As we enter the month of May, the White Sox farm system seems to be heating up alongside the weather. There was a plethora of names in contention for the Hot List this time around. A number of players had overall poor Aprils, but have only begun heating up in the past week or two, and you will see that theme a number of times in this article.
Fresh off an other-worldly performance in the Arizona Fall League that led to him winning the MVP honors, Adam Engel started the 2016 season in a prolonged slump that eventually led to a demotion from Birmingham to Winston-Salem. It appears he is starting 2017 similarly to 2016, as his batting average on April 26th was a meager .098. However, Adam has rebounded this past week by hitting .381/.435/.667. Engel is traditionally a streaky hitter, so this game of hot-and-cold is nothing new to the speedy center fielder. Hopefully he will be able to maintain some consistency and perhaps earn that wide open CF spot in Chicago at some point this season.
Reynaldo Lopez had his best start of the season for the Knights on Sunday, striking out six while only allowing one run on three hits and a walk over six innings.
Charlotte closer Zack Burdi had a perfect week (literally), tossing three shutout innings over two appearances with four strikeouts and no hits or walks allowed.
Yoan Moncada ended the month of April strong, hitting .346/.393/.462 with two stolen bases over his last six contests.
Michael Kopech had his longest (and arguably best) start of the season last Tuesday when he pitched six shutout innings of one-hit ball, striking out eight and walking four for his first win of the year. Kopech has racked up 28 strikeouts and only allowing 9 hits over his 18 innings, proving his stuff is as good as advertised. However, his command still has a ways to go as he as walked 14 batters as well.
Many were surprised when the White Sox assigned Eddy Alvarez to Birmingham instead of Charlotte and the switch-hitting SS started the year in a deep funk at the plate. However, Alvarez has come on strong recently and is currently riding a seven game hitting streak (11-for-27 plus four walks), including three consecutive multi-hit games.
Hunter Jones has been known more for his spectacular center field defense (see below), but his bat made some noise this past week and he capped his great week off by going 2-4 with a home run and a stolen base in Monday’s game.
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) May 1, 2017
Of all the hitters I am highlighting in this piece, nobody is as hot as outfielder and first baseman Louis Silverio. The former 33rd round pick batted .600 over four games this past week, including a 4-4 game on Wednesday where he drove in seven runs. Silverio is now hitting .329/.375/.438 on the season and has added his name to the list of impressive outfield prospects the White Sox have assembled in the lower levels.
Dash starter Tanner Banks has had an eye-opening start to the year and the 25 year-old may be due for a promotion soon. Banks tossed seven innings of one-run ball on Friday to lower his season ERA to 1.36. Banks has only allowed 20 hits over 33 innings and has struck out 32 batters this year.
Ryan Riga pitched four shutout innings over two appearances this past week to lower his ERA to a minuscule 0.73. Riga struggled mightily last season but has been lights-out this year, striking out 15 batters and not issuing a walk over his first 12.1 innings at the same level.
First Mitch Roman, then Tyler Sullivan last week, now it is 3B Grant Massey‘s turn to catch fire for the Intimidators. Massey hit .421/.421/.526 this past week and raised his season slash line to an impressive .328/.354/.377. The 2015 26th rounder doesn’t have a lot of pop (1 career HR), but has consistently made hard contact this year.
Can I just put the whole Kannapolis rotation in here? Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Bernardo Flores, Jimmy Lambert, and Yosmer Solorzano all had great starts this past week for the Intimidators. Hansen took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of his start and ended up departing with one hit, one walk, and no earned runs allowed. Dunning pitched another six shutout innings on Wednesday that earned him a promotion to Winston-Salem. With Dunning’s departure, Jimmy Lambert now sports the lowest ERA (2.00) in the rotation, and has only allowed three earned runs over his last three starts. Bernardo Flores had perhaps the best start of them all though; the former USC Trojan only allowed two hits, one walk, and one run over eight innings while striking out six batters on Thursday.
He didn’t have a particularly busy week, but Kanny closer Mike Morrison has been absolutely dominant this season. Morrison has allowed just 3 hits and 1 walk over 11 shutout innings while striking out 17 batters.
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