Deep Dive: rookie league left-handed starters

Hidden diamond: Avery Weems struck out 74 and only walked 10 while pitching for the AZL Sox and Great Falls this year (@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

While the list of southpaw starters who finished the 2019 season with White Sox rookie league affiliates isn’t very long, there are some pitchers to keep an eye on. They include the organization’s two top college hurler picks in 2019, not to mention a pitcher in the DSL who has one of the highest upsides of anyone in the system.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020


Great Falls Voyagers

Avery Weems
6´2´´
205 pounds
Age: 22

Weems, a native of Flagstaff, Ariz., spent his first two years in college with Yavapai Community College before transferring to the University of Arizona. Used primarily as a swingman for the Wildcats, he pitched in far more games as a reliever during his junior and senior seasons (34) than as a starter (17).

Weems, despite showing better control during his senior season, was far more hittable and his numbers suffered for it. As a senior, he posted a 7.06 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 25 games (eight starts) spanning 58 2/3 innings — relinquishing 80 hits (.316 OBA) and 16 walks while fanning 44 in the process. Being a likely option for an under-slot sign as a senior, Weems was an attractive target for the White Sox after they drafted varsity pitchers Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist in the second and third rounds in 2019. Weems was chosen in the sixth round and ultimately signed for $10,000 ($286,400 less than slot value).

For what seemed to most fans as a throwaway pick, Weems actually surprised for the White Sox. He stayed close to home for his first four games (with the AZL White Sox), posting an otherworldly 0.69 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 13 innings as he surrendered just 10 hits (.217 OBA) and three walks (5.9%) while striking out 14 (27.5%). Weems then held his own in the more challenging Pioneer League, as he compiled a 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP for Great Falls in 47 1/3 innings as he allowed just 43 hits (.239 OBA) and seven walks (3.7%) while fanning 60 (31.7%). While it’s true that Weems was older than the average Pioneer League player, it wasn’t by all that much (five months). Thus, his great results shouldn’t be taken too lightly.

Baseball America’s scouting report at the time of the draft, said that “he’s a pitchability southpaw who throws strikes.” Also according to BA, Weems features a low-90s fastball that touched 94 this year. The fastball is complemented with an average curveball and an infrequently-used changeup that comes in straight. Not exactly an enticing scouting report, but the White Sox must’ve seen something in him others did not. Perhaps with a few tweaks, Weems simply added more movement to his curve and change while adding more oomph to his fastball? Regardless, with the numbers he posted this year, Weems should be in line to begin the 2020 season with Kannapolis.

Dan Metzdorf
5´10´´
165 pounds
Age: 23

Unlike the aforementioned Weems, Metzdorf enjoyed a more successful senior season in 2019. For Boston College, Metzdorf posted a solid 2.58 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 11 starts. In 73 innings for the Eagles, he surrendered just 56 hits (.204 OBA) and 28 walks while striking out 65. Because of his diminutive size, and also because he doesn’t have top-notch stuff, Metzdorf was expected to be drafted much later. However, Metzdorf was selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft for the same reason Weems was selected in the sixth — signability. Metzdorf received a $10,000 signing bonus from the White Sox, which was around $384,000 less than slot value (which aided the Sox in signing Thompson and Dalquist).

Metzdorf, because of his better college credentials, started the season with Great Falls and acquitted himself quite nicely. In 14 starts spanning 40 innings (the White Sox don’t usually extend their starters too much in their first pro seasons) for the Voyagers, he posted a 3.60 ERA and 1.30 WHIP by ceding 44 hits (.286 OBA) and eight walks (4.8%) while striking out 36 (21.4%). Despite giving up some hits, Metzdorf limited the damage by keeping the ball down (55.1% ground ball rate) and throwing strikes.

Baseball America’s scouting report says “Metzdorf’s stuff isn’t huge, but he’s a solid strike thrower and has a fastball that sits 86-89 mostly, though he did ratchet that up to 93 late in the season. His slider and changeup are both fringe-average pitches at best.” Metzdorf is definitely undersized, so questions about his durability as a starter may persist for the next couple of years as a result. He’s also a year older than Weems, so if Metzdorf performs well at Kannapolis next year, he could earn a quick promotion to Winston-Salem.


AZL White Sox

Hector Acosta
6´4´´
200 pounds
Age: 21

Acosta, a Dominican native, was one of nine players who signed on 2016’s International Signing Day (along with notables Josue Guerrero, Anderson Comas, Luis Mieses, Anthony Coronado and Lenyn Sosa, to name just a few). While Acosta performed quite well for the DSL White Sox in 2017 and the beginning of 2018, he has struggled badly since his promotion to the team’s AZL squad in late June 2018.

This year for the AZL White Sox, Acosta appeared in 12 games (10 starts) and posted an unsightly 6.32 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 47 innings, allowing 74 hits (.346 OBA) and 18 walks (7.6%) while striking out 23 (9.7%). Lefties hit him even more loudly (.368) than righties (.336) These numbers are so far short of Acosta’s DSL numbers, it seems to indicate he’s either battling through injuries and/or a lack of confidence in his new environment. This year, Acosta was about a half-year younger than the league average. If he does return to the organization, it likely would be for another AZL stint, and perhaps one last shot to prove himself.


DSL White Sox

Ronaldo Guzman
6´0´´
150 pounds
Age: 17

Guzman, a native of the Dominican Republic, received a $75,000 signing bonus on Oct. 29, 2018, which may turn out to be the best under-the-radar signing of an international pitcher ever for the White Sox. In his first taste of professional ball this year, Guzman posted a 4.53 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 14 outings (12 starts) spanning 51 2/3 innings. In those innings, he relinquished 43 hits (.221) and 29 walks (12.8%) while striking out a whopping 76 (33.5%). While those numbers are outstanding for someone who didn’t turn 17 until late August, Guzman’s numbers would’ve been even better if not for one bad relief outing; you throw that bad boy away and you get an 3.53 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Keep in mind, also, that Guzman was approximately 2.3 years younger than the DSL average. Certainly his walks were an issue, in addition to a low ground ball rate (37.9%). With his youth, however, Guzman has plenty of time to work on those things.

Ben Badler of Baseball America said this of Guzman prior to this season: “fastball that gets up to 89 mph with easy arm action and an athletic delivery that repeats well to throw strikes with an advanced changeup for his age.” As Guzman gets older, you’d expect him to gain more height and weight, which can only help with durability and velocity. Of the pitchers listed in this post, Guzman has easily the highest ceiling.

While it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Guzman returns to the DSL White Sox for the 2020 season due to his age, he seems a great bet to begin the season with the AZL affiliate instead.

 

Desert Dogs sneak a win from the Eagles

Glendale Desert Dogs 7, Águilas de Mexicali 2

Bennett Sousa (RP, 9th) IP, H, 3 K, 15 pitches/13 strikes (0.00 ERA)
Blake Rutherford (LF) 1-for-4, R, BB, 3B (1), GIDP (.158 BA, .554 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI (1), BB, K, GIDP (.133 BA, .321 OPS)
Micker Adolfo (RF) 0-for-2, R, 2 BB, K (.125 BA, .864 OPS)

The Desert Dogs drew first blood against the Mexican Pacific League Eagles, with a 7-2 win on Tuesday. The two clubs face off again on Thursday.

Rutherford tripled, but later grounded into a double play.

Sheets again assumed the cleanup role and had two hits and his first AFL RBI. He too later GIDP’d.

Adolfo played another flawless game in right field (no assists though, the scouting report on his arm is getting back around!) and got on base twice with walks.

Sousa struck out the side in the ninth, as Mexicali struck out for eight of its final nine outs and the final six batters of the game.

Glendale hosts Salt River tomorrow and sees the Águilas again on Thursday, as they enjoy a mini-homestand this week.

Deep Dive: White Sox right-handed A-ball starters

Big move: Jonathan Stiever is ranked seventh among all White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, and is the highest-ranking pitcher who actually pitched in 2019. (@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

Single-A boasts some very intriguing RHSP prospects, including the guy who is almost without doubt now the most exciting pitcher in the White Sox system.

All players’ ages listed below are as of April 1, 2020.


Winston-Salem Dash

Jonathan Stiever
6´2´´
205 pounds
Age: 22

Jonathan Stiever capped a great three-year run with the Indiana Hoosiers when he posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 16 starts spanning 100 innings, surrendering just 94 hits and 32 walks while striking out 97. Alhough MLB Pipeline ranked him 88th among all draft prospects, Stiever mysteriously fell to the fifth round (138th overall) in the 2018 draft, where the White Sox happily snatched him up. Despite only pitching in just two- or three-inning spurts last year for Great Falls, he held his own for the Voyagers with a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 28 innings as he surrendered just 23 hits (.258 OBA) and nine walks (7.2%) while fanning 39 (33.2%).

