2014 White Sox Arizona Fall League Preview

The White Sox will have seven prospects in the Arizona Fall League, which opens play today. They are SS Tim Anderson, RHP’s Frank Montas and Chris Bassitt, LHP’s Scott Snodgress and Jefferson Olacio, C Kevan Smith and 3B/OF Nick Basto.

The AFL is a prospect showcase made up of mostly advanced-level players from every MLB farm, played each October and November, with teams each sending six to eight players spread over six rosters. Teams choose players for a variety of reasons, including making up for lost time due to injury, showcasing for value, or just wanting to see what they have in a player against tougher competition. As 40 man rosters are being finalized during this period, this adds further intrigue to the performance of certain players in the fall.

The White Sox’ seven entries will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs, who are based out of the Sox-Dodgers’ shared Camelback Ranch facility. Games begin October 7th this year, and run through a November 15th “Championship” game.

Here are a few key notes on each player, and why they are there…

Tim Anderson: The #2 prospect in the White Sox system, Anderson has missed some time this year due to a wrist injury. Raw even discounting that lost time, he needs reps, and he’s the highest profile prospect the team is sending. Anderson was the White Sox representative in the Bowman Scout Hitting Competition this past Saturday, which is a sort of opening act for the AFL.

Frank (Francellis) Montas: This hard-throwing righty missed time this year due to two different knee issues (one in each knee), but he was dominant with Winston-Salem in his short time there and the Sox want him to put on innings. He is also a top ten prospect in the system, and ranked 14th in the Carolina League overall according to Baseball America. The missed time and exposure to high level hitters are key reasons for Montas’ presence on the roster.

Chris Bassitt: Yet another in the injury category, Bassitt was in this league last year too, and he missed most of this season due to a non-baseball related hand injury. So he’s clearly here to get more innings under his belt. His performance last year got the attention of some scouts, though he struggled a bit with control that time around (9 BB in 10 IP). When this tall right-hander throws strikes he tends to be very successful, as we saw in the majors this year.

Scott Snodgress: This lefty was stalled in struggles starting at AA the past year and a half, but has been moved to the bullpen and is showing improved results. With his conversion to the pen, the Sox will want to see if Snodgress looks ready for a possible 2015 major league role. Lefty specialists as a group didn’t fare well for the Sox this year, so Snodgress has a good shot if he looks good in the AFL and at Spring Training 2015.

Jefferson Olacio: Another lefty, this one is 6’7″ and flashes big talent but is quite raw for this assignment. Also converted to the bullpen, Olacio has a lot of potential but will need to maintain his control in the AFL to be successful. Not considered a likely candidate for Chicago quite yet, and not having to be protected on the 40 man roster yet either, the main reason for his being on the roster is about his performance against tougher hitters.

Kevan Smith: The Sox are still desperate for catching talent, and we’ve looked at Smith and that battle in-depth. The Sox think he’s got a good shot at being a major leaguer, and they want him to face some elite talent as a test. Smith is also at a point where he needs to be on the 40 man roster to be protected from the Rule V draft, and as the Sox showed last year with Nieto, there is a risk he gets claimed. This gives the White Sox (and other clubs) a good look at just how ready Smith may be.

Nick Basto: Added to the roster in September when Rangel Ravelo elected to play winter ball (DR) instead. Basto is a bit of a mystery; he struggled mightily his first two pro seasons with the bat and the glove, and was moved off his original shortstop position to 3B and even OF during part of 2014. But his bat woke up a bit in the first half this past season, and he’s still just 20 years old. The White Sox are undoubtedly as curious as we are to see if he’s made some real improvements in skills on both sides of the ball.

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