White Sox Prospect Hot List, 8/29

The White Sox Prospect Hot List is back, to break down another two weeks of game action. Most of the hot hands in recent weeks have been with the lower level teams – not coincidental to the fact that the two rookie teams are in a playoff hunt and Kannapolis is already in. Let’s dig in from top to bottom as usual.

Charlotte Knights

The Knights have gone 8-7 in the past two weeks, but it’s been such a team effort that few players on the AAA squad have posted dominant numbers individually in that span. On the hitting side, the one that does stand out is first baseman Danny Hayes, whose .289/.408/.579 line has paired nicely with an 8:10 BB:K ratio in 49 PA over that span. As a 26-year old first baseman in AAA who struggled to open the year, his recent hot streak is a welcome development and it’s not impossible he gets a September look with the White Sox (especially if Nick Delmonico‘s injury goes on for a long stretch).

On the pitching side, flame-throwing phenom Michael Kopech was promoted to AAA and has looked darn good doing it. In his two starts at the level, the 21 year old has posted the following core numbers in two starts: 10 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 10 K. His innings are ramping down by design as he’s well over his previous career high in innings pitched, but this brief look in the International League is a nice end cap to a season that can only be seen as a big success for the top rated pitcher in the system.

Birmingham Barons

A pair of the highest ranked position player prospects in the system have been hitting well for the Barons after some struggles. Eloy Jimenez (2nd on the most recent FS30) posted a .960 OPS in his last 14 contests, including three long balls, as he quickly adjusts to the Southern League. Catcher Zack Collins got some side-eyes from some upon his promotion to AA given his struggles with his batting average with the Dash, but in the past two weeks he’s hit .304/.500/.609 with a strong 9:7 BB:K ratio in 32 trips to the plate. Looks like he was ready after all.

Speaking of pitchers making level debuts, Alec Hansen continued his rapid ascension with a bump up to AA and has raised his prospect stock in the process. Across the two levels, in three starts he’s struck out 27 batters to nine walks in 17 frames, with a 3.18 ERA. He threw five scoreless innings in his AA debut last night before things go away from him about in the 6th, so he’s really been even better than the numbers indicate.

Winston-Salem Dash

The Dash haven’t been hitting a ton as a unit since the loss of some key prospects to promotions, but not all their bats have been cold. Seby Zavala just keeps hitting, posting an .862 OPS, and his walks are trending up (8 in 52 PA) as he loses lineup protection and pitchers work around him. Jack of all trades Louis Silverio has made the most of his playing time lately, hitting .354 with six extra base hits in 13 games. He also posted the rare lower OBP (.347) than AVG during that stretch, with no walks.

The pitching side didn’t have many standouts either. Zach Thompson seems to be taking to his new reliever role well, hurling 8 innings and allowing only a pair of earned runs.

Kannapolis Intimidators

The Intimidators are playoff-bound, and there are a few bats who’ve heated up recently and will need to step up in the postseason. Outfielder Luis Gonzalez, the team’s third round pick this past June, has improved from a slow start in A-ball to post a .321/.419/.472 triple-slash line in his last 13 games. Fellow 2017 draftee Evan Skoug (7th round, over-slot) has been splitting time so he only played in seven games in the covered period, but his two home runs and two triples giv him a .652 SLG. Zach Remillard, who has been moved around the field with Jake Burger taking over at third base, has hit .304 with a pair of homers.

Two starters in the Kanny rotation have been getting the job done. Luis Martinez has experienced his share of ups and downs, but it’s been up lately, putting up 2.37 ERA and a nifty 20:3 K:BB ratio in three starts. Highly ranked pitching prospect Dylan Cease has been going short innings but has been effective. His 3.31 ERA in 3 starts is good, but the 22 K’s in 16.1 innings are even better. Reliever Danny Dopico has put up similarly big strikeout numbers: 11 of them in 6.2 IP, during which he has not allowed a run or even a hit.

Great Falls Voyagers

The Voyagers are on a roll, sitting pretty with a three game lead in first place and looking to make the playoffs. Not surprising then that there are plenty of big performances pushing them along.

Justin Yurchak has been a beast recently. The 12th round pick (with an overslot bonus) has torched the Pioneer League with a laughable .568 average, .660 OBP, four home runs, seven doubles, and 10 walks to just a single strikeout in 48 trips to the plate. The 20-year-old would probably be Kannapolis-bound if not for the presence of Burger and Gavin Sheets blocking him.

He’s not alone in slugging up a storm. Anthony Villa continues to show he’s too much for the PIO, as his 1.240 OPS and dead-even K:BB ratio the past couple weeks shows. Tracy Hadley and Nolan Brown, a pair of UDFA pickups signed just after the draft, have been better than placeholders with their .965 and .904 OPS’s respectively.

On the pitching side, yet another undrafted free agent has helped guide the team in a tough environment for pitchers. 23-year-old Kyle Von Ruden has not only posted a 1.80 ERA over the last two weeks, he’s struck out 15 without a single walk in those starts. The staff has been further helped by the efforts of three relievers. 2017 11th rounder Will Kincanon has struck out seven batters in seven innings without allowing a walk either. 17th rounder Blake Battenfield has struck out a whopping 13 against 1 walk in his last four outings, and lefty Ryan Boelter (33rd round in 2016) has whiffed nine in seven scoreless innings.

AZL White Sox

The Arizona League club is tied for the best record in the entire AZL, along with their division-mate Dodgers. 28th round pick Laz Rivera has been played beyond expectations, putting up a huge .405/.479/.738 line with nine extra base hits in just 48 plate appearances while playing a mix of shortstop and second base. Lenyn Sosa’s .290/.333/.419 line might seem to be in the good-but-not-great category, until you realize he’s just 17 years old with no prior professional experience. He’s also struck out just five times in 33 PA since our last hot prospects report, and just 21 times in 160 PA total in 2017. He’s a guy to watch in the middle infield.

Adding to the UDFA theme started in Great Falls, righty Zach Lewis has been a stalwart in the AZL rotation. In his last three starts, he’s managed a 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and struck out 15 against just 3 walks in 16.2 innings. Fellow righty Vince Arobio, drafted in June in the 24th round, has been an effective bullpen hurler in three relief appearances: 8 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.

DSL White Sox

Stats in the DSL are a dicey proposition, but let’s highlight a couple guys anyway. 18-year-old second baseman Bryant Nova has swung a hot bat recently, hitting .364 while whiffing only 5 times in 10 games. Right-hander Yordi Rosario (also 18) has been putting up good numbers all year in his second DSL campaign, but his last two starts stand out: 11 IP. 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.

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