In 2019, Stiever struggled unexpectedly for Kannapolis in 14 starts (77 innings) with a 4.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP as he ceded 88 hits (.293 OBA) and 14 walks (4.4%) while fanning 77 (24.1%). A promotion on June 20 to Winston-Salem, against more advanced hitters and in a hitting-friendly ballpark to boot, saw Stiever turning in an incredible 12 starts for the Dash. Although his walk (13) and strikeout totals (77) were eerily similar to his Kannapolis numbers in nearly the same number of innings (71), hitters only batted .216 against his offerings. With the Dash Stiever elevated his fastball, which made it far more difficult for opponents to hit. Thus, while he maintained his solid walk (4.7%) and strikeout rates (28.0%) in A+ ball, his ERA and WHIP dropped precipitously, to 2.15 and 0.97.

MLB Pipeline has Stiever’s fastball typically averaging 92-96 mph with a peak of 98, and features plenty of running and sinking action. This actually is an increase of two mph from earlier in the year. Like his fastball, Stiever’s upper-70s spike-curveball is graded at 60 and varies significantly by shape and speed. Stiever’s third hard pitch is a hard slider that currently grades at 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he features a changeup as well (currently grading at 50, which he used to help stifle lefties to a .178 average while pitching for the Dash).

It’s really an incredible repertoire, and Stiever seems to be a morph between the harder-throwing Dylan Cease and more control-oriented Dane Dunning. With the control, stuff and power he displayed for the Dash, Stiever seems to be a lock to begin next year in Birmingham’s rotation. Stiever is ranked seventh among all White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, and is the highest-ranking of the team’s prospects who actually pitched in 2019.

Kade McClure
6´7´´
230 pounds
Age: 24

A recent “Under the Radar” post was published regarding McClure. He should be pitching in Birmingham in 2020.

Jorgan Cavanerio
6´1´´
155 pounds
Age: 25

As a 16-year-old from Venezuela, Cavanerio signed a minor league contract with the Marlins organization. The diminutive righthander progressed ever so slowly in their organization, reaching as high as Double-A Jacksonville in 2015 and 2018. Through 2019, Cavanerio has made a total of 191 appearances (106 starts) with a career 3.97 ERA and 1.29 WHIP — all respectable numbers. He’s been hit hard on occasion, as reflected by his career OBA of .282, but that’s perhaps because he doesn’t have tremendously overpowering stuff and is more of a control specialist. His low career walk and strikeout rates (4.1% and 16.6%) attest to that.

Now that his career numbers are out in the open, how’d Cavanerio do this year? He signed as a free agent with the Mariners organization and played for their Double-A squad in Arkansas. Things did not go well for Cavanerio in seven outings totaling 16 innings, as he posted an uncharacteristically high ERA (7.88) and WHIP (1.81) due to opponents hitting .372 against his offerings.

After being released on May 7, the White Sox claimed him three days later and inserted him into the Winston-Salem rotation, where he finished the year. For the Dash, he posted a 9-3 record with a 3.13 ERA and 1.11 over 112 innings by allowing 102 hits (.242 OBA) and 22 walks (4.8%) while fanning 73 (16.0%). Though the walk and strikeout numbers are just a tad worse than his career averages, Cavanerio performed far better because he simply allowed fewer hits. It’s unclear whether he simply pitched in better luck or he figured out some way to induce less violent contact.

According to a Baseball Prospectus scouting report from three years ago, Cavanerio’s fastball typically runs 89-91 mph with a peak of 93; it was graded 55 at the time due to some sinking action in the lower part of the zone. His changeup was rated his best pitch at 60 due to its plus depth and his arm speed. A third pitch, a curveball, was given just a 45 due to its inconsistency and slurvy action. Cavanerio’s control (50) was graded well above his command (40), which makes sense because of of his low walk totals but high OBA. Because of Cavanerio’s lack of results at the Double-A level over his career, he may just be considered organizational depth at this point, as he is plenty older than the league average. As a result, he could end up being the right-handed version of Tanner Banks.

Expect Cavanerio to return to Winston-Salem to begin 2020, but if he begins the same way that he ended 2019, he could force his way into either a starting or long-relief role for Birmingham at some point.

Zach Lewis
6´3´´
205 pounds
Age: 24

Lewis, a native of suburban Palos Heights, pitched two years for JUCO powerhouse Wabash Valley College before transferring to Wichita State for his junior and senior seasons. After a senior season for the Shockers in which he posted a solid 3.07 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 15 outings totaling 82 innings, he went unselected in the 2017 draft. After signing with the White Sox about three weeks after the draft, Lewis then proceeded to put up exemplary numbers in 2017 for the AZL White Sox (2.72 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) and 2018 for Kannapolis (2.60 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).

Unfortunately for Lewis, he had a difficult 2019 for the Dash, as he posted a 5.83 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 109 2/3 innings and surrendered 126 hits (.292 OBA) and 41 walks (8.2%) while striking out 97 (19.4%). His strikeout and walk rates were close to career norms, so the difference was that Lewis simply didn’t have the command this year and was hit hard as a result.

His scouting report, per 2080 Baseball as of August 2018, graded Lewis’s fastball at 40 due to an 86-88 mph fastball that does have some sinking movement and actually moves in toward right-handed hitters. Other pitches in his repertoire include a slider with sharp, late slant and a changeup he occasionally dusts off against lefties. With a lack of power stuff, especially against more advanced hitters, Lewis has to have pinpoint control and command in order to succeed.

Those attributes certainly weren’t in abundance for the Dash this season, but Lewis has enjoyed a sold organizational track record previously and merits another chance. Because of his lack of success this year, however, expect a return to Winston-Salem but perhaps a switch from starter to long reliever.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Johan Dominguez
6´4´´
190 pounds
Age: 24

Dominguez has pitched exceptionally well since signing a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on May 8, 2016 as a 20-year-old. Even though he pitched well for the Brewers DSL squad, with a 2.91 ERA combined over three years, it wasn’t until his third year that he finally earned a promotion to their AZL squad (June 24, 2018). Dominguez dominated the AZL in his 15 outings, posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.62 WHIP over 19 1/3 innings of relief. Shortly after yet another promotion, to the Brewers Pioneer League affiliate in Helena, he was traded along with outfielder Bryan Connell to the White Sox for southpaw reliever Xavier Cedeño during last year’s August trade deadline. After the trade, Dominguez pitched two scoreless innings while striking out four, pitching for his fourth team in 2018.

In his first year pitching in a full-season league, Dominguez certainly held his own. While he had pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen in his first three years of professional ball, he was used primarily as a starter in 2019. Because his career high in innings was 58 1/3 prior to this year, Kannapolis limited his workload and even inserted him into the bullpen from time to time to keep him from doing any damage to his arm. In 90 2/3 innings for the Intimidators spanning 24 outings (15 starts), Dominguez posted a rock-solid 2.98 ERA and 1.28 WHIP by relinquishing 83 hits (.239 OBA) and 33 walks (8.5%) while fanning 90 (23.1%). He allowed just two homers this year, which is quite an impressive figure even when considering Dominguez was pitching in a pitcher’s ballpark.

In striking out basically a batter per inning, Dominguez has shown the stuff to put away hitters when he needs to. While his numbers were quite both good in both roles, Dominguez’s stats were slightly better as a reliever this year. Lefties hit .213 against his offerings in 2019 compared to .259 against righties, which seems to indicate Dominguez has an above-average changeup to help neutralize lefties. Dominguez was about a year older than the average South Atlantic League player, so expect him to begin the 2020 campaign at Winston-Salem, with an eventual promotion to Birmingham (where he’ll be more age-appropriate) if all goes well.

Jason Bilous
6´2´´
185 pounds
Age 22

Bilous was ranked among the Top 200 draft prospects by MLB Pipeline prior to the 2018 draft, but slipped to the 13th round due to concerns about his control. His fastball was graded 65, slider 55, changeup 50 and control 40 by MLB Pipeline at the time.

Bilous, in his junior season with Coastal Carolina, fanned a whopping 103 hitters but walked an incredibly-high 66; Bilous’ 7.13 BB/9 rate in 2018 for the Chanticleers was nearly identical to his overall college rate of 7.12. Upon being drafted, Bilous was immediately inserted into the Great Falls rotation, where he suffered through a 7.81 ERA and 1.95 WHIP, with 46 hits (.324 OBA) and 24 walks (13.9%) while striking out 31 (17.9%) in 39 innings.

The 2019 season was kinder to Bilous, as his ERA and WHIP improved to 3.70 and 1.39 respectively in his 31 appearances (17 starts) spanning 104 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .220 against this year, while he improved his strikeout rate to 24.5%. Bilous’ walk rate did improve a bit, but was still way too high at 13.2%.

Bilous is athletic but has a long arm action in the back of his delivery that hampers him from repeating his release point and keeping his mechanics in sync. It’s that which hampers his control, which could ultimately force him into a bullpen role going forward. Bilous’ ERA out of the bullpen this year was 2.86 compared to 4.01 as a starter. Thanks to his ever-improving changeup, lefties hit just .184 against him while righties fared better at .242. If Bilous ever finds that release point, he could move up the system quickly. In the meantime, he may begin next season at hitting-friendly Winston-Salem.

