All-Star rosters for sub-Triple-A teams have been announced, and the White Sox are… well represented.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) June 12, 2018
For context, there were 11 last season (with a few soon-to-be Sox like Bryant Flete and Eloy Jimenez slipping in there as well). Give us your prospects; we crave your prospects.
Just because it still feels very good to look over the list of top prospects that play in the Chicago White Sox minor league system, here are this year’s All-Star reps: Ian Hamilton. Zack Collins. Eloy Jimenez. Seby Zavala. Dane Dunning. Danny Mendick. Luis Basabe. Joel Booker. Dylan Cease. Bernardo Flores. Matt Foster. Luis Gonzalez. Craig Dedelow. Tate Blackman. Laz Rivera. Blake Battenfield. Tyler Johnson. Jake Elliott.
Isn’t that nice? Yeah, yeah, you can’t buy your dream car with potential. Whatever. You can still imagine what it looks like. That’s a lot of prospects having great years, and each and every one of them is more exciting than C.J. Retherford ever was (no offense to C.J. Retherford, who’s in the midst of his fourth great year in the Mexican League).
It’s clearly an All-Star year full of All-Star players, so here are some All-Star moments from this season.
Michael Kopech strikes out double digits… twice
The Knights, by virtue of being Triple-A, lag behind in All-Star festivities due to a later schedule, so for the most part I’m ignoring their existence (also, they’re not very good). Kopech’s final challenge to overcome before he ascends the golden staircase to the South Side is his command, and he’s averaging about three walks per game. On the other hand, he’s a terrifying strikeout machine who can easily touch 100, and he’s sneakily developed a curve that makes grown men weep. That curve was working for him during his latest start on June 8th, when he put up a line of 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, and 10 K. Yes, a lot of walks, but he has a way of minimizing the damage, doesn’t he?
His other strikeout-dominant start of the season came on April 20th, when he blazed his fastball by 10 batters over just 5 innings en route to receiving the loss. The final line ended up 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and, of course, 10 K. He also hit a batter in each 10-strikeout start, so no matter how bad your day is going, at least you’re not those guys!
Luis Robert returns
Yes, drawing a walk in his first game back counts as an All-Star moment, because I am giddily excited and he is the greatest of all time. Overall since his June 5th return, he’s hitting .276 with three doubles in eight games. Unfortunately, it’s rare to play more than two baseball games in a single day, which is a shame because I want to make up on lost Luis Robert Statistical Amazement time. It is robbery that he was snubbed for the All-Star Game.
Zack Collins has a two-dong day
All-Star Zack Collins had a lengthy rough start to the season, not that you’d ever notice by looking at his current slash line of .275/.438/.472. He’s been thoroughly impressive – clearly, as evidenced by his All-Star selection – and is showing power in addition to signs of sticking behind the plate. The power was on full display on May 20th, when he hit two towering dingers, accounting for half of the Barons’ runs that day in a losing effort:
Lincoln Henzman throws a seven-inning one-hitter
Henzman, I am sure, was left off the South Atlantic League All-Star roster merely because half of the Intimidators’ roster was already on there, but that doesn’t make him less deserving. The 2017 4th-round draft pick is crushing it in Low-A, where he has a 2.30 ERA as a starter over 66.2 IP.
Doubleheaders in the minor leagues are seven innings each, and Henzman wasted no time during his June 12th start. He allowed zero baserunners until two outs in the 5th, when he gave up a double, the only runner he allowed that day. He finished with 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 6 K.
Eloy Jimenez hits slam, will travel
All-Star Eloy Jimenez is still in Double-A, if you’re wondering. He is doing many good things, but this was perhaps the most exciting. On May 26th, the Barons entered the 9th inning down 5-2 against the Jackson Generals. They scraped away until it was just 5-4 with one out, at which point Zack Collins walked to load the bases (not for the first time, not for the last time). Then it was Eloy time, and Eloy hit a baseball a very long way, and the Barons held on for an 8-5 victory.
Also, for some reason I can’t stop laughing at the video.
Walk-offs on walk-offs on walk-offs
There are few things more exciting on this cursed earth than a walk-off win by the team you’re rooting for. It doesn’t matter if it’s the majors or minors. It doesn’t even matter if you’re actually a baseball fan or not. It’s one beautiful, adrenaline-pumping moment that reduces everyone within eye-shot into their most basic, primal self, and boy oh boy do I need to make it out to the ballpark this summer.
There have been a number of walk-off wins for Sox affiliates this year, with an honorable mention going to Blake Rutherford’s game-winning three-run shot in the top of the 10th inning in May.
The Birmingham Barons have one walk-off win this year, but it was a doozy. The Barons went from leading 5-4 to trailing 10-5, then clawing their way to an 11-8 deficit in the 9th. The first two batters reached base and an Eloy sac fly made it 11-9. Zavala and Rose both reached, loading the bases for Trey Michalczewski, of all people. He seized the moment as comprehensively as he possibly could have and cleared the bases with a double for the win.
The Intimidators have a couple of their own, one on opening day (baseball sometimes seems a little scripted). Two Men were the heroes of the game, with All-Star Tate Blackman singling to open the inning and Michael Hickman immediately doubling him in.
Their second walk-off victory came less than a week later, on April 10th. Similar to the Michalczewski game, that one ended on a one-out bases-loaded hit, a single by All-Star Craig Dedelow that broke a 4-4 tie. It would have been scored as a double if the extra run had been necessary.
Finally, and most excitingly, there’s the Dash. The Dash have four walk-off wins this season, each thanks to two players. Alex Call is responsible for both a two-out walk-off single that knocked in Ti’Quan Forbes in June and a suicide squeeze (!!) that knocked in Ti’Quan Forbes in April, which is almost the most exciting walk-off play imaginable. All-Star Joel Booker, who apparently has a flair for drama, also was responsible for a suicide squeeze walk-off in April, which knocked in Yeyson Yrizzari to beat the Carolina Mudcats 6-5 in the 10th.
I say that the suicide squeeze is almost the most exciting walk-off play imaginable because Joel Booker absolutely one-upped himself (in… reverse chronological order). On April 12th, with the bases loaded, two outs, and FutureSox’ very own Matt Cassidy in attendance and ready with his phone, Joel Booker straight up stole home to win the game in the Dash’s home opener. A straight steal of home:
Minor league baseball is the greatest.
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