White Sox Winter Leagues Preview

The regular minor league season may be over, but the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of baseball for White Sox minor leaguers. There are eight prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League showcase, which began play just recently. Other, generally younger prospects have been participating in the Fall Instructs League as well.

Then there are the foreign winter leagues, in the Caribbean and Australia. Each winter, a dozen or more prospects and org players head for warmer climes to play offseason ball. The reasons vary – some are natives of those countries, some missed time during the season and need the reps, and yet others are trying to prove themselves for a job in 2016. Here we take a look at who is playing where, and why in the four Caribbean leagues and down under (in order of when each league opens play).

One note: This is a listing of players on rosters, and who have played so far. Sometimes players are on rosters but end up not actually playing, or don’t play until later in the season due to restrictions from the White Sox. Yet others may be added later.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Professional

There are ten White Sox minor leaguer players and two coaches on rosters in Venezuela, whose league opened play on October 9th…

There are some true prospects on this list – more so than usually seen in this league for the White Sox. Shortstop Cleuluis Rondon was once ranked as high as 15th best prospect in the organization (due mostly to his fantastic defensive work), but his complete inability to hit repeating A+ this year sees him falling down the ladder. Catcher Omar Narvaez has lived just outside our Top 30 for a while now thanks to good defense and strong contact and OBP skills, but he didn’t play quite full time this year and could use the reps. Both are natives of Maracay, VZ.

Then there are the youngsters, some of whom are true prospects. Jose Colina was signed as a 16-year old in 2014 for $450,000, one of the biggest signings the White Sox made that year. Right-hander Edinxon Arias signed for $350,000 the same year. Yolberth Gideon (19 years old) and Carlos Diaz (21) are also DSL players from this past season. All four are Venezuelan natives.

The final group of players are the older minor league veterans looking to strut their stuff for scouts, and stay sharp while searching for a job into 2016. Brad Penny and Christian Marrero are minor league free agents with something to prove. Onelki Garcia and Arcenio Leon both were in the picture for potential bullpen roles at times this year.

There is a coach here worth noting as well. Julio Vinas has managed the AA Birmingham Barons the last three years, is bilingual, well-liked by the organization and is a potential candidate for the Bench Coach job with the White Sox. Also from the Barons, hitting coach Jamie Dismuke came to the Sox org from Atlanta’s minor leagues this past year.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico

The White Sox rarely see their players in winter ball in Mexico, but there is one there this year. Right-hander Terance Marin, who spent his early 2015 season playing in the summer version of the Mexican League, will pitch south of the border again this winter. Marin had quite a year, emerging as a potential fringe prospect. He’s here as an audition for a 2016 job state-side. The Mexican Pacific League opened play on October 10th, though Marin has said he’ll get down there around the end of this month.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicana

In the past, the White Sox sent more players to the DWL than any other winter league. But this year that isn’t the case, as only two White Sox prospects are on active rosters, though another three players were drafted for teams in the Dominican, which started play on October 15th.

Far and away the most interesting prospect here is Michael Ynoa, who will be playing for Aguilas Cibaenas. Ynoa came over with Jeff Samardzija in the trade last offseason with Oakland. The formerly elite prospect missed some time this year due to minor injuries, further adding to his extensive history of health issues. He needs the reps, and there are photos out there of him in pre-season camp with Aguilas, so look for him to get some playing time.

Utility infielder and occasional pitcher Leury Garcia is on the roster for Gigantes del Cibao. Recent White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi, who is a free agent, is with Tigres del Licey.

Three White Sox prospects were drafted by DWL clubs, but aren’t yet on the team’s official roster. They may elect not to play, or could start later do give them some rest (especially the pitchers). RHP Kelvis Valerio was drafted in the 15th round by Aguilas, fellow righty Yelmison Peralta in the 19th by Escogido, and outfielder Louis Silverio in the 19th by Gigantes. Peralta also threw in Fall Instructs, so he’s likely limited. Silverio is Dominican-born but grew up in Florida, and was the 33rd round pick for the Sox in 2014. He’s been a backup outfielder thus far.

Australian Baseball League

Opens October 23rd – no White Sox playing down under this year.

Liga de Beisbol Professional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico)

Puerto Rico is the last to start, on the 30th of October. There is just one Sox minor leaguer playing there this year, but he’s a ranked one – outfielder Jason Coats. Given his quick ascent and solid year this season in Charlotte it’s a little surprising he’s opting for winter ball, but he’s a guy worth tracking. Coats is on the roster for Criollos de Caguas.

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