Winter Leagues Review – How White Sox Prospects Performed

The White Sox had 16 minor leaguers play in the islands over the course of the winter. While you spent most of the last few months freezing, these players were honing their craft in balmy climates such as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. So add that to the list of ways your life doesn’t compare to that of a professional athlete. I know it’s quite a list.

Dominican League

The stellar performance of Eloy Jimenez has been one of the more popular topics for White Sox fans this winter. But like multiple viewings of The Last Jedi it never gets old, so here we go. In 19 games in his native country, the White Sox wunderkind slashed .368/.443/.676 for a whopping 1.120 OPS. Having logged enough at-bats this season, the White Sox shut him down as he had little to prove. Jimenez is expected to start at Double-A Birmingham and given that pitching in the Dominican league is considered to be analagous to the Southern League overall, he’s not expected to stay there long. Some guess he’ll be in Chicago later this summer, perhaps July or August.

He was joined in the Dominican League by Triple-A catcher Yermin Mercedes. The 5’11”, 175-pound right-handed thrower posted some solid numbers himself with a slash line of .301/.374/.398. While his power was lacking his ability to get on base was evident. He collected 28 hits and 11 walks in 30 games. Mercedes is likely also ticketed for the Barons.

Willy Garcia played 44 games in the majors in 2017 before his season ended in a nasty collision with Yoan Moncada, so it’s natural he’d want to get some more playing time in hopes of breaking camp with the big league club in 2018. In 25 games he slashed .287/.326/.345 with 18 strikeouts and only 5 walks. With the exception of slugging percentage, these numbers are better than what he posted in 119 plate appearances at the MLB level.

Juan Minaya spent parts of the last two seasons on the South side. He logged 12 innings pitched in 13 games in the Dominican this winter. The 6’4″ right-hander struck out 12 while walking four, allowing 11 hits and five earned runs for an ERA of 3.75 and a batting average against of .250.

Venezuelan League

Luis Alexander Basabe made some news this offseason when he was added to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft despite his age (20) and the fact that he had never played above the High-A level. The “third” player in the Sale deal last December, Basabe has scout-salivating potential that did not manifest often on the field in 2017. The native Venezuelan continued that trend this winter managing only three hits in 19 plate appearances with five strikeouts. Despite the relative lack of production his jaw-dropping combination of speed and power make him a player to watch in the White Sox stacked farm system. And 19 late appearances is the definition of a small sample size.

Utility player Bryant Flete came to the White Sox in the blockbuster Jose Quintana deal played extensively this winter. In 109 plate appearances, he batted .239 with a .352 on-base percentage and slugged .326. With the exception of OBP, his numbers came in lower than his High-A 2017 campaign with both the Cubs and Sox minor league affiliates.

Newly acquired outfielder and first baseman Daniel Palka had 54 at-bats slashing .278/.350/.426 with a home run and 6 RBI. The former Twins prospect is expected to compete for a spot on the major league roster in the spring due to his raw power. His five doubles are an indication he may be ready to do just that.

Jose Ruiz racked up 16 innings over the course of 19 games. The righty allowed 15 hits and seven earned runs for an ERA of 3.94. He had a strong strikeout to walk ratio with 12 punch outs and six base on balls. Opponents batted .246 against him. These numbers show an improvement from his 2017 stint for the Padres affiliate in the California League where he posted a 2.98 ERA in 44 games with an opponent batting average of .291.

Catchers Alfredo Gonzalez and Carlos Perez have seen limited action. The pair collectively has notched 11 at-bats for no line. Fellow backstop Daniel Gonzalez stepped up to the dish 14 times with four hits two of them doubles along with four strikeouts. He spent the 2017 season splitting time at Kannapolis and Winston-Salem slashing .242/.266/.302 with eight doubles and a home run in aggregate.

Robinson Leyer pitched nine innings over six contests allowing seven hits, one of which left the yard while walking and punching out five in both categories. The Double-A right-hander collected four saves for the Barons with 62 strikeouts in 58 innings and a .224 batting average against. He probably should go to AAA for 2018, if he stays around

Pitcher Yosmer Solorzano, who lost 12 with a 6.19 ERA splitting time for Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, had just one appearance in which he walked two, allowed two hits and was charged with three earned runs while failing to record an out.

An 11th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Dustin Antolin was assigned to the Birmingham Barons on November 19. He has had a strong winter with a 3-1 record and six saves in 21 games. In his 21.1 innings pitched he’s posted an ERA of 0.84 and struck out 20 while walking only four. He pitched two innings at the MLB level for Toronto and fared well at the Triple-A level in 2016. If he continues to post those types of numbers he could be a candidate to help out in the bullpen at some point in 2018.

The recently acquired Jose Rondon projects as a middle infielder at the MLB level most likely in a utility role and will likely get a shot to make the club in spring training. He hasn’t done much to shed his light-hitting reputation slashing .136/.136/.182 with five strikeouts in 22 at-bats. Of his three hits, one of them went for extra bases.

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