After each month of the minor league season, we name one position player and one pitcher as players of the month on the White Sox farm. Generally, players have to see full-time innings or plate appearances, and still be a prospect (not reached MLB rookie status) to qualify.
The position players didn't have a ton of monster performances in May, but one player did stand out from the crowd. The pitching side was a little harder, with a relatively thin starting crop but a number of intriguing relievers. Let's take a look at who we chose, and who the few closest runners up were for each category.
Note: Stats presented are for May only unless otherwise noted...
HITTER OF THE MONTH: Trey Michalczewski, 3B, Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Stats: .265/.352/.513 (.865 OPS), 9 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 14:28 BB:K, 2/3 SB/ATT in 128 PA (30 games)
Scouts have been talking up Trey Michalczewski left and right this year, including when we watched him in person just a few days back. Here in May the numbers are matching the prospect hype, as this 20-year old had 16 extra base hits including 5 long balls, showed a strong walk rate and even stole a couple bags in 30 games. Defensively he's drawn mostly positive reviews but he does need to work on his throws.
Michalczewski is playing about three years younger than average for his league, which makes his performance more impressive. He's not likely headed to AA just yet, and the strikeout rate (21.9% in May, 20.8% on the season) is still a little higher than ideal but has improved over last year. The talent is very much there, and you'll probably see Trey swim his way well into the organization's top 10 prospects and perhaps even top 5 as the year goes on.
Eddy Alvarez, SS (A): .269/.415/.423 (.838 OPS), 7 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 24:29 BB:K, 12/14 SB/ATT in 133 PA (29 games)
Joey DeMichele, 2B (A+): .314/.352/.402 (.754 OPS), 6 2B, 1 HR, 4:16 BB:K, 4/4 SB/ATT in 110 PA (28 games)
Tim Anderson, SS (AA): .303/.325/.418 (.743 OPS), 5 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 4:28 BB:K, 8/9 SB/ATT in 127 PA (28 G)
Danny Hayes, 1B (AA): .291/.395/.355 (.750 OPS), 4 2B, 1 HR, 19:26 BB:K in 130 PA (30 games)
Eddy Alvarez, who was also a mention last month, had a pretty odd May but still managed one of the best overall offensive efforts in the system. His average dropped, but the power increased a little and he drew a ridiculous 24 walks on the month (and stole 12 bags). It looks like pitchers are starting to work around the switch-hitter. Second baseman Joey DeMichele's prospect dropped the past couple years, but he seems to be adjusting well to AA now as he hit well over .300 in May and he's at an even .300 for the year. He also stole four bases and had a solid contact rate that should help him continue to improve.
Tim Anderson may now (with Carlos Rodon in Chicago) be the top prospect in the White Sox minors, and he showed a lot of those positive traits this month (and a few of the negative ones too). He's a 21-year old who had only a full year's worth of professional games who started the year in AA, but he's .311 on the year (.303 in May) and he stole eight bases in nine tries on the month. He's also striking out at a fairly high clip and not drawing many walks, so there's room for improvement, but the performance is impressive when taken into context. Danny Hayes' .750 OPS from a 1B while age-appropriate in AA may not seem impressive on the surface, but consider this: He's a 13th round pick who skipped A+ to go straight to AA and he's already gotten his feet under him less than two months into the season. The power is still lacking, but Hayes gets on base at an impressive clip while hitting for average as well.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Jordan Guerrero, LHP, Kannapolis (A): 1.80 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .200 BAA, 0.72 GB:FB, 5 BB, 30 K in 25 IP (4 starts)
For the first time in many years (and maybe ever), the winner of this award is the same pitcher two months in a row. There was some good competition (as you'll see), but all things considered, Jordan Guerrero deserves it. He was dominant in core results and peripherals in his four starts, and continues to put himself firmly on the prospect radar.
The sudden emergence of Guerrero as a legitimate starting pitching prospect is welcome, as his fastball has gone up a couple ticks and the change-up still looks like a potentially plus offering. His curve shows promise but needs some work. But it's awfully hard to find anything to criticize in his performance, especially as a 20-year old (he just turned 21 yesterday) in full-season ball. Let's all hope his still-undisclosed injury isn't anything serious.
Matt Cooper (A): 1.46 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, .125 BAA, 0.50 GB:FB, 4 BB, 15 K in 12.1 IP (9 games, all in relief)
Matt Heidenreich (A+): 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .242 BAA, 1.03 GB:FB, 7 BB, 27 K in 39 IP (6 starts)
Devon Davis (A, A+): 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, .208 BAA, 1.13 GB:FB, 1 BB, 15 K in 13.1 IP (7 games, all in relief)
Miguel Chalas (AA, AAA): 2.04 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .183 BAA, 0.92 GB:FB, 3 BB, 12 K in 17.2 IP (9 games, all in relief)
Matt Cooper could just as easily won this award, given his sheer dominance in relief work. A 23-year old with an unorthodox delivery and pitch set (and certainly not typical closer stuff), the Hawaii grad allowed a scant 3 hits and 4 walks in his 12.1 innings, striking out more than a batter per frame. The only starter among the "mentions" group, Matt Heidenreich has been strong as expected in Winston-Salem, displaying excellent control and getting the core results. He's in his 4th year at A+ or above, and it's likely he's ticketed for AA sometime soon if the 24-year old keeps this up.
Lefty Devon Davis was signed as a 22-year old undrafted free agent last year, and so far in about a calendar year he's done nothing but get guys out at three levels. In May of this year with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, Davis is striking out well over a batter an inning and walked just one batter, while also not giving up many hits. Righty Miguel Chalas, acquired in the Alejandro De Aza trade, was also promoted during May (Birmingham to Charlotte). Despite being just 22 and a relative unknown, Chalas could put himself in a place to see Chicago's bullpen sometime in 2015, especially if he keeps pitching like this.
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