After each month of the minor league season, we name one position player and one pitcher as players of the month on the White Sox farm. Generally, players have to see full-time innings or plate appearances (~50 PA or 10 IP minimum), and still be a prospect (not reached MLB rookie status) to qualify. This is a reflection of the best performances by eligible players, which is not necessarily the same as overall prospect stock (though factors like age for level do come into play, just as they do in prospect evaluation).
NOTE: For June, we are not considering rookie league players (Great Falls, AZL) to be eligible, as they have played only a partial month. They will be eligible next month.
Starting pitching was a dominant force in June, with five different starters booking sub-2 ERA’s, but one stood out pretty clearly. On the hitting side things were less clear, with three players all making nearly equal cases to take home the award. Now let’s look at who won, as well as a handful of other prospects who also had big months in June…
Note: Stats presented are for June only, unless otherwise noted…
HITTER OF THE MONTH: Danny Mendick, INF, Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Stats: .324/.393/.514 (.906 OPS), 5 2B, 3 HR, 9:7 BB:K, 5/6 SB/ATT in 85 PA (24 G)
Some of you may be saying, “wait, who?” A 22nd round pick in 2015, Mendick spent that year in the AZL and 2016 as a nearly farm-wide utility man, changing rosters some 15 times last year and playing all three skill infield positions. Here in 2017, he is that rare farmhand who went from being an org soldier to a full time player. And more than that, he’s been playing very well in that role. Winston-Salem manager Willie Harris told our Rob Young that Mendick has opened some eyes in the organization and put himself on the map.
In June, he got on base at a nearly .400 clip, walked more than he struck out, and used his speed as a weapon on the basepaths. And this hasn’t just been a short-term thing either, as he’s posted an .881 OPS so far on the full season. That offensive performance is on top of the fact that his strength is actually on defense, where he’s an above average defender at second base and can handle shortstop and third base as well. The way he’s tracking, the 23-year old could see AA before the year is out. Danny Mendick on the prospect radar now.
Micker Adolfo, OF (A): .267/.339/.584 (.923 OPS), 8 2B, 8 HR, 9:34 BB:K in 112 PA (26 G)
Seby Zavala, C (A, A+): .288/.358/.575 (.933 OPS), 6 2B, 5 HR, 5:21 BB:K in 83 PA (21 G)
Rymer Liriano, OF (AAA): .302/.388/.465 (.853 OPS), 5 2B, 3 HR, 9:22 BB:K in 99 PA (24 G)
Eddy Alvarez, SS (AA): .272/.388/.407 (.795 OPS), 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 15:16 BB:K, 3/4 SB/ATT in 98 PA (25 G)
June verse, same as the May verse, with Seby Zavala and Micker Adolfo continuing their assault on A-ball pitching. Both could have made a case to win this award as well (Zavala won in May, Adolfo was an honorable mention then too). Adolfo is still striking out more than you want to see, but his power showed up in a huge way with eight big flies in just 26 games. Zavala did plenty of damage too, and got a much-deserved promotion to Winston-Salem where he’s now splitting catching and DH duties with Zack Collins.
The other two on the just-missed list are in some ways the opposite – players who had been doing poorly, but quietly put together strong June resumes. Liriano was thought to be a possible 4th outfielder in Chicago this year but lost that battle in Arizona and had initially been having a very hard time in Charlotte. He seems to have found his groove. Eddy Alvarez was expected to open the year in Charlotte but ended up back in Birmingham, and while he started there ice cold, he’s been doing well not just in June but since late April (.271 AVG, .367 OBP, 27:37 BB:K since April 29th, 50 games).
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Alec Hansen, RHP, Kannapolis Intimidators (A) and Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Stats: 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, .179 BAA, 4 BB, 30 K in 23 IP (4 starts)
It’s hard to believe, but Alec Hansen has only been in pro baseball for a year. He dominated the rookie leagues in his draft season, did the same in the South Atlantic League to open this year, and now he’s doing it in the Advanced-A Carolina League. Fans and pundits alike were surprised at his sudden improvement in control last year after his collegiate struggles, and some worried it might not stick, but it’s only gotten better in 2017.
In June, Hansen allowed just two earned runs total in his four starts, the last of which came with the Dash after a long-expected promotion. The ultra-tall right-hander continues to strike out far more than a batter an inning, has been very stingy with walks, and isn’t getting hit much despite throwing a lot of strikes (71% on the month, to be exact). If you want a much deeper, scouting-style report on Hansen, you can read it here. Don’t be surprised if you see Hansen’s name on the back end of a few Top 100 MLB prospects lists in July.
Jordan Guerrero (AA): 1.23 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .195 BAA, 4 BB, 26 K in 36.2 IP (5 starts)
Jordan Stephens (AA): 1.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .210 BAA, 8 BB, 19 K in 23.2 IP (4 starts)
Dane Dunning (A+): 1.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .211 BAA, 7 BB, 37 K in 30.2 IP (5 starts)
Jimmy Lambert (A, A+): 1.84 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .264 BAA, 11 BB, 18 K in 29.1 IP (5 starts)
Bernardo Flores (A, A+): 2.15 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .236 BAA, 4 BB, 27 K in 29.1 IP (5 starts)
Jordan Guerrero’s 2017 rebound just keeps getting better. His dominant performance in June would have won him the award in most months (darn that Alec Hansen). We just interviewed Jordan a few days ago – that will be published soon – but suffice for now to say that he’s taken a back-to-basics approach that is working well for him. The other Jordan in the Barons rotation, Mr. Stephens, missed April and May after experiencing some tendonitis and has had no issues being thrown into the Southern League thus far. Who said there is only one Jordan?
Dane Dunning scuffled a little bit on first arriving in High-A, but he’s since gotten right back on track, looking good in every measure over five starts. Bernardo Flores and Jimmy Lambert were among the wave of prospects going from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem in June, and both cruised right through the transition. Lambert continues his bend-don’t-break approach, not missing bats the way some others are but keeping damage limited. Flores on the other hand put up some very nice peripherals and continues his ascent into the list of significant pitching prospects for the White Sox.
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