Fall/Winter League Update: Engel, Peter, Brennan start strong in AFL

While the temperature is dropping in Chicago and the minor league season is long over, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any baseball going on. There are many White Sox prospects continuing their development around the globe in Fall and Winter Leagues. If you would like a refresher on what prospect went where and our expectations, check out our Arizona Fall League and Winter League Previews.

Let’s take a quick look at how they are doing in the early going…

Arizona Fall League:

Eight White Sox prospects are seeing regular action for the Glendale Desert Dogs in prestigious Arizona Fall League. Center fielder Adam Engel has been on fire through his first nine games, hitting .333/.462/.469 with four steals. Engel’s stats may be unsustainable (he was a .251/.335/.369 hitter in 2015 for Class A Winston-Salem), but is it very encouraging he is showing pop (four doubles), plate discipline (eight walks), and his speed against stronger competition. Additionally, Engel has only struck out three times over his first thirty at bats (with eight walks), which is a big step from striking out in 25% of his at bats with Winston-Salem.

Second basemen Jake Peter‘s stats surged after a 3-4 day on Tuesday (having only played six games, the numbers are still jumping around quite a bit), and he is now hitting .348/.400/.435. We expected Peter to do well in the AFL as a pure contact hitter and strong defender, and thus far he is preforming. Interestingly, Peter has played some third base and outfield, both positions he has barely played before. He does have enough arm strength to be suited for either position and the Sox could be exploring his ability to be a super utility player.

True third baseman Nick Delmonico (.176/.250/.529) is struggling a bit, but has at blasted two home runs. I noted in the AFL Preview that there is hope for Delmonico’s prospect status if he rediscovered his power stroke and it appears the potential is still there. The other hot corner guy, Trey Michalczewski, has played in just three games so far (.231/.286/.222) as a taxi squad player. Here are some tweets from independent prospect analyst Chris Kusiolek on the pair looking at the tools instead of the numbers:

“Trey Michalczewski with above avg bat speed, +raw. Strong; short, efficient to zone; swing can become a little stiff. Rougher hands in field”

“Nicky Delmonico with easy, loose avg bat speed; fluid swing with lots of length. Leaks out the front, + raw. Soft hands, above avg arm at 3B”

Pitching-wise, starter Brandon Brennan has made three impressive outings and the 6’4” right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with seven strikeouts over nine innings of work. Brennan was only able to pitch 58.1 innings during the regular season due to a neck injury, so this work is vital for his development. Per local reports from John Arguello of Appraising Arizona, Brennan has been leaning heavily on his sinking fastball, which has been living in the 92-94 mph range in the AFL (he has been as high as 96 during the season). But his offspeed command is still lacking.

Reliever Robin Leyer has also pitched well statistically, only allowing one run over 4.2 innings. Christopher Crawford of Baseball Prospectus tweeted “Robin Leyer 94-96, everything straight, minus 40 breaking ball”, so apparently he’s still got some work to do. Fellow reliever Peter Tago has struggled a bit in the desert, giving up three runs over four innings thanks in part to five walks. That may or may not be related to him tiring or “working on something”, as Arguello reported his fastball velo in the 90-92 range, as opposed to the more typical 92-96.

The last member of the White Sox contingency in Arizona was reliever J.B. Wendelken, who has been replaced by lefty reliever Andre Wheeler on the roster. Wendelken was shelled in his first appearance, then pitched two perfect innings, but then gave up six runs while only recording one out in his last outing. Wheeler spent 2015 in Winston-Salem, tossing 63 innings and owning a 3.86 ERA.

Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline published a nice overview of the whole crew so far in the AFL (he got some input from our own Kim Contreras at the field), which you can read here. Also, keep an eye on our YouTube channel, as we’re about to upload some new video from Kim, specifically of some of the pitchers. If you subscribe to the channel, you’ll be notified when they go up.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Professional:

Catcher Omar Narvaez, who spent 2015 as the everyday catcher for Winston-Salem, is hitting .333/.333/.500 for Bravos de Margarita over six games. The switch-hitter catcher hit .274/.352/.313 for the Dash in 2015. Minor league journeyman and 1B/OF Christian Marrero, who hit an impressive .282/.390/.431 for the Birmingham Barons, is hitting .286/.344/.321 as a teammate of Narvaez on Bravos de Margarita.

Reliever Arcenio Leon, who appeared in nine games out of the Charlotte Knights bullpen, has a 1.42 ERA over 6.1 innings with Aguilas de Zulia.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicana:

Infielder Leury Garcia, who hit .298/.340/.395 for the Charlotte Knights and thrilled the White Sox with his pitching appearance, is hitting a robust .385/.429/.385 for Gigantes del Cibao.

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