Team: AZL White Sox
League: Arizona Rookie League
Final record: 22-34 (11-17 1st half, 11-17 2nd half)
Final placement: 4th in 1st half, 5th in 2nd half and overall in Arizona League Central
2019 was a tough year record wise for the AZL White Sox as they finished with identical, losing records in both the first half and second half of the season. The club was on the outside looking in for the playoffs once again, but this roster was flooded with talent and was a lot of fun to watch this year. This year, just like in years past, was a team that consisted of players making their stateside debuts, recent draft picks, players on rehab assignments, and a few players that spent time with this affiliate in 2018.
The Arizona League, also known as the "Fire League" due to the frequent triple digit temperatures at first pitch, is often a tough adjustment for the prospects that are assigned to this league. Most of them are getting their first taste of professional baseball, or they are getting their first shot a professional baseball in the United States. However, the AZL White Sox have put together some exciting teams in recent years and that was no different in 2019.
The 2019 Arizona League White Sox finished around the middle of the pack for offensive categories like hits, batting average, and slugging percentage. They were towards the top in team strikeouts and finished dead last in total walks. Regardless, this team got a lot of offensive contributions from many prospects and there were also two individual record breaking performances. Both DJ Gladney and Jose Rodriguez set the single-season record for home runs by an AZL White Sox player. Rodriguez would pass Gladney eventually by finishing the season with 9 long balls. Gladney was right behind him with 8 in his first professional season.
On the mound, the AZL White Sox finished more consistently in the middle of the pack for all of the major pitching categories as a whole. This is rookie level baseball, so it's common to see errors pile up during games which can make it harder on the pitchers. Regardless, the members of the AZL White Sox pitching staff consistently did their job and did what they could to keep games within reach. This was a staff that was frequently changing due to rehab assignments and promotions, but that didn't stop them from turning in a successful season.
Starting with the position players and then moving on to pitchers, let's take a look at some of the prospects that put together an impressive season:
Position Player Highlights
White Sox 2019 first round selection, Andrew Vaughn, made his organizational debut with the AZL White Sox and was quickly promoted to Kannapolis shortly after. In three games with the AZL affiliate Vaughn tore the cover off the ball which was expected with such a polished collegiate bat. He slashed .600/.625/.933 with 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 3 strikeouts, and he held his ground defensively at first base. It was a very brief stint for Vaughn, but he was exciting to watch and gave White Sox fans a glimpse of why his bat was worth the pick at third overall.
When talking about players that spent a full season with this affiliate, Jose Rodriguez is the first name that comes to mind and it's safe to say that's much-deserved. Rodriguez played stateside for this first time in his career during the 2019 season and the results were promising. The 18-year-old slashed .293/.328/.505 with 7 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, 31 RBI, 9 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 44 games. In 2018, Rodriguez hit just two home runs. Seeing that number skyrocket this year, and just his performance in general, was definitely a positive development within the organization. The strikeout numbers were high for him, but that's very common in this league as most of the players have a more aggressive approach.
Joining Rodriguez as one of the most productive players on the AZL roster is 2019 16th round selection and homegrown product, DJ Gladney. Throughout most of the season, Gladney was the hottest hitter on the team but would start to cool down as we got closer to the end of the season. Regardless, Gladney still had a great first pro season and he displayed a ton of power that he should carry with him as he moves on to higher affiliate ball. In 50 games with the AZL White Sox, Gladney slashed .264/.309/.428 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, 25 RBI, 10 walks, and 82 strikeouts. He was just 17-years-old for most of the year and didn't turn 18 until late into the second half of the season.
Aside from Gladney and Vaughn (briefly), the majority of the position players on the roster came from the 2019 draft class. Here's how those guys held up during their first professional seasons:
- James Beard, 18, OF: .213/.270/.307, 4 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 8:54 BB:K in 31 games
- Jakob Goldfarb, 23, C: .250/.348/.550, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2:7 BB:K in 6 games
- Logan Glass, 18, OF: .284/.342/.403, 5 2B, HR, 9 RBI, 2:23 BB:K in 17 games
- Victor Torres, 19, C: .219/.240/.240, 2 2B, 9 RBI, 3:28 BB:K in 26 games
- Tyler Osik, 22, 1B: .271/.346/.373, 10 2B, 18 RBI, 11:39 BB:K in 31 games
- Chase Krogman, 18, OF: .190/.227/.190, 4 H, RBI, 1:6 BB:K in 7 games
- Daniel Millwee, 24, C: .256/.408/.333, 3 2B. 4 RBI, 8:10 BB:K in 12 games
While this group made up most of the position players for the AZL White Sox, there was a handful of Latin American position players who either had previous AZL experience or were making their stateside debuts this season. Here's how those players fared in 2019:
- Anthony Coronado, 19, OF: .307/.358/.475, 7 2B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 5:27 BB:K in 28 games
- Josue Guerrero, 19, OF: .240/.307/.404 9 2B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 13:55 BB:K in 43 games
- Bryan Ramos, 17, 3B: .277/.353/.415, 10 2B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 19:44 BB:K in 51 games
- Samil Polanco, 19, 2B/SS: .290/.313/.369, 7 2B, 12 RBI, 5:35 BB:K in 40 games
Both Coronado and Guerrero were with this affiliate during 2018 and both of them saw significant improvement in nearly every statistical category this season. Ramos, who was the youngest player on the roster, made his professional debut this year after skipping out on the DSL entirely. Those numbers are impressive for any 17-year-old, but they are even more impressive for a guy who is getting his first taste of professional baseball.
