Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis shortstops

Cannonball run: Lenyn Sosa is the second-ranked shortstop in the Sox system according to MLB Pipeline. (@KCannonballers)


“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

In A-ball, Lenyn Sosa is clearly the better of the two prospects, as he’s four years younger than Johan Cruz; he’s also the second-ranked shortstop prospect in the organization (behind only Yolbert Sánchez) according to MLB Pipeline.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Johan Cruz
6´2´´
188 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Second base
Age: 24

All the way back on Sept. 11, 2012, Dominican native Cruz signed with the White Sox. After a rocky start with the DSL squad in 2013, he got off to a great start upon his return to the DSL and soon found his way to the team’s AZL affiliate. The 2015 season saw Cruz move up they system’s prospect rankings (25th), as the 19-year-old slashed .312/.338/.442 for Great Falls in 65 games as he produced 17 doubles, six homers, 38 RBIs, 12 walks (4.2%) and 61 strikeouts (21.4%).

After a respectable if uninspiring injury-marred 2016 season in Kannapolis in which he slashed .255/.323/.371 in 65 games, Cruz struggled with his promotion to Winston-Salem in 2017 as he slashed just .218/.256/.350 with six homers in 75 games. Demoted in 2018 to Kannapolis, he continued his struggles at the dish as he slashed .227/.297/.286 with one homer in a career-high 91 games.

This year was a much better one offensively for Cruz. Beginning the season with Winston-Salem but ultimately demoted again to Kannapolis, he caught fire with the Intimidators, earning him yet another opportunity with the Dash. Combined with both teams, Cruz slashed .270/.342/.410 in 82 games with 18 doubles, one triple, seven homers, 38 RBIs, one stolen base, 31 walks and 79 strikeouts.

Cruz is an above-average defender with a utility/organizational-depth profile due to his relatively low hit tool and lack of game-changing speed. While he may be given the opportunity to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him return to Winston-Salem instead. Cruz will be eligible for selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.


Kannapolis Cannonballers

Lenyn Sosa
6´0´´
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Second base
Age: 20

It was easy for Sosa to get lost in the shuffle, as he was one of a nine-member 2016 International Signing Day class that included Josue Guerrero, Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas. Yet so far, it’s this Venezuelan shortstop (who signed for $350,000) who has advanced further than anyone from that class.

The Sox brass liked Sosa so much that he actually skipped the DSL and instead began his career with the AZL squad. For that team, in which he was nearly three years younger than league average, he slashed .270/.330/.358 in 42 games with four doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, three stolen bases, 14 walks (7.8%) and 24 strikeouts (13.3%). Sosa continued his progress in 2018 with Great Falls as he slashed .293/.317/.406 in 65 games with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, two stolen bases, seven walks (2.4%) and 36 strikeouts (12.4%).

This year, Sosa took a step back but still showed promise. In 122 games with Kannapolis spanning 501 at-bats, he slashed .251/.292/.371 with 35 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 51 RBIs, six stolen bases, 27 walks (5.0%) and 102 strikeouts (19.0%). He began turning on the ball in a tough ballpark for hitters, and while he still doesn’t walk a lot, provided glimpses that he could still have a future in a White Sox uniform. For example, when Sosa should have wearied at the end of the season (as he’d nearly doubled his career-high in games played), he slashed .429/.455/.714 over his last 10 games. Sosa did commit 14 errors at shortstop, which actually is quite good for such a young player — competing this year about 2 1/2 years younger than his competition — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him begin the 2020 season with Winston-Salem. Sosa currently ranks 30th among all White Sox prospects, and second among the system’s shortstops behind only Yolbert Sánchez, according to MLB Pipeline.


Deep Dive: White Sox A-ball third basemen

The waiting is the hardest part: Jake Burger, seen here playing for Kannapolis in 2017, is still the team’s No. 1 third base prospect despite missing two full seasons due to injury. (@Kcannonballers)


“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

The two third basemen who finished the year with Winston-Salem and Kannapolis have been disappointing, but for different reasons. While Yeyson Yrizarri has yet to advance to Birmingham despite spending nearly 2 ½ years with Winston-Salem, Jake Burger hasn’t even participated in game action for two years due to injuries. With that said, both guys are still young enough to attain their high ceilings — but 2020 will be a big year for both.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Yeyson Yrizarri
6´0´´
175 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Shortstop
Age: 23

Yrizarri was born in Venezuela but grew up in the Dominican Republic, where played in the International Prospect League. He’s the nephew of Deivi Cruz, a former major league shortstop who played in the majors from 1997-2005. Yrizarri’s aunt played on the Dominican national softball team and his older brother, righthander Deibi Yrizarri, pitched for three years in the Washington Nationals system. Based upon his talent and pedigree, the Rangers signed Yeyson to a $1.35 million bonus during 2013’s International Signing Day.

After holding his own with the Rangers DSL and AZL squads in 2014, Yrizarri actually began the 2015 season with a jump up to Triple-A Round Rock. Although he held his own in nine games there by slashing .273/.294/.364, he was sent down to Spokane (short-season A-ball), where he finished the year. Yrizarri spent the entire 2016 season with Hickory (A), and then split time with Hickory and Down East (A+) in 2017 prior to the White Sox acquiring him for international bonus pool money on July 15, 2017. In 31 games for the Dash that year, he slashed .295/.304/.330 with a homer.

Yrizarri has spent the last two seasons with the Dash, but his numbers have regressed during that time. In 2017 under the tutelage of Omar Vizquel, Yrizarri slashed .247/.296/.363 in 101 games with 21 doubles, two triples, six homers, 46 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 18 walks (4.5%) and 75 strikeouts (18.6%). This year for the Dash, Yrizarri slashed just .218/.262/.296 in 107 games with 17 doubles, one triple, three homers, 36 RBIs, five stolen bases, 17 walks (4.5%) and 90 strikeouts (23.6%).

