White Sox Minor Keys: June 25, 2018

After lighting up the Carolina League in April and June as a 24-year-old, Joel Booker is getting a more age-appropriate challenge in the Southern League with the Birmingham Barons.

That said, it’s not posing much of a problem. Through five games, Booker is 10-for-22 with three doubles, a homer and two walks, which translates to .455/.500/.727. James Fegan said that during a down May, Booker apparently learned how to pull the ball.

But by May, Carolina League pitchers had had enough. They had become focused on trying to jam Booker at every opportunity until he showed the ability to pull the ball with authority, and it was stymying him to a .192/.323/.333 line for the month. Booker has set personal goals to get promoted at the halfway point throughout each professional season, but it was looking bleak in late May.

“Right now I’m probably more comfortable going the opposite way,” Booker said in May. “I don’t feel comfortable right now at all pulling. I like to get the hands extended, work the opposite field.”

At some point since then, he seems to have figured it out.

Charlotte 2, Durham 1

  • Jose Rondon went 1-for-4 with a homer and a strikeout.
  • Eloy Jimenez, 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Michael Kopech: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 63 of 95 pitches for strikes.
  • Ian Hamilton: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K on 12 pitches.

More:

*Kopech details from Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser:

His curveball was the best of his secondary offerings, sitting 81-84 mph and landing on the outside corner to righthanded hitters for strikes at its best, although it wasn’t always consistent. […]

Kopech’s slider, down to 85-88 mph from 90-92, frequently bounced in the dirt and didn’t draw any swings and misses. He threw his changeup just twice, a pair of firm offerings at 91-92 mph.

At the end of the day, it was his fastball he leaned on. Kopech threw his fastball on 76 of 95 pitches, and each of of his nine strikeouts came on his heater.

Montgomery 8, Birmingham 7 (10 innings)

  • Joel Booker went 2-for-4 with a double, walk and strikeout. He was also picked off/caught stealing.
  • Luis Alexander Basabe went 1-for-4 with a triple, walk and two strikeouts.
  • Zack Collins, 0-for-5 with a strikeout.
  • Danny Mendick homered, walked and struck out thrice.
  • Jameson Fisher went 2-for-4 with a walk.
  • Dylan Cease’s Double-A debut: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
  • Ryan Burr: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

More:

*Montgomery ran wild on the Cease-Collins battery, going 6-for-6. They added one more with Brian Clark on the mound.

Winston-Salem 19, Frederick 2

  • Luis Gonzalez went 3-for-6 with a double.
  • Luis Robert, 1-for-2 with a walk, sac bunt and HBP.
  • Blake Rutherford went 1-for-6 with a double and two strikeots.
  • Micker Adolfo, 3-for-5 with a double and two walks.
  • Gavin Sheets went 1-for-4 with a walk.
  • Ti’Quan Forbes went 3-for-6 with a strikeout.
  • Yeyson Yrizarri was 1-for-5 with a grand slam, walk and strikeout.
  • Laz Rivera had an Arby’s night: 5-for-5 with homer and two doubles.
  • Blake Battenfield: 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 1 WP

More:

*The game was scoreless through four innings, yet Winston-Salem somehow set a Dash record with runs.

Greensboro 7, Kannapolis 1 (6½ innings, rain)

  • Luis Curbelo singled and struck out twice.
  • Michael Hickman went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
  • Justin Yurchak, 1-for-2 with a double and an HBP.
  • Carlos Perez was 0-for-3 with a K.

Great Falls 6, Billings 4

  • Lenyn Sosa went 1-for-5 with a K.
  • Romy Gonzalez singled twice, struck out twice and stole two bases.
  • Amado Nunez went 1-for-4 with a K.
  • Jonathan Stiever posted the exact same line as his first outing: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

AZL White Sox 7, AZL Reds 2

  • Cabera Weaver struck out and got plunked.
  • Luis Mieses replaced him, going 0-for-3.
  • Kelvin Maldonado went 1-for-2.
  • Camilo Quinteiro replaced him, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. He also stole a base.
  • Lency Delgado was 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Sam Abbott doubled twice, singled and struck out.
  • Josue Guerrero went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Anthony Coronado walked, got plunked and struck out twice.
  • Brayant Nova went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a strikeout.

DSL Reds 12, DSL White Sox 6

  • Jose Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a walk.
  • Jefferson Mendoza, 1-for-3 with two walks.
  • Jerrick Francees was 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. He was also caught stealing.

