Micker Adolfo did what he could in 2018 before elbow did him in

The question is whether the breakout White Sox prospect got enough reps to alleviate the stress on his roster situation

He won’t have his health — at least not immediately — but at least Micker Adolfo has closure.

Adolfo was one of many injury updates Rick Hahn had to provide on Tuesday, and it was the most severe of them all. Hahn revealed that Adolfo will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow after experiencing a setback with his throwing program. He’s expected to miss eight to 10 months.

Adolfo opened what has turned out to be a rough year for prospect health when his elbow acted up on him in the beginning of spring training. It turned out he had a partially torn UCL, but the White Sox tried nursing him through it in an attempt to 1) avoid surgery and 2) give him much-needed reps in High-A.

He played in 78 games, hitting .283/.368/.466 with 11 homers, a triple and 18 doubles as a 21-year-old serving as Winston-Salem’s DH. The batting average was a career high, as was the 9.9 percent walk rate. The 27.2 percent strikeout rate was a career low, at least in any season where Adolfo accrued even a decent sample size.

Basically, his hit tool was the biggest area of concern, and that’s the area in which he made the biggest strides. He received positive reports from evaluators who watched him, making a fan out of Keith Law, to name one example.

It seemed like the Sox and Adolfo both got what they could out of an awkward balancing act before the other master needed serving. Adolfo couldn’t go much longer before any setback would take a big bite out of the 2019 season. Rick Hahn sounded sanguine about the circumstances:

“We’re hopeful to have him back in the vicinity of 8-10 months, which would have him hopefully with an affiliate by May 1 of next year,” Hahn said. “Obviously not great news for Micker, but going back to Spring Training, initially we were concerned he was going to end up missing the entire year, and at least this way Micker was able to get over 300 plate appearances at Winston-Salem.

“He had a very solid year from a development standpoint, and will be back in time — assuming everything goes smoothly — with a chance for essentially a full season in 2019. It should not set him behind too far developmentally, but obviously not great news for the kid personally.”

The question is whether these 334 plate appearances are enough to sustain the clear upward momentum he generated last year, because he doesn’t have much room to lose ground.

Normally an abbreviated age-21 season wouldn’t be cause for concern for a guy who showed he could handle High-A. However, the White Sox added Adolfo to their 40-man roster before the season, an unexpected move that might’ve been a reaction to the San Diego Padres’ super-aggressive Rule 5 strategy the season before.

The result is that 2018 is less Adolfo’s age-21 season and more his first option year. And through his first of three option years, Adolfo only has one year under his belt with at least 100 games, which came at Kannapolis last season. Adolfo has averaged just 43 games in his other five.

That’s why the Sox tried to do what they could around the injury. Missing the entire year with Tommy John surgery wouldn’t have counted as an option year, but then they would’ve let that sorely needed year of progress dangle. They probably chose the right course, at least after the roster decision was made.

(It’s worth noting that the Padres’ Rule 5 strategy hasn’t panned out, at least at the most aggressive end. Allen Cordoba, the guy who went from rookie ball to the pros, is hitting .169/.178/.225 in the High-A California League, although post-concussion issues could be a bigger factor.)

There’s individual prospect disappointment here, but it’s exacerbated by the systemwide health issues that have suppressed some rebuild enthusiasm. Injuries claimed Jake Burger for all of 2018 and maybe Zack Burdi, too. They truncated seasons for Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Kade McClure and others.  Even their two first-day draft picks are dealing with issues (Nick Madrigal with a hamstring, Steele Walker with an oblique). Here’s hoping Eloy Jimenez gets back on the field in the seven to 10 days.

It’s also a blow for the international operation, which still is trying to matriculate its first player from the Caribbean to Double-A. Adolfo stood the best chance of doing so, and it’s not clear who even stands the best chance at beating him to meaningful time in Birmingham. It might be somebody like Luis Martinez if he switches to relief work, but the Sox are still searching for their first success story from the Marco Paddy Era who isn’t Fernando Tatis Jr.

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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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Do non-prospects ever get hurt?

Patrick Nolan

Sure. The entire major league outfield was hurt at one point this year. Hope that makes you feel better.


On a positive note, the team surgeon is getting plenty of reps during this crucial period in his development.

lil jimmy

So the team surgeon is good. Now find someone with a magic wand.

Greg Nix

Winston-Salem only has two outfielders on their active roster… so much for the logjam.

Adolfo showed very nice progress this year and did well bouncing back from a tough May. Of all the prospect injuries, this one hurts my psyche the least. With the TJ recovery timeline for position players, he might even be taking swings by the prospect mini-camp in January.