This was the first year that Yrizarri was a regular third baseman, and it showed as he made 31 errors in just 97 games at that position. Right now, it’s doubtful if Yrizarri has the range of a shortstop or the power of a third baseman — looking more like a second baseman going forward. Yrizarri is still young, as he was about seven months younger than the Carolina League player last year. With that said, it’d be nice to see him make enough progress to earn a spot next year on the Birmingham roster.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Jake Burger
6´2´´
210 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 23

After a good rookie season with Missouri State, Burger really tore up the Missouri Valley Conference during his final two years. As a sophomore in 2016, he slashed .349/.420/.689 in 56 games with 13 doubles, two triples, 21 homers, 72 RBIs, three stolen bases, 23 walks (8.6%) and 35 strikeouts (13.0%). His junior year was as good as his sophomore one, as he slashed .328/.443/.668 in 63 games with 13 doubles, 22 homers, 65 RBIs, three stolen bases, 43 walks (14.1%) and 38 strikeouts (12.5%). With the White Sox needing third base help, the White Sox selected Burger with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Burger struggled a bit during his 2017 stints with the AZL squad and Kannapolis. In 51 combined games with both teams, he combined to slash .263/.336/.412 with 10 doubles, two triples, five homers, 29 RBIs, 14 walks (6.5%) and 30 strikeouts (13.8%). Burger likely was battling a little fatigue, as this would’ve been his longest baseball season to date.

Then the injuries began.

Burger tore his Achilles while running to first base during a spring training game in February 2018. He re-tore the same tendon 10 weeks after the initial injury while walking in his backyard, which caused him to miss not only the entire 2018 season but much of the 2019 season as well. Then, to add injury to insult, Burger severely bruised his heel during his rehab — ultimately derailing any chance of playing time in 2019. As a result, when Burger does step on the field again for an actual game, it would be the first time in approximately 30 months.

At the time of the 2017 draft, Baseball America said “Burger’s power is some of the best in this draft class. He’s a fastball hitter with above-average bat speed who can catch up to premium velocity, but he’s also aware enough of the strike zone and has the pitch recognition to lay off tough off-speed offerings to put himself in fastball counts.”

Burger still ranks 17th among White Sox prospects and first among the team’s third base prospects per MLB. And the Pipeline still gives him 55 grades for power and throwing arm, with respectable 50 grades for his hitting, fielding and running tools. While that latter tool will be in question thanks to Burger’s recent injuries, all the other tools should still be in play. Just expect a little rust when he returns to the field, which will likely be as a member of the Winston-Salem Dash to begin the 2020 season.


Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis second basemen

Subbing in: Mitch Roman, saddled by a .604 OPS, head this collection of A-ball second basemen, who all seem to be settling for utility roles in the organization. (@Roman_Around)


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

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

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of long-term talent at Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, so this trio needs to prove some people wrong in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Mitch Roman
6´0´´
190 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop, Left field, Right field
Age: 25

In his final two years with Wright State University, Roman was consistently good. Roman’s junior year saw him hit .336/.401/.428 for the Raiders in 62 games with 10 doubles, five triples, one homer, 42 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 23 walks (7.8%) and 29 strikeouts (9.8%). Based upon his speed and defensive range, the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. It just so happened that Roman’s numbers with Great Falls paralleled his numbers from his last two years with Wright State. For the Voyagers in 67 games that year, he slashed .332/.392/.418 with 10 doubles, six triples, 33 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 21 walks (7.3%) and 42 strikeouts (14.6%).

Roman struggled to maintain that momentum with Kannapolis in 2017, as he slashed just .254/.305/.306 in 516 at-bats with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers, 45 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 31 walks (6.0%) and 120 strikeouts (23.3%). He bounced back in Winston-Salem the following year, as he slashed .292/.362/.377 in 297 at-bats with 14 doubles one triple, three homers, 41 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 34 walks and 70 strikeouts; Roman received a late promotion in 2018 to Birmingham, but struggled with a .530 OPS.

The 2019 season saw Roman return to Birmingham, where he struggled to the tune of a .165/.266/.231 slash line in 40 games. After being demoted to Winston-Salem on June 6, he bounced back a bit and slashed .269/.325/.328 for the Dash in 69 games. Combined with both squads, he slashed .237/.306/.298 in 109 games with 14 doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 36 walks (8.3%) and 112 strikeouts (25.9%). As sad as his .604 OPS was, it still topped the OPS of the two second basemen who finished with Kannapolis this year. Roman has a chance to begin 2020 with Birmingham, thanks in part due to his tremendous defensive versatility. Roman will be available for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, but likely won’t be selected.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Amado Nuñez
6´2´´
178 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: First base, Third base
Age: 22

Nuñez was part of a small four-member class of international players who received signing bonuses from the White Sox during 2014’s International Signing Day (along with Jhoandro Alfaro, Felix Mercedes and Ricky Mota). Nuñez actually started his professional career with the AZL White Sox the following year, and struggled mightily with an unsightly .385 OPS. He performed much better in 2016 with the AZL squad, however, and slashed .287/.320/.370 with 11 doubles, two triples, one homer, 26 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 10 walks and 52 strikeouts.

After playing the first two games of the 2017 season with the AZL Sox, Nuñez finally received the long-awaited promotion to Great Falls but struggled in his new digs. That year for the Voyagers in 34 games totaling 142 at-bats, Nuñez slashed .183/.247/.246 with just six doubles, one homer, 17 RBIs, one stolen base, 12 walks (7.8%) and 31 strikeouts (20.1%). However, after returning to Great Falls for the 2018 campaign, Nuñez enjoyed his best season to date by slashing .357/.394/.568 in 60 games with 21 doubles, six triples, six homers, 52 RBIs, three stolen bases, 15 walks (5.8%) and 71 strikeouts (27.4%).

Nuñez struggled with his first taste of full season ball with Kannapolis in 2019, as he scuffled with a .206/.256/.326 slash line in 86 games with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, five stolen bases, 19 walks (5.8%) and 105 strikeouts (32.3%). It seems that he struggles with every new stop, but bounces back big-time when he repeats the same level. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him succeed this year with the Cannon Ballers. While Nuñez still struggles defensively, he did lower his error rate in 2019. Nuñez will be eligible for December’s Rule 5 draft.

Ramon Beltre
5´11´´
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Left field, Center field, Shortstop
Age: 23

Beltre’s been in the White Sox organization for an even longer time than fellow Dominican native Nuñez, as Beltre signed with the White Sox on Nov. 19, 2013. While Beltre posted respectable numbers during the 2014-16 seasons with the DSL White Sox, he still had not received his long-awaited promotion. It wasn’t until his fantastic start to the 2017 season (.335/.393/.477 in 42 games) that Beltre received the call to join the AZL Sox. He finished well for the AZL squad for that year, with a solid .308/.339/.383 slash line.