More:

*Between the White Sox committing seven errors and the pitching staffs issuing a combined 23 walks, this was a very DSL game

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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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sgp2204

Cease wasn’t particularly good, but he also didn’t get any help from his bullpen or coaching staff. In his last inning, he’s gave up a double and walk to the first 2 batters. Then he struck out the next 2 before the coach decided it was a good idea to put Clark in, which of course led to a 2-run single on the first pitch. 

Now we just need Kopech to string together a couple more starts like that, and we’ll be seeing him in no time. 

knoxfire30

Hamilton is really gaining traction toward a call up at some point this year.

Its a very understated part of the rebuild that the sox have some potential big time bullpen arms across the system with hamilton, foster, johnson, and burdi once he gets back

evenyoudorn

And some more potential fast movers high-ish in the draft.  

lil jimmy

Jonathan Stiever would be you are referring to. A lot to like about this young man.

lil jimmy

Stiever.
Great athlete. High School star running aback/cornerback. Starting basket ball player. Two way player in baseball, and smart. If the White Sox can help him gain a few MPH on the fast ball, he could be in Chicago in a few years

evenyoudorn

Steiver, absolutely, but I was actually thinking of Andrew Perez. I don’t have any idea how it will work out but he seems to be in this vein of picking college closer types and just racing them up the ranks.

CarolinaSoxFan

You are correct: Ian Hamilton looked great last night, worked fast and went right at the Durham hitters. Only threw two pitches off the plate in a 12-pitch inning that featured two strikeouts.

Josh Nelson

Video highlights

evenyoudorn

Thanks for posting all these recently. 

jorgefabregas

Jim says Rutherford would be more exciting if he hit for power (he then hits homeruns in consecutive games). Jim expresses concern over Laz Rivera’s potential in high-A (he goes 5-5). I wonder what else Jim can make happen.

jorgefabregas

He thought he was supposed to keep going 1-4, like you said.

MrTopaz

Have you tried expressing harder?

Patrick Nolan

“Michael Kopech is currently a member of the Triple-A Charlotte Knights roster.”

ndsoxfan

Thanks, Jim

Eagle Bones

That was a good read.

metasox

The results were reasonably good, but if the FB is all that is really working, not sure how encouraging this start is.

Josh Nelson

Watching the start, Kopech was able to locate his fastball wherever he wanted. Up, down, and hitting both corners was giving fits to opposing hitters. He was also able to adjust speeds establishing strike 1 going 93 mph, and then turning it up to 98 mph.

He got himself into jams and then was able to pitch out of it. Kopech made a nice defensive play at home. To me, it doesn’t get more encouraging than last night.

evenyoudorn

…except last night but also with a slider or change. I believe that would be objectively more encouraging.

Josh Nelson

I’ve been watching Lucas Giolito not have any pitches working for most of his starts. I’m ok with Kopech dominating with one plus-plus pitch especially if he gets results like yesterday.

evenyoudorn

I was mainly making a joke, but that’s not the part I was quibbling with. It would be more encouraging for our guy to have more than one pitch working before he tries some non-AAA(A) hitters.

But jokes aside, the FB outside edge tailing away from the lefties on a couple of the swinging Ks… mercy:

Greg Nix

I’m encouraged he could command the fastball well enough to dominate. That’s a huge step over his last three weeks, and a smart way to reestablish confidence and feel. I’m sure he’ll mix in more off-speed and breaking stuff next time.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Definitely encouraging, but isn’t this back to square one? I thought at the beginning of the year that Kopech had to improve locating his offspead pitches before he would be ready to be called up.

evenyoudorn

I think of all the recaps that start with, “once they realized all he had was his fastball…” But it is definitely rad that he didn’t walk or bean a lot of guys. I wonder, though, how many of those walks in the recent outings were because he refused (or was directed against) going away from the off-speed stuff.

ed. this sounds kind of snarky but not intentionally.

mikeyb

Winston-Salem’s not going to win many games playing like that, stranding 10 runners. Clearly this organization doesn’t teach clutch hitting.

CarolinaSoxFan

Watching Kopech from the stands last night, it seems he needed a few innings to find his command. His pitch count during the first four innings, when he was throwing 94-95, was pretty high and the number of balls vs strikes was roughly equal. Many of those pitches looked up.

By the middle innings, when he was up around 96-98 on the radar gun, he was keeping the ball down and looked very efficient to me.

The trainer and manager were out to the mound briefly in the sixth, but he threw a couple of test pitches and stayed in the game. Then made a great play at home to prevent the tying run from scoring after a pitch got away.

In all, he was a lot of fun to watch. Left the game after 95 pitches, but really it looked like he was just getting started.