2019 Affiliate Preview: DSL White Sox

The Chicago White Sox affiliate in the Dominican Summer League began play on June 2nd . The DSL club is made up mostly of teenagers, ranging in age from 16 to early 20’s. The players in the league are extremely raw, which isn’t very surprising considering most of the players are of high school age without the same game experience. Statistics should be taken with a giant grain of salt but meaningful indicators can be found. Age, loud tools and positional value are some examples.

The Dominican Summer League was founded back in 1985. The league consists of 72 regular season games and runs from June 2nd to August 25th, and the DSL playoffs start on August 27th. There are 44 total teams in 6 different divisions. Every major league club as an affiliate and 13 organizations field two teams. The six divisions are: Boca Chica San Pedro de Macoris, Boca Chica North, Boca Chica South, Boca Chica Baseball City, Boca Chica Northwest and Boca Chica Northeast. The White Sox affiliate plays in the Boca Chica Baseball City.

Guillermo Reyes serves the role of Field Coordinator for the DSL White Sox. Leonor Hernandez is the pitching coach and Angel Gonzalez is the hitting coach. Charlie Romero and Jose Brito serve as assistant coaches. Here is a link to the team roster. Ben Badler of Baseball America does fantastic work covering the international market and many of these players were discussed in his international reviews. These are his reviews of the White Sox classes in 20152016, 2017, and 2018. Players on this roster were born mostly between the years of 1997 and 2001 so we are talking about very young players here.

Pitchers

Francisco Benitez, Daneuris LaGrange, Dionicio Jimenez and Carlos Mola are all Dominican righties that have returned to the DSL this season. Benitez is an 18-year-old that threw 38.1 innings last year. The 6’2″ 187 pounder posted a 6.10 ERA with 43 walks and 43 strikeouts. The 21-year-old LaGrange posted a 4.86 ERA with 38K in 37 innings last season. The 6’4″ 190 pound Jimenez struck out 46 and walked 49 in 39.2 innings in 2018. The 18-year-old has 15 strikeouts already this season after posting a 6.81 ERA last season. Mola is an 18-year-old that stands 6″4″ 190 pounds and posted a 9.00 ERA in 10 innings last season.

Jesus Rondon, Edgar Navarr0, Luis Nin and Erick Perez are back in the Dominican Summer League as well. Rondon is a 19-year-old right hander from Venezuela who posted a 5.63 ERA in 2018. The 21-year-old Navarro threw 58 innings in 2018 with a 6.36 ERA. The 6’1″ 180 pound righty did strikeout 60 hitters though while walking 31. Nin is a 22-year-old right hander. He’s 6’2″ and 185 pounds and threw 19 innings in the DSL last year. He posted a 3.32 ERA with 21 strikeouts. He also has 19 strikeouts in 13 innings so far this season. Perez is a 20-year-old Venezuelan righty who has posted a 0.90 ERA with 12 strikeouts this year. He threw 38 innings in the DSL last year.

The group of lefties in the DSL is headlined by 6’6″ Venezuelan Luis Rodriguez. He was 4th on the club in strikeout rate last season but struggled with command. He posted a 4.68 ERA in 50 innings. In 2019, the southpaw has fired 17 innings with a 3.71 ERA and 19 strikeouts. He’s a name to keep an eye on. Jorge Ferrer, Oriel Castro and Jose Jimenez are other left-handers on the roster. Ferrer is an 18-year-old Dominican who tossed just three innings last year. The 6’3″ 180 pounder has a 1.80 ERA in the early going over 5 innings. Castro has been good so far as well. The 18-year-old southpaw posted a 5.23 ERA over 10 innings last season. Jimenez is 16-years-old and is listed at 6’3″ 195 pounds and has no stats to date.

There are a few other pitchers in their first year with the DSL White Sox as well. 19-year-old righty Homer Cruz has posted a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings. He’s 6’0″ and 175 pounds. 20-year-old Frander Veras is a 6’5″ 185 pound right hander and 18-year-old Cristopher Valdez is 6’2″ and 175 pounds. Jendersson Caraballo is a 19-year-old righty that was the club’s top pitching signee from the highly regarded 2016 signing class. The 6’3″ 190 pounder was given $350K to sign and showed a three pitch mix. Caraballo throws a 92 mph fastball with a changeup and a power slider as his best offering. He also has a repeatable delivery and posted a 2.11 ERA in 64 innings back in 2017. Jenderrson missed the 2018 season and hasn’t taken the mound yet in 2019 either.

Ronaldo Guzman won’t be 17-years-old until August and Ben Badler of Baseball America called him “intriguing”. He’s a 6’0″ 150 pound southpaw from Santo Domingo and has posted a 2.38 ERA with 15K and 5BB in just over 11 innings on the year so far. He’s an interesting prospect that was signed for just $75K in the 2018 international signing period. Badler said he has a, “fastball that gets up to 89 mph with easy arm action and an athletic delivery that re repeats well to throw strikes with an advanced changeup for his age”. If Guzman continues to pitch the way he has in the early going, he could spend the majority of his age 17 season playing at a stateside rookie level affiliate.

Catchers

Luis Pineda was a member of the 2018 international class and the Venezuelan backstop is playing his first season in the organization. The 17-year-old is struggling offensively through 7 games but had a fairly positive write-up from Ben Badler at BA. Pineda is a 6’1″ 210 pound right handed hitter with a “strong, compact frame”. Badler notes his “impressive power and the ability to drive balls when centered in his stance correctly”. He has an above average arm as well. The most time behind the plate will likely go to 18-year-old Venezuelan Jefferson Mendoza however. Mendoza was signed for $300K in the 2017 class and the 6’0″ 170 pounder has played well to start his season. He has an OPS of 1.003 in 11 games so far. That’s a positive development after posting a .578 OPS in 2018.