Beltre did quite well for Great Falls to begin the 2018 season, and received a promotion on August 2 as a reward for his efforts. Though he struggled for the Intimidators in 28 games, Beltre still finished the year by slashing a combined .270/.292/.410 in 60 games with 10 doubles, three triples, five homers, 31 RBIs, one stolen base, eight walks (3.4%) and 56 strikeouts (23.7%). Beltre struggled upon his return to Kannapolis this year, as he slashed a paltry .207/.236/.311 in a career-high 125 games with 23 doubles, six triples, four homers, 33 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 13 walks (2.8%) and 130 strikeouts (27.5%).

Expect a return to Kannapolis for Beltre, who though a better defensive player than Nuñez doesn’t have as the same offensive upside. Like the other players in this piece, Beltre is also eligible for the December’s Rule 5 draft.


Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis first basemen

Top notch: Andrew Vaughn is the third-ranked White Sox prospect, and 21st overall, according to 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

This article delves into the first basemen who finished the year with Winston-Salem and Kannapolis. While Andrew Vaughn is the obvious headliner, there are several interesting bats here, including Corey Zangari and Tyler Osik.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Winston-Salem Dash

Andrew Vaughn
6´0´´
214 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 21

Vaughn enjoyed a spectacular three-year run with the University of California. As a freshman, all he did was slash .349/.414/.555 with 12 homers, 50 RBIs, 19 walks and 24 strikeouts. The next year saw him have arguably his best production (and a Golden Spikes Award as the NCAA’s best player), as he slashed .402/.531/.819 with 14 doubles, 23 homers, 63 RBIs, 44 walks and just 18 strikeouts in 54 games. While his junior season wasn’t quite up to his sophomore standards, it was still sensational as he slashed .374/.539/.704 in 52 games with 14 doubles, 15 homers, 50 RBIs, 60 walks and 33 strikeouts. Thus, in a total of 160 college games — equating to a full major league season, Vaughn slashed .374/.495/.688 with 35 doubles, one triple, 50 homers, 163 RBIs, 123 walks (16.5%) and 75 strikeouts (10.1%). Amazing stuff! As a result of his hitting prowess, Vaughn was selected with the third overall pick by the White Sox in this year’s MLB draft.

After obliterating the AZL in a three-game stretch to start his pro career, Vaughn finished the season with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. His numbers weren’t overly impressive for the year, but this was by far the longest season of his life and likely suffered through a bit of fatigue. In 205 at-bats with three teams, he combined to slash .278/.384/.449 with 17 doubles, six homers, 36 RBIs, 30 walks (12.2%) and 38 strikeouts (15.5%).

Vaughn currently ranks third among all White Sox prospects, and 21st overall among all prospects per MLB Pipeline. His hitting and power are both graded 60 by MLB, arm and field 50, and running at 40. According to Baseball America, “Vaughn’s advanced feel to hit, power and plate discipline should allow him to become an impact hitter in the middle of a major league lineup, while also allowing him to rise through the minors quickly.” While Vaughn advanced quickly through the system’s lower levels in 2019, expect him to only receive promotions from here on out once he’s proven he’s ready for advancement. Expect him to begin the season in Birmingham, with a likely promotion to Charlotte if all goes well.

Jameson Fisher
6´2´´
200 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 26

During Fisher’s college days with Southeastern Louisiana University, he was considered one of the premier college hitters in the country. The big question was where to play him. He was a catcher during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he tore his labrum, which cost him the entire 2015 season. Fisher returned in 2016 to play first base and left field, but no matter where he played, his bat was his ultimate card-carrying tool. In that junior season, he slashed .424/.558/.692 in 61 games by producing 16 doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 66 RBIs, 54 walks (19.6%) and 31 strikeouts (11.2%). As a result of his efforts, the White Sox selected him in the fourth round of that year’s MLB draft.

With Great Falls in 2016, Fisher proved every bit the hitter he was expected to be as he slashed .342/.436/.487 in 50 games with 13 doubles, a triple, four homers, 25 RBIs, 27 walks (12.3%) and 43 strikeouts (19.6%). The 2017 season saw Fisher split time with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem with decent but unspectacular numbers: .245/.342/.402 in 124 games with 30 doubles, six triples, 10 homers, 68 RBIs, 58 walks (10.8%) and 114 strikeouts (21.3%). Last year saw him completely overmatched with Birmingham in 97 games as he produced a .216/.321/.321 slash line with 11 doubles, two triples, six homers, 24 RBIs, 44 walks (11.9%) and 113 strikeouts (30.5%).

Fisher was demoted to Winston-Salem for the 2019 season, and although his numbers received a bit of an uptick, they weren’t enough for him to earn a return trip to Birmingham. In 127 games for the Dash this year, he slashed .242/.343/.375 with 30 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 72 walks (13.3%) and 130 strikeouts (23.9%). Although Fisher had a respectable year defensively at first base, his value is with the bat. He will turn 26 during this offseason, and will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. If Fisher returns, it could be simply as organizational depth at either left field or first base.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Tyler Osik
5´10´´
203 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 23

Osik, son of former Pittsburgh Pirate Keith Osik, took a circuitous route through college. After spending his freshman year with Division II Coker College, Osik spent his sophomore campaign with Chipola Junior College (Fla.). He then transferred to the University of Central Florida for his junior and senior years. Of his two seasons with the Knights, Osik enjoyed his better year during his senior campaign in 2019 as he slashed .325/.410/.542 in 52 games with 14 doubles, 10 homers, 39 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 26 walks (11.1%) and 50 strikeouts (21.3%). As a culmination of his efforts, the White Sox selected him in the 27th round of this year’s MLB draft.

While Osik did reasonably well with the AZL White Sox to start his professional career (.271/.346/.373 with 10 doubles in 31 games), he began hitting for power upon his promotion to Kannapolis on August 3. In 26 games totaling 97 at-bats for the Intimidators, he slashed .278/.352/.557 with 10 doubles, a triple, five homers, 19 RBIs, 10 walks (9.3%) and 30 strikeouts (27.8%). Osik likely will return to Kannapolis to begin the 2020 season, but it’s easy to envision an early promotion to Winston-Salem if he gets off to a great start.

Corey Zangari
6´4´´
240 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 22

When playing for Carl Albert H.S. in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Zangari could do it all. As a pitcher, he lit up the radar gun at 95 mph though he had difficulty throwing strikes due to not finding a consistent release point; he also caught, though it was apparent with his size that he’d be better suited as a first baseman. He also hit 19 homers during his senior season, including two in the state’s 5-A semi-final game. The White Sox coveted Zangari’s power-wielding bat and selected him in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, paying a significant over-slot bonus to pry him from his commitment with Oklahoma State University. Zangari later played for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls that year, as he combined to slash .316/.358/.481 in 54 games with 15 doubles, a triple, six homers, 41 RBIs, 14 walks (6.1%) and 52 strikeouts (22.6%).

