We previously dove deep into the White Sox system to identify a trove of possible options for a future high-leverage relief role. Eight players were mentioned and some are even listed in top 30 publications throughout the industry. The White Sox system is loaded with pitching and some of the arms being groomed as future starters will ultimately end up finding a home in a major league bullpen. This piece is not intended to discuss those potential assets though. The following is part two of an article focusing on some of the already-relievers in Chicago's loaded system.
The state of the organization has been well articulated over the past 15 months and the transparency from decision makers has been a key component. It is expected that the White Sox will dive back into the free agent market in the coming years and it would behoove the franchise to develop their own relief pitching. Relievers are volatile by nature and it's often a fool's errand to spend too much money on them in free agency. Relief options with late-inning potential were analyzed here in early February. The 11 pitchers that are the focal point of this new look are lesser known than some of the guys discussed previously but they are still bullpen pieces with a high level of potential that could earn jobs in Chicago in the future.
Don't read into the order we listed the pitchers here - it's just alphabetical...
Brian Clark (LHP)
Clark was a left-handed starter at Kent State and was a 9th round draft pick of the White Sox in 2014. The 24-year-old southpaw was the #24 prospect in the system on our 2017 preseason top 30 list. The 6'3", 225 pound Ohio native threw 56.2 innings across three minor league levels in 2016 and posted an ERA of 2.70. Clark was promoted to Charlotte for the 2017 season and compiled 44 strikeouts with 13 walks and a 4.01 ERA in 49.1 innings at Triple-A. Brian throws a four-seam fastball that runs low 90's and a two-seam sinker as well. He also throws a slider and a change-up and while the former is used as a put-away pitch, both offerings appear average present value and he is at his best when mixing his starter-breadth repertoire as he lacks a single stand-out pitch. That makes him different than many arms on this list who lack command and refinement but have one or two flashy offerings. He has decent command of his off-speed stuff and shows downward plane from a fairly high slot. Clark doesn't show a typical LOOGY profile so he'll need to continue display excellent command to reach the big leagues. He should repeat with the Charlotte Knights in the International League and could see Chicago sometime this summer.
Some video from our YouTube Channel on Clark pitching with the Knights last season:
Victor Diaz (RHP)
Diaz is a 6'3", 210 pound righty that was was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox for just $10K in 2014. The 23-year-old Dominican was the 4th piece the White Sox acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December 2016. Our Matt Cassidy wrote a detailed report here about Diaz when he joined the organization. This large fire-baller had a season he'd like to forget in the Sox organization in 2017. He battled multiple injuries and was disappointing when he did take the ball. He had a 14.25 ERA in 12 innings pitching across both levels of Single-A. He surrendered 19 hits while striking out 14 and walking 12 hitters. Victor is a personal favorite of White Sox Senior Director of Baseball Operations Dan Fabian and he's lauded for his fastball velocity and movement.
In 2016, Diaz threw 60 innings with Greenville in the Boston system and put up a 3.88 ERA to go with 63 punch-outs while walking 25. The right-hander throws extremely hard and has a good pitcher's body. He sits in the mid to upper 90's with his fastball and touches triple digits regularly. He possesses a slider that appears to be above average at times and a splitter as well, but his secondaries are all wildly inconsistent. Diaz sports a fairly high effort delivery with a head whip and struggles to repeat it. He will likely start the year back at Winston-Salem in High-A and arms that possess the type of heat that his carries are usually rewarded with multiple opportunities.
Some video of Victor Diaz from Soxprospects.com:
Danny Dopico (RHP)
Dopico was selected in the 11th round of the 2015 draft by the White Sox out of Florida International University. The 6'2", 190 pound right-hander pitched well enough to reach High-A Winston-Salem in his first season. He struggled to the tune of a 7.80 ERA over 30 innings while striking out 39 and walking an astoundingly high total of 33 in 2016. He had more success that same season while pitching for Low-A Kannapolis. Danny threw 16.2 innings with a 3.24 ERA and significantly lowered the walk rate while pitching for the Intimidators. The 24-year-old also posted a 3.25 ERA with 96 K and 30 BB in 69.1 with Kannapolis in 2017. Our Matt Cassidy got a live look at Dopico last year and thinks he has the potential to be a big league reliever. Danny's fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range and the pitch has substantial fade. He also throws a 79-82 mph slider with big downward movement and a splitter in the low 80's. The righty is effective when he's around the plate but he struggles mightily with command. His stuff is good enough to play in Birmingham with the Double-A affiliate but the inconsistency probably puts him in Winston-Salem to start the 2018 campaign. He's a lottery ticket with high leverage potential but lots of risk.
