What to look for in the offseason

via Intimidators

The White Sox minor league affiliates have all finished their 2014 seasons. Only Great Falls reached the post-season, losing in the first round in the Pinoeer League. The big club is playing out the string on a mediocre season, though there were some encouraging signs for the future. As everyday baseball slides towards the back burner, do not fret. There will be plenty going on between now and late February, when we hear those four glorious words: Pitchers and Catchers Report.

Here is a quick overview of some of the interesting stuff you’ll be seeing, and we’ll be writing about, in the next five months…

Fall Instructs

A big portion of the minor leaguers in the Sox system are either just arriving in, or soon headed for, Arizona to participate in the fall instructional league. As the name suggests, players spend some weeks getting deeper coaching attention, and just plain getting work in. For some who missed time due to injury or signed mid-season, these are valuable reps.  For others who may have struggled during the season, this is an opportunity to fix problems.

There is no officially published list of who is participating, though it is typically a significant percentage of the organization’s prospects. As we get occasional reports from camp, we’ll pass along the information via Twitter or other channels.

Podcasts

After a brief hiatus, we’re recording another podcast! Our first few earlier this season were pretty popular, so we want to get things started again. We’re recording on September 17th, to release shortly after. Discussion topics will include a deep look at the Mid-season Top Prospects list, a look at some trends the past few months, and a preview of the Arizona Fall League. We’ll post here, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, when the podcast is up and available. You can download previous editions by searching FutureSox on iTunes, or simply following this link.

Arizona Fall League

Each fall, MLB teams send a handful of prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League. Teams choose players for the league for a combination of reasons. Some are sent because they missed time during the season (usually due to injury) and need more competitive reps. Others are sent because they are on the fringe, and decisions need to be made about 40 man roster slots, future assignments, and likelihood of success. The higher level of competition in the AFL provides a good evaluation. Yet others are there to be showcased, and may be trade bait.

This year the White Sox have an unusually strong group prospect-wise, as we previewed a few weeks ago. One change since then: Rangel Ravelo has elected to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic instead of going to Arizona, and he’s been replaced by infielder Nick Basto. AFL play starts October 7th and runs through the Championship game on November 15th.

Winter Leagues

Speaking of the winter leagues, each year a number of minor leaguers (and sometimes a few major leaguers) from the Sox organization play in one of the winter leagues. The club has players every year in the Dominican, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican leagues, and some years in the Mexican and/or Australian leagues as well. While the rosters won’t be official until play opens, some reports are trickling in, including Ravelo, Dan Black, Robinson Leyer, Jose Bautista and Jose Brito all headed to the DR.

When all the rosters are posted and play begins, we’ll post an article with a list of who is playing where, and links to the league scoreboards. We’ll also publish a recap when those leagues complete play. The Caribbean Leagues start play in mid-October, and finish up around the end of the year.

Rule V Draft

Last year, the team took many by surprise with how active they were during the Rule V draft. Looking to acquire talent left exposed by other clubs, the Sox drafted three players last December including Adrian Nieto (they also lost a prospect). Of course the draft works both ways, and the White Sox will need to make some tough decision about who they protect on their 40 man roster. The Rule V draft is in early December.

Offseason Top Prospects List

Our next twice-annual list of Top White Sox Prospects, always one of our most popular pieces, will be published in January.  As the “re-tooling” continues it’s likely there will be some prospects acquired or traded, so stay tuned for that.  We will also publish our annual “Next Wave” article, looking at 20-30 prospects that didn’t make the Top 25 cut, but who are still worth keeping an eye on.

The Rest

Beyond the known events, there will undoubtedly be news related to trades, waiver claims and assorted other shake-ups that we will report on. We’re also planning some fun feature and analysis pieces to help stave off the winter chill. We’ve got you covered.

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