Davis Martin
6´2´´
200 pounds
Age: 23

Martin, who was projected to be drafted much higher in 2018, slipped to the 14th round as he struggled with Texas Tech to the tune of a 4.87 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Martin did hold his own, however, with the AZL Sox and Great Falls as he combined to post a respectable 4.29 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in nine outings spanning 21 innings.

The 2019 season was fairly rocky for Martin, but it wasn’t a lost campaign by any means. In 27 starts totaling 144 2/3 innings, Martin allowed 152 hits (.266 OBA) and 38 walks (6.1%) while striking out 156 hitters (25.0%). Lefties and righties fared equally against his offerings, but aside from a fairly high batting average, Martin’s biggest issue was that he surrendered 17 homers — a high number considering the ballpark he pitched in. Martin’s first-half ERA, WHIP and OBA were awful at 6.35, 1.91 and .291 respectively; thankfully his second-half numbers improved to 3.87, 1.15 and .243. Thus, it appears that while Martin maintained his control throughout the season, he improved his command as he hit the locations he wanted.

According to MLB Draft Countdown in 2018, Martin’s fastball runs 89-93 mph while his curveball runs 80-83. He does feature both a four-seamer and a two-seamer, while his changeup helps neutralize lefties somewhat (although it was graded at just 40 prior to his draft selection). Martin features sound mechanics, and has seemingly improved upon his 45 grade command. With the significant improvement he showed at year’s end, Martin should be able to win a promotion to Winston-Salem for 2020.

Kevin Folman
6´2´´
215 pounds
Age: 25

Kevin Folman was signed by the White Sox last year as an undrafted free agent from North Dakota State, where he served as the team’s closer for the final two years. Folman performed well as a starter for the AZL Sox upon being drafted, and finished the season with two starts for Great Falls. After beginning this season in the bullpen, he was thrust into a starting role in mid-July. In 17 appearances for Kannapolis (10 starts) in 2019, Folman struggled with a 5.04 ERA and 1.46 WHIP as he relinquished 73 hits (.261 OBA) and 29 walks (9.1%) while fanning 71 (22.4%).

The above numbers weren’t good, especially when considering that Folman was more than two years older than league average. He did have one thing going for him however: his relief work. Out of the bullpen this year, Folman maintained a 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and .217 OBA — far better than as a starter when he posted numbers of 6.26, 1.61 and .282 respectively. Since those splits repeated his trends last year in the rookie leagues, it’s possible that Folman could establish himself as organizational bullpen depth going forward.

Deep Dive: White Sox right-handed rookie league starters

No. 2 in your hearts: Matthew Thompson is ranked 14th among White Sox prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

While most of the top right-handed starting pitching prospects finished the season with Winston-Salem or higher, there are some intriguing arms in the rookie levels as well — especially in the AZL. The players’ ages listed below are as of April 1, 2020.


Great Falls Voyagers

Jason Morgan
6´5´´
175 pounds
Age: 24

Morgan had the ill fortune of missing the entire 2018 season, both collegiately and professionally, due to injury. His stats were consistent for the North Carolina Tar Heels up to that point, averaging a 4.01 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.7 BB% and 15.4 K%. Those relatively modest numbers, along with his injury, caused Morgan to fall to the 35th round of the 2018 draft.

Once healthy, Morgan had the unenvious task of beginning his professional career in 2019 at hitting-friendly Great Falls, but held his own despite not possessing overpowering stuff. In 14 starts totaling 75 innings, Morgan posted a 4.68 ERA and 1.37 WHIP by allowing 83 hits (.285 OBA), 20 walks (6.3%) and 33 strikeouts (10.3%). While allowing many hits and inducing few strikeouts, Morgan limited the damage against him by keeping the ball down (54.5% ground ball rate) and allowing few free passes. Baseball Draft Report in 2017 listed Morgan’s arsenal as including a low 90s fastball, good firm changeup (83-87 mph) and two average off-speed pitches — a 75-81 mph curveball and low-80s cut slider. Based on the fact that lefties hit him far better (.327) than had righties (.262), Morgan’s changeup may need more work.

So Morgan didn’t have a bad initial campaign, especially considering he hadn’t pitched in 2018. However, he will need to find a way to miss more bats in order to succeed in the full-season leagues.

Chase Solesky
6´3´´
201 pounds
Age: 22

Solesky struggled in his sophomore season at Tulane, as he tried to rush back from Grade 1 spinal spondylolisthesis — a slipping of vertebra that occurs most commonly at the base of the spine. As a result, Solesky’s results tanked. While Solesky enjoyed a better junior season, it still wasn’t as good as he had hoped because he was trying to alter his delivery. But a 5.05 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, to go along with 66 strikeouts in his 67 2/3 innings in the Green Waves rotation, was enough to convince the White Sox to select him in the 21st round of the 2019 draft.

A first look at Solesky’s numbers with Great Falls (6.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) would tell you there’s not much to get excited about. However, when looking at his strikeout and walk totals, there may be something there after all. With 45 strikeouts (24.6%) and just 12 walks (6.6%) over just 42 1/3 innings, Solesky managed a nifty 3.75 K/BB ratio. He’s clearly got the stuff and control, but he obviously needs the command to limit damage. It may also help to have a little good luck as well, as Solesky vastly underperformed his 4.77 FIP.

With more repetition using his new delivery, Solesky should attain far better results in 2020. Solesky was about five months younger than the average Pioneer League player this year, so a return to Great Falls for next year wouldn’t be out of the question. With that said, expect to see him pitch for Kannapolis before 2020’s end.

Sean Thompson
6´3´´
190 pounds
Age: 24

Despite having solid and consistent numbers (each season saw his ERA in the low threes) for all four years, Sean Thompson was undrafted as a senior from Virginia Commonwealth. The White Sox signed him as an undrafted free agent (UDFA), and he performed well in 2018 for the AZL Sox (3.68 ERA and 1.34 WHIP) despite peripherals showing a much bleaker picture.

Though many of Thompson’s peripherals were eerily similar to last year’s, his 2019 results have been far less pleasing. In 14 starts spanning 80 innings, Thompson posted a 6.08 ERA and 1.45 WHIP while surrendering 101 hits (.301 OBA) and 15 walks (4.2%) as opposed to 66 strikeouts (18.6%). Thompson’s FIP was just 4.51, so he likely pitched in bad luck (the Great Falls defense this year was atrocious). Thompson’s repertoire features an upper-80s fastball and a power curveball with a 12-6 break according to Baseball Draft Report. To succeed in the future, Thompson will need to find a way to neutralize lefties as they hit him at a .321 clip.

He was 17 months older than league average this year, so it’s difficult to imagine Thompson returning to Great Falls for 2020. The best he could hope for would be a promotion to Kannapolis 2020, with a likely switch to a long-relief role.

Carter Love
6´6´´
225 pounds
Age: 24

Like the aforementioned Thompson, Love was also an UDFA last year — in Love’s case, a graduate of the College of Charleston. This was a bit surprising, since as a senior in 2018, Love posted an incredible 1.38 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 71 2/3 innings of relief as he surrendered just 54 hits and nine walks while fanning 57. More than likely, the reason was that Love’s fastball rarely exceeded 92 mph although it was complemented with an above-average changeup and curveball. Love enjoyed a terrific year (primarily with the AZL Sox) in 2018, surrendering 51 hits (.254 OBA) and just five walks (2.4%) while fanning 62 (29.8%) as he compiled a superb 2.66 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 50 2/3 innings.

This year was a different story, though, as Love posted a sky-high 7.92 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in just four starts at Great Falls totaling 13 2/3 innings. In those innings, he ceded 22 hits (.361 OBA) and two walks (3.1%) while striking out 13 (20.3%). His last outing was on July 3, and since Love finished the year on the active roster, it’s assumed he was injured for the last two months of the season. (Players in the rookie leagues don’t get placed on the injured list because they have have expanded rosters that could easily absorb the loss.)

Anyway, an injury would explain Love’s struggles this year. With his age and ability to throw strikes, Love could have the future of an organizational swingman or long reliever going forward — provided he remains healthy.


AZL White Sox

Matthew Thompson
6´3´´
195 pounds
Age: 19

Thompson, a graduate of Cypress Ranch High School in Houston, certainly dominated in his senior year. Dominated, you say? Try this: He was 13-0 in 15 starts with a 0.87 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 72 2/3 innings, allowing just 23 hits (.095 OBA) while fanning 124 (42.6%). The only real blemish against Thompson this year was his high walk total of 41 (14.1%). To sign an over-slot bonus with the White Sox after being selected in the second round, Thompson eschewed his verbal commitment to Texas A&M.

The White Sox are treading carefully with this young arm, and have thereby limited his work on the professional level. In two starts totaling just two innings, Thompson relinquished two hits and no walks while fanning two — not much to go on. It’s likely that he’ll be given extended spring training before earning a call-up to Kannapolis by either May or June next year, in order to limit his innings. With the high elevation at Great Falls, it’s unlikely Thompson will be sent there and suffer through unnecessary lumps.