Pitching Staff Highlights
Two of the biggest storylines for the AZL White Sox in 2019 was the arrival and debuts of Andrew Dalquist and Matthew Thompson. Both of these pitchers got a fairly slow and lighter transition into their professional careers. However, when they finally got to see some action, they showed flashes of why they were taken early in the 2019 MLB Draft. Dalquist threw 3.0 innings this season while giving up two hits, two walks, and picking up two strikeouts without allowing a run. Thompson threw two innings, gave up one unearned run, had two strikeouts, and did not issue a walk. Both pitchers should get more work during instructs this off-season before they head off to their assigned affiliates for next season.
The rest of the AZL White Sox pitching staff consisted of many more members of the 2019 draft class. Here's how those guys fared during their time in Arizona:
- Trey Jeans, 23, LHP: 22.2 IP, 1.99 ERA, 5 BB, 33 K in 18 appearances
- Caleb Freeman, 21, RHP: 13.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 6 BB, 21 K in 10 appearances
- Garvin Alston Jr., 22, LHP: 18.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4 BB, 22 K in 13 appearances
- Avery Weems, 22, LHP: 13.0 IP, 0.69 ERA, 3 BB, 14 K in 4 starts
- Nick Silva, 22, RHP: 25.0 IP, 3.96 ERA, 13 BB, 23 K in 19 appearances
- Jeremiah Burke, 21, RHP: 54.0 IP, 4.33 ERA, 18 BB, 42 K in 12 appearances (8 starts)
- Justin Friedman, 22, RHP: 47.0 IP, 5.17 ERA, 9 BB, 51 K in 13 appearances (5 starts)
There were also a handful of undrafted free agent signings that saw extended time for the AZL White Sox in 2019. Right-hander and Louisville product, Mac Welsh threw 12.1 innings with 19 strikeouts and 2 walks while maintaining a perfect ERA in 12 appearances this season. Vlad Nunez, a right-handed pitcher from Stetson, was another undrafted signing that saw significant time with the AZL White Sox this season. Nunez posted a 4.97 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks in 29.0 IP.
Another storyline and surprise during this season came from the arm of 20-year-old right-hander, Yoelvin Silven. This was the first time Silven got a chance to play stateside after playing with the DSL affiliate in 2018, and the results were fantastic. He started the year pitching strictly out of the bullpen and would eventually become a swing man as he got a few starts under his belt at the end of the season. With the AZL White Sox, Silven posted a 3.48 ERA with 51 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 44.0 IP. If it weren't for a couple of uncharacteristic outings at the end of the year, his ERA would've looked much better as he kept it below 3.00 for most of the season. Silven's performance in the Arizona League eventually earned him a promotion to Great Falls which is where he spent the tail end of his season.
Looking Forward to 2020
The AZL White Sox continue to contain a good mix of youth and intriguing prospects with each season that goes by. While this team didn't qualify for the postseason, they still had plenty of interesting players that are worth keeping an eye on moving forward. The organization broke away from recent trends in this past draft by selecting prep players with their higher draft picks. The 2019 AZL White Sox gave us a good look at those players, along with the recent international signings.
While most of the players from the 2019 AZL White Sox will be off to new affiliates in 2020, the DSL affiliate will be sending some players to Arizona to help fill out the roster next season. We should see guys like Benyamin Bailey, Jefferson Mendoza, Elijah Tatis, Johnabiell Laureano, and Wilber Sanchez as some of the position players that will see time with the AZL affiliate next year. The arrival of the previously mentioned players would mark the stateside debuts for each of them.
On the pitching side of things, 2020 could also bring us the stateside debut of left-hander, Ronaldo Guzman. 2019 was his first professional season where he saw quite a bit of success as a 16-year-old for the greater portion of the season. Guzman struck out 76 batters and walked 29 in 51.2 IP for the DSL White Sox. Given his age, it wouldn't surprise me if he started out the year in the DSL. However, the AZL White Sox have not been afraid to host 17-year-old prospects on the roster. We saw that with Bryan Ramos this past year and he handled the task pretty well. Regardless, we should see Guzman with the AZL affiliate at some point during 2020 and he's definitely a name to keep an eye on.
2019 was a successful year for the Arizona League White Sox. It was successful in the sense that there were some positives to take away from a year that didn't involve the postseason. There were a lot of prospects that held their ground when facing a big jump in competition in comparison to where they were playing before. 2020 will be another season filled with a younger roster as more DSL players will be making their way to Arizona for this first time. Who will be joining them to make up the rest of the roster is yet to be determined as a lot of the 2020 draft class will see time with this affiliate too.
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Filed under: News and notes
Tags: Andrew Dalquist, Andrew Vaughn, Anthony Coronado, Avery Weems, AZL White Sox, Bryan Ramos, Caleb Freeman, Chase Krogman, DJ Gladney, Garvin Alston Jr., Jeremiah Burke, Jose Rodriguez, Logan Glass, Mac Welsh, Matthew Thompson, Samil Polanco, Trey Jeans, Victor Torres, Vlad Nunez, Yoelvin Silven