The 2016 season was difficult for Zangari, as he began with Kannapolis but struggled terribly with a .166/.247/.314 slash line with 20 walks (8.1%) and 106 strikeouts (42.7%) in just 57 games. Though he did right the ship somewhat after a demotion to Great Falls, he finished the year with a combined .209/.287/.367 line in 110 games with 15 homers, 51 RBIs, 41 walks (8.7%) and 176 strikeouts (37.2%). Zangari then underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2017, which forced him to miss that entire season. After missing a part of the 2018 season due to injury, he literally destroyed the Pioneer League in 17 games as he slashed .262/.324/.723 with nine homers, 22 RBIs, six walks (8.1%) and just 16 strikeouts (21.6%). After earning a call-up to Kannapolis after a three-homer game with the Voyagers, Zangari got hit on the wrist on just his second at-bat and had to miss the rest of the season.

Zangari, in part due to missing so much playing time during the past couple years, struggled in his year-long stint with Kannapolis in 2019. In 85 games totaling 290 at-bats with the Intimidators, he slashed just .203/.314/.428 with 18 doubles, one triple, 15 homers, 38 RBIs, 44 walks (12.8%) and 115 strikeouts (33.4%). The power’s still there, but he won’t be able to tap into it fully unless he can can consistently get that strikeout rate below 30%. Zangari was just a tad older than league competition this year, so a promotion to a more favorable hitting park like Winston-Salem’s certainly isn’t out of the question for 2020. Though he will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, it’s unlikely he’ll be selected.


Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis catchers

Picky, picky: Carlos Perez struck out just 7.6% of the time for the Dash in 2019, while gunning down 39% of all would-be basestealers. (@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

Carlos Perez is the only one of these A-level players who is considered to be a plus defender. Unfortunately, while there is offensive potential in all of the A-ball players, they weren’t able to show it consistently in 2019. As a result, their defensive liabilities became even more exaggerated. As of right now, Perez seems the likeliest of the four to reach at the majors — although that is considered iffy at best.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020


Winston-Salem Dash

Carlos Perez
5´10´´
160 pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R

Perez, whose older brother with the same first name played in the majors from 2015-18, signed with the White Sox as an international free agent prior to the 2014 season. In two seasons with the DSL club, Perez was quite the hitter (albeit without power) as he combined to slash .323/.380/.397 with 29 walks (11.3%) and just 12 strikeouts (4.7%) in 257 at-bats. The 2016 season saw Perez struggle, which is not an uncommon occurrence for someone playing Stateside for the first time. Combined with the AZL White Sox, Great Falls and Kannapolis in 34 games totaling 116 at-bats, Perez slashed just .198/.218/.259 with four doubles, a homer, 14 RBIs, three walks (2.4%) and four strikeouts (3.3%).

After a solid rebound season with Great Falls in 2017, Perez enjoyed what has been his best offensive Stateside season to date in 2018 with Kannapolis. In 78 games totaling 276 at-bats, he slashed .290/.298/.395 with 18 doubles, one triple, three homers, 32 RBIs, four walks (1.4%) and 31 strikeouts (10.8%). Perez increased his walk totals in 2019 for Winston-Salem, at the sacrifice of a few hits here and there. For the Dash, he slashed .263/.316/.327 with 14 doubles, two homers, 33 RBIs, 24 walks (7.0%) and 26 strikeouts (7.6%).

Perez’s calling card is his defense, as he has above-average skills behind the plate. While his arm strength is basically average, his quick release makes up for it. This year for the Dash, Perez thwarted 41-of-105 stolen base attempts for a nifty 39.0%. He limited his passed balls to just seven, which really isn’t bad compared to others in the system. With his lack of power but plus ability to make contact, combined with his defense (as arguably the best defensive catcher in the farm system), Perez may still have future as a backup catcher in the majors. Perez will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, and if not selected, will likely begin the 2020 season with Birmingham.

Evan Skoug
5´11´´
200 pounds
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: L/R

A native of suburban Libertyville, Skoug enjoyed an impressive three-year run as the TCU backstop from 2015-17. In his junior season, he hit for much more power but at the expense of average and strikeouts. That season with the Horned Frogs, in which he shared the Big 12 Player of the Year award with Texas Tech’s Hunter Hargrove, Skoug slashed .272/.378/.544 with 11 doubles, 20 homers, 73 RBIs, 40 walks (12.8%) and 98 strikeouts (31.4%). His strikeout frequency, along with concerns about his defense, caused Skoug to fall to the seventh round of the 2017 draft.

After a terrific four games for the AZL White Sox in 2017, Skoug was promoted to Kannapolis where, in 21 games, he slashed a meager .154/.263/.308. Skoug returned to the Intimidators for the 2018 season, and continued his struggles by hitting just .192/.283/.299 in 83 games as he hit just five homers with 34 walks (10.9%) and 93 strikeouts (29.9%). In 2019, Skoug struggled equally with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, as he combined to slash just .168/.284/.330 in 62 games while producing 10 doubles, six homers and 32 walks (14.0%); Skoug countered his impressive walk total, however, with 73 strikeouts (31.9%).

According to MLB Pipeline in 2017, Skoug works hard behind the plate and shows admirable leadership skills. However, there are concerns with his defense due to limited athleticism and quickness. He also has fringy arm strength, but makes up for it somewhat with a quick release. This year, Skoug thwarted 25.5% of all stolen base attempts against him. Ultimately, it will be Skoug’s ability to make contact and produce offensively that will dictate how far he climbs in the organization. In the meantime, he likely will return to the Dash to begin the 2020 season.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Gunnar Troutwine
6´1´´
230 pounds
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: R/R

Troutwine enjoyed easily his best collegiate season with Wichita Stats as a senior, when he slashed .302/.413/.505 for the Shockers with seven homers, 48 RBIs, 34 walks (15.6%) and 38 strikeouts (17.4%). Based largely on the strength of his offense, Troutwine was selected in the ninth round of the 2018 draft. He continued his offensive production with Great Falls later that year, as he slashed .316/.412/.419 with six doubles, two homers, 18 RBIs, 19 walks (13.8%) and 20 strikeouts (14.5%) in 35 games.