Lurker Laura

Yeah, at least we kinda knew this one was coming. And this is a very different recovery than for pitchers, so…(trying to feel optimistic about something)

lil jimmy

Here’s your assignment Bruce. Walk East till your hat floats.

Lurker Laura

Would have preferred to see Hamilton, but Goméz is a fine choice. Anybody who might be able to get the ball over the plate with some reliability is a fine choice.


Let’s not give Marco Paddy too much credit for the Tatis signing. The Sox valued him a little more than other organizations, but when Hahn called to tell Paddy that Tatis was being traded in the Shields deal – I’m assuming he was informed – he probably didn’t lobby enough for his guy. Either Hahn or Paddy really fu**ed up. Most likely Paddy: “Yeah, he’s a decent player, not an All-Star or anything, Rick, so go ahead.” Or maybe both. 


Not any teenager. I don’t get it, Jim, there’s everything wrong with it. 

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say Paddy made a great pick and then, oh, he traded a teenager, whatever. 

He didn’t know what he had – bad – or Hahn convinced him Tatis was expendable in that deal – also bad. 


The worst part of that deal at the time was the Sox’ scouting dept and FO thinking James Shields was a good addition. NOT the fact that their crystal ball didn’t reveal that a kid who had never seen a pitch thrown on American soil would become a top prospect.

The second worst part of that deal is everyone using hindsight to continue beating that poor, dead horse.


Actually I haven’t beaten the dead horse. I’ve been consistent with my analysis that Tatis should probably get a major-league hit before we put him in the HOF


Exactly. They had no idea. Watch Jim Callis on ESPN after the trade for Shields, it’s out there. 

lil jimmy

For awhile our International Program was David Wilder giving himself bonuses. Then it was no bonuses for anybody. Then we spent the house on one guy.
Some day they’ll get it right.

lil jimmy

Were not Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton results from Pro scouting?


Eaton, I think you’re right, someone deserves credit for that. 

Quintana seems like dumb luck. 


Quintana had not pitched above high A when the Sox signed him as a minor league free agent and had a total of about 120 innings above rookie ball




“The big problem with the deal is that their pro scouting was/is awful”



The Padres picking up $20M of Shields salary is the reason the Sox gave up Tatis. In other words the Sox were “going for it”, but didn’t want any skin in the game.


Yes, but the Sox didn’t think they were giving up such a valuable asset. 


Maybe they didn’t think Tatis was going to be a top 5 prospect, but to get a team to throw in that kind of money they had to know he wasn’t just another guy. It’s especially galling seeing how low their payrolls are going to be. Didn’t the Red Sox also throw money in the Sale deal?


The White Sox didn’t put any cash in the Sale deal, as far as I know. It’s a nice contract and maybe he ends up back on the Southside in 2020? Don’t think the Red Sox, with all their money, can afford him with Price and company. 


According to reports the Red Sox paid the $31.5M tax for signing Moncada in the Sale trade.

lil jimmy

They paid that to sign Moncada. That happened before the trade.


Okay now I don’t know. 

Our Sox didn’t pay the big tax, right?

I think maybe I got it now. 


This is from MLB Trade Rumors. Fuzzy, but it sounds like the White Sox got some kind of financial break.

“That $31.5MM signing bonus was spread out over three years, but the Red Sox are reportedly picking up the tab on the remainder of the money he’s owed and all of the tax obligations as well.”


I would not call it a “break”. The signing bonus was spread out over three years but remained an obligation of the Red Sox. Now, of course, money is fungible and the Red Sox could have demanded cash in any sum as part of the deal. But the presumption at the time of the deal is that the cash remained an obligation of the Red Sox absent other accommodations.


? ?????


The ’16 Sox were a bad team. The reality is that trading any prospects to salvage that lost season would have been a waste. If Shields had been everything the Sox hoped for, it still would have been a bad deal

John SF

Fernando Tatis Jr isn’t a throwaway consideration though. They found him. They signed him. He is a consensus top-5 prospect. That’s basically enough to hang a whole reputation on. I’m always happy (when I stop crying) when I hear how great FTJr is doing. It gives me a reason to believe in anything that team has done, and it the objective result of having a reputation for “losing trades” actually helps Hahn & co moving forward trying to make positive trades.

Eagle Bones

The way I’ve decided to deal with the whole Tatis thing (which has helped immensely by the way) is to pick him up and stash him in my keeper fantasy league. I can now enjoy his success as it brings me many fake championships.


MiGo 9-12 months. Shoulder surgery.

lil jimmy

Sounds like retirement to me. Adios amigo.

Patrick Nolan

You mean adios a MiGo


his name is Fernando Tatis JUNIOR. 
His father hit two grand slams in one inning.  

Congratulations on your find (I believe it was a 300k bonus), White Sox scouting department- here is a banana for your efforts. .