Thompson’s fastball currently tops out at 96 mph according to MLB Pipeline, but typically runs in the low-to-mid 90s. There’s not much movement to it, however, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Thompson develop a two-seam fastball to complement it. He possesses an easy, fluid delivery, throws from a high three-quarter slot with electric arm speed that provides a bit of deception to an otherwise straight fastball, and shows great feel to spin the baseball.

Thompson throws a low-80s slider that has hard, late break and two-plane action that routinely draws whiffs and causes batters to expand the zone. He also showed some feel for a solid, 76-79 mph curveball with 11-to-5 break, according to Baseball America. Many scouts consider the curveball Thompson’s best pitch thanks to its tight spin, good power and depth, and his ability to throw it for strikes. The curveball is a knee-buckler and is especially devastating to right-handed batters. MLB Pipeline grades Thompson’s fastball at 60, curveball at 55 and changeup at 50. His changeup is still in the rudimentary stage, as he really hasn’t had to throw it much against his lesser prep competition.

Despite his high walk total in high school, Thompson has solid command for his age — graded 50 by MLB Pipeline. Speaking of MLB Pipeline, Thompson is currently ranked 14th among its Top 30 White Sox prospects.

Andrew Dalquist
6´1´´
175 pounds
Age: 19

Dalquist’s 2019 prep stats for Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Calif. are difficult to come by. His junior stats were nice (1.55 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 25.8 K%), but that was when he possessed a slightly above-average fastball. It’s likely those numbers improved greatly during his senior season, however, not just because Dalquist was another year older but because his fastball velocity jumped to 91-95 mph during offseason tournaments and varsity competition. Dalquist was verbally committed to the University of Arizona, but reneged on it to sign an extremely over-slot deal with the White Sox as the team’s third-round selection in this year’s MLB draft.

Like the aforementioned Thompson, Dalquist was handled delicately by the Sox organization. In three starts totaling the same number of innings for the AZL squad, Dalquist allowed nary an earned run as he surrendered just two hits and two walks while striking out two. He likely will begin next season with Kannapolis, but probably won’t begin work there until May or June in order to protect his arm.

Dalquist’s repertoire features both the four-seam and two-seam fastballs, and while his fastball doesn’t have elite velocity at this time, the extension on his delivery is deceptive enough to seemingly add a bit more oomph on the fastball. His mid-70s curveball, like his fastball, is graded at 55 by MLB Pipeline thanks to its depth. He also features a 50-grade changeup and slider, which should only get better with increased usage at the professional level. Like Thompson, Dalquist’s command also grades at 50, which isn’t a surprise due to his youth.

Nevertheless, it seems Dalquist has an above-average arsenal from which to work on. He just needs the experience to harness his repertoire effectively. MLB Pipeline currently ranks him 15th among White Sox prospects.

Jeremiah Burke
6´2´´
195 pounds
Age: 21

As a freshman at Georgetown, Burke struggled mightily out of the bullpen with a 10.12 ERA and 2.53 WHIP. However, he elevated his game as a swingman during his sophomore campaign and enjoyed a solid junior season for the Hoyas in 2019 with a 4.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIP as he relinquished 83 hits and 25 walks while fanning 86 during his 85 innings. This earned him the notice of the White Sox, who selected him in the 17th round of this year’s MLB draft.

Burke’s overall numbers were decent but unexceptional. In his 12 games for the AZL Sox (eight starts), he posted a 4.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP by ceding 63 hits (.288 OBA) and 18 walks (7.5%) while striking out 42 (17.4%). The numbers can be taken with a grain of salt, however, as Burke’s 139 combined collegiate and professional innings nearly tripled his combined totals of his freshman and sophomore years. With that said, his best monthly numbers came in August, when he posted a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 18 strikeouts during his 20 innings.

Lefties hit him especially hard (.311), while righties held their own against him, at 2.76. His starting stats (3.31 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) easily bested his relief work (6.27 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) for the AZL squad, which essentially echoes his work at Georgetown. Burke, with his strong finish, should be a strong candidate to begin next season with Kannapolis.

Cooper Bradford
5´11´´
180 pounds
Age: 21

Bradford had some of the most underwhelming college stats in this year’s White Sox draft class. While his freshman year with North Florida was actually quite respectable (2.79 ERA, 1.51 WHIP), Bradford slipped badly in his sophomore season to a 6.41 ERA and 1.78 WHIP as he allowed 48 hits and 25 walks while fanning 35 over his 39 innings.

Bradford transferred to Florida Southern for his junior season, where his numbers again disappointed despite healthy strikeout totals: 5.58 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over 80 2/3 innings while relinquishing 78 hits and 57 walks in striking out 89. Sox scouts saw enough in Bradford, however, to select him in the 13th round of this year’s draft.

For the AZL Sox, Bradford actually outperformed his college stats — especially with his control. In eight starts totaling 30 innings, Bradford posted a 4.80 ERA and 1.53 WHIP by surrendering 37 hits (.303 OBA) and just nine walks (6.8%) as opposed to 35 strikeouts (26.5%). His control certainly improved as evidenced by his reduced walk total, although command still needs work as shown by his high OBA. In looking closer at Bradford’s numbers, his OBA and WHIP were actually quite good with nobody on (.253 and 1.18 respectively). However, with runners on base, his OBA and WHIP soared to .383 and 2.00. Thus, in order to improve his future results, Bradford will need to focus on perhaps improving his mechanics while in the stretch. This also means he’s best suited as a starter for the time being. Expect him to begin next season with Great Falls, although a return trip to the AZL Sox certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.

Luis Rodriguez
6´6´´
220 pounds
Age: 19

Rodriguez, a native Venezuelan, signed an international contract with the White Sox on June 1, 2018 and promptly found his way to that year’s DSL squad. Unsurprisingly, for someone of his combination of youth and size, Rodriguez struggled with his control in his first professional season. In 16 games (10 starts) encompassing 50 innings, he relinquished just 44 hits (.238 OBA) but walked 38 (16.5%) while fanning 48 (20.9%).

In seven outings this year for the DSL squad spanning 30 innings, Rodriguez’s numbers improved greatly, to the tune of a 4.34 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, as he allowed 30 hits (.256 OBA) and just nine walks (7.0%) while striking out 29 (22.5%). He earned a promotion to the AZL Sox on July 8, but struggled with a 6.54 ERA and 1.83 WHIP over 31 2/3 innings. In those AZL innings, Rodriguez surrendered 39 hits (.300 OBA) and 19 walks (12.5%) while striking out 24 (15.8%). Rodriguez actually held his own against lefties (.250 OBA), but struggled immensely against righties (.322 OBA).

It’s difficult to learn a new culture and language at midseason, and it’s possible that impacted Rodriguez’s results somewhat. Based on the numbers, he’s got good stuff but it’ll be his ability to command that stuff will impact what he can achieve. Rodriguez likely will return to the AZL Sox for 2020.

Honorable Mentions:
Isaiah Carranza did not pitch in 2019 due to injury, which is the second year he’s missed since being selected in the 12th round of the 2018 draft.


DSL White Sox

Ray Castro
6´3´´
165 pounds
Age: 22

Since signing a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2016 season, Venezuela native Castro has done nothing but excel in the Dominican League in both relief and starting roles. After enjoying a sensational 1.25 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 43 1/3 innings for the DSL Rangers in 2016, he began the 2018 season with the AZL Rangers. After a rocky three outings, he returned to their DSL squad where he continued to excel with an ERA hovering around 2.02. Then, on July 31, Castro was traded to the White Sox along with Joseph Jarneski for veteran reliever Nate Jones.

In three outings for the DSL White Sox, of which two were starts, Castro dazzled with a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, allowing just seven hits and two walks while fanning 13 in nine innings. His combined stats with the DSL Rangers and White Sox were a 2.01 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 12 games spanning 44 2/3 innings, allowing just 30 hits (.183 OBA) and 17 walks (9.2%) while striking out 45 (24.5%). Castro really hasn’t pitched many innings in his career, which may speak more to the depth of the Rangers DSL squad than anything else. That depth may explain why Castro was given so little leash in 2018, when he got off to a sluggish three-game start.

Due to his age, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Castro begin the 2020 season in Kannapolis as a reliever. He’d be way too old to begin next year with the AZL Sox, and Great Falls wouldn’t be beneficial to a pitcher whose ground out rate was less than 30% last year. Since he’s pitched less than 111 combined innings over his four-year professional career, it’d make the most sense to have Castro begin next year in a relief role.

Homer Cruz
6´0´´
175 pounds
Age: 20

Cruz, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed with the White Sox in October 2018. Cruz acquitted himself relatively well this year in his first season of professional ball, as he posted a respectable 3.86 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his 63 innings. During that span, he allowed just 57 hits (.237 OBA) and 25 walks (9.3%) while striking out 65 (24.1%). Lefties were his bugaboo as they hit .278 against Cruz’s offerings; righties, however, hit just .208 against him. While his control wasn’t great, it was decent enough for his first year. At 53.6%, Cruz’s ground out rate was particularly impressive. Cruz should begin next season with the AZL White Sox.