Some of our video from 2017 of Danny Dopico:
Kevin Escorcia (LHP)
The White Sox signed Kevin Escorcia out of Colombia prior to the 2014 season. The 6'1" right-hander struggled statistically in rookie ball in 2015 and 2016. He rebounded in 2017 where he struck out 69 hitters in 50 innings with Low Class A Kannapolis. Escorcia is 23 years old and will likely begin the 2018 season in High-A with Winston-Salem. Our Matt Cassidy saw the thin left-hander in action last year and suggests that a LOOGY profile could be in his future. Kevin has an explosive delivery from a low 3/4 slot. His fastball resides in the low 90's but he locates well with sink. He also has a 79-81 mph slider with late two plane break. His best pitch however is a big bending curveball that is usually in the mid 70's range and shows plus character. All of his pitches have movement and he's done well against lefties so far in his career.
Some video courtesy of the FutureSox Youtube channel from a scouting trip last year:
And some more video:
Matt Foster (RHP)
The White Sox drafted Foster in the 20th round out of the University of Alabama in 2016. The 6', 195 pound right-hander dominated in rookie ball when he got his first taste of being a professional. He threw 29.2 combined innings for the Low Rookie Arizona League team and the Great Falls Voyagers in Advanced Rookie Ball. Matt fanned 41 hitters while walking only 7 and he posted a paltry 0.61 ERA, but then took a brief sabbatical from pitching as outlined by our Rob Young in this great story. The 23-year-old re-joined the organization last year and threw 27.2 innings across both levels of A-ball in the Sox system. His dominance continued with a 1.30 ERA and 33K to 5 BB in his brief stint. After missing important development time, the organization sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some innings in. He struck out 8 hitters in 11.1 IP but got roughed up in general while posting an ERA of 7.94. Foster throws a ton of strikes and is a bulldog on the mound. His fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range and he throws it with confidence. He also displays a sharp 82-85 mph slider. The righty also has a change-up in his repertoire but hasn't used it as much in a late-inning relief role. Foster should see Double-A Birmingham at some point in the 2018 season.
Some video of Foster in the AFL from FutureSox contributor Kim Contreras below:
Jace Fry (LHP)
Fry was selected in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft out of Oregon State. The 6'1", 190 pound southpaw was a highly regarded draft prospect listed inside the top 100 of most major publications. After being drafted, he had a brief tune-up in rookie ball. Jace went straight to High-A Winston-Salem in 2015 and posted a 3.16 ERA in 9 starts. During his 10th start of the season though, he tore the UCL in his left elbow and required his 2nd Tommy John Surgery. He missed the rest of the 2015 and all of the 2016 season rehabbing the injury. When the left-hander returned to action in 2017 his profile was quite different than it looked in the past. He scrapped his slider which was used as an out pitch and went to more of an upper 80's cutter. His fastball plays up in a relief role as well and he runs it up to 95 mph with some fade. Jace's best off-speed pitch is his upper 70's curveball though. In his brief time with AA Birmingham in the Southern League, Fry compiled 10.3 K/9 while struggling with command but appeared to be healthy. He threw 11 innings in Chicago with the White Sox last year and made his big league debut, skipping AAA. He has an uphill climb to make the opening day roster due to a plethora of left-handed options in front of him but he should see some major league time in 2018. He will likely start the year in Triple-A with the Knights.
