White Sox prospects provide convenient first impressions in first spring games

(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The fun-sized spring training means fewer opportunities for prospects and non-roster invitees, but some members of the White Sox who aren’t part of immediate plans were able to see immediate action due to a season-opening split-squad date with the Cubs on Thursday.

The White Sox won both games — 5-2 at Camelback Ranch, and 4-3 at Sloan Park in Mesa — blasting a combined five homers over 13 combined innings of offense. White Sox fans also came away winners, at least if they had a full cable package or out-of-market access on MLB.tv. They could flip between NBC Sports Chicago and Marquee Sports Network to watch their prospects of choice.

That’s precisely what I did, and numerous said White Sox prospects cooperated. Five of them provided visual examples of progress they’ve made or need to make, and one was just great to see doing anything at all. Let’s start with that guy.

Oscar Colás

Normally, a pitcher like Kyle Hendricks might be a difficult assignment for a player who hasn’t seen standard professional game action in two years. A spring training version of Hendricks who cares more about getting pitch counts up than executing an entire arsenal might be an ideal bridge for somebody who last took meaningful cuts in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Colás did what he needed to in his first stateside plate appearance, driving a Kyle Hendricks two-seamer to deep left center for a sacrifice fly and the game’s first run.

The other at-bats were tougher tasks — he struck out in a lefty-lefty matchup against Cubs 2021 first-round pick Jordan Wicks, then got aced on a backdoor slider from sidewinder Scott Effross in the sixth. There’s a lot of value in him just seeing pitches with intent, no matter the quality, so a season-starting assignment in A-ball would be understandable.

Yoelqui Céspedes

Céspedes is one of the more divisive prospects in the White Sox system. His last name, signing bonus and decent first stateside performances combine for easy excitement among fans who have never seen him play. Those who have watched him closely are concerned that his big swing generates impressive highlights, but the pitch recognition will relegate them to few and far between.

So after a rough performance in the Arizona Fall League, it’s nice to see him make a mark in the limited spring action he’ll receive, hitting the day’s most impressive homer.

Without radar-gun readings, it’s hard to know if he stayed back on a 2-1 changeup or stayed down on a 2-1 sinker, but either one is a pleasure to see considering the difficulty he had getting contact against Double-A pitchers in the air.

His flare to center escaped a diving catch attempt for a single in the fourth, and even his sixth-inning strikeout could’ve been worse. He fell behind 0-2, but extended it to seven pitches by laying off a slider low, a fastball high, a slider low, then fouling off an offspeed pitch before getting outguessed on a fastball down the middle to end it. Previous versions of himself would’ve returned to the dugout sooner, so there’s that.

Micker Adolfo

I’m waiting to see if Major League Baseball allows teams to carry expanded rosters for the first weeks of the season — and given that they’re considering bringing the Manfred Man back for extra innings after initial reports said otherwise, there’s reason to believe that plenty of other elements will change shape during the shortened spring.

One would probably assume that the 27th and 28th roster spots would go to extra pitchers in order to preserve arms, but the White Sox could use one for Adolfo to buy themselves a little extra time in trying to sneak him through waivers, unless his spring performance generates enough interest in a change-of-scenery trade. This is a fine way to start either conversation.

Bryan Ramos

Unlike Colás, Ramos had to deal with Hendricks’ craftier side. He took the first two curves for strikes, then could only stay back long enough on a third one to pop out meekly to the right side.

Ramos had a more comfortable approach with the platoon advantage against Wicks, turning on a 1-2 fastball and hoisting it over just over the left-field wall. That’s the ability to lift the ball to the pull side that I mentioned in his top prospects write-up.

(This was also the first-ever plate appearance of baseball my son watched, as I brought him downstairs from his nap between innings.)

Ramos played third, which is his most natural position, even if he’s not a sure bet to stick there. His inexperience showed in consecutive plays in the fourth inning, first cutting off a routine play for Danny Mendick with a dive that knocked the grounder into left field.

He then was part of a slapstick-like display on a high pop-up down the left-field line. He didn’t necessarily do anything wrong — it was more on Mendick overrunning the ball — but they bumped into each other, which didn’t help Mendick’s attempt at backtracking.

They weren’t the only victims of the vaunted high sky, as you’ll see in a bit.

Yolbert Sánchez

After hitting .400/.533/.514 in the Arizona Fall League, Sánchez is hitting .500/.667/1.000 over three plate appearances in the Cactus League. He’s the one who turned the second inning into a scoring threat with an automatic double to the right-center gap off Hendricks …

… and he later drew a tough walk against Wicks.

He finally lost his percent OBP his third time up with a flair down the right-field line that should’ve ended the inning. Here’s the other run-in with the high sky down the other right-field line.

