a close MVP call, as there were many worthy recipients including Sheets, but Henzman earned the award this evening with his quality start and shutting out the Jacksonville lineup in his first six innings. Hopefully, this will be a harbinger for things to come for the young man. The Barons improved to 56-66 while the Jumbo Shrimp sunk to 61-64 with their loss.


Winston-Salem Dash 4, Potomac Nationals 1

Taylor Varnell (SP) W (1-1) 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (3.38 ERA, 1.41 WHIP), **MVP**
José Nin (RP) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (4.14 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Jacob Lindgren (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (0.73 ERA, 0.89 WHIP)
Will Kincanon (RP) S (8) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1.70 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
Tyler Frost (CF) 1-for-4, R, 2B (25), 2 K (.259 BA, .768 OPS)
Mitch Roman (SS) 2-for-4, R, RBI (17) (.289 BA, .696 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn (1B) 1-for-3, R, BB (.271 BA, .825 OPS)
Craig Dedelow (DH) 1-for-4, R, RBI (56) (.243 BA, .734 OPS)
Carlos Perez (C) 3-for-4, 2B (11), 2 RBI (32) (.264 BA, .647 OPS)
Jameson Fisher (LF) 1-for-3, BB, 2 K (.243 BA, .719 OPS)
Tate Blackman (2B) 1-for-4, K (.193 BA, .591 OPS)
Yeyson Yrizarri (3B) 1-for-4, 2B (17) (.220 BA, .557 OPS)

After allowing back-to-back doubles in the first inning which tallied the Nationals a run, Taylor Varnell was on top of his game.

The first rally the Dash were able to muster against 26th-ranked Washington Nationals prospect Jackson Tetrault was in the fourth, when Winston-Salem loaded the bases with two out via Andrew Vaughn and Carlos Perez singles with a Jameson Fisher walk. Unfortunately, a Tate Blackman fly out ended the inning without the Dash inflicting any damage to Potomac.

It looked like another shutout inning in the fifth, as the first two Dash batters made outs. Then, the Dash mounted a furious rally thanks to back-to-back hits by Tyler Frost and Blackman to tie the game 1-1. After a walk to Vaughn, Craig Dedelow pulled an RBI single to right to give the Dash their first lead of the game at 2-1. Not much for tight games, Perez ripped a double (his third hit of the game) to left that gave the Dash some extra insurance; the two-run double made it 4-1.

After than those back-to-back hits in the first, Varnell only allowed two baserunners in his subsequent 5 1/3 innings. What a terrific outing for the southpaw, who really should’ve been promoted to Winston-Salem much earlier than he was! Stellar work out of the bullpen by José Nin, Jacob Lindgren and Will Kincanon sealed the 4-1 victory.

There were several standouts in this game, which featured a well-deserved day off for Steele Walker. Perez was the offensive player of the day, as he went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, but the MVP honors for this game go to Varnell with his quality start. With the victory, the Dash improved to 65-54 while the Nationals fell to 59-64.


Kannapolis Intimidators 4, Lexington Legends 0

Sam Long (SP) W (7-5), QS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (3.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) **MVP**
Hansen Butler (RP) 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Justin O’Conner (RP) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Lenyn Sosa (SS) 0-for-4, RBI (33) (.236 BA, .622 OPS)
Ramon Beltre (CF) 1-for-4, R, 2B (22) (.215 BA, .573 OPS)
Alex Destino (RF) 0-for-3, R, BB (.299 BA, .859 OPS)
Tyler Osik (DH) 1-for-4, 2B (6), RBI (7), K (.256 BA, .755 OPS)
Corey Zangari (1B) 0-for-2, R, RBI (30) (.201 BA, .725 OPS)
Amado Nuñez (2B) 1-for-4, K, E (15) (.221 BA, .617 OPS)
Gunnar Troutwine (C) 0-for-2, R, 2 BB (.251 BA, .698 OPS)
Cameron Simmons (LF) 2-for-3, K (.220 BA, .578 OPS)

This game was another classic pitchers’ duel, as Sam Long and Jon Heasley were duking it out pitch-for-pitch in the first five innings, both teams combining for a measly three hits and no runs. That is, until the Intimidators half of the sixth. After Ramon Beltre doubled with one out and Alex Destino followed with a walk, Tyler Osik pulled an RBI double to left giving his team the long-awaited first run of the game. Corey Zangari followed with a sac fly, plating Destino with the game’s second run. Long was sent to the showers after this scoring barrage, having given Kannapolis a quality start by shutting down the Legends over six innings on just two hits and one walk while striking out seven.