This year was a struggle in more ways than one for Troutwine. Offensively, his numbers slipped to .240/.341/.345 in 61 games as he hit 15 doubles, two homers, 14 walks (6.0%) and 31 strikeouts (13.3%). While he scuffled with Kannapolis offensively, his struggles were much worse behind the plate. In 2018 in 34 games for the Voyagers, he committed just two passed balls; this year in 58 games as a backstop for the Intimidators Troutwine committed a whopping 23. When you add 11 errors and just a 20.8% rate throwing out basestealers, it certainly was a year that Troutwine would like to forget. It’s certainly possible that his defensive miscues took their toll on his confidence on both sides of the ball.

Expect Troutwine to return to Kannapolis for 2019, but with a chance for promotion to Winston-Salem if he significantly reduces his defensive mistakes while improving his average. On the plus side, Troutwine’s .686 OPS was the highest of the four system catchers who finished the year in A-ball.

Michael Hickman
6´1´´
215 pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: L/R
Other positions played: First Base

Hickman, as a native of Katy, Texas, was selected in the 13th round by the White Sox in the 2016 draft out of Chipola Junior College. Progress through the system has been slow for Hickman, as his numbers have dropped with each year while his walks and strikeouts have gone the opposite directions.

In his first season of pro ball with the AZL White Sox in 2016, Hickman slashed .286/.386/367 in just 49 at-bats. After a decent encore season with the AZL squad, he played his first full-season ball with Kannapolis in 2018. In 80 games totaling 286 at-bats, he slashed .241/.298/.339 with 17 doubles, three homers, 33 RBIs, 19 walks (6.1%) and 82 strikeouts (26.5%).

This year for the Intimidators, he slashed just .209/.266/.353 in 215 at-bats as he hit 13 doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs, and 12 walks (5.1%) with 71 strikeouts (30.3%). On the positive side, though, he threw out would-be basestealers at an impressive rate of 39.3%. His defensive skills are considered decent, but he did surrender 10 passed balls in 48 games. Hickman spent more than 15% of his defensive time at first base, and with one error there in nine games, he gives his team a little extra versatility. Hickman will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, but likely won’t be selected.

With two seasons with Kannapolis, it’s likely Hickman won’t spend a third there in 2020; expect him to advance to Winston-Salem ahead of Troutwine because of his defense. How far Hickman will advance beyond that, however, will largely depend upon his offensive improvement.


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

Vision quest: Jacob Lindgren made huge inroads in his goal to return to the majors. Will he be able to complete the journey in 2020? (@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

The Winston-Salem southpaw bullpen arms are especially interesting — especially Andrew Perez and Jacob Lindgren. While Perez should begin next year with Birmingham, Lindgren could move up the ladder even more quickly, with perhaps an outside shot for the White Sox to begin the 2020 season.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020


Winston-Salem Dash

Andrew Perez
6´2´´
196 pounds
Age: 22

Perez, after a typically unsuccessful freshman season, excelled out of the pen for the University of South Florida during his sophomore and junior years. As a junior for the Bulls, he posted a 2.34 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 24 relief appearances. In his 42 innings, he surrendered just 37 hits (.233 OBA) and 12 walks (6.9%) while striking out 50 (28.6%). As a result, the White Sox selected Perez in the eighth round of the 2018 draft.

As an encore with Great Falls and Kannapolis after the draft, he combined with both teams for a 2.59 ERA and 1.18 WHIP by allowing 24 hits (.214 OBA) and 13 walks (9.8%) while striking out 31 in 31 1/3 innings (23.3%).

This year saw Perez split his time nearly evenly between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. While his numbers were good throughout, he gave up more hits with the Intimidators but relinquished more free passes with the Dash. Combined with both teams in 41 relief appearances spanning 67 1/3 innings, Perez posted a 1.74 ERA and 1.37 WHIP by allowing 63 hits (.239 OBA) and 29 walks (9.8%) while fanning 86 (29.0%). Perez actually fared better against righties (.230 OBA) as opposed to lefties (.265 OBA).

Perez features a 95 mph heater according to Baseball America, along with a slurvy breaking ball. Perez seems primed to begin next season with Double-A Birmingham.

Jacob Lindgren
5´11´´
210 pounds
Age: 27

Lindgren, a starter during his sophomore season with Mississippi State, was converted to the bullpen during his junior season in 2014 with spectacular results. In 26 appearances for the Bulldogs that year covering 55 innings, Lindgren compiled an incredible 0.81 ERA and 0.87 WHIP by surrendering just 23 hits (.124 OBA) and 25 walks (10.7%) while fanning 100 (44.6%). It was no surprise with those kinds of results that he was selected the second round by the New York Yankees in the 2014 draft. Lindgren quickly worked his way up to Double-A Trenton before the end of the year, as he excelled at each of his four stops.

After a great start to begin the 2015 season, Lindgren earned a call-up to the majors and posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in seven games that year, with stops on the injured list due to a bone spur and subsequent rehab games in the minors in-between. He recovered from the bone spur surgery in order to come back to start his recovery in High-A, but while his ERA looked fine, Lindgren struggled to locate, even in spring training. After taking time off the hill, he ended up needing Tommy John surgery, effectively ending his 2017 as well. In his six appearances in the Florida State League, he threw seven innings with a 2.57 ERA and 1.29 WHIP but with an uncharacteristically high walk ratio.

The Atlanta Braves signed him on Dec. 4, 2016 with the hopes of his potential availability for 2018. Unfortunately for Lindgren and the Braves, he underwent a second Tommy John surgery on March 29, 2018 and missed the entire season. Lindgren signed a minor league contract with the White Sox on January of this year and finally was healthy enough to pitch in some games in June.

If you exclude his games with the AZL White Sox when he was shaking off more than three years of rust, Lindgren looked exceptionally sharp. In his work with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem this year, which amounted to 15 games and 21 innings, Lindgren combined to post a 1.29 ERA and 1.09 WHIP by allowing 19 hits (.247 OBA) and five walks (5.7%) while striking out 20 (23.0%).

Lindgren’s repertoire includes a fastball-slider mix. His fastball pre-surgeries registered as high as 98 mph but is likely a tick or two slower now. His slider is arguably an even more effective pitch than his fastball and was ultimately graded at 60 by FanGraphs. It works well, as it offers a nice change-of-speed in comparison to that hard fastball.

Because of his major league experience, Lindgren isn’t eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The White Sox will either need to re-sign Lindgren to a major league deal or, more likely, re-sign him to a minor league deal in order to prevent losing him via free agency. If he’s healthy, Lindgren could be seen as a darkhorse candidate to begin with the White Sox on Opening Day (provided he has a great spring). If Lindgren doesn’t make the White Sox on Opening Day, he may begin the season with either Birmingham or Charlotte depending upon their roster needs.

