The 2012 season is just about ready to start up and we’re back from offseason hibernation just in time. The rosters are coming out and Opening Day is just a day away. It’s time to preview the White Sox minor league season.
The format for the previews involves breaking down the rosters by where the players were last year. In other words, players that are with the same affiliate as they finished last season are listed as repeats and players that moved up a level from last year are in a separate category.
Starting with Kannapolis, the lowest full season affiliate in the Low-A South Atlantic League, the categories are repeats, players moved up from Great Falls, players moved up from Bristol and players new to the organization. The Opening Day ages of the players are in parentheses. Hopefully this gives a perspective on who is expected to do well and who probably needs to earn a promotion quickly to appear as a good prospect.
Kannapolis (2011 record: 76-62, no playoffs)
Repeats: Terance Marin (22), Steven Upchurch (22)
From Great Falls: Stew Brase (23), Jarrett Casey (24), Stephen McCray (24), Brandon Parrent (21), Scott Snodgress (22), Kevin Vance (21), Blair Walters (22)
From Bristol: Bryan Blough (22), Matthew Lane (21)
New to org.: Jefferson Olacio (18), Daniel Webb (22)
As expected the Indimidators’ pitching staff is loaded with players moved up from rookie ball. Steven Upchurch is a semi-intriguing player as a repeat, but starting your fifth year of pro ball in Low-A isn’t going to impress anyone.
Scott Snodgress jumps out as a legitimate prospect and clearly the best of the staff. Blair Walters, who went a league best 9-0 for Great Falls and was among the league leaders in many categories, and Brandon Parrent, an over slot signee left-hander from the 2011 draft, are also worth following.
A pair of incoming pitchers also add to the prospect value of the pitchers. Daniel Webb, acquired in the Jason Frasor trade, has pitched in the Low-A Midwest League for parts of the last two years. The other is possibly the most surprising roster selection, Jefferson Olacio. Olacio is 18 and was a notable foreign sign from the Dominican. He pitched in the Dominican Summer League last year with big strikeout and walk numbers (42 K and 38 BB in 37.2 IP). Baseball America’s Ben Badler mentioned how aggressive this assignment is.
Overall, it should be a decent staff both performance and prospect wise. Snodgress could move quickly and Olacio is worth tracking, but it’s not the most exciting group to follow on paper. 2011 2nd round pick Erik Johnson is in extended spring training due to elbow tendinitis and 3rd rounder Jeff Soptic is also absent from the roster. Both could be big boosts to the Intimidators. It’s worth noting that the staff includes six lefties and seven righties.
Repeats: Leighton Pangilinan (21), Rangel Ravelo (19), Dusty Harvard (24), Collin Kuhn (23), Keenyn Walker (21)
From Great Falls: Jimmy Jacquot (23), Martin Medina (22), Kevan Smith (23), Joe De Pinto (23), David Herbek (23), Mark Haddow (24)
From Bristol: Michael Johnson (23)
There are more repeats on the hitting side, but this group also includes most of the notable names on the team. All five listed in this category only spent a small portion of the season with the Intimidators so the label is a bit harsh.
Ravelo came onto the scene strongly last year, but his strong contact rates at Bristol and Kannapolis were ‘empty’ averages. He’ll need to show he can draw some walks and hit for power.
Obviously, Walker is a big prospect on the roster after being the first White Sox draft pick last year. Like Ravelo, he has something to prove. The athletic outfielder was awful upon promotion to Kannapolis and will need to show he’s made the adjustment.
The rest of the lineup is full of guys who showed well in rookie ball. It’s hard to tell who does well and who has value, but Kevan Smith’s dominant stints with both Bristol and Great Falls drew some attention his way. He’s an early favorite for continued success.
Top 25 Prospects: Keenyn Walker (8th), Scott Snodgress (19th), Kevan Smith (22nd)
Sleeper: Jefferson Olacio