Dionicio Jimenez
6´4´´
190 pounds
Age: 19

Jimenez didn’t have an especially great year, but he improved in nearly all areas from his difficult initial 2018 campaign. That year, Jimenez posted a 6.81 ERA and 2.12 WHIP over 39 2/3 innings as he relinquished 35 hits (.235 OBA) and a whopping 49 walks (23.7%) while fanning 46 (22.2%). This year, Jimenez improved to a 4.82 ERA and 1.45 WHIP as he surrendered 39 hits (.273 OBA) and 15 walks (9.2%) while striking out 30 (18.4%). Also, his ground out rate improved from 45.0% to 51.9% this year. By sacrificing a few more hits and fewer strikeouts, Jimenez improved his game by simply throwing the ball over the plate. It’s likely he’ll return to the DSL White Sox for 2020, but he could earn a promotion to the AZL White Sox later in the season if he continues to progress.

Francisco Benitez
6´2´´
187 pounds
Age: 19

While the aforementioned Jimenez improved from a difficult rookie campaign of 2018, the same cannot be said of Benitez. Last year, Benitez attained a 6.10 ERA and 1.80 WHIP over 38 1/3 innings by ceding 26 hits (.200 OBA) and 43 walks (22.9%) while striking out 43 as well (22.9%). For 2019, Benitez suffered through an even worse 8.06 ERA and 1.79 WHIP over 22 1/3 innings by allowing 19 hits (.238 OBA) and 21 walks (19.3%) while fanning just 14 (12.8%). What’s more, his ground out rate worsened from an already low 46.3% to an abysmal 26.7%. Benitez finished the season on the restricted list for undisclosed reasons, and if he returns to the organization in 2020, it’d likely be with the DSL White Sox for a third year.

Cristian Mena
6´3´´
180 pounds
Age: 17

Mena, who won’t turn 17 until December, could be next year’s right-handed version of Ronaldo Guzman for the DSL White Sox. Mena didn’t pitch for the DSL Sox this year, but should join the rotation in 2020. He struck out six of the 11 batters he faced at the Mejia Top 10 Showcase in Las Vegas, and threw 86-88 mph at the event with a devastating curveball, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.

Honorable Mentions:
Erick Bello like Mena, signed with the White Sox in International Signing Day on July 1, 2019 and didn’t pitch for the organization. Little information is availabe about the 5´11´´, 170-pound Dominican native.

Micker Adolfo homers in AFL opener

Big bop: Micker makes the most of his Fall debut. (@whitesox)


Gavin Sheets: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 2 K (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
Micker Adolfo: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K (.333 BA, 1.666 OPS)
Vince Arobio: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K (18.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP)
Bennett Sousa: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)

It was a White Sox day for the opening of the AFL season for the Desert Dogs. It was not a winning effort, nor were the Sox players that good, but quite a few of them received game action.

Glendale lost the game, 4-2, so obviously the bats didn’t do much. Gavin Sheets, Blake Rutherford, and Micker Adolfo all got in the game tonight. Sheets and Rutherford both went hitless and combined for four strikeouts. Rutherford at least got on base with a walk. Micker Adolfo was responsible for Glendale’s first run of the game in the eighth inning, already down 4-0. He launched a solo homer to left center field. Adolfo was the DH today, so he still is not playing the field.

Two Sox pitchers got game action, one was much better than the other. Vince Arobio went in first, in the seventh inning. He got hit, and hit hard, as he allowed two runs in the inning, including a home run. Bennett Sousa came into the eighth and worked a perfect inning. He struck out one over that span, but it was a good start to his AFL campaign. Minor league baseball is back!

2019 Charlotte Knights season recap

Boom town: It was a successful season, with an explosive ending, in Charlotte. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


The Knights were overall a much better team than last season, as their hitters took full advantage of the MLB ball in Triple-A. It took until the final day for the Knights to be eliminated from playoff contention, in a 75-64 season.

The International League saw 2,440 home runs this season, compared to 1,555 last year, an 885 home run difference. The Knights went from hitting 103 homers and allowing 113 in 2018 to hitting 208 and allowing 203 in 2019. This really made some hitters look fantastic all across Triple-A, but it honestly did ruin some pitchers as well. Unfortunately, some of those pitchers were on the Sox.

Since the Knights were basically the White Sox bench, I am going to stick with evaluating strictly prospects, so sorry to players like Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, and basically the entire Knights outfield that started in Charlotte. Also, if any players started with the Sox and were sent down, sorry, but you also miss the cut.


Started the year with the Knights

A few players started the year with the Knights but did not play that much due to injury, or in one case, a trade. Spencer Adams and Ian Hamilton both had lost seasons due to injury, and seemed to be affected by the new baseball. Adams only threw 18 innings before leaving for the season, and they weren’t good. He lost his starting spot and he pushed himself out of any prospect hype. Hamilton had just an awful year on and off the mound. He missed the beginning of the season due to a car crash. He was not very good when he was on the mound for Charlotte, and then got hurt again off the mound (hit in the face from a foul ball in the dugout, Hamilton required surgery for multiple facial fractures). Jordan Stephens was not good, got hurt, and the Sox just cut him loose, leaving Cleveland to scoop him up off of waivers. Yeah, not great for these three former top prospects.

There was positive movement for Knights prospects as well. Chief among them is Dylan Cease, though his same struggles that have been blatant in MLB were also there in Triple-A. Cease had trouble in the first inning, and usually had one big-run inning, before settling down. He only pitched 68 1/3 innings with a 4.48 ERA, but his stuff is so good that people should believe he will be better next season. Carson Fulmer can be considered in this category still, but I won’t waste much time on him. Fulmer clearly was better this season than any of his other: His strikeout rate was higher and his pitches moved more and faster, but the results aren’t there. Sadly, 2020 might be a last gasp for the former first round pick to make an MLB team (until the Houston Astros or Los Angeles Dodgers get him and turn him into an ace or a high-leverage arm in the bullpen, like they’ll do with Dylan Covey).

Zach Thompson, a reliever, also started the year with the Knights, but he also had a weird cameo in Birmingham, in my opinion, it was for no reason. Thompson struggled mightily in Charlotte, along with multiple other young arms. He had a 5.50 ERA. How? Although his strikeout and walk numbers were fine, Thompson allowed 1.92 HR/9. He is also on the older side and wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft last offseason, so the prospect chops on Thompson are probably off.

It was a bit better on the hitting side. There were no season-ending injuries of note, but also not a lot of prospect promotion until September call-ups. Catchers Zack Collins and Seby Zavala both earned promotions before September, but did not inspire while in Chicago. Collins was much better in Triple-A after he was demoted. He finished the MiLB year with a 170 wRC+ with a 16.1% BB-rate and just a 19.9% K-rate, which is fantastic for him. He showed his normal pop and that bump at the end of the season in Charlotte was why he found his way back to the majors in September. Collins has not been overwhelmingly good but his approach is much better. He still needs to swing more often, but that should be work done in the offseason. Zavala had a down year on all counts, and was not even called up for September. His power was good, but the bat-to-ball skills were not as impressive and his K-rate skyrocketed. He could still be in the mix as a catcher for the future, but his prospect shine has definitely decreased. What is saving him is defense, which Collins sorely lacks behind the dish. But with an automated strike zone seemingly on the way, how much will framing matter in the future?

Danny Mendick was one of the rare players on Charlotte who stayed the entire season. Weirdly enough, the MLB ball did not really have a great affect on the utility infielder. His ISO only rose from .148 in 2018 to .166 in 2019, but he put together a solid, not great, season for the Knights nonetheless. Mendick’s batting average rose significantly compared to last season, jumping by 32 points while his plate discipline was still great. The K-rate barely rose, about .2% to just 17.2%, which is a good rate for a contact hitter. Mendick’s walk rate also rose, this time about 1% to 11.8%, which is good especially because it rose from his Double-A rates. Mendick probably does not have the hitting and defensive potential to be an everyday MLB starter, which may be why he stayed in Charlotte the entire season when older players like Ryan Goins got promotions instead of him. Nevertheless, Mendick has had some success with the Sox since his September promotion. It seems to be down to him or Yolmer Sánchez for the 2020 backup infield position.


The Promoted Players

This is where the fun begins, as Anakin Skywalker would say. The prospects who were promoted to Charlotte are far and away the best of the bunch, as well as a couple notable lower prospects as well. But let’s start with the best of them, Luis Robert.

Robert is an elite talent and has prospect rankings that show it. He is the No. 3 overall prospect from Baseball America, 19th on FanGraphs, and fifth on MLB Pipeline. Across all three levels, Robert slashed .328/.376/.624 with 32 home runs and 36 stolen bases. He showed just about every single tool a player could; he even had seven outfield assists from center field and played a part in two double plays, and we have all seen videos like the one below of him flying and diving for a catch.

While we all know Robert’s strengths, and the videos and stats confirm how great he is, he does have things to work on. The ability to walk has become very important to White Sox fans lately, and it does not seem like Robert will help that much. He walked in about 5% of his plate appearances and had a K-rate around 23%. That plate discipline isn’t great, but he really wasn’t challenged much in MiLB so his approach could change. If it does not, he could be in for a very slow start for his MLB career.