Kevin Escorcia
6´1´´
170 pounds
Age: 25

Escorcia, a native of Colombia, has taken the slow arduous journey through the White Sox minor league system since signing a minor league contract back in January 2013. His first two seasons were spent with the DSL squad, his third with the AZL team and his fourth with Great Falls. Finally in his fifth year of ball in 2017, he got a full-season call with Kannapolis, and did reasonably well with a 4.14 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 42 relief appearances.

Escorcia had perhaps his best season of full-season ball last year when he repeated Kannapolis. In 27 games totaling 44 innings for the Intimidators in 2018, he posted a 2.66 ERA and 1.32 WHIP by ceding 39 hits (.238 OBA) and 19 walks (10.1%) while striking out 62 (33.0%). Escorcia struggled out of the gate this year with Winston-Salem, and despite good results once the calendar hit June, posted a 4.33 ERA and 1.67 WHIP by relinquishing 38 hits (.286 OBA) and 21 walks (13.2%) while fanning 37 over 35 1/3 innings (23.3%). After May 1, however, his numbers were far better (1.86 ERA, 1.50 WHIP).

According to FutureSox, Escorcia’s fastball tops at 92 mph but typically runs 89-90. Other pitches in his repertoire include a 79-81 mph slider with a late break and a mid-70s curveball with a serious break that may be his best pitch. It’s interesting to note that in his seven years in the organization (2013-19), Escorcia has only pitched for one team in each of those years. It seems likely that Escorcia begins 2020 with Birmingham, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he returns to Winston-Salem. He will eliigble for selection in this year’s Rule 5 draft.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Tyler Watson
5´11´´
200 pounds
Age: 26

Watson began his college career with the University of Kansas, but transferred to McClennan CC after only pitching three innings during his freshman year with the Jayhawks. Although he enjoyed a good strikeout-to-walk ratio (4:1) with McClennan, Watson simply gave up too many hits. As a result, he only posted a 5.09 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 13 relief outings (23 innings) by relinquishing 31 hits and six walks while striking out 24. The Angels saw enough potential in Watson to select him in the 38th round of the 2014 draft.

Watson got as high as Single-A Burlington through 2016, but was released and subsequently signed by the Seattle Mariners in early 2017. He pitched just over a year in the Mariners organization until he was released and later signed by the Braves in early 2018. Then, in September of that year, Atlanta traded him to the White Sox for cash considerations.

Aside from one emergency appearance with Charlotte in 2018, Watson hasn’t pitched any higher than the High-A level. In 10 outings this year with Kannapolis spanning 13 2/3 innings, Watson posted a 9.88 ERA and 1.69 WHIP (his FIP was much kinder at 5.17) by surrendering 16 hits (.286 OBA) and seven walks (10.0%) while fanning 13 (18.6%). Watson was placed on the temporarily inactive list on July 12 and didn’t return. If he returns to the White Sox organization, he’s likely just organizational depth for Kannapolis. He is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft, but won’t be selected.


Deep Dive: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis right-handed relievers

Top Cannon: Several interesting bullpen prospects can be found here, with perhaps Will Kinnanon above being the best of the bunch. (@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

Even though none of the relievers below rank in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 White Sox Prospect list, there is indeed some quality under-the-radar talent here. In fact, the strength of the Kannapolis squad this year may well have been its right-handed relief corps.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2020


Winston-Salem Dash

Will Kincanon
6´3´´
202 pounds
Age: 24

Kincanon, a native of suburban Brookfield, pitched for nearby Triton College for two season before transferring to Indiana State University. In his junior season with the Sycamores, he actually posted lackluster numbers (5.24 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) as a starting pitcher. In 14 starts totaling 79 innings, he surrendered 82 hits (.264 OBA) and 35 walks (9.6%) while striking out 93 (25.4%). Nonetheless, the White Sox selected him in the 11th round of the 2017 draft with the intent of converting him to a reliever. After receiving a $150,000 signing bonus, Kincanon entered 21 games for Great Falls and did quite well: a 3.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 29 2/3 innings with three saves, 24 hits (.220 OBA), 13 walks (10.2%) and 29 strikeouts (22.7%).

Last year with Kannapolis, Kincanon continued to put solid numbers on the board although his control was lacking at times. In 26 games spanning 34 2/3 innings for the Intimidators, he compiled a 3.63 ERA and 1.27 WHIP by relinquishing 29 hits (.218 OBA) and 15 walks (9.7%) while fanning 42 (27.3%). This year in Winston-Salem, Kincanon enjoyed his best season yet with a 1.86 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, saving eight games and ceding 45 hits (.208 OBA) and 26 walks (10.6%) while striking out 71 (28.9%).

At the time Kincanon was drafted, Baseball America said of him, “Kincanon has touched 93-95 mph at his best, but he’s thrown more strikes when he gears down a little, relying on a low-90s sinker. His changeup gives him a second average pitch while he also throws a fringy slider.” It’s been reported that his fastball now runs 94-96 mph and occasionally touches 97 — it’s also helped keep his amazing ground ball rate at 57.4%. Lefties hit just .194 against him, which indicates that his changeup may have been working well this year. His slider now runs 83-86 with depth, and he’s recently started using a curveball to great effect. It’s actually a great arsenal of pitches, and it’s one that should give Kincanon continued success with Birmingham next season. If he can avoid the free passes, he may find his way to Charlotte before season’s end.

Luis Ledo
6´4´´
208 pounds
Age: 24

It’s hard to believe, but Ledo has now pitched seven years for the White Sox organization, as the Dominican native played ball for the DSL White Sox just two weeks after signing a minor league contract in June 2013. Ledo spent three years with the DSL squad before earning his first stateside promotion to the AZL White Sox in 2016. Even though he spent part of 2017 with three affiliates (AZL, Great Falls and Kannapolis), he only pitched 10 games that year due to injury.

