White Sox Prospects of the Month - June 2014

After each month of the minor league season, we name one position player and one pitcher as players of the month on the White Sox farm.  June was a huge month for the hitters particularly, with a good dozen prospects who could make a strong case.  Let’s take a look at who we chose, and who the few closest runners up were for each category.

Note: Stats presented are for June only unless otherwise noted.

Via MiLB.com

HITTER OF THE MONTH: Jacob May, OF, Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Stats: .366/.393/.535, 9 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 20/20 SB/ATT, 5:10 BB:K in 111 PA

It isn’t often a player can fail to hit a home run in a month and still win this award, but Jacob May pulled it off.  Hitting a big .366, his 9 doubles and 4 triples helped make up the power gap, and his astonishing 20-for-20 effort in stolen bases in a single month put him over the top.  His contact rate was excellent (9.1% K/PA), and this was a huge turnaround from his dismal April (.136/.231/.210) and mediocre-but-improved May (.257/.297/.371).  The speedy outfielder had an early slump in A ball last year too before going on a tear, so he does seem to adjust quickly and dramatically.  Solidly age-appropriate at 22 in Advanced A ball, Jacob will continue to climb prospect lists if he keeps up these improvements.

Honorable Mentions
Trey Michalczewski (A): .327/.387/.614, 7 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 9:33 BB:K in 111 PA
Jordan Danks (AAA): .347/.409/.683, 10 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 12:24 BB:K in 115 PA
Danny Hayes (A): .329/.435/.539, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14:21 BB:K in 92 PA
Jason Coats (A+): .330/.360/.566, 7 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 6:12 BB:K in 115 PA
Matt Davidson (AAA): .239/.327/.565, 3 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 11:28 BB:K in 105 PA

Any of the five players above could have made a good case to win the award too, making this a very tough call.  Trey Michalczewski had a very nice June even in a vacuum, but this is a 19 year old in full-season ball making it all the more impressive.  His power is starting to show and he’s drawing a few walks, though the K rate is still a bit high.  Jordan Danks may not truly qualify as a “prospect” at this point, but it is hard to overlook a 1.092 OPS including a .400+ OBP and 8 home runs in a month, especially from an above average defensive OF.  He made some hitting adjustments recently that seemed to help him, and he may see Chicago again this year.

Danny Hayes hasn’t shown up on any top prospect lists, but he’s steadily improved throughout this season and had posted an excellent OBP and hit tool along with a little power.  Jason Coats is starting to pop up in discussions of interesting prospects in the system now, and he posted the unusual combination of significant power (6 HR) and an above average contact rate (10.4% K/PA) in June.  He’s still not walking much though.

Matt Davidson, acquired from Arizona this past offseason, makes the list here despite a .239 average.  He’s there because he hit 9 home runs for the month, and has improved significantly from his dreadful start to the season in AAA.  Also worth noting, there were a number of other prospects with big Junes who could also have made this list: Tyler Saladino, Keon Barnum, Tim Anderson and Rangel Ravelo.  If any of those four had put up similar numbers in April or May, they’d have made the list.

Via MiLB.com

PITCHER OF THE MONTH: James Dykstra, RHP, Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Stats: 1.36 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .236 BAA, 1.55 GO/AO, 2 BB, 24 K in 33.0 IP (5 games, all starts)

James Dykstra got attention in his first month by posting whopping ground ball rates, along with good control and decent core numbers.  Now in June his ground ball rate was still good, his control was even better, and his core results were excellent.  We interviewed James earlier this season, and he explained a bit about his approach.  This 23 year old strike-thrower looks like a strong candidate for promotion to Winston-Salem soon, where a slot in the rotation may now be open.

Honorable Mentions
Robinson Leyer (A): 1.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .224 BAA, 7 BB, 22 K in 31 IP (5 games, all starts)
Tony Bucciferro (A+): 2.81 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, .223 BAA, 5.00 GO/AO, 3 BB, 29 K in 32 IP (5 games, all starts)
Frank Montas (A+): 1.69 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .226 BAA, 1.65 GO/AO, 9 BB, 22 K in 32 IP (5 games, all starts)
Terance Marin (A+): 0.50 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, .164 BAA, 4 BB, 15 K in 18 IP (3 games, all starts)

21 year old righty Robinson Leyer, younger brother of Euclides (currently in the Dash bullpen), hadn’t gotten much attention before this year.  But his fastball is reportedly now sitting mid-90’s and even touching the upper 90’s, and since a few tough starts in April he’s been very solid.  Tony Bucciferro is in some ways the opposite – doesn’t throw hard and is relatively old for level (24), but his control is among the best in the league and his ground-out ratio in June was almost comical.  Bucciferro looks like the best candidate for promotion to the Birmingham rotation at this point, with Montas going down with an injury.

Frank Montas was our Pitcher of the Month in May, and his June was going almost as well as his May.  But he’s now down for likely the rest of the season for meniscus surgery on his knee (not the one he had done in the spring, the other one).  He’s still young enough (21) that this shouldn’t be a big problem long-term, and he’s still a key arm in the system.  Terance Marin’s three starts would normally not qualify him for this honor, but he’s a special case worth mentioning.  Not only was he very successful in those three starts, but the back story is interesting.  After two disastrous appearances and his release in April, he picked up a cutter pitching in the independent Frontier League, and has now returned and looks effective.


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