2018 AZL White Sox preview

International signings among the numerous prospects/projects worth watching

Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis all start their All-Star breaks today, but the opening of the Arizona League fills in the gap. The short-season rookie league starts tonight, and the AZL White Sox roster contains plenty of players worth monitoring.

Nobody is pegged for stardom at this point, but the roster has a heavy international presence with the arrival of the last international class before the Luis Robert penalty, as well as a few more high school draft picks than usual.

Let’s review.

Pitchers

You can divide the pitchers of note into three groups.

*Fast-rising international prospects: Dominican righty Brayan Herrera ($70,000, 2016) spent just one year in the Dominican Summer League, and his work there (2.62 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 1.08 WHIP over 68.2 IP) was enough to get him stateside. The same can be said for fellow 20-year-old Dominican righty Ramon Pineda ($10,000), who also showed above-average control in his only DSL season.

*Slower-moving international prospects: Nelson Acosta first registered on the radar when he posted a 2.35 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP as a 16-year-old five-digit signing out of Venzuela in 2014. He then spent the next three seasons in the DSL, and he jumps to Arizona after his worst year. Felix Mercedes signed in 2014 out of the Dominican Republic as a second baseman, but they never settled on a position for him over three years of stateside play, so now he’s pitching.

*Other projects: Jacob Cooper, a 20th-round pick out of junior college in 2015, spent three years in rookie ball as a catcher and left fielder, but now he’s shifting to the mound. He will be spared from catching Hunter Kiel, an 18th-round pick out of LSI in 2017 who throws extremely hard with extremely bad control. His line from last year: 11 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 1 HR, 18 BB, 16 K, 2 HBP, 4 WP. Luke Shilling, a 15th-round pick out of Illinois, kinda has the same thing going on, although he didn’t pitch for the Illini in 2018 due to injury. He’s not on the DL, at least yet.

Catchers

Jose Colina made his AZL debut last year as a 19-year-old and excelled in a small sample, hitting .327/.367/.436 with a reasonable amount of walks (four) and strikeouts (16) over 62 plate appearances. Kleyder Sanchez, who is just 18, was the breakout performer of last year’s DSL team, hitting .342/.383/.381 with just a 14 percent strikeout rate. Both catchers had fine results in the throwing department, and both catchers need work in the blocking department. We’ll see how the Sox divvy up the playing time. Colina has the edge in signing bonus ($425,000 to $50,000), for what that’s worth.

Ty Greene — a Tyrus, not a Tyler — was drafted in the 16th round out of Cal, and Gabriel Ortiz was a high school pick selected from Puerto Rico in the 19th round.

Infielders

The White Sox surprised Sam Abbott with an eighth-round pick in the 2017 draft, luring him away from a water polo scholarship. He’s the lone holdover from that draft in this group. He hit .225/.344/.275 over his first 123 plate appearances in the Arizona League last year, so he’s more fun to follow for his backstory than his production at this stage.

Lency Delgado (fourth round) and Kelvin Maldonado (11th round) were both prep players selected in the most recent draft, and they could be the starting left side of the infield on some days, if not most.

Brayant Nova (second baseman, $100,000, 2015) and Harvin Mendoza (first baseman, $300,000, 2015) have two respectable DSL seasons in the books, with encouraging plate discipline but not much in the way of power. Sydney Pimentel and Camilo Quinteiro are both shortstops who both signed for the maximum the White Sox could offer this signing season, and both will start their professional careers stateside. Quintero is from Cuba and four years older than the Dominican Pimentel.

Outfielders

Cabera Weaver is the lone domestic signing, as the White Sox pried him away from the University of Georgia with a seventh-round pick and its $226,200 slot value. He’s speedy and can play center, but his whole offensive approach needs refinement.

The rest of the outfield hails from the international signing class of 2016. If you had to rank them by bonus, it’d go:

  1. Josue Guerrero, $1.1 million.
  2. Luis Mieses $428,000.
  3. Anderson Comas, $425,000.
  4. Anthony Coronado, $150,000.

Coronado would lead the way if you ranked them by debuts, though. He made it stateside at the end of last season after hitting .262/.353/.428 with 19 doubles and four homers over his first 54 games in the DSL.

The others showed less initially. Comas and Mieses both hit for relatively empty averages, while Guerrero hit .222/.290/.348 with 13 doubles, two triples and three homers, but also 54 strikeouts in 55 games.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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jorgefabregas

Mercedes had a pretty decent batting line last year at Great Falls for a guy being converted to pitcher (~.400 OBP, ~120 wRC+). I wonder how bad his defense was.

Eagle Bones

Yeah that one caught my eye as well.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Always fun to read the Hunter Kiel pitching lines in the morning.

mikeyb

Indeed. The beginning of Hunter Kiel season should be a holiday each year.

Lurker Laura

I’m behind on the Hunter Kiel fascination. Can somebody fill me in?

tommytwonines

I think they’re being silly. 

Lurker Laura

Clearly, but he’s been mentioned a couple of times before, so I was wondering if there was a particular reason for the silliness. 

Right Size Wrong Shape

If we had box scores for Ricky Vaughn before he got glasses, it would look like that.

Lurker Laura

Got it.