While the Dominican Summer League’s White Sox affiliate provided immediate returns — at least offensively — the Arizona League roster struggled more with its collective lack of experience.
The AZL White Sox had the third-youngest group of hitters, with a lineup largely constructed of recent high school draft picks and international signings. It showed. Not only did the Sox draw the league’s lowest walk rate, but they drew 45 fewer walks than the next-closest team.
The teamwide impatience hurt their production, but the hitters found ways to compensate. They finished third in homers and fourth in doubles while finishing with the league average batting average of .258. They just weren’t much for taking, unless they were taking one for the team (sixth in HBPs).
When it comes to AZL rosters, you’d rather take young-and-uneven versus good-but-old. It’s not even a mere binary choice, as this White Sox affiliate has been both old and not good in previous years.
As for the pitchers, there’s only one age-appropriate standout, at least if you don’t count second-rounder Matthew Thompson and third-rounder Andrew Dalquist, who combined to throw five innings between them. Joey Jarneski, acquired from the Rangers in the Nate Jones salary dump, averaged more than one walk per inning over eight appearances.
There were no Bryce Bush-like success stories this time around. Basically every player who opened the season on the AZL White Sox finished the season here. Hell, even Bryce Bush wasn’t a Bryce Bush story in 2019, as he went 0-for-9 during a couple of truncated rehab stints. The biggest exception is 22-year-old first baseman Tyler Osik, who ended the season in Kannapolis. He was selected in the 27th round.
2019 prep picks
Matthew Thompson: The second-rounder only appeared in a couple of games, giving up an unearned run on two hits over two innings, striking out two. You can get an idea of what he looks like here.
Andrew Dalquist: Dalquist got into one more game than Thompson, throwing three scoreless innings. He allowed a pair of hits and a pair of walks while striking out two. You can get an idea of what he looks like here.
James Beard: The fourth-round outfielder was called the fastest player in the draft, but draftniks said he would need time to develop a plate approach since Mississippi high schools don’t offer a whole lot in the way of competition. That’s more or less how it played out. Beard hit .213/.270/.307 with a 39.1 percent strikeout rate over 138 plate appearances, and he was 9-for-12 in stolen bases when he did reach. He also committed five errors in 31 games, which is a lot for an outfielder.
Victor Torres: Drafted in the 11th round, the catcher out of Puerto Rico had a quiet start to his pro career. He hit .219/.240/.240 with two doubles, three walks and 28 strikeouts over 100 plate appearances. He allowed 14 passed balls in 26 games, but did throw out 30 percent of attempted basestealers.
Misael Gonzalez: Like Torres, Gonzalez was drafted out of Puerto Rico for six figures at the front of the third day, one round later. Like Beard, he’s a center fielder who really struggled with strikeouts in his first look at pro pitching, hitting .195/.246/.237 with a 40.9 percent strikeout rate over 127 plate appearances.
DJ Gladney: The AZL White Sox boiled down into one player, Gladney had moments in 2019. The ACE alum and 16th-round pick belted eight homers and batted .264 over his first 50 games, which is fine. He also led the Sox with 82 strikeouts over 220 plate appearances, the second-highest total in the Fire League. He drew just 10 walks, but added five HBPs to get his OBP to .309. He also committed 11 errors in 26 games, good for an .849 fielding percentage. Indeed, nobody was more 2019 AZL White Sox.
Logan Glass: The 22nd-round pick was the last to sign, as the White Sox were able to lure him away from a commitment to Kansas. He didn’t get into a game until July 18, and it took him a little time to find his groove. However, 11 hits over three games toward the end of the year raised his line to .284/.342/.403. Like everybody else on this roster, he has a walk-to-strikeout chasm to solve. He drew just two walks to 23 K’s over 73 plate appearances, and both free passes were intentional.
Chase Krogman: The 34th-round pick spurned a commitment to Missouri State toward the deadline and also made his debut on July 18. He only received 22 plate appearances and went 4-for-21 with a walk and six strikeouts.
Jose Rodriguez: The mystery man of the 2018 DSL White Sox became the mystery man of the 2019 AZL White Sox. The 18-year-old hit .293/.328/.505, leading the team in homers (nine) and extra-base hits (19). He went 7-for-8 on the basepaths, and while the nine walks in 200 plate appearances fails to excite, he didn’t whiff all that much for the age and power (45 strikeouts). He played most of his games at shortstop, with 32 games there as opposed to 10 games at second base.
Josue Guerrero: The 19-year-old nephew of Vladimir Guerrero looked lost at the plate before flipping a switch halfway through the year.
- First 21 games: .186/.266/.271, 36.3% K
- Last 22 games: .289/.345/.526, 30.2% K
That’s the first time in Guerrero’s three seasons that he’s shown the kind of talent that earned him a $1.1 million signing bonus in 2016. It clicked for $1.6 million man Micker Adolfo around the same point his career, although Adolfo had injuries to blame.
Bryan Ramos: The youngest player on the roster was also one of the few to walk an acceptable amount. Ramos, a third baseman out of Cuba signed for $300,000 during the penalty period, ran hot and cold in his first pro season, but it averaged out to .277/.353/.415 with an 8.7 walk rate, and a 20.2 percent strikeout rate. He committed seven errors in 30 games at third base, but he probably doesn’t have to move off the position just yet, which was a concern upon signing. All of this is good for a 17-year-old, especially one who doesn’t turn 18 until March.
Samil Polanco: The Dominican second baseman has a low profile, and a thin one (6 feet, 160 pounds). After making his pro debut in the DSL last year, the Sox promoted him to the States, and he more or less held his own:
- 2018: .274/.314/.371
- 2019: .290/.313/.369
He committed seven errors over 39 games between shortstop and second, which isn’t bad for a 19-year-old at the level. We’re back to a big strikeout-to-walk divide (35 to five).
Harold Diaz: Another $300,000 signing in the same offseason as Ramos, Diaz couldn’t build on his encouraging DSL performance in 2018. The 19-year-old Cuban hit just .215/.278/.338 over 72 plate appearances, with just four walks to 17 strikeouts. He made all his defensive appearances at second base, which doesn’t help.
Sidney Pimentel: It’s never good when a guy plays shortstop at age 17 and first base at age 18, but that’s what happened to Pimentel in between his transition from the DSL to the AZL. To be fair, he played 84 innings at short this year, along with those 102 innings at first, but either way, hitting .181/.271/.219 with four doubles and 40 strikeouts over 118 plate appearances is the bigger issue. The Dominican signed for $300,000 two years ago.
Anthony Coronado: His second stint in te AL went far better than his first, as he nearly doubled his OPS from .422 to .833. He’s another guy with a walk rate below 5 percent, but he lowered his strikeout rate to 25 percent and contributed 11 extra-base hits over 109 plate appearances. The 19-year-old signed for $150,000 out of Venezuela in 2016.
OT, but I really enjoyed your appearance on Hit and Run this morning. I listen to more sports talk radio than I should (most of it is horrible), but I do like Matt Spiegel and it was nice to hear an intelligent White Sox conversation for a change.
Yep, Got in the car just to listen. Picked up some brandy and tequila on the way.