If he keeps this up, he’ll make the Josh Harrison signing look like overkill, which is what a productive farm system does with regularity.

Luis Mieses

During his last couple months at Winston-Salem last year, Mieses showed the makings of a possible outfield platoon bat. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but it represents progress from previous years, where he didn’t look like anything. He has one of those aesthetically pleasing left-handed swings … at least against right-handed pitching.

It worked out that way in his first-ever Cactus League game. He started the second-inning rally with a broken-bat single into right field off Hendriks, then came around to score on the Sánchez double and Colás sac fly.

Facing the lefty Wicks, Mieses didn’t look comfortable pulling the trigger, and swung through a slider that stayed up and over the plate for strike three.

But then when he got a chance to see Effross’ long arm action coming at him, he got around on an 0-1 fastball on the inside corner, splitting the right-center gap for a triple.

His afternoon started and ended on high notes, and it’s nice when they help summarize the state of a previously anonymous prospect. Mieses wasn’t alone in this regard on Thursday, and nobody would mind if they made it so easy on us throughout the 2022 season, wherever they’re playing it.

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yinkadoubledare

so i take it you would like the Manfred Man to be earth banned

Joliet Orange Sox

The joke didn’t quit work but I liked the post because it was a good effort.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox
tbsoxfan

Very happy to see baseball again, and I love being able to watch live all the prospects I read about.

Bryan Ramos in particular has me very excited at the plate after ZiPS placed him in the #20 overall prospect slot. Here’s hoping this game was a good omen.

I also will stick to my guns that, sure, Jose Rodriguez could stand to take a few more pitches, but he has such a “young star shortstop” swing that I think he can just like drive his way to the big leagues a la Tim Anderson

Trooper Galactus

I think both Ramos and Veras are prospects to watch and I personally think they’re both top ten in this system. Both are ahead of the age curve, have plus tools to lean on, and have demonstrated an ability to hang with more advanced competition than their age and experience suggests.

joewho112

Baseball!

MrStealYoBase

Any word on what Adolfo’s arm looks like nowadays? Before TJ he was supposed to have the best outfield arm in the system but I haven’t seen anything about whether that’s still the case.

Not related but as far as the prospect of Conforto manning RF, I have to think the following is true at this point: 1. The Sox have checked in with him/Boras, 2. The Sox don’t want to commit to more than a 1-year pillow deal, 3. Boras thinks he can do better, & 4. Boras is probably right.

roke1960

I think you have the situation pegged exactly. The Sox don’t want to commit 4-5 years on Conforto because they are banking on either Colas or Yoelqui being their long term RF. The only part of your reasoning that might be off is I’m not sure Jerry is even willing to commit to a 1-year high $$ deal. But I’m sure Boras is still looking for a long-term deal for Conforto.

tommytwonines

They could have committed to a 1-year deal if Hahn wasn’t reliever/utility crazy

Augusto Barojas

I highly doubt the Sox have even checked in with Conforto. There is no indication they had any plans of addressing their RF situation at all. It’s only fans that have speculated that Conforto is a good idea, because they are smarter about baseball and have more of a desire to win than Reinsdorf.

If they could even get him on a total gift 1 year for $12-15M that would still be too expensive for Reinsdorf. They haven’t given more than 8M 2022 salary to anybody this winter. They can’t afford him now because of the dipshit Kimbrel option.

Last edited 1 year ago by Augusto Barojas
calcetinesblancos

I mean, Boras can definitely do better than whatever laughable offer the Sox would make. This “offer” would probably also come with a bunch of “incentives” that evoke the vibe of that Charlie Kelly gif where he’s in the mailroom explaining the conspiracy.

Foulkelore

One thing I found interesting related to the Sox broadcast: Stone basically said they need a different backup catcher without saying it directly. First, he specifically detailed how the second catcher for this team should be strong defensively. Then, he jumped on the opportunity to point out how a run scored, because Zavala didn’t block a pitch (runner advanced to second so that he was able to score on a single), relating it to what he was previously talking about. So either he knows that’s still a goal for them (I hope so), so he’s as frustrated as the rest of us.

calcetinesblancos

Do we think the value of Collins as a trade commodity went up even a little due to the universal DH?

Foulkelore

Ideally, it would have, but I don’t think he’s even shown he can hit enough to be valuable.

joewho112

Most teams prefer a designated hitter who can hit

jhomeslice

Collins major league career is going to be very short. He can’t field or hit. Unless he learns how to pitch, there aren’t a lot of jobs for him.

calcetinesblancos

Still annoyed he wasn’t stretched out more when the team was bad.