The other top guy to be promoted was 2018 first round selection Nick Madrigal. Like Robert he also had two promotions this season, and slashed .311/.377/.414 among the three levels. Madrigal didn’t show much power, but he did at least hit homers this season — four in total, but power will never be a part of his game. Madrigal is a slappy hitter who does have the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. That’s why he had 27 doubles and five triples this year, but BABIP will be an important indicator of his success at the plate. Madrigal also had 35 stolen bases in 2019. But the real calling card for Madrigal is his defense, and for a team that generally doesn’t have very good infield defense, his fielding ability is important. Errors aren’t everything, especially in the infield, but Madrigal only committed four in 932 1/3 innings at second base. Outlets like MLB Pipeline have also surmised that he could be a Gold Glove second baseman once he arrives in Chicago.

The other three promoted players of note are led by fan favorite Yermín Mercedes. The MLB ball certainly agreed with his bat, as Mercedes’ ISO from Double-A at .170 rose to .337 in Triple-A. He hit better than .300 at both levels and also had a BB-rate of more than 10% as well. Mercedes strikes out at a good rate, but good things always seemed to happen when he got the barrel of the bat on the ball. His hit tool seems to be undeniable at this point, but Mercedes has no position. He has been placed at catcher for most of his career, but is not a very good one. He is not athletic enough to move to other positions, and probably is not tall enough to be a first baseman. Mercedes did not get the call for more at-bats in Chicago this season, so the organization does not seem too keen on his abilities, but his bat does seem to be legit. He just needs a chance to show he belongs on a roster somewhere.

The other two are both relievers, Matt Foster and Hunter Schryver. Foster started in Birmingham and left fairly quickly, after 9 2/3 shutout innings. With the Knights, the MLB ball did seem to take a toll on Foster because of a professional high of 1.47 HR/9, but he still had a 3.76 ERA. Foster has a mid- to high-90s fastball, and did have good strikeout numbers (27.7%) and a fine walk rate (8.5%). Schyver also started in Birmingham, and stayed a bit longer. The ball seemed to really affect him. With the Barons, Schyver went from a 2.77 ERA in Birmingham with .37 HR/9 and an 8.5% BB-rate. In his 13 1/3 innings, his walk rate rose to 17.4%, the HR/9 went up to 1.32, and he had an 8.56 ERA. It was a disaster, but the lefty is still somebody to watch; he just needs to get used to the new ball.


Triple-A has become a more important stepping-stone MiLB level because of the different baseball. It made a lot of pitchers worse, and made some hitters look fantastic. It is still too early to decide what improvements or bad performances are simply due to the ball, but the Knights did take enough of an advantage to be in a playoff hunt until the last day. And hey, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal looked great while on the cusp of the majors, which is probably the best takeaway of the season.

White Sox Minor League Monthly Update: August/September

Reversal of fortune: Zack Collins headed down to Charlotte and mashed his way back up to Chicago. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


Charlotte Knights

Seby Zavala: .235 BA, 4 HR, 8 XBH, 9 R, 9 RBI, 8 BB, 20 K, 1 SB
Zack Collins: .310 BA, 10 HR, 14 XBH, 17 R, 22 RBI, 18 BB, 23 K **MVP of August**
Luis Robert: .264 BA, 10 HR, 18 XBH, 22 R, 24 RBI, 5 BB, 39 K, 2 SB
Yermín Mercedes: .317 BA, 7 HR, 13 XBH, 17 R, 18 RBI, 17 BB, 15 K
Nick Madrigal: .331 BA, 1 HR, 8 XBH, 26 R, 12 RBI, 13 BB, 5 K, 4 SB
Danny Mendick: .294 BA, 3 HR, 9 XBH, 13 R, 10 RBI, 13 BB, 22 K, 1 SB
Matt Foster: 14 IP, 5.20 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 5.14 BB/9
Hunter Schryver: 9 1/3 IP, 7.48 FIP, 12.54 K/9, 10.61 BB/9


Birmingham Barons

Gavin Sheets: .240 BA, 3 HR, 9 XBH, 9 R, 15 RBI, 14 BB, 21 K
Luis González: .260 BA, 2 HR, 7 XBH, 17 R, 10 RBI, 15 BB, 18 K, 7 SB
Luis Basabe: .244 BA, 1 HR, 7 XBH, 12 R, 10 RBI, 11 BB, 38 K, 2 SB
Blake Rutherford: .315 BA, 7 XBH, 12 R, 12 RBI, 17 BB, 20 K, 2 SB
Alec Hansen: 12 1/3 IP, 5.33 FIP, 8.76 K/9, 8.03 BB/9
Tyler Johnson: 14 1/3 IP, 4.14 FIP, 11.3 K/9, 1.88 BB/9
Codi Heuer: 12 1/3 IP, 2.41 FIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.19 BB/9
Kodi Medeiros: 14 1/3 IP, 5.18 FIP, 5.02 K/9, 5.02 BB/9
Blake Battenfield: 28 1/3 IP, 5.31 FIP, 6.67 K/9, 1.91 BB/9
Bernardo Flores: 28 IP, 3.33 FIP, 10.61 K/9, 1.61 BB/9
John Parke: 34 1/3 IP, 4.35 FIP, 3.93 K/9, 2.36 BB/9 **MVP of August**

Read the 2019 season recap.


Winston-Salem-Birmingham Shuttle

Bennett Sousa
Winston-Salem: 11 2/3 IP, 0.81 FIP, 13.89 K/9, 1.54 BB/9
Birmingham: 2 2/3 IP, 2.17 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 3.38 BB/9


Winston-Salem Dash

Steele Walker: .274 BA, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 20 R, 12 RBI, 14 BB, 16 K, 4 SB
Andrew Vaughn: .248 BA, 2 HR, 10 XBH, 15 R, 18 RBI, 15 BB, 17 K
Andrew Perez: 14 1/3 IP, 2.82 FIP, 10.05 K/9, 5.02 BB/9
Jacob Lindgren: 14 2/3 IP, 2.97 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.45 BB/9
Jonathan Stiever: 26 IP, 3.57 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.73 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Kade McClure: 10 IP, 9.08 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Konnor Pilkington: 31 IP, 3.12 FIP, 9.29 K/9, 2.61 BB/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Ian Dawkins: .264 BA, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 15 R, 4 RBI, 14 BB, 24 K, 2 SB
Lenyn Sosa: .310 BA, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 18 R, 16 RBI, 8 BB, 23 K, 1 SB
Davis Martin: 31 IP, 2.42 FIP, 9.58 K/9, 2.32 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Jason Bilous: 27 IP, 5.45 FIP, 10.33 K/9, 6.33 B/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


Rookie League-Kannapolis Shuttle

Caleb Freeman
AZL: 4 IP, 0.77 FIP, 15.75 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Great Falls: 6 2/3 IP, 0.90 FIP, 16.2 K/9, 1.35 BB/9
Kannapolis: 4 1/3 IP, 6.26 FIP, 10.38 K/9, 4.15 BB.9


Great Falls Voyagers

Harvin Mendoza: .207 BA, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 10 R, 8 RBI, 10 BB, 22 K
Caberea Weaver: .284 BA, 1 HR, 11 XBH, 14 R, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 31 K, 5 SB
Lency Delgado: .230 BA, 4 XBH, 8 R, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 42 K
Luis Mieses: .190 BA, 5 XBH, 7 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 19 K
Karan Patel: 10 2/3 IP, 3.02 FIP, 10.12 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Avery Weems: 21 IP, 3.01 FIP, 10.71 K/9, 1.29 BB/9 **MVP of August**
Dan Metzdorf: 15 IP, 2.85 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9


AZL White Sox

DJ Gladney: .170 BA, 5 R, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 22 K
José Rodriguez: .279 BA, 3 HR, 6 XBH, 10 R, 12 RBI, 3 BB, 16 K, 3 SB **MVP of August**
Logan Glass: .333 BA, 1 HR, 4 XBH, 7 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K
Micker Adolfo: .260 BA, 2 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 21 K
Matthew Thompson: 2 IP, 2.27 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Andrew Dalquist: 3 IP, 4.94 FIP, 6.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

Read the 2019 season recap.


DSL White Sox

Yolbert Sánchez: .309 BA, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 7 R, 4 RBI, 11 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
Benyamin Bailey: .250 BA, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 9 R, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 10 K
Johnabiell Laureano: .346 BA, 3 HR, 7 XBH, 13 R, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, 1 SB **MVP of August**
Ronaldo Guzman: 10 2/3 IP, 4.48 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 4.22 B/9

Read the 2019 season recap.

Under the Radar: Kade McClure

Peaceful, easy feeling: Kade McClure combined with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem to post a rock-solid 3.25 ERA, and should be in the mix for Birmingham’s rotation for 2020. (Hype the Engineer/Winston-Salem Dash)


Under the Radar details players in the Chicago White Sox system who may have suffered setbacks, gotten lost in the shuffle, or just haven’t surfaced as significant prospects as of yet. Next up is Kade McClure, a right-handed starter who’s excelled since being selected in the sixth round of the 2017 draft.


