White Sox Minor Keys: Aug. 16, 2021

Justin Yurchak

Hey, remember Justin Yurchak?

What if I called him Clifton Park‘s Justin Yurchak?

If that still doesn’t ring a bell, it’s not necessarily your fault. Yurchak, a 12th-round draft pick out in 2017, hit .293/.390/.407 over 155 games split between Great Falls and Kannapolis in 2017 and 2018 before the White Sox sent him to the Dodgers in exchange for Manny Bañuelos, who is almost as easy to have forgotten.

He intrigued me for his batting eye — he drew 88 walks against 86 strikeouts over 632 plate appearances — but more so for hailing from New York’s Capital Region, because I’m always partial to those guys. He came from the same high school (Shenendehowa) that produced Braves righty Ian Anderson, who went third overall in the previous year’s draft.

Yurchak’s plate discipline was legit, but he struggled to hit for meaningful power and he was a liability as a first baseman, committing 11 errrors in 80 games for the Intimidators. The White Sox seemed like they had Corey Zangari competing for the same position at the same level, so Yurchak was expendable.

Skip ahead three seasons — or two seasons and a pandemic — and Yurchak is hitting .370/.454/.504 across 75 games in his age-24 season. The first 62 of which came in High-A, which might be the case of his experience winning out among uneven competition. But now Yurchak is hitting .431/.491/.627 through 13 games at Double-A, which is why he’s the subject of a profile in David Laurila’s Sunday notes column at FanGraphs, where he talks about his pedestrian 2018 in Kannapolis:

“That year, I got off on a bad track and had a hard time figuring out what was wrong,” Yurchak told me on the final Friday of July. “There was a little bit too much movement in my lower half. Part of it was that I wasn’t gathering my legs under my body. When I was landing in my load, there was a little bit of a slide with my hips, and my bat was dragging. Had I been able to make [the needed] adjustment earlier, I think the season would have gone differently for me.”

The adjustment he ultimately made came in a different uniform. Originally in the Chicago White Sox organization, Yurchak was dealt to the Dodgers in November of 2018 in exchange for Manny Bañuelos. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Arizona for a hitting camp, and it was there that he “learned a lot about swings” — particularly his own. The level of instruction differed from what he’d experienced with Chicago.

“They’re definitely two different orgs,” acknowledged Yurchak, who takes his cuts from the left side. “The White Sox do it well, but the Dodgers are a little bit more analytical. I’ve had a little more video and technology to help me progress, to go through the progressions needed to improve.”

The season after the White Sox traded Yurchak, the White Sox finally invested in hitting analytics personnel in the minor leagues. The high-profile hiring of Matt Lisle fizzled quickly, but Ryan Johansen stuck, as he’s the White Sox’s assistant hitting coordinator. Devin DeYoung has also taken on more responsibility, advancing from general coachdom to the hitting coach for the ACL White Sox, so the Sox have evolved at the lowest levels. Yurchak’s being kind by saying the Sox “did it well” at the time he was party of things, but hopefully they’re doing it better now.

ACL White Sox 8, ACL Indians 7

  • Colson Montgomery went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and an HBP.
  • Wilfred Veras went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and a walk.
  • Logan Glass was 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout.


*Veras’ slam:

*Montgomery’s single:

DSL White Sox at DSL Orioles1 PPD

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Corey Zangari retired just this season as well. How the Sox gave up a .390 OBP guy is beyond me.

As Cirensica

I had forgotten about this Yurchak player, and it seemed we sold low on him as Banuelos amounted to nothing. Good story. Thanks for sharing it.


Always nice to be reminded of how the Sox lag behind other orgs in player development.

Last edited 2 years ago by dansomeone

So the Sox gave up on a hitter that turned into a promising prospect for another organization, because the Sox couldn’t develop him and the Dodgers could. Outstanding.

I’ve made the suggestion before that the Sox should look to hire somebody from the Dodgers player development people, just to see what they are doing. They aren’t just better than the Sox, they are better than everybody. To still have a decent farm system after winning 90 games the past 8 years and not having a top 20 pick during that time is astounding.


Alec Hansen continues to be incredible. He’s pitched 15 innings and only given up 9 hits, allowing a paltry .173 batting average, striking out 26 hitters. He’s given up just one extra base hit, a double.

However, he’s walked 28(!!!) guys, and he’s given up 20 runs. But his ERA is only 6.00 because a full half of those runs are unearned. His WHIP of 2.47 is higher than Lance Lynn’s ERA. He’s averaging 24 pitches thrown per inning, with just 49% of them being strikes. I love him so much.


He’s the new Steve Dalkowski.


I knew his overall numbers were bad but when I read your first couple sentences was like “what the…”. Hilarious click bait!

As Cirensica

It’s hard to allow hits when you don’t throw hittable pitches.


Just before the announcement that Grandal’s rehab was moved to Charlotte…

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Last edited 2 years ago by Steve