After opening the first week of the 2019 season with a 2-4 record, the AZL White Sox have been playing much better baseball recently. This week, the team caught fire as they went on a four-game winning streak that eventually came to an end on Saturday night after a loss to the AZL Padres 2. The team has gotten contributions from players all throughout the lineup as they are putting together a great finish to the opening month.
Let’s look at some of the players that stood out this week.
2019 4th round selection, James Beard, spent time this week as the lead-off man and patrolled center field for the AZL White Sox. Leading up to the draft, Beard was given 80-grade speed from MLB Pipeline and was coined one of the fastest players in the entire class. It’s safe to say that was an honest evaluation of Beard, who can absolutely burn up the base paths. One thing scouts mentioned about Beard during the draft process was that they felt he did not go up against tough competition in high school and they were worried that he would take a while to adjust once he started playing professionally. So far, he doesn’t seem overwhelmed or overmatched by the competition he’s seen in the AZL.
Leadoff double for James Beard in the bottom of the first. He shows off his speed by easily making it to second base uncontested. pic.twitter.com/EIp2bqftPh
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) June 25, 2019
Through six games, Beard is slashing .200/.294/.233 with one double, two RBI, four walks, and 14 strikeouts. While those numbers aren’t ideal, it’s still very early into his professional career and he’s showing a lot of good traits to his game. At the plate, he’s been very selective. He hasn’t been swinging at much outside of the zone and he is seeing a lot of pitches during each at-bat. Ideally, that’s what you would like your lead-off hitter to do and Beard has done just that. James Beard also has strong hands at the plate and is consistently producing line drives. Over time, I believe that he can develop quite a bit of power and that’s something he will be able to bring to the ballpark each night. Defensively, he doesn’t utilize his speed to his benefit. There’s been a lot of balls that have fallen for hits in front of him that I felt like he could’ve caught. His arm right now is average, but if he can work on using his speed more in the field and developing a stronger arm, he has the potential to become a great fielder.
Arguably the most impressive and hottest hitter on the entire roster right now is 17-year-old and 2018 international signee, Bryan Ramos. Ramos is playing professionally in the US for the first time in his young career. It took him all the way until his 6th game to pick up his first hit, but once he did, he did not look back. He was carrying a sub-.100 batting average heading into Tuesday night and now, he’s slashing .316/.400/.500 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, five RBI, six walks, and 11 strikeouts. At 6’2″ and 190-pounds, he has a rock-solid frame with the potential to develop a lot of power down the road. Right now, he possesses raw power and is still learning how to tap into it but once he does, he’s going to be a force at the plate.
Bryan Ramos drives in Rodriguez and Gladney on a two-run double to make it a 3-2 game in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/VV3yMaCyzu
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) June 26, 2019
Bryan Ramos has good bat speed, but he’s very aggressive at the plate. It’s clear that he wants to do something big each time he steps into the box and he gets caught up swinging and missing quite a bit. However, he’s been a little more selective recently and that’s played a big role in his success this week. Aside from that, Ramos also has pretty good speed for a guy his size, and that can be something that sticks with him as he grows and develops into his body. In the field, he’s done a good job at manning third base. He’s fielded most grounders cleanly, his throws have been accurate, and he frequently shows a strong arm across the diamond. Based on his profile and tools, this is a prospect worth keeping an eye on as he will have an opportunity to make a name for himself over the years and could eventually become a big leaguer down the road.
Another member of the 2019 draft class that has put together a strong week is 32nd rounder, Jonathan Allen. On Monday and Tuesday, Allen had back-to-back games with two doubles and two RBI. He’s slashing .257/.366/.400 with five doubles, six RBI, five walks, and nine strikeouts. His five doubles have him tied for the fifth most throughout the entire Arizona League, only trailing the leader by two. Allen has an uppercut swing that produces a lot of hard-hit balls, and it’s not too often where he will roll over one and hit it on the ground. In the field, he’s played both corner outfield spots and has not committed an error thus far. He has a strong arm out there and runners have been hesitant to test him.
Two other players who put together impressive weeks are DJ Gladney and Victor Torres, both of which I said had some work to do at the plate in my last article. Gladney seems like he’s starting to adjust more and more to using a wood bat and his timing has been more consistent. He’s slashing .271/.327/.500 with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, and seven RBI. He’s tearing the cover off the ball when he puts it in play and his power is going to be something that’s fun to watch as he develops. Torres looks more comfortable at the plate. Initially, he was swinging at just about everything thrown at him, but now, he’s been waiting for his pitch and is putting the ball in the air more. Through five games, Torres is slashing .313/.389/.375 with one double, one RBI, six strikeouts, and has put together a five-game hit streak.
Left-hander Avery Weems‘ professional career has got off to a fantastic start. Heading into Saturday night, he carried a perfect ERA and did not issue a walk. Unfortunately, his ERA would no longer remain perfect and he walked two batters in his most recent start, but regardless, he’s been great so far. In three starts, Weems has posted a 0.82 ERA with two walks, 10 strikeouts, and a 1.00 WHIP in 11.0 IP. Weems has given up 9 hits this season, however, he generates a lot of weak contact and ground balls, so the hits haven’t resulted in much for the opposing team. His most impressive game so far came on Monday, June 24 where he tossed five scoreless innings and only allowed three hits and struck out five batters.
Last but not least, Andrew Vaughn made his professional debut on Sunday. The third overall selection in the 2019 draft got his professional career off to a great start by going 2-4 at the plate with two singles, one of which was a rope to the left-center gap. Initially, Vaughn was a little late with his timing as he struck out in his first plate appearance, but he would quickly adjust and piled up two hits in his first game as a member of the White Sox organization. Some of the things that jumped out to me about Vaughn’s game is his great plate discipline. He was patient, waited for his pitch and attacked once he got what he wanted. He also has great bat speed and balance in his swing, and the ball explodes off his bat.
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) July 1, 2019
Defensively, Andrew Vaughn looked great at first base. He wasn’t challenged much, but he did make a couple of scoops on some short throws to help secure outs. Also, there were a couple of balls that he dove for but came up short. Regardless, it was nice to see him giving a complete effort on every play and his glove seems like it’s more than playable at first base. Overall, it was a successful professional debut for Andrew Vaughn and it will be exciting to see what he can do the rest of the season. Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald announced that Vaughn is likely headed to Kannapolis after he spends some time in the AZL. I would guess that Vaughn won’t be in Arizona long and he should play somewhere around five games with this affiliate before being sent to Kannapolis for his next assignment.
The AZL White Sox head into the upcoming week with an overall record of 6-6. The team finished their week with a 4-2 record and are really starting to put it together as they begin the month of July. The team will be off on Monday and will be back in action on Tuesday as they host the AZL Indians Blue in Glendale.