Kade McClure
RHSP
Winston-Salem Dash

With a name that inspires multiple references from The Simpsons, McClure has been one of the most effective pitchers in the White Sox system since he was drafted in the sixth round out of Louisville in 2017. In retrospect, it was a bit surprising that McClure lasted so long that year, as he combined to go 20-4 in his sophomore and junior starts, covering 33 appearances. During those two years spanning 181 innings, McClure limited opponents to just 130 hits and 56 walks while striking out 188. It’s possible McClure’s stock fell as his numbers did decline a bit from his stellar sophomore campaign, when he went 12-0 with a rock-solid 2.54 ERA and 0.88 WHIP spanning 78 innings by allowing just 49 hits and 20 walks while fanning 27.

After being drafted, McClure combined with the AZL Sox, Great Falls and Kannapolis to post an incredible 0.82 ERA and 0.55 in his 10 relief outings as he surrendered just three hits and three walks while fanning 19 in 11 innings. McClure was off to a great start last year with Kannapolis in his return to the rotation over eight starts, posting a 3.02 ERA. However, McClure was injured on a comeback liner last May, which forced him to undergo season-ending surgery in order to repair ligament damage and a dislocated kneecap.

McClure split the 2019 season evenly between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. The righty held up to a true pro workload, more than doubling his inning total from his previous two seasons combined. His numbers with the Intimidators and Dash have been nearly identical. For Kannapolis in 10 starts spanning 55 1/3 innings, McClure posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP by ceding 56 hits (.256 OBA), 12 walks (5.1%) and 50 strikeouts (21.3%); for Winston-Salem in 12 starts totaling 66 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.39 ERA and 1.22 WHIP by relinquishing 64 hits (.252 OBA) and 17 walks (6.2%) while fanning 49 (17.8%).

These are the numbers he posted altogether for 2019:

22 G, 22 GS, 4-6, 3.25 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 121.2 IP, 120 H (.254 OBA), 29 BB (5.7%), 99 K (19.4%)

According to FanGraphs, McClure’s repertoire features a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 95 with good extension, with a slider and changeup that both flash above-average at times. At 6´7´´ and 235 pounds, McClure’s build is similar to Alec Hansen’s, making his pitches likely difficult for opponents to pick up. While McClure doesn’t offer Hansen’s high-octane heat and significant upside, he has featured far better control and consistency throughout his college and professional career to date. McClure’s changeup helps stymie lefties somewhat, though they hit him at a better clip (.275) than righties (.244). His ground out-to-fly out rate has basically been 1:1 throughout his professional career, so that could be a concern if he makes it to Charlotte or Chicago.

Because of his injuries, McClure has yet to appear for Birmingham. While it’s possible he could begin next year at Winston-Salem, it’s easy to imagine him eventually finding his way to Birmingham and Charlotte by season’s end, due to his ability to throw strikes and commanding mound presence. McClure will turn 24 next February, and he’ll be Rule 5 eligible after the 2020 season.

If he maintains his health while continuing to produce, it’s not difficult to imagine McClure inserting himself into the White Sox plans for 2021 — as anywhere from a fifth starter to a setup role in the bullpen.

2019 Birmingham Barons season recap

Two top position players in the system: One team. (@BhamBarons)


To start the year, the Birmingham Barons were the most talented team in the Chicago White Sox system. They had top prospects up and down the roster, but they all fell flat for the first month (or, for some, the entire season).

Because the Barons were underperforming for at least the first month, their record was awful, at 27-42. Once some prospects got going in May, and reinforcements came up from the lower levels, the second half was much better, at 37-30.

Like the Winston-Salem Dash, the Barons also have a managerial prospect: Omar Vizquel. From fans, he seems to be the favorite in the clubhouse to takeover for Rick Renteria. Vizquel was one of the many interviewees for the Angels’ opening for manager that eventually went to Brad Ausmus. Though he did not get the gig, Vizquel seemed to enjoy being considered — but there was some cause for Sox fans to be concerned. He stated on the Talk Beisbol podcast that MLB.com transcribed, “I was surprised by a lot of the questions they asked me. There were a lot of sabermetrics involved in all of their questions. They’re apparently going far beyond what it means to be responsible and wise about the moves that you can make. They want someone who is very interested in the numbers and can weigh the percentages.” This apparent old-school approach is not a glowing look for Vizquel, but hopefully he took this as a learning experience to put to use with the Barons.

But it’s player time, and there are a lot of good ones who came through Birmingham.

Once Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal got to Birmingham, it was the talk of the White Sox prospect world because of how well both did. Robert was not as good as his High-A stint — it was almost impossible to be that good — but he still clobbered Double-A pitching. Robert slashed .314/.362/.518, for a 155 wRC+. He of course showed off a lot of power but also flashed speed, stealing 21 bases in 27 chances in Birmingham.

For Madrigal, his Double-A stint was what got some detractors to switch sides and support him as the South Side’s future second baseman. He hit .341, leading the team, and reached base in 40% of his plate appearances. Madrigal’s K-rate didn’t even increase, so his bat-to-ball skills are out of this world.

There were a couple other promotions for hitters, one good and one bad. Yermín Mercedes was the good one. He crushed in Birmingham, with a 157 wRC+, and fans started to clamor for a more fast-paced promotion schedule (didn’t happen). There was also no improvement on his defensive side, so Mercedes is kind of on the outside looking in as a prospect.

Joel Booker was the second promotion. For about a month, Booker hit .351 for the Barons and was looking like he could make it to Chicago. However, he was very bad with the Charlotte Knights, with just a 49 wRC+, and even lost playing time. Booker was eventually demoted back to Birmingham, but he was unable to save his season.

On the pitching side, there was not much movement, but a few arms of note did get a quick taste of Double-A before going to Charlotte. Three of those were relievers in Zach Thompson, Matt Foster, and Hunter Schryver. All three were great in Double-A, with Foster not even allowing a run in his six games and Thompson only allowing one in four games. Schyver was in Alabama a bit longer (30 appearances) and left a 2.77 ERA.

Kyle Kubat is the lone starter who got to Birmingham, after a promotion from High-A. He only needed eight starts to show he should be in Charlotte with his very good command/limited strikeout ability. As you will see in the Charlotte recap, the new ball took a toll on all of Birmingham’s arms when they reached the Knights. Now, on to the guys that finished with the Barons, and there were a lot.


Barons Bats

Because it took so long for Barons bats to get going, this one is a little different. First we take a look at Gavin Sheets, the only batter to end the year with the Barons and have a wRC+ of more than 100.

Sheets had a horrible April, but was able to come back enough to salvage his season; he also seemed to get quite motivated after the White Sox selected fellow first baseman Andrew Vaughn in the draft. Sheets ended the year with a 122 wRC+, and though his batting average was lower than last season, his power was better. Sheets hit 16 home runs, and 19 more extra-base hits. Those doubles he had last season basically turned to homers in 2019. He still doesn’t hit enough fly balls, but Sheets’ approach at the plate hasn’t changed. He still uses all fields and has a walk rate at 10%, with a better than average K-rate. Once Sheets gets a hold of the MLB ball, his power should skyrocket.

Second, here are the players that started out so bad that even much better play later in the year couldn’t eight their seasons. We start with Blake Rutherford.

Rutherford was awful for the first two months of the season, but his bat-to-ball skills helped lead him to a good finish. From June until the end of the season, Rutherford slashed .307/.364/.404 for a 122 WRC+. He really relied on a lot of singles, as his ISO was just .098, but Rutherford still got hits and got on base. The walk rate was decent (9%) over that stretch, but a 24% K-rate in Double-A when you’re hot is concerning. Rutherford will be in the AFL this season, to hopefully back up his good play in the last few months at Birmingham.

Luis González was also not looking the way he was supposed to for the first month. He did recover some, but it was an overall uninspiring year for the outfielder. Again, his best stretch started in June, but his success was not as good as Rutherford’s. González only had a 109 wRC+ from June until the end of the season … but there are some things that look better compared to Rutherford. González walked at about the same rate but he struck out far less, which is a good sign. González also did show some more power.

Luis Basabe had a tough year on the field and with his health. He only played in 74 games this season between rehab games and with the Barons. His power was down, plate discipline was worse and he only hit .246. Whenever Basabe looked like he was figuring it all out again, he would get hurt or slump. He finished the year with a 95 wRC+, which is not bad, but it was not the step fans and the organization wanted. Maybe it was because of the injuries, but 74 games is still a solid sample size to show something. This was Basabe’s second stint in Double-A, and a drop in production is concerning.

Then there was the outright poor seasons as Laz Rivera and Joel Booker floundered at a time to tell if they were real prospects or not. Booker actually started out very well as he hit .351 before being promoted to Triple-A. However, that was the high point, as Booker’s season tanked from there. He ended up losing his starting job in Charlotte and was eventually demoted. Unfortunately, Booker’s woes continued, and he could not get out of his rut.

