White Sox Minor Keys: April 15, 2022

Lenyn Sosa entered the 2022 season as the White Sox’s third-most interesting infielder at Birmingham. That faint praise has more to do with the competition, as Yolbert Sánchez lit up Double-A to end the regular season and made the most of his limited time in the Arizona Fall League, while José Rodríguez climbed three levels in one season at age 20.

Sosa is only 22, so he’s been handling the age-for-level question just fine himself thus far. If anything squelches enthusiasm, it’s that his gains are harder earned. He usually has an arduous month-long adjustment period, and while he eventually goes on to conquer a level, the strikeout-to-walk disparity at the end of a season makes it easy to wonder if he can do it again.

Last year was the first time that a season involved two levels, and so he had two of those rough assimilation periods:

  • May (High-A debut): .233/.240/.340 over 23 games
  • June: .350/.391/.520 over 25 games
  • July-Aug. 8: .293/.322/.457 over 34 games
  • Rest of August (Double-A debut): .190/.217/.276 over 16 games
  • September: .237/.262/.288 over 17 games

Those 33 games in Birmingham included 28 strikeouts against two walks, leading Keith Law to remark in his write-up:

Sosa can play an average shortstop and has a little pop, but my god, is taking a pitch somehow the enemy of the proletariat? He drew just 16 walks last year in 474 PA for a 3.3 percent walk rate, the fourth-lowest rate for anyone in a full-season minor league last year. (The lowest rate belonged to Marco Hernandez, who played in Triple A for the White Sox.) Sosa doesn’t strike out much either, so there’s a little hope here, and the fact that he can play up the middle gives him a path to a major-league role if he would just … take … a … pitch.

Sosa takes notes, because now Sosa is taking pitches. He drew just the fourth multi-walk game of his 353-game minor league career on Friday night, and half of them have come over the first/last week. He’s drawn five walks over his first seven games and 31 plate appearances of 2022. It took him 32 games and 137 plate appearances to get to five walks last year.

The plate discipline worked in other ways against Chattanooga:

First PA: Six-pitch walk.

Second PA: Swung through the first pitch, but took the next two out of the zone before lining a double into the left-field corner.

Third PA: Struck out, but looking!

Fourth PA: Got an automatic ball (pitch clock?), chased a 1-0 slider, fouled off another one, fought off an inside-corner fastball, then took two sliders away and one more inside for the second walk.

Fifth PA: Swung through a 94-mph fastball up, took a fastball for strike two, fought one off, tapped a slider foul off the plate, took a fastball low, fouled off a good fastball low and away, then took a slider off his forearm.

Given his aggressiveness on pitches in the zone (and when he anticipated a fastball), it doesn’t seem like he’s an entirely different hitter, but he’s making pitchers work harder. He’s reached base eight times over the last three games against the Lookouts, and if this is burgeoning skill of sorts, rather than the hottest streak of plate discipline he’s ever had in his career, then it becomes easier to see a path to the big leagues.

When he struck out 10 times for every walk, he had to get stronger than 11 homers (career high), faster than six stolen bases (career high, in 12 attempts), or a superlative defender at short (he’s fine). Give his present skill set an average walk rate, and everything he does on the field may be fine the way it is.

Memphis 6, Charlotte 3

  • Adam Haseley went 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Romy Gonzalez went 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts.
  • Carlos Pérez, 1-for-4.
  • Micker Adolfo also was 1-for-4, but with a strikeout and a CS.

Birmingham 8, Chattanooga 3

  • Yolbert Sánchez went 1-for-5.
  • Lenyn Sosa doubled, walked twice, got plunked and struck out once.
  • Yoelqui Céspedes went 1-for-5 with a strikeout.
  • Jose Rodriguez had his first big game: 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and a strikeout.
  • Nice start for Jason Bilous: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR. 1 HBP

Winston-Salem 11, Greensboro 10 (10 innings)

  • Oscar Colás went 3-for-6 with a double.
  • Luis Mieses went 2-for-5 with a strikeout.
  • So did Bryan Ramos, except both his hits were doubles.
  • Adam Hackenberg went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Matthew Thompson: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 4 WP

Down East 3, Kannapolis 1

  • James Berd went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Colson Montgomery and Wilfred Veras both were 1-for-4 with a K.
  • Wes Kath, 0-for-3 with a walk.
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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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Colas’s third hit was a walk-off single