The 2018 campaign was a difficult one for Ledo, as he struggled for Kannapolis with a 4.95 ERA and 1.67 in 32 appearances. In his 56 1/3 innings, he relinquished 56 hits (.267 OBA) and a whopping 38 walks (14.9% while striking out 59 (23.1%). However, Ledo bounced back in a big way this year with a promotion to Winston-Salem: In 34 appearances spanning 44 1/3 innings, he posted a terrific 1.83 ERA and 1.26 WHIP by surrendering 35 hits (.227 OBA) and 21 walks (11.8%) while fanning 41 (23.0%). FanGraphs stated earlier this year that Ledo possesses a mid-90s fastball and a plus splitter. Although Ledo still needs to hone his control, he is also a great candidate to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham. That is, of course, if he isn’t claimed in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Jose Nin
6´3´´
220 pounds
Age: 24

Nin, who signed an international contract with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2014 season, pitched well for their organization and ultimately reached their High-A team in Clearwater before being released prior to the 2017 season. The White Sox picked him up, inserting him into the DSL bullpen that season where he excelled against hitters typically more than three years younger.

Nin excelled with Kannapolis in 2018, as he posted a 1.68 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 37 outings. In his 48 1/3 innings for the Intimidators, he allowed just 35 hits (.202 OBA) and 13 walks (6.8%) while striking out 40 (20.8%). Nin’s 2019 numbers with Winston-Salem weren’t nearly as gaudy, however, as he compiled a 3.93 ERA and 1.44 WHIP for the Dash in 40 outings totaling 55 innings — relinquishing 57 hits (.269 OBA) and 22 walks (9.3%) while fanning 44 (18.6%). On the plus side, he recovered from a sluggish start to post a 2.70 ERA and 1.28 WHIP once the calendar hit July. Nin will be a borderline pick to begin the 2020 season with Birmingham, and will be eligible for this year’s Rule 5 draft.

Jake Elliott
6´7´´
230 pounds
Age: 25

After an above-average first two years with the University of Oklahoma, Elliott picked a bad time to have an off-year. In his junior season, he posted a 6.02 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 12 appearances (10 starts) totaling 46 innings for the Sooners by allowing 58 hits and 24 walks while striking out 30. As a result of those struggles, Elliott slipped to the White Sox in the 15th round of the 2016 draft. After the draft, he was immediately inserted into the Great Falls bullpen where he posted a respectable 4.30 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while providing a nifty 5:1 K/BB ratio.

Despite putting up solid numbers for Kannapolis during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he received only a fleeting promotion to the Dash for an emergency appearance. In those two seasons combined for the Intimidators, he combined to post a 2.67 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 138 1/3 innings by surrendering 105 hits (.211 OBA) and 32 walks (5.9%) while striking out 145 (26.6%).

This year, Elliott didn’t pitch badly for the Dash but his numbers weren’t at their usual high standards, either. In addition to the two games he pitched for Birmingham, Elliott combined for a 4.75 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 35 appearances (66 1/3 innings) by allowing 63 hits (.252 OBA) and 27 walks (9.2%) while fanning 57 (19.3%). He especially struggled in August, with a 7.31 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 16 innings as he allowed 17 hits and 10 walks while striking out 11. He throws a 91-93 mph fastball according to 2080 Baseball, along with a 78-80 changeup. His control had been terrific at the professional level prior to this year. Elliott will also be available for selection in this year’s Rule 5 draft.

Wyatt Burns
5´11´´
185 pounds
Age: 25

Burns pitched all four of his college seasons for Samford University, and pitched all but one of his 108 games for the Bulldogs out of the bullpen. He was a model of consistency for the Bulldogs, as his season-ending ERAs ranged from 1.59 to 3.61. In his senior season, Burns posted a 2.19 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 28 appearances (65 2/3 innings) as he relinquished 45 hits and 13 walks while striking out 79. Despite his gaudy numbers, Burns was unselected in the 2018 draft but the White Sox signed him as an undrafted free agent shortly afterward. Burns finished the season with Great Falls and provided the Voyagers with a 3.92 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 43 2/3 innings, as he relinquished 56 hits (.322 OBA) and seven walks (3.7%) while fanning 29 (15.4%).

Burns began this season with Kannapolis, but in his 10 outings, struggled with his control. In 17 innings for the Intimidators, he posted a 5.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP as he surrendered 17 hits (.246 OBA) and 14 walks (16.9%) while also striking out 14. He pitched his best ball for Winston-Salem, as he compiled a 2.78 ERA and 1.18 WHIP for the Dash as he allowed 29 hits (.225 OBA) and 13 walks (8.7%) while striking out 33 in 35 2/3 innings (22.1%). Burns also spent some time in Birmingham this year, but struggled badly in six outings there (9.82 ERA, 2.05 WHIP). Interestingly, for a sidearmer, lefties hit him for a lower average than had righties at all three stops. Burns should have another opportunity to redeem himself at Birmingham this year.

Other pitchers who finished with Winston-Salem
Victor Diaz and Drew Hasler both missed the entire 2019 season due to injury.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Austin Conway
6´1´´
210 pounds
Age: 25

Conway actually pitched five college seasons — four with Indiana State and a final one with Louisville. He was able to do so since he was an injury redshirt for the Sycamores during his junior season in 2016. Conway saved 12 games for Indiana State in 2017, but struggled with his control for Louisville in 2018 with 17 walks in 24 innings. Partly because of those controls and also because he was a fifth–year senior who lacked leverage, Conway fell to the White Sox in the 31st round of the 2018 draft.

Conway entered 23 games for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls upon receiving his signing bonus, and combined to post a 3.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 36 innings. In those innings, he ceded 32 hits (.246 OBA) and 14 walks (8.9%) while striking out 32 (20.3%).

Most of Conway’s 2019 season was spent with Kannapolis, where he pitched exceptional ball. In 26 appearances for the Intimidators totaling 34 innings, he compiled a 1.59 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 13 saves. During that span, he relinquished just 18 hits (.155 OBA) and 17 walks (12.5%) while fanning 48 (35.3%). He struggled badly with Winston-Salem in three appearances, and that’s where he’ll be expected to begin the 2020 season. He’ll be more than 18 months older than the average Carolina League player next year, so he’ll likely move up quickly provided he throws strikes consistently. According to 2080 Baseball, Conway’s fastball runs 93-95 mph while peaking at 96; his changeup runs 86-87, while his slider (which is his out pitch) typically runs 83-86.

Caleb Freeman
6´1´´
190 pounds
Age: 22

Despite incredible stuff, Freeman struggled for Texas Tech largely because of his lack of control and command. His best year with the Red Raiders was his sophomore one in 2018, when he finished with a 5.18 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 22 contests spanning 33 innings, as he allowed 35 hits and 18 walks while fanning 31. Freeman’s junior season this year saw him slip to a 6.89 ERA and 2.49 WHIP in 15 2/3 innings, as he relinquished 26 hits (.388 OBA) and 13 walks (16.3%) while also striking out 13. The White Sox drafted Freeman, however, in the 15th round with the hopes that they could help him reach his high ceiling.

