White Sox Minor Keys: July 13, 2022

Minor league baseball players picked up a victory over the winter when Major League Baseball announced that it was going to handle leases and accommodations for most of their players on minor league rosters. Given how minor leaguers are used to being treated, the news was greeted with a guarded sort of optimism, because the advocacy groups saw risks in leaving housing situations entirely up to teams that don’t have to live in them.

James Fegan looked into how it’s going for the White Sox, and right now, they appear to be one of the teams those groups were worried about.

The White Sox estimate that they have committed more than $1 million to developing their housing program this year and say that the accommodations they provided to players at every level have either met or exceeded MLB requirements. In conversations with The Athletic, however, White Sox minor leaguers — who requested anonymity over concerns about potential professional consequences — questioned whether the White Sox just aim to meet the minimum standards, rather than exceed them.

Fegan identifies two big issues, and one of them — the construction delays of apartments near Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis — is the one that I get. There isn’t much in the way of housing near the new downtown Kannapolis park, so while it’s suboptimal that they’ve been relying on extended stay hotels that require a car and lack ways to store and prepare food, those issues should be resolved shortly. The disparity in markets across minor league baseball make some cities harder to solve than others, so some wrinkles are to be expected when they’re all held to the same timetable.

The other one — mandating that players share bedrooms at Double-A and lower — leads to some thorny privacy issues.

The White Sox have been strict about requiring a marriage certificate as proof in order for a player to secure their own bedroom, which to the players, underscores the exacting nature of the team’s approach to the housing policy and led to some players eloping midseason. “You shouldn’t have to rush these huge plans in your life just to be with someone that you want to be with,” one player said.

The White Sox acknowledged they received two proof of marriages submitted after opening day, but contend that asking for proof of marriage was necessitated by some players initially being dishonest about being married.

This gives the White Sox farm system the ring-by-spring feeling of a bible college, and while they’re in charge with developing professional futures, this seems like it can easily cross the line into meddling in players’ personal affairs. The Advocates for Minor Leaguers group says the White Sox are bringing up the rear in this regard, because the teams that mandate bedroommates are limiting it to A-ball.

Again, I wouldn’t expect this transition to be flawless, and I can see it taking a full season to grapple with the unintended consequences from policies that intend to save money, but end up cutting corners. It’s a discouraging start for the White Sox, but that’s kind of a theme this season. Let’s see how they finish it.

Charlotte 3, Lehigh Valley 1

  • Yasmani Grandal played catcher and first base, going 1-for-4.
  • Adam Haseley was 1-for-3 with a sac fly and stolen base.
  • Carlso Pérez, 0-for-3 with an HBP.
  • Lenyn Sosa went 1-for-4 with a double, strikeout and stolen base.
  • Yolbert Sánchez was 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Tyler Neslony went 1-for-3 with a K.

Montgomery 11, Birmingham 4

  • José Rodrígueez went 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base.
  • Oscar Colás was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk.
  • Yoelqui Céspedes doubled, singled, walked, got plunked, struck out and stole two bases.

Notes:

*Curt Bloom will get a shot at calling a White Sox game for ESPN 1000 on July 24, which is awesome for him.

Winston-Salem 8, Asheville 3

  • Colson Montgomery went 0-for-4 with a walk and an HBP.
  • Bryan Ramos doubled, singled twice and struck out twice.
  • Luis Mieses doubled, singled, walked twice and struck out once.
  • Adam Hackenberg went 0-for-4 with a sac fly and two strikeouts.
  • Matthew Thompson: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 1 WP

Salem 3, Kannapolis 2 (completion of Tuesday’s game)

  • Wes Kath went 2-for-4 with a double.
  • DJ Gladney tripled, walked and struck out twice.
  • Wilfred Veras went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and a stolen base.
  • James Beard wore the collar and silver sombrero.

Kannapolis 11, Salem 2 (Game 2, 7 innings)

  • Wes Kath went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks.
  • DJ Gladney, 1-for-3 with a double, walk, strikeout and stolen base.
  • Wilfred Veras was 3-for-4.
  • Brooks Gosswein: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
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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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lifelongjd

Would there be any chance of Colas being brought up in September? He’s a much needed LH bat, is 23, and just keeps hitting.

chipporter

see: Adam Haseley

In The Russa’s world, all players brought up from the minor leagues are understudies of Leury Garcia, regardless of position or handedness.

GrinnellSteve

It seems to me that removing the stress of bad living situations and having to make new arrangements as you move up mid-season would provide difficult-to-measure-but-tangible-nonetheless results on the field. Add to that making proper nutrition easily available to all players 3 times a day would also pay dividends. I have no science to back this up, but I bet someone does.

Treating the players with dignity is never the wrong choice.

dongutteridge

What does that have to do with finishing in second place this year and scraping into a wild card spot? Does that buy any tickets to the games?

HallofFrank

Chicago Tribune headline for July 14th, 2024: “Montgomery extends professional on-base streak to 327 games as Sox fall to Royals 6-1.”

jorgefabregas

The Fegan article mentions that even if a player is married and thus gets their own room, the couple is still roommates with “several” other players in the same apartment. Seems less than ideal!

Right Size Wrong Shape

That’s great news about Curt Bloom! During the rebuild I listened to a fair amount of Birmingham games and thought he was great. I was actually disappointed that he wasn’t considered (or maybe he was?) when Andy Masur got the job (who I was not a fan of) when Farmer passed away.

IllinoisJones

Wait wait wait… do I have it right that MLB *mandates* that players AA and under share bedrooms? If a team wants to provide individual apartments to their players they aren’t allowed to??