Hansen Butler entered the game in the seventh inning, and was supported by runs over his two-inning appearance via an error and wild pitch, pushing the Intimidators to a 4-0 lead. Justin O’Conner, recently converted from catcher, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to seal the deal.

In what is the theme of the day, pitching was the name of the game for Kannapolis, as it surrendered just four hits and a walk while striking out 11 Legends on the evening. Despite stellar work from the bullpen and a two-hit performance by Cameron Simmons, Long definitely deserved the MVP with his six-inning, shutout performance. The Intimidators accelerated to 55-69 for the year while the Legends fell to 61-64.

Speaking of Long, he’s been on fire for the month of August. In four starts covering 22 1/3 innings, he’s posted a sensational 0.81 ERA and 0.76 WHIP by allowing just 12 hits and five walks while fanning 24.


Great Falls Voyagers vs. Missoula Osprey DH, postponed


AZL White Sox 5, AZL Mariners 1

Andrew Dalquist (SP) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Jeremiah Burke (RP) W (1-2) 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (4.04 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) **MVP**
Trey Jeans (RP) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (2.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
McKinley Moore (RP) 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (5.82 ERA, 2.06 WHIP)
Mac Welsh (RP) SV (2) 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP)
Samil Polanco (2B) 2-for-5, R, K, CS (5) (.278 BA, .637 OPS)
Jose Rodriguez (SS) 1-for-4, R (.276 BA, .795 OPS)
Micker Adolfo (DH) 0-for-3, BB, 2 K (.192 BA, .767 OPS)
Bryan Ramos (3B) 1-for-2, R, RBI (20) (.253 BA, .724 OPS)
Anthony Coronado (RF) 2-for-4, R, RBI (11), K (.317 BA, .878 OPS)
Josue Guerrero (LF) 0-for-3, R, BB, 2 K (.214 BA, .630 OPS)
Sidney Pimental (1B) 1-for-4, RBI (3), 3 K (.143 BA, .427 OPS)
Daniel Millwee (C) 2-for-4 (.229 BA, .700 OPS)
Misael Gonzalez (CF) 1-for-4, 3 K (.197 BA, .487 OPS)

Andrew Dalquist, this year’s third-round pick, appeared in just his second outing tonight and pitched a nifty 1-2-3 inning. Though he’s done quite well in the extremely small sample size, it’s clear the Sox are treating Matthew Thompson and him quite delicately this year in order to avoid any unnecessary injuries.

The first scoring in this game came in the top half of the second, when the Sox scored the first two runs of the inning courtesy of a two-run single by Sidney Pimental, plating Anthony Coronado and Josue Guerrero. They scored the third run that inning in the strangest of ways (although perhaps not too surprising when you think of how the White Sox go about things): with runners on first and third and nobody out, Daniel Millwee bunted into a 6-4-3 double play but Guerrero actually scored from third on the play.

The Sox tacked on two more runs in the third, thanks to a sac fly by Bryan Ramos and an RBI single by Coronado. In the meantime, former Georgetown Hoya Jeremiah Burke totally shut down the Mariners offense from innings 2-6 as he relinquished just two hits and two walks while striking out eight — that’s what I call a relief performance!

The game remained 5-0 until the eighth, when McKinley Moore’s streak of wildness continue. In walking two batters tonight, which caused him to give up an earned run, he’s now walked 17 hitters in 17 innings. Fortunately, former Louisville Cardinal Mac Welsh got the inning’s last out to prevent further damage. Welsh returned for the ninth and earned his second save of the season.

While giving Burke the MVP for his yeoman’s work on the mound in relief, I want to give a special shout-out to Coronado, who’s been one of the few offensive standouts during the past couple of weeks. Since July 29, he’s slashed .406/.424/.688, which is quite impressive. With the win, the Sox improved to 19-31 while the Reds plummeted to 21-29.


In the five games played today, White Sox affiliates outscored their opponents by a combined 27-5 margin. In 45 innings today, only 25 hits and 9 walks were allowed while the pitchers fanned 45. For the record, the affiliates posted an amazing 1.20 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Amazing stuff!