Fall/Winter League Update: Engel and Leyer named Fall Stars

The Major League Baseball season is officially over, but Sox prospects are still honing their skills in fall and winter leagues around the globe. This is the second Fall/Winter League Update installment, you can read the the first here and read the previews for the Arizona Fall League and the Winter Leagues as well.

Arizona Fall League

The biggest White Sox-related story of the AFL has been the performance of outfielder Adam Engel. Engel is a career .266/.344/.389 hitter and has never had an at bat above Advanced A ball, but he’s hitting AFL pitching to the tune of .397/.524/.651 over 18 games (about 80 PA) in the desert. The toolsy outfielder is leading the league in batting average, on-base-percentage and doubles, is second in stolen bases and walks, and third in slugging percentage. Ironically, the biggest knock on Engel entering the AFL was his hit tool, but he seems locked in right now, with 16 BB versus 10 K. I will temper expectations by saying that Engel’s offense is traditionally streaky and this is a small sample size, but this has to be a huge confidence boost.

Engel’s performance is overshadowing, but second baseman Jake Peter (.313/.411/.375, 7 BB, 8 K in ~55 PA) is having a solid campaign as well. Peter has showed off his versatility defensively by playing several different positions, including both corner outfield spots. The other infielders, third baseman Trey Michalczewski (.235/.278/.324, 2 BB, 15 K in ~36 PA) and Nick Delmonico (.150/.212/.283, 3 BB, 16 K in ~65 PA), have struggled to get their bats going (with the former only playing twice a week).

As for the pitchers, reliever Robin Leyer was named to the “Fall Stars” team and recorded the final out of that game. The righty has been throwing a lot of 96-97 MPH fastballs (as he’s wont to do), with mixed results: 8 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Leyer’s heavily fastball-reliant stuff is best maximized in short bursts out of the bullpen, which will be his possible path to the majors. Fellow reliever Peter Tago has been a bit erratic thus far, keeping hitters off his pitches (5 hits allowed in 8.2 IP), but has had control issues (7 BB). Andre Wheeler, who was a in-season addition to the roster for Jeffrey Wendelken (who went over to the US Premier 12 team), has gotten hit around a bit in five 1-inning stints (8 H, 5 ER).

Brandon Brennan, the only White Sox to make a start in the AFL, has a 3.60 ERA over 15 innings with 11 strikeouts. Brennan missed time in 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery and in 2015 with a neck injury, and was only able to make 12 starts in 2015. These innings are critical towards him starting his 2016 off strong.

Caribbean Leagues:

In Venezuela, catcher Omar Narvaez (recently re-signed with the club) has posted a .704 OPS thus far, but only has about 30 plate appearances. Christian Marrero is, predictably, having no trouble with VWL pitching – he’s hitting .354 in 24 games. Shortstop Cleuluis Rondon just started playing this weekend. Right-hander Arcenio Leon is making his case to be re-signed, and so far he’s posted this  line: 13 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 11 K.

In the Dominican, Leury Garcia is hitting quite well: .338/.377/.446, though also 16 K in in about 70 PA. He’s hoping for a role somewhere this spring, as he’s behind Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez in the utility infielder department for the Sox. Michael Ynoa hasn’t gotten into any games yet, though he is with Aguilas.

Jason Coats opened play with Caguas in Puerto Rico and was playing every day (hitting .179 in six games), but he got pulled during his 7th game on November 7th and hasn’t returned – we’re following up to see why that might be. Terance Marin has logged a pair of starts in Mexico, where he’s been hit a bit (15 H in 10 IP) and isn’t missing many bats (3 K) but has managed a 4.50 ERA.

Premier 12:

Two White Sox prospects have been playing for Team USA in the Premier 12 tournament. Outfielder Jacob May, who missed time this year recovering from his concussion, has been batting leadoff for the Americans. In five games for May: 4-for-19, 2 2B, HR, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 SB. Right-hander Jeffrey Wendelken has made a couple relief appearances, striking out 4 in 2.1 innings and allowing a hit and a walk.

***Matt Cassidy contributed to this report

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