The second half of the Arizona League season began last week. The AZL White Sox are currently 5-6 in the second half and have an overall record of 16-23. While the team is currently on the outside looking in for the playoffs, they still have a lot of players that are putting together an impressive year as we get closer to the end of the 2019 season.
Samil Polanco was a 2018 international signing and has quietly put together a solid 2019 campaign thus far. The 19-year-old is playing professionally in the United States for the first time after spending the 2018 season with the DSL affiliate.
This year, Polanco is hitting .285 with 6 doubles, two triples, 8 RBI, two walks, and 29 strikeouts. His .285 average is currently fourth best on the team and he recently had a 10-game hitting streak come to an end in the final week of July. At 6’0″, 160 pounds, Polanco has a thin frame and there’s minimal power in his game currently. I don’t think that’s something that he will develop over time either. He has an extremely aggressive approach at the plate and his swing is a little long, however, that has not caught up to him as he’s found some success this season.
Another member of the AZL White Sox who is playing stateside for the first time is right-handed pitcher Luis Rodriguez. He is still relatively new to this affiliate, as he made his stateside debut on July 10.
I have seen Rodriguez throw a handful of times. One of the first things I noticed was that he really struggled with control. He was walking almost one batter per inning and couldn’t seem to get a feel for his arsenal. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to see him throw again and he looked like a completely different pitcher. It was tied for his longest outing (5.0 IP) this season and he was pounding the strike zone. He did end up walking three batters in the game, but it looked like he got squeezed on a few calls that resulted in a walk. Since joining the AZL squad, Luis Rodriguez has also struggled to find consistency in his outings. Hopefully he can use the momentum from Saturday’s game to string together consecutive strong outings. In 5 games (3 starts) with the AZL White Sox, Rodriguez has a 6.19 ERA with 12 strikeouts and 11 walks in 16.0 IP.
One of the hottest hitters on the entire AZL White Sox roster right now is 19-year-old, Anthony Coronado. Entering Sunday, Coronado was riding an 11-game hitting streak that came to an end that night. During that span, he had a slash line of .425/.452/.625 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and 8 RBI.
On the season, Coronado is slashing .313/.380/.484 with four doubles, two triples, one home run, and 9 RBI in 18 games. At 6’1″, 190 pounds, Coronado has a naturally bigger frame that he should fill out nicely as he gets older. Right now, he has more of a line drive swing, but I could see him eventually turning more of those line drives into home runs.
Coronado is one of the few players on the roster with previous AZL experience. He was with the team for 21 games last season and really struggled at the plate. He even had his moments where he struggled at the start of this season. It’s nice to see him finally look comfortable at the plate and put together a very strong finish to the 2019 season.
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) July 30, 2019
After cooling off briefly, Jose Rodriguez has been lighting up the Arizona League once again. Over the last 17 games (excluding Sunday), Rodriguez slashed .328/.375/.478 with four doubles, two home runs, and drove in 9 runs. That performance was good for a wRC+ of 128 over that span. Entering Sunday, he put together a 9-game hitting streak that would come to an end after going hitless in four plate appearances that same night. In 31 games with the AZL White Sox, Rodriguez is slashing .298/.333/.534 with four doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 21 RBI and four stolen bases.
His seven home runs tied a previous AZL White Sox season record, that was broken by DJ Gladney when he blasted his eighth home run of the 2019 campaign.
While the AZL White Sox have had their share of inconsistencies this season, Rodriguez has continued to be a constant force at the plate and in the field. His development has been one of the most exciting stories coming out of this affiliate.
He’s 18, playing stateside for the first time and does not look overwhelmed at all. It’s still very early into his professional career and his development, but so far, it looks like the White Sox might have found themselves a hidden gem in Jose Rodriguez.
Jose Rodriguez sends a shot down the left field line to drive in Ramos and tie the game at 4-4. pic.twitter.com/UNPtxGimCB
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) July 30, 2019
Last week, the AZL White Sox began to host multiple players who are on rehab assignments. Left-handed pitcher Caleb Frare saw some action on Saturday. Frare tossed one inning, gave up one run on one hit, had one walk, and one strikeout. Overall, Frare looked good as he was able to throw a lot of strikes in his lone inning of work.
Bryce Bush has also started a rehab assignment with the AZL White Sox and saw his first action on Sunday. In that game, Bush went 0-2 at the plate and played right field.
In other news and notes, Joseph Jarneski, who was recently acquired and assigned to the AZL White Sox, made his organizational debut on Wednesday. Jarneski tossed one inning, giving up one hit, one walk, and had one strikeout. Lastly, Tyler Osik and Justin O’Conner were promoted to Kannapolis from the Arizona League.
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