For the White Sox prospects participating in the Arizona Fall League this year, it's been a rough start to say the least. After most of them got off to a slow start, the offensive and pitching struggles have become a trend as we are reaching the halfway point of the season. Luckily, this hasn't been the case for everyone the White Sox have sent to the Fall League this off-season.
Tyler Johnson got off to a great start and has continued to be one of the most effective bullpen arms for the Glendale Desert Dogs. And now, Gavin Sheets is starting to heat up as he looks to put together a strong finish to the AFL season.
Just a few weeks ago, Sheets finished up a game as the cleanup hitter on September 24, going 2-4 to raise his season average to .133 in the AFL. Things were obviously rough for Sheets leading into that game, but after that he started to catch fire at the plate and has been very productive since. Now, Gavin Sheets is slashing .250/.283/.341 with 11 hits, 4 doubles, 5 RBI, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts on the season.
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) October 5, 2019
While that slash line isn't exactly something to write home about, it's impressive when you think about where Sheets was just a few short weeks ago. Sheets has picked up at least one hit in seven of his last eight games and he's currently riding a four-game hitting streak. On top of that, he's picked up two hits in back-to-back games. He seems like he's feeling more and more comfortable at the plate, and we are seeing that through the impressive run he's on right now.
Sheets is coming off a strong season at Double-A Birmingham and was looking to build off that in the AFL. While that seemed like a faint possibility after the first few weeks of the AFL season, Sheets is now slowly becoming one of the more productive hitters in the Desert Dogs lineup.
The White Sox currently don't have a lot of left-handed bat options on the roster, which can change barring any trades or free agent signings. Sheets established plenty of intrigue from the White Sox in part due to his 16 Southern League home runs. If he continues to put together a strong finish to the AFL season, that's only going to increase those chances for his opportunity, especially if he continues to show a development of power.
For the rest of the White Sox position players, it's been more of the same struggles during their time in Arizona. Micker Adolfo currently leads the Desert Dogs with three home runs, but is struggling despite the long balls. Through 10 games, Adolfo is slashing .206/.325/.471 with 7 hits, 4 RBI, 4 walks, and 16 strikeouts. Blake Rutherford has been piling up the extra base hits recently, with two in his last four games but is struggling to find consistency at the plate. Through 12 games, Rutherford is slashing .159/.260/.386 with 1 double, 3 triples, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 6 walks, and 11 strikeouts.
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) October 5, 2019
On the mound, Tyler Johnson continues to be dominant for the Desert Dogs and his performance has earned him a roster spot on the West squad in the Fall Stars game, which will take place on Saturday in Scottsdale. In 6 appearances, Johnson owns a 1.42 ERA and has given up just 3 hits and 1 earned run while walking 4 batters and picking up 1 strikeout in 6.1 IP.
He had a perfect ERA until his last outing, where he surrendered his first run of the season on a solo shot. Even though Johnson has walked quite a few hitters this season, he's been able to keep the damage to a minimal and has been able to pound the strike zone more frequently. Over his last four appearances in a total of 4.0 IP, he's walked just one batter.
Similar to the offensive side of the game, it's been more of the same struggles for the rest of the White Sox arms. Through 4 starts, Bernardo Flores has a 6.75 ERA and has given up 19 hits and 10 earned runs in 13.1 IP. In some more positive news, he's walked just three hitters and has racked up 12 strikeouts on the season.
Vince Arobio owns a 8.10 ERA and has given up 2 home runs, issued 5 walks, and has 2 strikeouts in 6.2 IP. After giving up two earned runs or more in his first two appearances, he's managed to give up one earned run or in his last three consecutive appearances. Bennett Sousa is trending in a different direction, giving up two earned runs or more in two of his last three appearances. On the season, Sousa has a 9.53 ERA and has given up 10 hits, 6 earned runs, has walked just one hitter, and has 6 strikeouts in 5.2 IP.
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