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. Generally, players have to see full-time innings or plate appearances (50 PA or 10 IP), and still be a prospect (not reached MLB rookie status) to qualify. The states-side rookie league teams (Great Falls, Arizona) are not included, even though there were a number of players on those teams showing very good numbers. The sample sizes are just too small, but they’ll be eligible for July.
Unlike May, there were plenty of strong hitters in June, and it was a tough choice. On the pitching side, one hurler stood out clearly. 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…
HITTER OF THE MONTH: Jake Peter, 2B, Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Stats: .320/.355/.505 (.860 OPS), 10 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6:12 BB:K, 3/3 SB/ATT in 107 PA (26 games)
There were four hitters who all made a good case to win this award, but Jake Peter stood out for a 23-game on base streak from May into June and his current 9-game hitting streak. Peter has reached base in all but one game this past month and gotten a hit in all but two, collecting an impressive 13 extra-base hits including an org-leading 10 doubles in that period. He’s not walking much, but he made contact at a very high rate (11.2% K/PA) and added three swipes in three attempts for good measure.
When he was drafted in 2014, some pundits were surprised the White Sox were trying him as a position player, as he had hit 95 off the mound as a pitcher. But thus far, Peter has shown remarkably consistent feel for the bat, hits line drives, and reports indicate he’s a strong defender at second base. This Creighton product has also played 22 games at shortstop in his first calendar year as a pro, and he may have a utility profile moving forward. He certainly has the arm to play anywhere, and the flexibility could aid him in moving up the ladder quickly (he’s already skipped Low A). Look for Peter to start appearing more regularly on top White Sox prospect lists soon.
Christian Marrero, OF/1B (AA): .313/.414/.542 (.956 OPS), 4 2B, 5 HR, 15:14 BB:K in 99 PA (24 games)
Maiker Feliz, 3B (DSL): .368/.462/.461 (.922 OPS), 1 2B, 3 3B, 12:16 BB:K, 1/2 SB/ATT in 91 PA (20 games)
Ryan Leonards, 3B (A): .347/.407/.453 (.860 OPS), 5 2B, 1 HR, 8:10 BB:K, 2/3 SB/ATT in 87 PA (22 games)
Mason Robbins, OF (A): .348/.355/.483 (.838 OPS), 6 2B, 3 3B, 2:16 BB:K in 93 PA (24 games)
Omar Narvaez, C (A+): .344/.438/.393 (.832 OPS), 3 2B, 10:2 BB:K in 73 PA (19 games)
Christian Marrero had the best overall output from the plate in the system, but the bar to win the award is pretty high for a 28-year old who has been playing AA or higher since 2009. Nevertheless the results were very good as he was among the best in the organization in nearly every hitting category. Maiker Feliz is the polar opposite – a 17-year old playing in the Dominican Summer League. Statistical results from the DSL should be taken with a small mountain of salt, but even at that level his line is impressive for his age, especially the plate discipline numbers. Look for Feliz to be stateside pretty soon.
Ryan Leonards didn’t get an assignment until early May, but here in June he’s getting quite comfortable at the plate for the Intimidators. His high average, low K rate and decent walk rate are all positive signs for the 2014 draftee. Mason Robbins had the highest batting average for state-side qualifiers in the entire system, and hit quite a few gappers. We looked at Robbins in some detail after a live look in May – there’s some potential there for him to be a sleeper prospect. Finally Omar Narvaez, who continues to be the plate discipline king of this farm. He’s got a strong arm and some good defensive skills to go with good feel for the bat, and he gets on base at a high clip. He’s worth monitoring in a system thin on catching depth.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Terance Marin, RHP, Charlotte (AAA): 0.00 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .186 BAA, 1.76 GB/FB, 4 BB, 14 K in 29 IP (5 games, 4 starts)
This pick was pretty easy. Terance Marin arrived in Charlotte in early June for his first look in AAA, and promptly threw 29 innings without giving up a single run, earned or not. It’s just the latest stop in his unique 15-month whirlwind that has thrust the right-hander onto the prospect radar. He didn’t strike out a ton of batters, but his control was superb (1.2 BB/9), he kept hitters below the Mendoza line, and generated gobs of ground balls.
Marin certainly has the stamina to remain a starter, and the revamped stuff makes this seem like more than luck. The 25-year old may be better suited as a reliever in the majors, and he’s probably behind at least Erik Johnson and Chris Beck for a start in Chicago this year. But it appears he is likely to get a look in the majors at some point, maybe as soon as this September (especially with the MLB club essentially out of contention).
Frankie Montas (AA): 1.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .169 BAA, 0.97 GB/FB, 10 BB, 23 K in 25 IP (5 starts – 1 shortened)
Myles Jaye (AA): 1.13 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .202 BAA, 0.84 GB/FB, 11 BB, 23 K in 32 IP (5 starts)
Brian Clark (A+): 1.89 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .188 BAA, 1.65 GB:FB, 8 BB, 22 K in 19 IP (7 games, 3 starts)
Connor Walsh (A): 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .143 BAA, 0.75 GB:FB, 6 BB, 14 K in 10 IP (7 games, all in relief)
The number three prospect in the White Sox system, Frankie Montas had a very strong June as he continues his march to Chicago. The big righty struck out nearly a batter an inning, and a maintained a sub-1 WHIP as a starter. He also hit 100 mph on the radar gun in his Southern League All Star Game appearance and at other times during the month. His rotation partner, Myles Jaye, also had a fantastic June as he seems to have adjusted nicely to AA after struggling there last year. Either or both these starters could see a promotion during the season if a slot opens up in Charlotte.
The White Sox’ 9th round pick in 2014, lefty Brian Clark skipped Kannapolis to go to the Winston-Salem bullpen this year. He seems to now ramping into a starting role and has settled in impressively considering the double-promotion, striking out more than a batter an inning while also forcing hitters to pound the ball into the dirt. Taken in the 12th of the same draft, Connor Walsh has been part of a surprisingly strong Kannapolis relief corps. The scant .143 average against him and 12.6 K/9 rate in June are impressive, and he’s dropped his walk rate from a scary 11.5/9 in May to a more reasonable 5.4/9.
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