One of the weird things about a real postseason run, as short as the White Sox’s might’ve been, is that I’m wholly unaccustomed to having games and series warranting thorough coverage well into the meat of October. Sometimes the White Sox are done by the end of September, so by the time Columbus Day passes, I’m already well into my bag of season-in-review posts, and gearing up for a torrent of offseason plans.
But because the White Sox’s season ended on Oct. 12, I have a two-week backlog of posts, which is a problem that I welcome every season. So I’ll be tackling those to tie up loose ends, while also processing some postseason leftovers and the normal season-in-review activities.
The Arizona Fall League opens play today, with the Glendale Desert Dogs playing the final game of Opening Day at 7:35 p.m. CT. The season runs every day but Sundays through Nov. 20. White Sox prospect Johan Dominguez starts the opener, and he’s one of seven White Sox prospects on the Glendale roster.
Freeman (15th round) and Moore (14th) were drafted a round apart 2019, and they’re a year apart in terms of age (23 and 22) and prospect level (Freeman finished the season in Birmingham, Moore Winston-Salem). They’re both power righties, and both came into the season with control problems that they were able to iron out over the course of productive seasons, earning promotions along the way. Both pitched full seasons without time missed, so they’re here because they earned it, whereas Dominguez and the lefty Olson help fill out a staff.
Rodriguez aced his age-20 season, overwhelming the pitching at both levels of A-ball before earning a promotion to Birmingham during the rain-soaked last week of the season. Whatever he does in the AFL is gravy, because he’s the youngest player on Glendale’s roster, and the fifth-youngest player in fall ball overall.
On the other side of that spectrum is Sánchez, who is one of the oldest players on the Glendale roster, at least in terms of his birthday. He’s 24, but his entire stateside playing record happened this year due to his defection from Cuba and the pandemic erasing the 2020 season. He had a nice first full season, especially since his worst play came in the first month. He wrapped up his regular season by hitting .343 in 39 games at Birmingham, and he and Romy González have the best claim for second base among internal candidates. He has reason to play well, if only because other teams could be interested in him if the Sox end up blocking him.
Céspedes will be drawing the most attention thanks to his age (just turned 24), athleticism, and the fact that he’s one of the few projectable outfield prospects in the system. A late start to the season means he was short on reps, but he got a handle on Double-A pitching by the end of the season, so he should be in a good position to produce in this setting.
* * * * * * * * *
Other farm notes
*Baseball America named Romy González the White Sox’s Minor League Player of the Year, which he earned by hitting .283/.364/.532 with 24 homers and 24 stolen bases over 93 games at the minor league level, which the White Sox rewarded with a 10-game audition in September.
*BA also released the final park factors for the season, and Kannapolis’ new field played pretty much neutral. There were dramatic shifts in home run rates in the two levels above when compared to 2019. Winston-Salem went from being the best home-run park in the Carolina League to solidly below average for power in the High-A East, while the normally pitching-friendly Regions Field in Birmingham played even in the Double-A South. As a whole, Double-A had a big surge in homers this year, for what that’s worth.
*The Arizona Fall League overlaps with the instructional league in Arizona for a few weeks. James Fox wrote a thorough preview of the White Sox’s instructional league roster at FutureSox.
In reading the instructional league article from FutureSox, I saw Kohl Simas listed as a relief pitcher on the team. I remember seeing the Sox had signed him as an undrafted free agent earlier this summer. The FutureSox article mentioned he had some good Low A numbers so I looked him up at milb.com. He threw 18.0 ip in 10 games in relief for Kannapolis and had an era of 1.50, a whip of 0.72, and struck out 23 while walking 4. (You may remember that not every pitcher in Kannapolis had as much success.)
His dad (former Sox reliever Bill) is currently the pitching coach for the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City.
Maybe there’s something there. Let’s hope. I am well aware that not many undrafted free agents make it to the big leagues. (Although the draft is now half what it was a couple years ago so what is now an undrafted free agent used to be a draft pick in rounds 21-40.)
I was about to say that Simas threw surprisingly hard, but it turns out that’s another undrafted free agent. Zach Cable was hitting 99 at Kannapolis.