With the White Sox bowing out in the first round of the postseason, every prospect that the organization deems worthy of instructional league action should be able to find it when the three-week schedule opens on Oct. 10. Their schedule runs for three weeks starting on Oct. 10.
Baseball America released the White Sox’s instructional league roster back on Sept. 22, which was before Garrett Crochet came down with forearm tightness. It’s refreshing to see all the position players listed, because I’ve been wondering how a year off is going to warp player development. Any action is welcome.
For instance, Jim Callis wrote up the review of progress at the alternate development site in Schaumburg, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of news for non-pitchers. A guy like Andrew Vaughn — low-minors in experience, high-minors in talent — could benefit from facing the array of upper-level relief arms biding their time, so he gets a fair amount of attention.
Otherwise, the other non-pitchers of note are Jake Burger (“got some much-needed at-bats and moved well in the field”) and Blake Rutherford:
He encouraged the White Sox by doing a better job of driving balls to his pull side and of backspinning balls at the alternate site.
That could be a welcome development, or it could be something that’s said in service of trade value, even as a throw-in. Without scouts being allowed on the premises, it’s hard to say otherwise.
Meanwhile, James Fegan talked to the White Sox’s prep pitchers who got reps in Schaumburg, Jared Kelley, Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist. Like Vaughn, you can see how this half-lap, half-applied-learning setup would benefit players who have to bring along certain pitches…
The hitters in Class A would have been an ambitious challenge for Thompson and Dalquist, and certainly for Kelley after he was limited to 12 innings for his senior season at Refugio High School. Instead, they spent two months before heading off to instructional league facing the likes of Nicky Delmonico, Zack Collins and Yermín Mercedes, multiple times per outing. The closest thing to an A-ball hitter they faced was Andrew Vaughn, and that’s not very close. They don’t publish the stats of the sim games in Schaumburg, but the subtext is the young arms occasionally got lit up. It was with a purpose, though.
… but there’s not much in it for the referenced hitters, aside from a paycheck and the chance of being a bad break away from another crack at the majors.
This replicates the dilemma at the heart of the minor league contraction talks over the last year. Are so many players and levels needed? Can’t a smaller group of players achieve the same quantity of success with more concentrated hands-on instruction? I can see the argument for pitchers making bigger developmental leaps on the back fields and labs since a lot of pitch effectiveness can be quantified. I don’t know how position players prove themselves as hitters and defenders without the on-field reps. I suppose we’ll get a better idea of whether these guys have been dealt a setback when the instructional leagues are surveyed, at least assuming that any impartial reviews are possible.
(Photo courtesy of the Chicago White Sox)
The culling of the minor leagues is a classic penny wise, pound foolish move. You can’t grow the game with less kids playing and less ways to watch and immerse people in the experience. Sucks. Hopefully competence takes over at some point with a vision for growing the game. This PE-style management is horrid.
I don’t know what mlb’s end game is, its unique that they had so many minor league affiliates as compared to the other major sports but are they hoping to have a setup where basically all high school kids go to college to develop their games then only a few of the elite 18 year olds enter the draft? Doesnt seem like thats a great idea. They are gonna need at least 3 or 4 levels of minor league baseball.
With aging curves, the trend would seem to be younger. Big names entering the league at 20, 21. I would think baseball might try to get more preps and develop them more quickly. But I don’t know how a contraction plan would jibe with that
Well stated – I completely agree.
This makes me think about the push to get more minorities playing the game.
What better way to inspire the youth of our country to take up baseball than to reduce the chances of actually playing professionally?
Perhaps this started when all MLB owners got together at Manfred’s house for a movie night and watched “Wall Street”?
It does seem weird that they tried to hard and won the right to pay these guys sub-minimum wage and now they don’t even want to employ them.
Sometimes even capitalists don’t understand capitalism. There’s money to be made in minor league baseball. If MLB teams extended an investment of $5 million/year or less — the equivalent of a Gio Gonzalez — they could split profits with minor league owners, pay players, and bring the love of baseball coast-to-coast and preserve the future health of the game The average fan now is a white male in his 50s. I teach community college and can tell you young people are not interested in baseball as they once were.
I may be in the minority, but I am perfectly OK with reducing the amount of minor leagues overall. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for higher wages and better conditions for them as well, but the amount of leagues, teams, and players in the minors is pretty high. I just don’t get how Jorgan Cavanerio’s 19 starts in Winston Salem is bringing fans to baseball. I think every organization could cut out 30-40 players without missing a beat.
Also, side note, I’d love to see organizations use a separate facility for training similar to Schaumburg for players. They sort of do with extended spring training in Arizona, but for it to become a more common practice. For instance, in 2019, Alec Hansen wasn’t getting anything out of playing in games. I’d love to see teams pull guys from rosters, put them in their “labs” for a few weeks, months, or even full seasons if need be. Don’t think it works for every guy in every scenario, but I think controlled scenarios are in certain instances easier for guys to develop than going to the plate every night and going 0-4.