More of our video: Fry pitching for the Birmingham Barons last season:
Brad Goldberg (RHP)
Goldberg is 28 years old and was drafted in the 10th round of the 2013 draft out of Ohio State University. The 6'4", 220 pound hurler pitched for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic last year and also made his major league debut. The big right hander got tattooed in 12 innings with the White Sox in 2017. Brad walked 14 hitters in those 12 innings and had a FIP of 8.82. Across multiple minor league levels in 2016, the former Buckeye compiled a 3.34 ERA. The righty also held his own in Charlotte last year with the Knights in Triple-A. He threw 40.1 innings and struck out 47 while walking 22. Goldberg is old for a prospect but he does throw really hard. His sinker sits mid-90's and his four-seam fastball clocks in the upper 90's (has touched 99) as well and the pitch has some arm side run. Goldberg also shows a slider that sits in the 89-91 mph range and a change-up. Goldberg will likely begin the season in the Charlotte bullpen with a chance to make it back to Chicago later in the summer.
More video from our Youtube page. This is from 2 years ago on a live look:
Will Kincanon (RHP)
Kincanon was given an over-slot bonus as an 11th round selection of the White Sox out of Indiana State University in 2017. The 6'3 202 right-hander has an interesting profile. He was used as a starting pitcher at Indiana State and struggled with an ERA over 5. Mlbpipeline.com listed Kincanon as the #189 draft prospect in the 2017 class. The 22-year-old posted a 3.94 ERA with 29K and 13BB in 29.2 innings pitched at Advanced Rookie Level Great Falls in Montana. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range but has touched 97. He employs a heavy fastball that can generate ground balls and his slider and change "flash plus" according to MLBPipeline. Will has trouble locating and he lacks consistency and command. His stuff should play up in a relief role and he will likely begin the 2018 season with Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League.
An interview and video courtesy of Indiana State Athletics:
Louie Lechich (LHP)
Lechich was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 Amateur Draft out of The University of San Diego. Louie was a light-hitting but defensively gifted center fielder that struggled to make contact in the minors. He had pitched in the past and decided to make the transition back to the mound in 2016. The 6'4", 200 pounder throws a low 90's fastball and pairs it with a slider and a change of pace. In 2016, he pitched 15 innings in the lower minors and compiled 16 strikeouts to go along 3 walks and a WHIP of 1.00. The southpaw earned the right to pitch in the Arizona Fall League in 2016 and he posted an ERA of 0.71 over 12.2 innings with 7 punchouts. Winston-Salem was his home in 2017. For the Dash, Lechich threw 58.2 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 48K with 25BB. The 26-year-old profiles as a left-handed specialist and should be at AA this season.
Some footage of Lechich from the AFL in 2016
Mike Morrison (RHP)
Morrison was a 27th round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2016. The 6'2", 195 pound right-hander has pitched well since joining the White Sox system. After winning the College World Series in 2016, he went straight to Low Class A Kannapolis after signing his contract. The funky righty threw 17.1 innings and struck out 18 while walking 8 in his short stint. In 2017, the 24-year-old pitched in both levels of A ball and continued to succeed. Mike was flat out dominant in Kannapolis and quickly earned a promotion to Winston-Salem. In 67.2 innings in 2017, Morrison had a 2.73 ERA while striking out 75 and walking 24. He has a propensity to pitch backwards at times. His fastball isn't overpowering and usually sits in the low 90's. He does work effectively up and down in the zone to make his fastball more effective. He has a violent delivery with a head whack as well. My colleague Rob Young saw Morrison pitch last year and described his repertoire thoroughly. Morrison throws a curveball, slider and change-up and he could have two plus breaking pitches. He likely ends up in the Barons bullpen in Double-A.
Some of our video on Morrison
J.B. Olson (RHP)
The White Sox took a big right-hander by the name of Alec Hansen out of Oklahoma in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. In the 10th round of the 2017 draft, the scouting department went to back to Norman to select right hander J.B. Olson. The 6'2", 195 pounder threw 98.2 innings with a 2.01 ERA and 12 saves in his last two seasons in college. He compiled 89 strikeouts and 35 walks during his junior and senior seasons. Olson was a $10,000 senior sign in the 10th round and looks to be a bargain at this point. Upon joining the White Sox organization, the 23-year-old pitched 13 innings in Great Falls, Montana with a 0.69 ERA and 13K. J.B. then went on to Low-A Kannapolis and pitched 19.2 innings with the Intimidators. He held his own while posting a 3.66 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 4 walks. Olson's delivery is unusual in that he throws all of his 3-pitch mix from both overhand and sidearm slots. Olson could start the season at High-A Winston Salem with the Dash.
Olson prospect video from MooreBaseball.com:
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