Badler noted that Mendoza was “very experienced for his age” after he signed and that he “blocks and receives well and his plus arm helps him control the running game”. Jefferson has a solid bat for a catcher as well and he could develop into an above average defender who possesses average power with a middle of the field approach. Jhoneiker Betancourt, Ruben Benavides and Richard Garcia are the other three catchers on the DSL roster. Betancourt is a 19-year-old from Venezuela who has struggled offensively over 73 games during the last two seasons. The 6’1″ 175 pounder is hitting .478/.586/.609 in a small sample so far in 2019. Benavides is a 17-year-old Venezuelan who has played in 6 contests during his first season with the organization. Garcia is a 20-year-old who is also from Venezuela and he has struggled offensively the last two years as well.

Some footage of Pineda from Baseball America

Infielders

Two of the top signings from the White Sox’s 2018 international class are playing in the infield for the DSL affiliate. Anthony Espinoza is a 5’10” 165 pound Venezuelan shortstop and he’s off to a hot start down in the Dominican. He has 8 extra base hits in 74 plate appearances with a batting line of .284/.375/.448. His bonus amount was never announced as is common with Venezuelan prospects of late but it was likely in the $300K range. In his international review over at Baseball America, Ben Badler called the 17-year-old a “quick-twitch athlete with average speed and arm strength”. He moves around well at shortstop and has a solid glove with good baseball instincts. Anthony hits from the right side and Badler says that he has, “solid bat control with a slasher swing and doubles power”. Another shortstop on the roster is 17-year-old Venezuelan Wilber Sanchez. The 5’10” 160 pound right handed batter has posted a .779 OPS in 2019 with 11 strikeouts and 11 walks in 73 plate appearances.

The White Sox also recently signed Eloy Jimenez‘s younger brother Enoy (yes, that’s correct) and he’s listed on the official roster as Cesar Jimenez. Cesar is an 18-year-old Dominican who is 5’10” and 160 pounds has only played sparingly so far. Matthew Mercedes is a 20-year-old Dominican that previously spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh DSL affiliate. The 6’1″ 195 pounder has a .776 OPS in 25 plate appearances so far in 2019 and has played over at first base. Third baseman Edwin Peralta is an 18-year-old from the Dominican who posted a .556 OPS in 2018. Peralta hits right handed and the 6’3″ 195 pounder currently has a .707 OPS in 69 plate appearances.

Alberto Bernal is a 17-year-old from Cuba and was part of the international signing class in 2018. Bernal was given a $250K bonus to sign and is a right handed hitting 6’1″ 215 pounder. Badler lauded Bernal’s “hitting ability and right handed power.” Alberto has experience behind the plate in the past but the White Sox signed him as a first baseman. He hit .370/.528/.593 with Cuba’s 15U National Team before signing. In 13 games this season, Bernal has posted a .548 OPS with 16K and 9BB. The power hasn’t really shown up in games to this point but the Sox were intrigued with the power he displayed during instructional league contests.

Outfielders

Benyamin Bailey wasn’t a highly regarded international signing earlier this year but he’s produced for the DSL White Sox. The 17-year-old from Panama will be an interesting name to follow as he has 22 hits and 4 stolen bases with 12K and 12BB through 16 games so far. Bailey is 6’4″ and 215 pounds and bats and throws from the right side. In 68 plate appearances, the Panamanian is hitting .393/.493/.482. Roberth Gutierrez has been seeing time in left field and is a 17-year-old from Venezuela. He’s 6’0″ and 170 pounds. This is his first season in the system and he has a .681 OPS through 13 games. Andres Rosario is also listed as a left fielder. Rosario is a 20-year-old Dominican that posted a .506 OPS in 2018. The 6’3″ 190 pounder has a .534 OPS through 8 contests in 2019. 19-year-old Dominican Juan Mercedes is another right handed outfielder on the club.

Back in December, the White Sox reached agreement with Cuban outfielder Lazaro Leal. The 6’2″ 210 pound Cuban is 22-years-old and should be a bit advanced for the Dominican Summer League. Leal has posted a .742 OPS so far and is displaying the ability to reach base. He was signed after emigrating legally to Mexico and playing in the baseball leagues down there. In his workouts, he showed great athleticism and speed with swing acceleration and bat speed on display as well. Leal could be a candidate to reach a stateside affiliate before the season is over. Johnabiell Laureano has been playing mostly centerfield for the club. The 18-year-old Dominican posted a .591 OPS in 2018. The 6’0″ 180 pound right handed hitter has two homers with a slash line of .339/.431/.518 with 14K and 8BB through 16 games in 2019.

The current international period expired on June 15th and the 2019 signing period begins officially on July 2nd. The White Sox have been linked to a couple of players and some of them could make their way to the DSL club after signing. Since Chris Getz was handed the reins of the White Sox’s farm system, he’s been aggressive in promoting recent international signees stateside and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue. In March 2018, the White Sox signed infielder Jerrick Francees out of Aruba and we profiled the signing here. Francees posted a .427 OPS in 96 plate appearances in the DSL last season. He’s not on this roster currently and isn’t with the affiliate in the AZL either at this time.

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