It was April 12, when then Winston-Salem OF Joel Booker was on third base in the bottom of the 10th. One thing was going through his head, “Don’t trip.”
Winston-Salem manager Omar Vizquel told the 22nd round 2016 draft pick, he was going home. He did:
“Honestly, I was just thinking don’t trip. Normally when you’re in that situation the coach asks you ‘How do you feel about stealing home?’ But Omar told me I was going. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going because he told me I had to go. I was just thinking ‘Don’t trip.’ [After crossing the plate], I was just amazed. I was actually in shock. I couldn’t believe it worked and that I actually did it,” Booker told FutureSox.
That confidence carried through to the new season. Booker started 2018 repeating Winston-Salem, after slashing .233/.284/.296 there in 2017. He spent the offseason working on reinventing his swing. He said his 2017 swing was causing him to come out and around on some pitches. The reinvention was escalated after he attended a hitter’s camp, where coaches dissected his swing and put it back together again.
The missing piece was something Booker has in surplus. You have to go no further than his walk-off steal to find it: confidence.
“I think [the swing change] and a little bit of confidence.” Booker said. “When you change your swing and you see results right away it gives you some confidence.”
The results have been spectacular. Booker slashed .297/.389/.469 in Winston-Salem this year. He made the Carolina League’s All Star Game, was named the game’s MVP and was promoted to AA Birmingham this week, where through 18 ABs he’s slashing .444/.474/.722.
Booker said he remembered his performance last year and came into season with that in the back of his mind.
“I did want to start in high A especially after the rocky road I had last year. I wanted a little bit of redemption,” He said.
He found redemption and more, but Booker isn’t settling for good enough. His 2018 season has the potential to continue being a special one. The one thing that's for sure is the 22nd round outfielder out of Columbus, N.C., isn’t going to stop until he’s manning the outfield on the South Side.
Prospect performance highlights
- Kannapolis 2B Tate Blackman launched 16 dingers in the first round of the South Atlantic League League home run derby
- Barons catcher Zack Collins one-upped that performance by winning the Southern League Derby
- Winston-Salem (Now Birmingham) OF Joel Booker was named MVP of the Carolina League’s All-Star Game. He went 3-4 with a home run and four RBIs.
- Charlotte RHP Donn Roach was sensational again June 19. He threw six strong shutout innings. He gave up six hits, struck out nine and walked no one. He may not be a prospect, but he looks like an arm that can help the White Sox now. I don’t get it.
- Despite striking out only one batter June 21, LHP John Parke threw seven shutout innings, giving up four hits. He didn’t walk a batter.
- Birmingham OF Booker went 4-5 June 21. He carried the hot streak into June 22 where he went 3-4 with a double and a walk.
- Charlotte RHP Carson Fulmer struck out 11 June 21. He also gave up seven hits, three runs and a walk. His 11 strikeouts were a new career high.
- OF Blake Rutherford went 3-4 with a double and a home run June 22.
- Charlotte RHP Jordan Stephens threw six shutout innings June 23. He struck out nine, walked three and gave up three hits.
- Charlotte 2B Jake Elmore and C Dustin Garneau were activated from the temporarily inactive list June 22
- Charlotte C Brett Austin was activated from the 7-day disabled list June 19
- Kannapolis activated LHP Jhoan Quijada from the 7-day disabled list June 24
- Kannapolis OF Nolan Brown and C Michael Hickman were activated from the 7-day disabled list June 21
- White Sox 2B Jose Rondon was optioned to Charlotte
- Charlotte C Alfredo Gonzalez was demoted to Birmingham
- Birmingham OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Ian Hamilton and C Seby Zavala were promoted to Charlotte
- Birmingham OF J.J. Muno was demoted to Kannapolis
- Birmingham RHP Cameron Seitzer and RHP Connor Walsh were demoted to Winston-Salem
- Winston-Salem OF Alex Call, OF Luis Alexander Basabe, OF Joel Booker, LHP Bernando Flores, RHP Matt Foster, RHP Dylan Cease and RHP Zach Thompson were promoted to Birmingham
- Kannapolis LHP Joe Mockbee, RHP Lincoln Henzman, OF Luis Gonzalez, SS Laz Rivera, RHP Tyler Johnson, RHP Blake Battenfield and OF Luis Robert were promoted to Winston-Salem
- 1B Ryan Fitzpatrick was assigned to Great Falls (recent draft signee)
- AZL White Sox RHP Drew Harrington was promoted to Kannapolis
- The White Sox returned RHP Thyago Vieira to Charlotte after calling him up June 22.
- Charlotte OF Jacob May was placed on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to June 20
- Charlotte C Brett Austin was placed on the 7-day disabled list June 21
- Birmingham C Casey Schroeder was placed on the 7-day disabled list June 23
- Birmingham RHP Jake Johansen was placed on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to June 19
- Birmingham RHP Dane Dunning is experiencing soreness in his right elbow after exiting his last start early. He’ll undergo an MRI, the Sun Times reports.
- AZL White Sox RHP (and 2018 draft pick) Luke Shilling has a labral tear. It’ll require more than a year of rehabilitation.
- Great Falls 1B Franklin Reyes is being transferred to the 60-day DL, which effectively ends his season.
- White Sox RHP Miguel Gonzalez was sent on a rehab assignment to Charlotte June 24
- Charlotte posted a 3-3 week (30-38 overall, 8.5 games back). They play four at Durham before coming home for four against Gwinnett.
- Birmingham went 3-1 for the week (3-1 overall 2nd half, 1st). They play two at Montgomery before coming home for four against Jackson.
- Winston-Salem had a 3-1 week (3-1 overall 2nd half, 1st). They play five against Frederick before starting a series against Wilmington.
- Kannapolis compiled a 3-1 week (3-1 overall 2nd half, .5 games back). They are at Greensboro for two before a three game series at home against Lexington, and the beginning of a series at Rome.
- Great Falls had a 2-3 week (3-5 overall, 2 games back). They play three at Billings before coming home for a series against Missoula.
News and Links
- With the All-star game behind us, our own James Fox recapped all the recent transactions. Julie Brady also had her own take on the promotions.
- James had a very busy week, previewing the 2018 AZL White Sox.
- Wait, did we mention James? Because he also just published a look at some of the laughable Hot Takes from the national media around the White Sox rebuild, this one for The Loop Sports.
- Adam McInturff of 2080 Ball put together a report and video on 1B prospect Gavin Sheets
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