Rivera was in Double-A the entire year, and was not inspiring. After hitting very well last season in both Single-A leagues, Southern League pitching seemed too good for the middle infielder. The power and batting average went down, and Rivera’s defense was not spectacular (14 errors in 102 games at shortstop).


Barons Pitching

Let’s just get the real bad out of the way here, the serious injuries! Dane Dunning was slated to be with the Barons but he had Tommy John surgery in the spring. Jimmy Lambert did actually pitch during the season before he too went under the knife for Tommy John. He was not all that great, but that could also be his injury talking. Zack Burdi was going through his TJS rehab process, but needed surgery again when he arrived with the Barons. This time the injury was not directly related to the arm; it was a torn tendon in his knee. Burdi was not very good before that, though, coming off time last season where his fastball velocity was way down. Burdi finished with a 6.75 ERA in 2019.

To the better news, kind of. Bernardo Flores did finish the season pitching, but he missed a huge chunk of it because of injury. That missed time probably prohibited him from reaching Triple-A to find out what he can do with a juiced ball. In 78 1/3 innings, Flores had his typical good ERA at 3.33. The strikeouts were up compared to last season (about a 7% rise) while the walks stayed near 4.5%. So it was a more impressive a season than 2018, but the injury really bit Flores and his development arc.

Lincoln Henzman had a down year compared to last season, but he also had injury troubles, though not as severe. He missed a few starts in April that set him back, and it took awhile for him to reach his 2018 level in High-A. Henzman’s last three starts at W-S were superb, but once he was promoted to Birmingham, those struggles resurfaced. Henzman will always have a low K and BB rate, so he will heavily rely on BABIP, and it was not kind in 2019. He had a .331 BABIP in Double-A, and that basically doomed him because Henzman does not have an out pitch. FIP and xFIP like him more because he has low home run, walk, and fly ball rates. However, in this case, ERA is more important, and Henzman’s was 5.56 to end the year.

Blake Battenfield and John Parke are the other starters to keep an eye on, though they do not have the prospect hype of Flores. Battenfield and Parke both started in High-A and earned their way to Birmingham. Parke was much better than Battenfield. He had a 2.59 ERA compared to Battenfield’s 4.52. Both will be in their age 25 seasons next year, so that is cause for concern because they are going up against younger talent. I cannot really make any sort of judgement on either player without them using the MLB ball. So next season in Triple-A will be big. Hopefully these older arms perform much better than, say, a Jordan Stephens.

The Barons actually had quite the interesting set of relief pitchers. Again, let’s get the bad out of the way first. Alec Hansen continued his struggles in Double-A, as his prospect capital just keep falling. He had a 5.45 ERA, with an 8.39 BB/9 — better than last season, but still awful.

Tyler Johnson did not have a bad season; he was just out for most of it because of a lat injury. He very well could have been in MLB at this point without the injury, but alas, he will settle for the AFL. Johnson finished his season with just 31 1/3 innings pitched for a 2.59 ERA (with the Barons, it was just 18 1/3 innings for a 3.44 ERA). Vince Arobio had a fantastic season, up until his final promotion to the Barons. Arobio had a 6.11 ERA in 28 Double-A innings after what was a breakout iILB season.

Now, to the much better and healthier years.

Codi Heuer, Bennett Sousa, and Kodi Mederios did their jobs, even if it came in a roundabout way in Double-A. Heuer was the most conventional. After his promotion to the Barons, he more or less served as Birmingham’s closer. He had a 1.84 ERA with nine saves in 13 chances. He has really risen up the iILB ranks quickly, after he was selected just last season in the sixth round. He has good command, but his strikeouts did fall drastically between High-A and Double-A — something to keep an eye on in 2020.

Sousa only pitched two games with the Barons, and didn’t allow a run. He will probably start 2020 in Birmingham, though he could be fast-tracked to the Sox if they do not have confidence in their other lefty relief options.

Finally, Medeiros. He started out the year in the rotation, and that did not work out at all. In 40 2/3 innings as a starter, Medeiros had a 7.75 ERA, with a whopping .333 batting average against. When he was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last season, some theorized Medeiros will end up in the pen eventually, and he did this season to great success. In 42 1/3 innings in relief, Medeiros had a 2.55 ERA and a much better .164 batting average against, in fact, that is a fantastic number. On a more progressive team than the White Sox, Medeiros could easily be an opener option. With the three-batter minimum coming, a lefty that can go longer like Medeiros could be a welcome sight.


The Barons unfortunately will have a lot more retreads from their 2019 team for 2020. For some, 2020 might be a last gasp to capitalize on what prospect hype they have left, but the Barons should be a team everyone will be watching again. Hopefully it will not be with horror ,like it was for much of this season.

Under the Radar: John Parke

Sneaky-good: John Parke has been one of the most reliable arms in the Sox system since being selected in the 21st round in the 2017 draft. (@BhamBarons)


Under the Radar details players in the Chicago White Sox system who may have suffered setbacks, gotten lost in the shuffle, or just haven’t surfaced as significant prospects as of yet. Next up is John Parke, a southpaw control specialist who’s excelled since being selected in the 21st round of the 2017 draft.


John Parke (LHSP) — Birmingham Barons

Parke has certainly been one of the most over-performing pitchers in the White Sox system. Looking at Parke’s stats from his collegiate resume, it’s surprising he was even selected as high as he was. During Parke’s first two seasons with South Carolina, spanning 15 relief outings, he didn’t allow an earned run — although he walked 12 and struck out 13 in 12 innings of work. However, his luck failed with the Gamecocks in his junior season, when Parke suffered an 8.53 ERA and 1.74 WHIP by allowing 35 hits and nine walks while striking out 21 in 25 innings of work.

Yet despite all of that, White Sox scouts clearly saw enough in Parke to grab him in the 21st round. After receiving a $30,000 signing bonus, Parke went on to pitch in 14 games (10 starts) for the AZL White Sox and posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP covering 68 13innings, allowing 65 hits (.248 OBA) and just nine walks (3.3%) but striking out 46 (16.7%).

Parke bypassed Great Falls in 2018, splitting the season with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. Combined for both teams, he managed a 3.53 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 153 innings, allowing 159 hits (.267 OBA) and 39 walks (6.0%) while fanning 119 hitters (18.2%). His numbers weren’t as good with Winston-Salem, for the obvious reasons reasons that the Dash play in a hitter’s ballpark and the competition was stronger. However, Parke likely was undergoing some serious fatigue, as he pitched 47 more innings than he did in his combined three years with South Carolina and the AZL Sox.

In 2019, Parke posted solid numbers for both Winston-Salem and Birmingham. In 12 starts totaling 69 innings for the Dash, he had a respectable 3.65 ERA and 1.32 WHIP as he relinquished 69 hits (.265 OBA) and 20 walks (6.7%) while fanning just 32 (10.8%). Although his stats were decent, Parke may not have received a promotion on June 20 to Birmingham if not due to injuries to pitchers like Bernardo Flores and Jimmy Lambert.

With that said, Parke has certainly made the most of his opportunity. In 14 starts spanning 76 1/3 innings for the Barons, he posted a rock-solid 2.59 ERA and 1.14 WHIP by ceding just 69 hits and 18 walks while striking out 43. Pitching in cavernous Birmingham could account for some of Parke’s improvement, but it’s important to note that his strikeouts have risen while his walk rate has gone down despite pitching in a tougher league.

His combined 2019 numbers for Winston-Salem and Birmingham:

7-6, 26 G, 26 GS, 3.10 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 145 1/3 IP, 140 H, 11 HR, 38 BB, 75 K

Interestingly, lefties fared far better against Parke while he was pitching for the Dash (.309) than at Birmingham (.195), which tells me that his curveball was more effective as the year progressed. Righties have also fared worse against him in Birmingham (.235) than at Winston-Salem (.250).

How does Parke succeed when he doesn’t have much more than a low-90s fastball? First of all, he has an effective changeup, which helps neutralize righties. Parke also features an above-average curveball, which helps stymie lefties, especially when at its best. He’s also done an excellent job keeping the ball down, as 67% of batted outs have been via the ground ball, which bodes well for an eventual promotion to Charlotte.

Because Parke wasn’t overworked in college, his arm has been relatively fresh and hasn’t missed many (if any) starts due to injury. He doesn’t try to do too much on the mound, and is comfortable letting his fielders do the grunt work.

Parke has shown good control throughout the minors (especially so in Birmingham), but when hitters do get on, his above-average command helps him minimize damage because he usually hits the catcher’s glove with precision. Because of his command, Parke’s ERA has outperformed his FIP at every stop throughout his minor league career. This year’s been no exception, as his ERA for Winston-Salem and Birmingham (3.65 and 2.55 respectively) have far bettered his FIP (4.73 and 3.73). Certainly this could be a red flag, as he’ll face more advanced hitters with each new level; with that said, Parke could simply be outperforming his peripherals because he knows how to find ways to get hitters out.

At age 24, Parke is facing hitters in Birmingham who are at a similar age-level. Thus, it’s great to see him pitching so well. If Parke continues to pitch well in Birmingham, he should be in contention for a starting role in Charlotte beginning in 2020.