At three-quarter pole, Yolbert Sánchez stands out among depth at Charlotte

There were so many instances last week when the mediocre Norfolk Tides (the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate!) were pounding the Charlotte Knights so badly that it was all I could do to remain in the press box. 

But, then, Yolbert Sanchez would lace a two-strike, opposite-field single, or Micker Adolfo would send a 100-mph-plus line drive over the CF wall, or Carlos Perez would sock one of his club-leading nine homers, and I’d remember why this team can be so intriguing.

Hard to believe but we’re roughly one-quarter of the way through the minor-league season.  And that’s probably a good time to step back and examine the performances of these three prospects, as well as the early results for Blake Rutherford, Romy Gonzalez and a few others.

With each passing game, Sanchez’s ceiling looks more and more like that of a solid MLB regular. Through 21 games, he is hitting a sizzling .321, with a .389 OBP, and seven walks against just 15 strikeouts.  

He has terrific bat-to-ball skills, a line-drive hitter without much power, though he did hit his first Triple-A HR last week, about 400 feet over the CF wall no less! But, at 25, Sanchez’ body has filled out and there may not be much more growth that’s going to take place. He’s not especially fast or athletic, but his work around second base has been encouraging. He seems to have an accurate arm.

Perez, meanwhile, has been one of Charlotte’s most consistent power bats since opening day, and leads the team with 17 extra-base hits. His floor is that of a capable MLB back-up. He has thrown out six of 23 base stealers this year, and is an impressive 101 out of 269 in his minor-league career. He also has just one error and no passed balls in 2022.

Prior to being named acting manager of the Knights, Julio Mosquera was already spending a lot of time in Charlotte working with Perez as the White Sox’ roving catching coach. Perez can only benefit more by Mosquera’s new role with the team.

Trying to guess the MLB potential of Micker Adolfo is trickiest of the three, though his trendline is overwhelmingly positive. His plate discipline is improving, says hitting coach Chris Johnson, as evidenced by a .292 batting average. But power is Adolfo’s calling card — he had the best hard-hit rate among all White Sox prospects in 2021. And after a slow April, Adolfo has two home runs, seven doubles and 11 RBIs through 14 games in May.

His most immediate challenge is to keep up the hitting success while lowering his 38-percent strikeout rate. Improving his defense would help, too. I can’t quantify it (though the Sox probably can) but his outfield play hasn’t seemed as crisp as last year, with a few fumbled balls and poor routes. Yet Wes Helms said at the end of last season that Adolfo was already a major-league ready defender so the potential is there. He does have the best outfield arm in Charlotte.

THE NEXT TIER OF PROSPECTS

It has been a lost season thus far for last year’s sensation, Romy Gonzalez. Injuries have limited him to just 16 of the Knights’ 42 games, and those are mostly forgettable, with a .196 batting average.

I haven’t been able to catch up with Gonzalez but I presume his current injury is a reoccurance of the hamstring tightness that landed him on the IL earlier this month. Assuming he can put these nagging injuries behind him once and for all, I see little reason he can’t finally get going with regular at bats.

(Regular at bats could be tough to come by, with Jake Burger, Danny Mendick and Yolbert Sanchez in front of him, but you have to assume he remains a White Sox priority and it’ll get sorted out once he’s ready to go again.)

Like Adolfo, year two in Charlotte seems to be paying dividends for Blake Rutherford, though I’ve still got no clue what the future holds for him. After a 1-for-18 start to the season, he found his groove and became one of the club’s more consistent hitters. But two hits in his last 24 at bats has sunk his batting average to .266.  He also appears to be getting to more power this year, with five homers and seven doubles in 124 at-bats.  

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?

For convenience sake, I’m ignoring a lot of important pieces, beginning with four Knights hitters on the 40-man roster, Jake Burger, Danny Mendick, Adam Haseley and Yermin Mercedes. While the first three are just a hamstring pull or lat strain away from a quick call-up, depending upon the specific need at the time, Mercedes is likely in a different boat, one that depends heavily on his bat.

The Charlotte roster also includes four other depth pieces: outfielder Mark Payton, catcher/first baseman Seby Zavala, third baseman Ryder Jones and catcher Nick Ciuffo.

The final two members of the 2022 squad are infielders Zach Remillard and Laz Rivera.  Remillard is easily the most improved player from a year ago, boasting a .292/.388/.407 slash line. He’s a sure-handed middle infielder with nice plate discipline, as evidenced by his 18 walks (which is second-highest on the team, behind Zavala with 20).

Rivera is low man on the totem pole, but he remains one of the more consistent players in the batting cage, with surprising power. However, a lot is going to have to change for us to get an idea what he brings to the table.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen
Articles: 24
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mikeschach

not sure about your poles. I was going to ask if you meant the quarter pole – but then I looked it up and the quarter pole is a quarter mile from the finish line – not necessarily a quarter of the race left. I assume the same is true for the 3/4 pole. don’t really follow horse racing so I may have misunderstood

King Joffrey

I think the terminology will be less confusing at the half-way point.

vince

If Harrison continues his poor performance at the plate, what are the chances of him winning the “Adam Eaton free agent DFA’d before midseason” award, and Yolbert getting a shot with the big squad?

jhomeslice

I think that award is going to go to Velasquez first. I doubt they will be as quick to part with Harrison even if they would be well served in doing so if he doesn’t get better. Yolbert can’t be worse.

Last edited 6 months ago by jhomeslice
vince

I should have specified the Adam Eaton award is for position players.

You are thinking of the Kelvin Herrera award.

gibby32

I will note my standard objection to the phrase that “(blank) can’t be worse”. Oh yes, (blank) can indeed be worse.

metasox

Eaton was physically broken. Looking at Harrion’s OPS last season and considering he is due for positive regression, is there a reason to give up on him?

IllinoisJones

positive regression is just called “progression”

vince

Hence the “midseason” – if he’s still rocking a 60 OPS by then I think you do give up on him.

Willardmarshall

How much control do the Sox have over Adolfo’s future?

Jim Margalus

Depends. This season, they can add him to the roster like any player, and if he somehow stuck, then he’d be starting on that six years of team control.

However, he’d have to stick on the 26-man roster, because the Sox can’t option him to Charlotte without outrighting him. And since Adolfo’s already been outrighted, he can opt for free agency if a team doesn’t claim him. He can also pursue free agency if he’s not added to the White Sox’s rosters by the end of the year.

Willardmarshall

Interesting — thanks. He intrigues me probably more than is justified….

metasox

If he could become interesting enough to be added in a trade to a rebuilding team that is willing to add him to the roster before end of yr, that would be a win