Last edited 1 year ago by calcetinesblancos
HallofFrank

His value is tied to being a catcher, I think. He should be an interesting flier for a rebuilding team. I’d have liked to see Collins on 2018 White Sox, anyway. But I doubt there’s much value there.

calcetinesblancos

So many bad uses of playing time during the “rebuild.”

Never forget that the Paul Konerko Retirement Tour of 2014 came at the expense of playing time for Marcus Semien.

Trooper Galactus

If Collins were even a slightly below average catcher defensively he’d have some value because his wRC+ of 90 last season is decent for a backup catcher and probably a reasonable projection for him moving forward. Unfortunately, Collins is not “slightly below” or even “well below” average, but rather in the “shouldn’t be doing this” category of catching.

calcetinesblancos

I’m intrigued by Colas. If I’m reading things correctly, he had a decent amount of time in the NPB minors but barely any time in the majors. Is that accurate?

tommytwonines

I would like to see Mercedes get another chance at DH this year.

joewho112

I’d like to see Mercedes traded to a Japanese team for a copy of Cheap Trick Live at Budokan

calcetinesblancos

Signed?

joewho112

Can we do a transfer fee the other way? I could see him killing it in Japan since the pitchers generally don’t throw as hard (or so I’ve been lead to believe)

tommytwonines

I bet he starts the year at DH

dwjm3

Amazing how quiet the market has been for Conforto so far….He is just sitting there on a platter

HallofFrank

He and the White Sox are the couple in the rom-com that everyone knows is destined to be together—but will they figure it out? In this case, will Hahn?

jhomeslice

Hahn can’t convince Reindsorf to spend more on one additional player than the last 3 they signed combined. They made their moves within 48 hours of the CBA, it was their plan all along. They had no intention of waiting to see how the FA market was, not even for a few days. All they wanted was cheapass 1-2 year deals for areas that were not related to why they lost in the playoffs. They executed their plan perfectly. No matter how obvious it is to everybody that Conforto, Castallanos, Schwarber, etc was what they needed, and not what they did (or ever do).

Unless Conforto will play for the league minimum, he’s not coming here.

calcetinesblancos

True, their “we’re always looking to improve” company line is a crock of sh*t.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

In spending 8M on Kelly, 5 on Harrison, and 3 on Velasquez, plus 16 on Kimbrel, they spent 32M on 4 guys who arguably don’t improve the team’s chance of a better playoff result even a little bit.

HallofFrank

If Kimbrel and Kelly are right, those guys are both huge come playoff time. Neither improves their chances of getting to the playoffs much. But having this bullpen should pay its dividends in the playoffs.

I’m not defending the signings. A RF is more important, and it’s a gross oversight to fail to sign one. But the RP corps will come in handy in the playoffs.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I will put Kimbrel being huge in the playoffs very high on the list of things that have almost no chance of happening. The rest of the bullpen should be good, but that was not their issue in the playoffs. Which is why most people feel they have basically the same team and weaknesses as last year.

ParisSox

An aside. As we watch the Dodgers and Braves play a man’s game of one upmanship, I feel like the Sox, to steal from Swingers, are that PG guy who you just hope and wish and by golly if everything goes right, the underdog will have his day.

I want Jerry to sell the team to someone who will make us that rated R guy, not afraid to throw out the occasional 160 million dollar contract.

Foulkelore

Or, Vince Vaughn just needs to tell Jerry, “Baby, you have so much money, and you don’t even know it.”

jhomeslice

The fans should buy the team from Jerry. Franchise estimated to be worth 1.7 billion. It would take a million fans with $1700 bucks to own part of a profitable business. I’m sure some fans would be willing to want more of a stake, so just make it an IPO or auction with 1.7 billiion shares, a dollar per share. Then have some kind of board of directors among biggest shareholders to decide what the roster should be. For a million fans, if we want the payroll up, costs everyone 100 bucks each to up the payroll by 100M, and we would have Semien and Castellanos with enough money left over for a huge party.

A group of fans that actually cared about winning would absolutely put together a much better roster than this group of assclowns. And we’d all make money, too.

ParisSox

I’m in.

Trooper Galactus

Is the Kickstarter up yet?

Trooper Galactus

Hahn is definitely driving a Cavalier.

peanutsNcrackerjack

If the White Sox were planning to get a backup catcher, wouldn’t they have done so by now so he can work with/adjust to the pitching staff? The most simple and obvious upgrade to the 2022 team is not going to happen?? Maybe you can make a case that the internal candidates could fill the right field hole, but there is no case to be made that any of the catchers in the system can meet this critical need. Shameful.

joewho112

It’s so weird because it would fit with their MO: Sign role players to short term deals while avoiding long term contracts to stars. It’s an easy upgrade that would cost like $5M

HallofFrank

That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of this, because I think of the off-season as still ongoing, but you’re right.