In this edition of the White Sox Minor League News and Notes, the White Sox win the Luis Robert sweepstakes, top prospect Yoan Moncada heads to the disabled list and a brief look at the Charlotte Knights and whether they can make a run at the International League pennant. In addition, we will get you caught up on the happenings, news, notes and transactions regarding the White Sox minor leaguers and affiliates.
Here Come the Knights?
Do the Knights have what it takes to make a run at the International League’s Governor’s Cup? Nearly a third of the way into the 2017 season, the Knights haven’t quite lived up to the hype that earned them the pre-season title of Most Stacked Minor League Roster by MLB.com.
After beginning the season with four straight home victories, the Knights preceded to drop the next seven games on the road. But they have played over .500 since the uneven start, despite slow starts by key individuals, some minor injuries and several members of the team spending time in Chicago due to a rash of injuries at the big league level.
Moncada, currently on the disabled list with a some minor thumb discomfort, has justified his ranking as the top prospect in all of baseball as he has been one of the IL’s top offensive performers. Adam Engel has overcome an incredibly slow start (.098 in the team’s first 14 games, .274 with 6 home runs since) to make up for the lost offense of C Kevan Smith (.377 in 14 games) and OF Willy Garcia (.294, four home runs in 18 games) due to their promotions to Chicago.
OF Jacob May struggled in his first month in the big leagues (.056 in 36 ABs), but has regained his hitting stroke since his return to Charlotte (.324, hits in 16 of 17 games). Veteran OF Ryan Raburn has also overcome a slow start (.231 in April, .325 in May) to become a steady bat in the middle of the lineup, while Nicky Delmonico (.270, 5 HRs, 18 XBH) and Danny Hayes (8 HRs, 27 RBI) have provided the power along with Moncada.
On the mound, RHPs Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer (combined 10-3 record) have been stellar taking the ball every fifth day, while reliever Zack Burdi (5 saves, 27 Ks in 17 2/3 innings) has been equally as impressive out of the bullpen. Highly touted Lucas Giolito has struggled thus far (1-5, 6.41 ERA).
With so much talent up and down the roster and the White Sox preaching patience in regards to promoting prospects to the big leagues, this team has plenty of time to make a big run in the IL league. As our own Julie Brady wrote, Charlotte has the talent to replicate the success of the 1999 Charlotte squad that won the Governor’s Cup title.
- RHP Jake Dunning assigned to Charlotte from Birmingham
- Disabled 2B Moncada
- Cody Asche was officially added to the roster after accepting assignment
- Activated LHP Jace Fry from the disabled list
- 2B Ronald Bueno assigned to Birmingham from Winston-Salem
- 1B Telvin Nash assigned to Birmingham from Winston-Salem
- 1B Keon Barnum assigned to Winston-Salem from Birmingham
- 3B Trey Michalczewski assigned to Winston-Salem from Birmingham
- RHP Luis Martinez assigned to Kannapolis from Winston-Salem
- Traded LHP Alex Katz to the Orioles in exchange for International Bonus Slots for about $750k, to help offset the penalty costs of signing Robert.
For the Record
- Charlotte moved into second place in the International League South (22-20 overall, 6 games out of first) after a 4-3 week that saw them take 2 of 3 from first-place Durham and splitting a four-game series with Norfolk. Lopez continued his hot start, picking up his fifth win of the season over Durham and then pitched six scoreless innings in a no-decision. After an off day, the Knights open up a seven-game homestand hosting Syracuse (three games) and Buffalo (four games).
- Birmingham remains in last place in the Southern League North (15-29 overall, 10 games out) after a 3-4 week. RHP Michael Kopech continues to impress with a victory that included only one earned run and eight strikeouts over seven innings. The Barons finish their homestand with one more game versus Tennessee before a five-game road trip to Mobile. After disappointing starts to their seasons, former top prospects Barnum and Michalczewski were demoted to Winston-Salem, with Nash and Bueno taking their roster spots following strong starts for the Dash.
- Winston-Salem also remains in last place in the Carolina League Southern Division (14-30 overall, 13 games out) following a 2-5 week at home. LHP Tanner Banks was left with two no-decisions for the week despite only allowing one run over 14 innings in two starts. The Dash finish their series with Carolina, before heading to Myrtle Beach for a three-game road trip that is followed by an eight-game homestand that begins with four games versus Salem.
- Kannapolis remain in fourth-place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division (22-19 overall), but are only 2.5 games behind league-leaders Greensboro and Hagerstown following a 3-4 week. The Intimidators finish their homestand with three games against Greenville before heading to Greensboro for four on the road.
In Case You Missed It
- Though it has not yet been confirmed by the White Sox, many news outlets are reporting that Cuban OF Robert has agreed to sign with the White Sox for between $25 and $30 million. While Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports originally broke the story, our own James Fox takes a closer look at what the White Sox might be getting in the 19-year-old Robert. The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan also chimes in on the talent the White Sox have amassed by adding Robert to the mix.
- A sore thumb has landed Moncada on the disabled list at Charlotte.
- Outfielder Jameson Fisher returned to play after missing about 5 games, though he never went on the disabled list. He had fouled a ball off his shin/ankle and needed some time for the contusions to heal.
- Our writers hit the road recently to give us up close and personal opinions and information on the White Sox affiliates in North Carolina including:
- Q&A with six Charlotte Knights including pitching coach Steve McCatty, OF Engel, Giolito, Fulmer, Tyler Danish and Hayes.
- Analysis on five Kannapolis hitting prospects including Micker Adolfo, Jameson Fisher, Joel Booker, Mitch Roman and Zach Remillard.
- Q&A with 4 pitchers and two coaches on the Intimidators including manager Justin Jirschele, pitching coach Matt Zaleski, RHP Alec Hansen, RHP Bernardo Flores, RHP Jimmy Lambert and RHP Mike Morrison.
- Analysis on six Kannapolis pitchers including Flores, Lambert, Morrison, Chris Comito, Danny Dopico and Kevin Escorcia.
- The Chicago Tribune’s Colleen Kane reported quite a bit on Charlotte this past week, including:
- Catching up with former Sox killer Ryan Raburn as he waits for another opportunity in the big leagues.
- Checking in on the progress of stud reliever Zack Burdi as he waits for his shot to play for his hometown team
- Gives us updates on top pitching prospects Fulmer, Giolito and Lopez and how they hope to be part of the White Sox rotation in the near future.
- How young catchers Omar Narvaez and Smith having taken the reigns with Geovany Soto out due to injury.
- The early season pitching of Danish is attracting attention to himself despite being surrounded by highly touted teammates.
- MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on the White Sox not rushing their top prospects despite additions to the big league roster.
- CSN Chicago will be airing specials titled ‘White Sox Cornerstones’ will air back-to-back on Monday, May 22 at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on CSN. The first episode will focus on Moncada and the Knights, while the second episode will feature Birmingham and Winston-Salem and top prospects Kopech and C Zack Collins.
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