What in the WNBA chartered flights is this?

itaita

Not the MLB. Just the Sox do it for Double A and most of the rest of the league does it for Single A only(but not every team i dont think.). Its still shitty but as mentioned in the post in some cases depending on the town it can be harder to find a place for everybody. I still find it weird why they nickel and dime them so much down there. You would think the teams would see the profit in having minor leagues really running well and providing the most talent possible but i guess not.

asinwreck

Jerry Reinsdorf made the money that gave him the ability to purchase the White Sox in real estate. Providing inadequate housing for his employees sums up how inadequate he is as the head of this business.

soxfan

The problem with the minor league housing situation is that there are folks with a diverse set of circumstances but an attempt to find an equitable “one size fits all” solution.

Unmarried a-ballers drafted out of high school being asked to share bedrooms isn’t really all that different than college freshmen or junior enlisted personnel in the military. But not everyone wants to live in a “dorm” and would prefer a stiped to structured housing. But the available leases constrain players as they move between levels and cities. So the teams build structured housing that constrains choice. I am under no illusion that MLB, MiLB, and/or the White Sox are trying to do the “right thing” but even if they were it’s an incredibly complex situation for which there are no easy answers.

At the end of the day, there are lots of careers that require people to live lifestyles they might not prefer to live other than their interest/need to continue in that profession. Truckers, military personnel, and consultants are often away from home. Third-shift factory workers often have to deal with disrupted sleep schedules. International construction and resource extraction workers often live in remote camps with roommates or other shared arrangements and are often away from their families for weeks if not months on end. Folks that work in a chemical plant or mine are exposed to hazardous chemicals. The list goes on.

Again, that’s not to say that the living conditions of the minor leaguers can’t or shouldn’t be improved, but the idea that there’s something untoward about sharing a room or requiring evidence of marriage to take advantage of an employment perk ignores a lot of analogous situations.

metasox

I would also imagine there will be some sharing of ideas – what works, what doesn’t – throughout MLB. So, hopefully the Sox will gather information and follow whatever become best practices

soxygen

After 4 decades of fandom I’m still waiting for the Sox to fully embrace the best practice of scouting upcoming opponents.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
a-t

The thing is: these young men are not truckers. They’re athletes, and moreover, investments with huge payoffs for a team. One say 10th round pick becoming a cheap 3-WAR player is worth an immense amount of value, in terms of dollars, to the major league club. Giving your minor leaguers the best chance to be as good as they can is just good business.

It’s the rare minor league city that is by American standards expensive in living expenses, and generally only AAA cities (Charlotte for instance is averagish) at that. Property in Kannapolis, Winston-Salem, and especially Birmingham is extremely cheap; judging by Zillow, the White Sox could outright buy multi-bedroom condos, townhouses, or houses at an approximate average cost of (generously) $70,000 per bedroom… maybe half that in Bham, frankly.

If today the Sox owned zero housing units in Kanny, WS, and BHam, they could buy housing such that every player in every roster spot in those three affiliates has his own bedroom, for a one-time investment of the scale that the White Sox lose under the couch. By which I mean: the amount they are paying Leury fucking Garcia to be the worst goddamn player in baseball. Not the whole contract— just this year alone!

This is a crucial part of player development. One low draft pick becoming a useful utility player has them breaking even on buying permanent housing for nearly 90 players.

metasox

Doesn’t seem even one deep-pocketed owner is all-in which makes me think some owner peer pressure is keeping the bar low.

Greg Nix

The easiest solution would seem to be “pay everyone enough that they can afford to choose their own housing.” Alas.

soxfan

But it’s not. Unless you’re going to guarantee that folks aren’t going to move between levels or unless you’re going to pay enough for a corporate/furnished apartment/hotel room rather than a typical apartment. If Montgomery signed a season long lease and then got promoted, he’d be scrambling to find a sublettor so that he could refund his stipend/housing budget in high-A. And since he’s a 19-year old (20?) without a lot of sophistication or history of renting or moving, he’d probably need organizational or family support to make that happen in a way that wasn’t disruptive to his ability to play and develop.

You can’t just rely on more money and the rental market because the rental market isn’t built for economical short-term living arrangements. You can’t just rely on the teams because the teams’ and players’ incentives are different from each other and varied within their groups.

If there was an easy answer it would’ve been done already.

phillyd

Maybe an owner could “invest” in the development of a large housing complex, quarantine 30 of the units and rent out the remaining hundreds of units to other tenants and profit out of the whole situation. Yeah, I know it is not nearly as easy as I make it sound or easy at all, but something I would try if I were in the position.

jorgefabregas

Now that Knights are at home, I can more clearly explain something I tried to highlight on twitter. Statcast is publicly available for their home games. To view the game feed, grab the milb.com box score URL. Could be something like this:

https://www.milb.com/gameday/ironpigs-vs-knights/2022/07/13/666223#game_state=final,game_tab=,game=666223

Go to baseball savant and pick any random game (or remember/copy this URL format)
https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/gamefeed?gamePk=661375

Then copy the number that identifies the Knights game (=666223) and paste that to replace the equivalent in the baseball savant URL to get
https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/gamefeed?gamePk=666223

jorgefabregas

Non-bolded version for easy clicking https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/gamefeed?gamePk=666223

chipporter

***Neslony – OF – Throws L, Bats L, Potential Leury Garcia Understudy.

jorgefabregas

Yolbert had the highest exit velo for the two games I checked, which is kinda interesting, but more of a factoid without an easy way to get average/max.

soxygen

My favorite thing about 2022 White Sox baseball is Johnny Cueto