White Sox Minor League News and Notes, 5/7 to 5/13

Before Jordan Stephens can suit up for the White Sox, he’ll be donning the golden C of the Charlotte Knights after his recent promotion.

Over his last four starts at Birmingham, Stephens compiled a 4-0 record with a 1.31 ERA over 17.2 innings. He largely credits the change in his performance to analytics, as The Athletic’s James Feagan reportsStephens was a four pitch pitcher, up until very recently. He has a good fastball and a phenomenal curveball, which is accompanied by a changeup and a slider/cutter. His fastball curve combination is particularly lethal.

RHP Jordan Stephens throwing a bullpen in Spring Training, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

RHP Jordan Stephens throwing a bullpen in Spring Training, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

But it wasn’t until the team presented him data on his pitch mix that he made the decision to embrace his two headlining pitches. He ditched throwing a backdoor cutter to lefties after learning of its ineffectiveness and increased the frequency of both fastball and curveballs.

The aforementioned results speak for themselves. He said to The Athletic, “You learn with experience, and that’s pretty much all that is, is trying to speed up your experience. Even if you can’t remember all of it, if you just remember one or two things, once or twice in a game, it makes a big difference.”

For White Sox fans looking for something to cheer for, come down to the farm, because exciting things are happening.

With that, here’s what you need to know this week.

Prospect performance highlights

Birmingham OF Eloy Jimenez won Southern League player of the week honors for April 30 to May 3. He led the league in hits (13) and total bases (23).

Winston-Salem P Dylan Cease won player of the week honors for April 30 to May 6. He threw 13 innings in two starts, winning both and striking out 18.

Charlotte DH Matt Skole had a 3-4 game with two doubles and a strikeout May 8.

Birmingham C Zack Collins continues to show the improvements in his game were for real. He went 2-3 with a homer and two walks May 8. As of May 10, he had a walk rate of 26.9 percent.

Birmingham C Seby Zavala, 3B Matt Rose and Jimenez lead the Southern League in home runs. They have 9, 7 and 7, respectively.

Birmingham SP Jordan Stephens threw six strong shutout innings in his last start. He struck out 8, walked 3 and allowed only 2 hits May 9.

Birmingham OF Jameson Fisher had a 3-4 game with a double and a strikeout May 12.

Injuries

  • Birmingham OF Tito Polo was placed on the 7-day disabled list May 12 

Transactions

Activated

  • Birmingham activated 2B Bryant Flete from the 7-day disabled list

Optioned

Assigned

  • RHP Jordan Stephens and OF Mason Robbins were promoted to the Knights from Birmingham
  • LHP Matt Tomshaw was demoted to Birmingham from Charlotte
  • 2B Johnny Giavotella was assigned to Birmingham after he was signed as a free agent May 12
  • RHP Jose Ruiz was promoted to Birmingham from Winston-Salem
  • RHP Yelmison Peralta was assigned to Winston-Salem from Kannapolis

Released

Team Performances

  • Charlotte posted a 3-4 week (15-21 overall, 6.5 games back). It was a bad week for Charlotte starting pitching. Over the course of three days, the Knights staff gave up a combined 29 runs, while scoring only 6 total. The Knights are on the road all week. They have three in Toledo and three in Columbus.
  • Birmingham went 4-3 for the week (18-19 overall 1st half, 5 games back). In a 5-game series against Pensacola the Barons bats went off. The most notable game was the 16-3 schellacking the Barons put on the Blue Wahoos May 9, highlighted by P Jordan Stephens’ gem of a performance. They’re on the rooad for three more against Mobile before kicking off a five game series against Montgomery at home.
  • Winston-Salem had a 4-3 week (21-16 overall 1st half, 1 game back). Coming into the week, Winston-Salem had a two game winning streak they boosted to five, until dropping the first three against Down East. Still, Winston-Salem managed to win Sunday’s match-up behind the a strong team 11-3 performance. They’re away all week for three against Buies Creek and three against Down East.
  • Kannapolis compiled a 5-2 week (24-12 overall 1st half, Tied for first). A strong week, capped off by a dazzling weekend for Kannapolis hitters, pulled the Intimidators into first place. They’ll look to stay hot as they play two at Asheville before coming home for a four game series against Hickory. The I's are tied for the third best record in all of Minor League Baseball.

News and Links

  • The fifth episode of the FutureSox podcast dropped and it’s a doozy featuring White Sox announcer Jason Benetti and three Intimidators: Tyler Johnson, Blake Battenfield and Tate Blackman.
  • FutureSox started its draft preview series. James Fox wrote a primer about what to expect, Brian Bilek compiled a cheat sheet for you and our first profile on Oregon State 2B Nick Madrigal dropped.
  • Bilek also covered the news about 3B Jake Burger re-tearing his Achilles tendon, and our own Julie Brady found a surprising and terrifying comp for Burger. Warning! If recent White Sox draft failures remind you of the fickle nature of prospects and the inability of the White Sox to develop position players, click anyways because it’s a great piece.
  • Baseball America profiled P Dylan Cease and OF Eloy Jimenez in its Hot Sheet for May 7.
  • The Athletic’s James Fegan profiled Dane Dunning’s recent promotion to Birmingham. 
  • Winston-Salem manager Omar Vizquel called OF Micker Adolfo a young Manny Ramirez, NBC Chicago’s Chuck Garfien reported.
  • The Intimidators’ Cam’s Clubhouse was named the April Promotion of the Month by MiLB Promo Seminar.
  • RHP Kade McClure was struck in the leg with a line drive in a game yesterday, and he was removed immediately after (in the 1st inning). No further word on his status yet.
  • FutureSox is having a night at the ballpark and wants our readers to come. The inaugural FutureSox Night will be 7:10 p.m. June 13th at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Indians. Not only will readers get to enjoy a pregame buffet, but a portion of the ticket will go to support Baseball Miracles, a charity founded by White Sox scout John Tumminia. Here’s a link to tickets.

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