Rienzo, 26, is coming off a rough ML season that saw him post a 1.77 WHIP, 6.82 ERA (5.73 FIP), and a 1.55 SO/W ratio in 64.2 IP. Rienzo began the 2014 season, year eight of his professional baseball career (all with the White Sox), as a starter, but switched to a relief role later on in the season. He struggled mightily in both capacities. Rienzo was unable to miss bats this past season, allowing 11.4 H/9 and 1.7 HR/9. He is due, however, for better luck as he had a BABIP of .332 in 2014. Fangraphs’ streamer projects his 2015 BABIP at .299. For Rienzo, the first Brazilian-born pitcher in major league history, a move to spacious Marlins Park –– the fifth friendliest homerun park factor for ML stadiums –– might help him. Close to every fifth fly ball he has allowed in his big league career has left the yard (career 17.4 HR/FB). While the White Sox likely viewed him as a sunken project, he could very well carve out a long-relief, low-leverage role with the Marlins, or serve as emergency starting pitching depth, as their starting rotation is set.
Jennings, 27, is coming off a somewhat fluky season. At face value, the left-handed reliever had a sparkling 2014 season. He posted a 1.34 ERA and an 8.48 K/9 over 47 appearances in 40.1 IP. His peripherals, however, suggest otherwise. Jennings is, essentially, a replacement level left-handed reliever. His fWAR in 2014 was 0.1, posting a 3.71 xFIP. His xFIP suggests that, given a league average HR/FB ratio of around 10%, he is due for a spike in both ERA and FIP. Also, Jennings’ 88.2 LOB% (left-on-base percentage) is unsustainable. Fangraphs’ steamer projects his 2015 ERA/FIP line to fall around 3.67/3.58. Moreover, Jennings’ ERA this past season is also influenced by his pitching in exclusively low-leverage situations –– 31IP of his total 40.1IP came in low leverage situations as defined by Fangraphs. As far as his pitching arsenal is concerned, Jennings features a fastball/slider combo. According to PITCHf/x, his 2014 average fastball velocity was 92.5 MPH, while the slider came in at 83.4 MPH. Of pertinence is his lack of a platoon split. One would figure that he would excel as a LOOGY (left-handed-one-out-guy) role, but he actually has no platoon split. In fact, in 2014, left-handed batters (88 total batters faced) posted a .335 wOBA (.320 considered league average) against Jennings, whereas right-handed batters (94 total batters faced) posted a .317 wOBA. Jennings, appears, like Rienzo, destined for low-leverage situations. The White Sox, however, have a penchant for developing pitchers and it will be interesting to see if Don Cooper will look to add, say, a cutter to Jennings’ fastball/slider combo. With Scott Snodgress now a member of the Los Angeles Angels organization, Jennings “takes his place” as a left-handed reliever who, unlike Snodgress, figures to aptly contribute to the 2015 White Sox.
RULE V DRAFT
The Rule V draft saw the White Sox pass on its MLB phase pick (#6 overall), ultimately selecting RHP Peter Tago (from the Colorado Rockies) in the AAA portion of the draft. If the White Sox had selected someone in the MLB portion of the first round, that player would have to be immediately placed on the active 25-man roster. In the AAA portion of the draft, players can be kept in the minor leagues without such conditions. Given the direction of this win-now offseason, the White Sox currently do not have the opportunity to hide a player for the majority of the season, as they did with last year’s first round MLB Rule V draft pick, Adrian Nieto.
The White Sox did lose two players to the Rule V draft. In the AAA portion of the draft, the Los Angeles Angels selected infielder Chris Curley. Two picks later, the Cincinnati Reds selected RHP Euclides Leyer.
Curley, 27, was the 2013 CL MVP for the Winston-Salem Dash. 2.2 years older than the average position player in 2013 A+ ball, Curley posted an .821 OPS in 604 PAs with 24 HRs and 92 RBIs. In 2014, he was promoted to AA Birmingham where he posted a less impressive –– given his age and stats –– .721 OPS in 546 PAs with only 5 HRs and 53 RBIs. Curley has played the majority of his professional career at 3B and SS. Ultimately, the 27-year-old figures to be organization depth for the Angels.
Leyer, 23, pitched for the Winston-Salem Dash last season. In 55.2IP, appearing exclusively as a reliever in 34 games, Leyer posted a 1.509 WHIP, with a 1.72 SO/W ratio. His ERA was an unremarkable 4.53, allowing 8.9 H/9. Nathaniel Stoltz of Fangraphs cites his fastball velocity as touching 95MPH, sitting more consistently in the 91-94 MPH range. “Leyer can reach 95 [MPH] with a lot of run, plus power CB, but very long slingshot arm action. Very inconsistent but still young, has upside” (via Twitter).
Peter Tago, 22, is a former first round (47th overall) pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 2010 MLB draft. His MiLB career statistics have been, well, unsightly thus far. For his MiLB career, in 289.2 IP, Tago has walked more batters than he has struck out (6.4 BB/9 to 5.8 SO/9) and has as 6.52 ERA. This past 2014 season, the Rockies gave up on him as a starter –– converting to him full time as a reliever, making 43 appearances for A+ Modesto. In 60 IP, he posted a 1.85 WHIP and a 1.02 SO/W ratio. This is an extreme project for the White Sox organization. John Manuel of Baseball America writes on Twitter: “Peter Tago has been a huge disappointment as a pro; SoCal prep who had a lot of heat out of high school.” It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the organization can do with Tago.
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