Observations from Week 4 of the AZL White Sox

Through four weeks of the Arizona League season, the AZL White Sox have an overall record of 8-14 as they begin a new week and look to turn things around. July hasn’t been a kind month to the affiliate, as they’ve gone 2-8 to start the month and are currently riding a four-game losing streak. Even with the recent struggles of the club, there continues to be prospects that standout on a nightly basis.

Let’s take a look at some of the prospects that have stood out recently and through the first full month of the season:

Right-handed pitcher and 2018 international signing, Yoelvin Silven has established himself as one of the most efficient bullpen pieces for the AZL White Sox. In 7 appearances, Silven has a 1.96 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just 4 walks in 18.1 IP. Silven has managed to allow one earned run or less in 6 of his 7 appearances and he’s a prospect that eats up multiple innings out of the bullpen each time he enters the game. His 21 strikeouts out of the bullpen currently leads all AZL White Sox pitchers and he has the fourth best ERA among pitchers still currently on the roster. He possesses a lively fastball that generates a lot of movement and pairs that with a good mix of off-speeds. When thinking of pitching prospects that have the potential to eventually be something, Silven is one of the first names that comes to mind and is someone whose development is worth watching moving forward.

Garvin Alston, another member of the AZL White Sox bullpen and the 37th round selection from the 2019 MLB Draft, has been lights out for the Arizona affiliate. In 7 appearances for the AZL White Sox, Alston has a 1.08 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 2 walks in 8.1 IP. Alston currently has a 0.72 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .138 when facing him. Alston has been used in a lot of high-leverage situations this season and he’s rose to the occasion. That is a role I can see him continuing to take on as he grows and develops through the White Sox farm system. At 22-years-old, Alston is one of the older members on the roster, but his performance has been impressive regardless. As he makes his way to higher affiliates, it will be exciting to see if he can continue his dominance as a back end of the bullpen arm when he faces tougher competition and players closer to his age.

Sean Williams/FutureSox

On Saturday, I got the chance to watch Cooper Bradford make his 5th start with the White Sox organization and it was easily his best one so far. Bradford, a 13th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, has had a roller coaster ride of a start to his professional career thus far. Through five starts, Bradford owns a 7.31 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 4 walks in 16.0 IP. Entering his fourth start, his ERA was sitting at 11.57 and he has managed to lower it 4.26 points since then. On Saturday, he completely shut down the AZL Cubs 2 and put his team in a great position to get the win. He gave up a hit in the bottom of the 1st and would go on to not allow another hit until the bottom of the 5th, which was his final inning for the outing. Unfortunately, the hit was a solo shot, but he still kept the Cubs 2 quiet for the entire night. The only hard contact he gave up was on the home run and he kept the ball on the ground for most of the evening. Hopefully this start will generate some momentum with him and he will be able to string together some consistently strong outings.

In that same game on Saturday, I got the chance to see 2019 15th round selection, Caleb Freeman for the first time. Through three appearances with the AZL White Sox, Freeman has a 6.75 ERA with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks in 4.0 IP. While those numbers aren’t ideal, it’s a very small sample size and Freeman has the frame and arsenal to develop into a strong bullpen piece. Freeman stands in at 6’1″, 190-lbs and will have the ability to add some velocity to his fastball as he develops. He flashed a pretty good breaking ball as well and that seems like something that can be a solid pairing with his fastball over time. On Saturday, Freeman showed the ability to elevate his fastball and used it to put away hitters. He did get tagged around a little bit, however, he also didn’t get much help from his defense as there were errors and infield hits given up. There were times where he struggled to throw strikes on Saturday, and that seems like it’s been a reoccurring theme throughout parts of his career. However, if he can develop the ability to throw strikes more consistently, Nick Hostetler and Co. might have found themselves a nice little bullpen arm in the middle rounds of the MLB Draft.

Harold Diaz, a 2018 international singing, has made the most of his time with the AZL White Sox thus far even though he’s played sparingly. Through 8 games, Diaz is slashing .286/.364/.571 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, four RBI, three walks, and eight strikeouts. He’s only played in back-to-back games twice this season, so it’s been hard for him to get into a consistent groove at the plate. Diaz has a smaller frame (5’10”, 170-pounds), but he has shown a little bit of pop in his bat and has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Defensively, he’s strictly played second base for the AZL White Sox, but he also has experience at third base and shortstop with the DSL affiliate last season. He’s fluid in the field and frequently flashes his athleticism. He’s the type of player that gives you 110% on every pitch and he doesn’t make many mistakes in the field. It would be nice to see him get some more consistent playing time, however, I’m pleased with his results so far. He’s just 19-years-old and is playing professionally in the United States for the first time in his career.

Sean Williams/Future Sox

2019 27th round selection, Tyler Osik has been quietly putting together a solid start to his professional campaign. In the month of June, Osik played in 8 games where he slashed .258/.324/.290 with one double, two RBI, three walks, and nine strikeouts. This month, he’s improving on a nightly basis. In July, Osik is slashing .323/.432/.419 with one double, one triple, six RBI, four walks, and tw0 strikeouts. On the season, Osik has put together a slash line of .290/.380/.355 with two doubles, one triple, seven RBI, seven walks, and 19 strikeouts. That line seems to be getting better and better each day, thanks to his recent improvement at the plate. He has four multi-hit games out of the nine total games he’s played in this July and has at least one hit in six of those nine games. Tyler Osik displays a lot of power at the plate and he frequently makes hard contact. He’s a little undersized (5’10”) for your typical first baseman, but he has a solid glove and has made just one error in 151.0 innings at first base.

Sean Williams/FutureSox

The three-headed monster of Jose RodriguezDJ Gladney, and Bryan Ramos continue to terrorize opposing pitchers in the middle of the lineup for the AZL White Sox. These guys have been very productive hitters since the start of the season and that seems to be an ongoing trend for the three of them. After seeing his average dip below .300 last week for the first time all season, Rodriguez has made his way back up to the .300 mark as he seems to have found his groove again. Rodriguez is slashing .300/.338/.614 with one double, three triples, five home runs, and 12 RBI. Gladney, who had just three total hits last week, is still putting together a fantastic start to his professional career. He is slashing .287/.333/.529 with four doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 13 RBI. Rodriguez and Gladney are currently tied for the team lead in home runs, and Gladney leads the team in RBI. Ramos had back-to-back hit-less games last week for the first time since the opening week of the season. However, that has not slowed him down entirely as he still leads the team in batting average. Ramos is slashing .347/.429/.542 with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 11 RBI this season.

In other news and notes, right-handed pitcher Declan Cronin was promoted to Kannapolis from the Arizona League White Sox. The 21-year-old was a 36th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, and posted a 0.90 ERA with 13 strikeouts and two walks in 10.0 IP for the AZL White Sox.

This week seems to be an easier on for the AZL White Sox. They have six games this week and only two of those are against teams with a record of .500 or better. This would be a good time for the team to get back on track and finish the week with a winning record.

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