The 2011 Intimidators feature a strong rotation, which boasts names
such as Ryan Buch, Jacob Petricka, Matt Heidenreich and Spencer Arroyo, but
will their offense be up to scratch?
The Kannapolis Intimidators are the Low-A affiliate of the Chicago
White Sox and they compete in the South Atlantic League.
2010 in review:
The Intimidators had a sub-par 2010 season finishing with a 65-74
record (.468 WPCT), 19 games back of league leaders Lakewood. They were a below
average offensive team, finishing 10th out of the 14 teams in runs
scored (617) and OPS (.702). Drawing walks (and therefore getting on base) was
also a problem for Kannapolis, as they drew the second fewest walks in the
league, and finished 11th in OBP. Standout offensive performers for
the I’s included Brady Shoemaker (12 HR, .855 OPS), Ian Gac (20 HR, .799 OPS)
and Tyler Saladino (.309 AVG, .839 OPS). The pitching was marginally better,
with the team finishing mid-pack in ERA (3.80) and WHIP (1.34). Despite this
there were a number of strong contributors to the Kannapolis pitching staff,
such as Andre Rienzo (101 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1,26 WHIP), Cameron Bayne (165 IP, 3.60
ERA, 1.27 WHIP), Joe Serafin (96 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), Ryan Buch (72 IP,
3.13 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) and Terry Doyle (47 IP, 0.96 ERA, 0.91 WHIP).
Spencer Arroyo put up some very good numbers in rookie ball last year after being
signed as a free agent by the Sox. He struck out almost a batter per inning and
finished with a better than 4:1 K:BB ratio. Arroyo has good arm strength, and
while you can’t consider him much of a prospect at this point due to that
nature of his career to date, he’s potentially one to watch in 2011.
Ryan Buch has been a personal favorite of mine since he was selected in the 8th
round of the ’09 draft, and while he hasn’t quite excelled to the extent I was
expecting, he is still one of the more interesting arms in the Sox system. Buch
has good stuff, including a hammer curve that acts as his out pitch, but has
struggled with his control, and that will be the key to his development as a
prospect. If he can learn to master the strike zone better, he could be in for
a big breakout year.
Matt Heidenreich is coming off of a successful 2010 season in which he posted a 2.49
ERA at Bristol, with a better than 5:1 K:BB ratio. His strikeout rate sat at
“just” 7 K/9, which isn’t terrible, but is a little lower than you would
ideally like to see. His control, on the other hand, was excellent.
Kevin Moran is a relief prospect with decent potential. His stuff is good, but he was extremely wild in
college, however he did manage to harness his control a lot better in pro ball.
Jacob Petricka is one of the most talented arms in the Sox system. The 2010 2nd
round pick can dial his fastball up to 96 and he combines it with a decent
breaking pitch, but his change still lags behind somewhat. Some scouts have
trouble projecting Petricka as a starter due to his lacking secondary pitches,
and think of him as more of a middle reliever, but he has the potential to be a
solid Major League starter, he “just” needs to refine his curve/change. The
early returns have certainly been promising, and I expect more of the same from
Petricka in Kannapolis.
Addison Reed is another of the 2010 draftees who have displayed great early
results. Somewhat curiously, Reed has started 2011 by pitching out of the
bullpen, which may just be to limit his innings, or it may be that the Sox
think he fits better in that role long-term. I hope the Sox give him a shot at
starting some point this year, where he’ll be able to fully utilize his strong three-pitch
mix. Like Petricka, Reed is another who should have no problems overpowering
Michael Blanke received rave reviews from both an offensive and defensive standpoint
after making his professional debut last season. The 6’4″, 220 lbs catcher
showed good power, a willingness to take a walk and strong contact abilities in
his 62 games with Great Falls. Despite receiving good reports from scouts, the
fact that he was drafted in the 14th round makes me a little
skeptical about his prospect status, and as a college hitter, he was supposed
to rake in rookie ball. Blanke’s numbers in Kannapolis will give us a much
better idea of where he stands as a prospect.
Juan Silverio made a good start to his 2010 season, posting a .299/.340/.506
triple slash line in Great Falls, but his production fell off a cliff after his
promotion to Kannapolis, and he hit just .200/.237/.336 the rest of the way.
Silverio’s career has been shrouded in controversy, and his game is full of
holes, but he has shown decent pop at various stages in his career.
Brady Shoemaker may have expected to find himself in High-A to start 2011
after he successfully handled Kannapolis last year to the tune of a
.293/.381/.473 batting line. Repeating Low-A may be to help Shoemaker cut down
on the strikeouts, but he has nothing left to prove at this level, and he’ll
likely be pushed to Winston-Salem before the season is out.
Trayce Thompson may have the highest upside of any player in the White Sox
system, but he has a long way to go before he can start to realize that
potential. Thompson’s control of the strike zone is very poor, and as with Jared
Mitchell, he’ll likely always be prone to the K, so he’ll need to start drawing
walks in order to negate the negative effects of a low batting average. His
power on the other hand is terrific, and it’s easy to see why scouts envision
him as a .200+ ISO slugger. Thompson may well struggle in 2011 due to the
rawness of his game, but at just 20 years of age, he’s still got plenty of