White Sox Minor Keys: May 16, 2021

Let’s start with a site note: Since Mondays are off days across the entirety of minor league baseball, I’m going to use the regularly scheduled openings to provide overviews of prospect progress (or lack thereof) at each level.

Every other week, Farm Fortnights will run when Minor Keys posts usually run on Tuesday mornings, and they’ll be available exclusively to Sox Machine supporters on Patreon.

Charlotte 13, Norfolk 6

  • Luis González returned from the injured list and went 1-for-4 with a homer and a walk.
  • Jake Burger was 1-for-4 with an HBP and a strikeout.
  • Gavin Sheets homered twice and drove in five during a 3-for-5 day.
  • Brian Goodwin was 1-for-4 with a double.
  • Jonathan Stiever survived a loud game: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K


*Here’s Sheets’ blasts:

Birmingham 6, Pensacola 5

  • Ti’Quan Forbes went 3-for-5 with a double.
  • Micker Adolfo, 1-for-4 with a walk.
  • Carlos Pérez was 0-for-5 with a K.

Winston-Salem 2, Hickory 1

  • Lenyn Sosa wore the collar and the silver sombrero.
  • Yolbert Sanchez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Luis Curbelo walked once and struck out thrice.
  • Luis Mieses was 0-for-3 with a walk and a K.
  • Duke Ellis went 1-for-4.
  • Harvin Mendoza was 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base.

Fayetteville 12, Kannapolis 2

  • James Beard singled twice, walked twice, struck out once and was caught stealing.
  • Bryan Ramos and Sam Abbott both were 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.
  • José Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a triple, walk and strikeout.
  • Benyamin Bailey went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Johnabielle Laureano was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Jared Kelley: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP

(Photo by Laura Wolff / Charlotte Knights)

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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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Any sense yet for how the run-scoring environment in the International League compares to the gopher-ball year in 2019?

Trying to get an idea of how hard I should be banging the table for Gavin Sheets and his 1.000+ OPS to replace Jake Lamb on the active roster.


So where does Sheets play if we were to replace Lamb with him? The way I see it, Vaughn shouldn’t come out of the lineup. Sheets won’t play 1B over Abreu. He probably wouldn’t start over Eaton in RF and he isn’t going to start over Mercedes at DH. Mercedes is worse against righties but he’s still running a 157 wRC+ against them so platooning doesn’t make much sense. So we’d be calling Sheets up to be a pinch hitter and spot starter and based on the way things have gone so far, he gets maybe 10 ABs/week doing that? Is it worthwhile to do that versus letting him get everyday playing time in Charlotte?


It depends on how much their offense struggles, I think there are scenarios where he might be worth a try in RF over Eaton. Eaton gets hurt every year among other things, amazing how he is literally the only outfielder they have who has not spent most of the season on the DL. Talk about ironic. If Eaton continues to hit barely over .200, I could see sheets getting a shot in RF eventually. Hopefully he is not a disaster defensively, this is the first season he has played out there. Eaton is probably better than I think he is, but I am just not a fan… I could see where Sheets comes up and is such an improvement at the plate over Eaton that he makes it worthwhile. Doubtful that he gets promoted soon for reasons you said, but I’ll bet he gets called up immediately if Eaton goes on the DL.

What they really need is Engel back to take over CF sooner than later. I see him playing basically every day when he comes back, hopefully. He would be so much better than their other options in CF. Never thought a spring training hamstring pull would keep him out until almost June, ugh.


If Eaton gets hurt and misses a decent chunk of time, I’m fully on board with Sheets being option A. I think it puts more pressure on whoever is manning CF though so hopefully Engel is back by then as well. But right now Adam’s running a 107 wRC+ and has been worth 0.8 fWAR so I’m not in much of a hurry to replace him with someone we all were considering a fringe bat in 2018.


Still early. Don’t know how Vaughn will perform over the course of the season against righties. wRC+ 68 so far. LF could be a spot where the Sox try to get some additional power.


I’m not suggesting Sheets as a drop-in replacement for Lamb and the role that he plays on the roster. I think you bring Sheets up more as a “let’s take stock of what we’ve got” kind of move. You give him a few dozen plate appearances and some innings in right just to see how much that AAA-success will translate. And it’s not like Eaton is really inspiring a lot of confidence over the last month, whether it’s because of a nagging injury (the charitable explanation) or because he’s cooked at 32 years old (the less charitable one).

If Sheets is a credible threat against RHP and can be at least Vaughn-level competent in RF, then maybe you entertain the idea of a Vaughn-Eaton-Sheets outfield for a few games against particularly tough right-handed starters.

Also to be mentioned: if the Sox had a better track record of self-scouting I don’t think I would be asking for them to experiment this way. But they don’t and before they go to the trade market for outside help it might be helpful to get a full accounting of the assets they currently have.


My concern with Vaughn and Sheets in the outfield together is the defensive drop off. Vaughn has been good at making the routine plays. According to baseball savant though, he’s only made 1 2-Star play in LF. Adam make look “cooked” to you but he’s doing what he is supposed to do and then some in RF and I’m concerned that putting Sheets in RF and Eaton in CF is going to open the door for a lot more hits falling because there is just not a lot of range in that alignment. The last thing we need right now is more stress on our starting pitchers from cheap singles.


I like your idea of Eaton-Sheets vs RHP, provided Eaton starts to hit better than he has at some point. Although I’m sure there would be a dropoff defensively from Eaton to Sheets. I tend to think a much better hitter generally makes up for some extra runs allowed over the course of many games when it comes to corner outfielders, but I have never seen Sheets play. I’m not convinced Engel is not simply better than Eaton vs righties as well, and that Eaton is not worth a whole lot (more uncharitable explanation). I think tough righties are going to be their biggest challenge, and right now the Yankees have Cole dealing it, and Kluber starting to round into much better form as well. Those are 2 very tough righties they will likely have to deal with in October. Sheets might be a way better hitter than Eaton if given a chance, which might help toward that. Hopefully Eaton simply starts to hit better like he did a couple years ago, he is no doubt their best defender in right assuming Engel will wind up in CF. Eaton just looks closer to his 2020 version than 2019 so far, but perhaps in the end that’s they best they’ve got.

Last edited 1 year ago by jhomeslice

You should do Farm “Forknights”, with someone like Fat Johnny’s or Connie’s as a sponsor. They probably wouldn’t pay much, but maybe Josh can get a free chili dog or sausage pizza every other week.


that Charlotte Knights tweeter is an excitable boy

Papa Giorgio

Came here to say the same thing, he loves his caps lock button


>James Beard caught stealing
Infinite sadness


Pandemic has been tough


Jared Kelley seems overwhelmed so far

Greg Nix

JJ Bleday (one pick after Vaughn in 2019) was in the lineup for Pensacola. IIRC some draftniks were saying he was a smarter pick, because he’s a credible outfielder who could maybe play CF for a while. Lots of time to go obviously, but while Vaughn plays a cromulent LF in the majors, Bleday has a .684 OPS in 50 career minor league games (and hasn’t played much center).

The draft is such a crapshoot, but early returns say the Sox nailed Vaughn over Bleday. Now, Vaughn over CJ Abrams… question marks remain.


Did I miss a Blake Rutherford injury, baby, or need for compassionate leave?