Freeman did well at all three of his stops (AZL, Great Falls and Kannapolis) this year. In a combined 17 games totaling 24 2/3 innings, he saved four with a 2.19 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. In those innings, Freeman allowed just 15 hits (.170 OBA) and nine walks (8.9%) while striking out a whopping 38 batters (37.6%). It’s like he found his control and command overnight.

Just before the draft, Baseball America stated Freeman’s fastball typically runs 94-98 mph and flashes of a plus curve. However, they continued, his 20-grade control and command keeps him from taking advantage of his high-end stuff. Freeman will likely to return to Kannapolis to begin the 2020 season, as he only entered two games for the Intimidators before season’s end. If he can continue to hone both his command and control next year, expect him to move up the ranks rather quickly.

Devon Perez
6´5´´
200 pounds
Age: 23

Perez spent his first two seasons of college ball with Iowa Western C.C. before transferring to the University of Oklahoma for his junior and senior campaigns. While he performed respectably for the Sooners during his junior year with a 3.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, his numbers fell dramatically during his senior season. As a senior for the Sooners in 17 outings (13 starts) spanning 61 innings, Perez posted a 5.61 ERA and 1.54 WHIP by ceding 74 hits (.296 OBA) and 20 walks (7.2%) while striking out 43 (15.4%). As a result, he slipped to the 26th round, where the White Sox selected him in the 2018 draft.

Perez was a revelation last year for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls as he combined for a 3.89 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 41 2/3 innings, allowing 52 hits (.304 OBA) and just two walks (1.1%) while fanning 53 hitters (30.5%). That’s an incredible 26.5:1 K/99 ratio, folks! This year for Kannapolis, Perez allowed a few more walks but limited the damage against him. In 21 outings for the Intimidators spanning 56 1/3 innings, Perez posted a 3.20 ERA and 1.27 WHIP by relinquishing 47 hits (.227 OBA) and 15 walks (6.6) while striking out 55 (24.1%).

Baseball Draft Report listed Perez’s fastball at 89-93 mph, his changeup at 80-84, and a good changeup at 76-80. Hitters didn’t have much trouble elevating his pitches as they hit grounders at just a 17.5% clip this year, so he’ll need to work on that in order to have success next year at hitter-friendly Winston-Salem.

Lane Ramsey
6´9´´
245 pounds
Age: 23

After transferring from Division II Newman University, Ramsey spent the final two years of his college career with the University of Oklahoma. Yes, that’s correct. He transferred from Newman to Norman. While his final season with the Sooners wasn’t anything to write about, it was still Ramsey’s best (even including his year with Newman). In 2018 for the Sooners in 14 outings (three starts), Ramsey compiled a 5.24 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 22 innings by allowing 22 hits (.253 OBA) and 14 walks (13.2%) while striking out 18 (17.0%). The White Sox, liking his fastball and size, selected him in the 23rd round year of that year’s MLB draft.

Despite throwing more strikes, Ramsey got roughed up a bit in the higher air of Great Falls (5.77 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, .316 OBA, 5.3 BB% and 16.9 K%) in 2018. This year, Ramsey fared far better in everything but the walk department, for Kannapolis. In 31 relief appearances totaling 52 1/3 innings, he posted a 2.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP by surrendering 42 hits (.215 OBA) and 20 walks (8.8%) while fanning 44 (19.3%). Ramsey was especially tough against righties this year (.153 OBA), but lefties hit him at a .298 clip. With his size and delivery, Ramsey may simply be more difficult to pick up by righties. Baseball Draft last year credited Ramsey with a peak 95 mph fastball. Opponents hit grounders at a 53% rate against him this year, which should hold him in good stead for Winston-Salem next year.

Wilber Perez
6´2´´
170 pounds
Age: 22

Just weeks before the DSL season was about to begin in 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Wilber Perez to a $50,000 bonus. Perez, a Dominican native, pitched reasonably well that year (3.45 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 12.3 BB%, 21.9 K%). In a return to the Brewers in 2018, he was having a fantastic season when he was traded along with southpaw Kodi Medeiros for the services of White Sox closer Joakim Soria.

Perez continued excelling for the DSL White Sox after the swap. Overall for the 2018 season, he combined for 14 appearances (13 starts) totaling 70 1/3 innings and posted a 1.92 ERA and 0.92 WHIP; he also allowed 44 hits (.182 OBA) and 21 walks (7.6%) while fanning 75 hitters (27.2%).

Perez bypassed the AZL White Sox and Great Falls, and pitched for Kannapolis during the entire 2019 season. Although he walked more hitters, he continued avoiding bats by allowing fewer hits and striking out his fair share of hitters. In 32 appearances (one start) for the Intimidators encompassing 70 innings, Perez surrendered just 36 hits (.149 OBA) but 45 walks (15.5%) while striking out 74 (25.5%).

According to Baseball Prospectus last year, his repertoire includes an 88-91 mph fastball, cutter, curve and changeup. With that said, based upon the high number of strikeouts, it’s possible Perez’s velocity may have jumped up a couple ticks. Lefties hit him at a nearly identical clip (.148) as had righties (.149). Perez will likely begin 2020 with Winston-Salem, but will need to throw more strikes against the tougher competition.

Other right-handed relievers who finished the season with Kannapolis
Declan Cronin, a 36th round selection from Holy Cross, combined with the AZL White Sox and Kannapolis for an outstanding 2.88 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Justin O’Conner, a former first-round pick of the Rays way back in 2010, converted from catcher to pitcher and did stellar work. Although his combined numbers were solid in 14 innings (4.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .250 OBP, one walk (1.7%) and 17 strikeouts (29.3%. However, if you remove the only ugly outing of his 14 appearances, his numbers would have been the following: 0.64 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, .152 OBA, 1.9 BB%, 32.7 K%. He definitely is someone to watch for 2020.

Hansen Butler, a 25th round pick from North Carolina, pitched well for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls before struggling with Kannapolis to finish the year. He combined with all three teams for a 4.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 14 relief outings.

J.B. Olson, who missed the entire 2018 season due to injury, struggled upon his return to Kannapolis with a 5.83 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. While he pitched well in stretches, he gave up several big innings did serious damage to his numbers. Like Hansen Butler above, Olson seems a good candidate to return to Kannapolis for 2020.

Ben Wright has been on the restricted list since 2018. As a result, he hasn’t pitched since the 2017 season.


 

 

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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.


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.

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.