Highlighting the standout 2022 Chicago White Sox in Double-A Birmingham

Oscar Colás (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

The Barons endured a rough 2022 campaign, finishing last in the Southern League with a 61-77 record, 20 games behind the league-leading Rocket City Trash Pandas (Los Angeles Angels affiliate). No matter how you slice up the season, the Barons come out on the losing end. Their first-half record was 31-38, and they followed it up in the second half with a 27-40 mark and a run differential of -52 on the season.

On the player development front, the longtime Double-A affiliate became the organization’s focal point when the top prospects, led by number one-ranked Colson Montgomery, gathered in Alabama as part of “Project Birmingham.” This article focuses on five of the most prominent prospects who spent the bulk of the season at the Double-A affiliate. Project Birmingham will be covered separately.


Oscar Colas

As good as Montgomery played this season, he wasn’t the most talked about player to spend time in Birmingham. That honor went to Cuban wunderkind Oscar Colas. Highlight reel defensive plays, speed on the basepaths and a few moonshots will get videos circulating on social media at breakneck speeds.

In 51 games and 225 plate appearances, the 24-year-old left-hander slashed .306/.364/.563 with 14 home runs for Birmingham. If those statistics aren’t impressive enough, he had a respectable K rate of 24%, a whopping ISO of .257 and a wRC+ of 139. Defensively, he spent most of his time in right field, logging 277.1 innings at the corner position in addition to 36 innings in center field. These staggering numbers earned him a late-season promotion to Triple-A Charlotte, where he continued to impress. This type of production has White Sox fans salivating that he could be the long-term answer to the right field problem in Chicago.

Yoelqui Céspedes

Yoelqui Céspedes played in 119 games for Birmingham in 2022. In 512 plate appearances, the 25-year-old right-hander slashed .258/.332/.437. He smashed 17 home runs, generating a wRC+ of 103 and an ISO of .179 while striking out 30% of the time. The 5-foot-9, 205-pounder out of Cuba played 101 games in center field. Given his age and the amount of time he’s spent at Double-A, Céspedes is in line for an assignment in Charlotte next season.

Jose Rodriguez

The 21-year-old infielder joined the Baron’s late last season after a strong campaign in High-A Winston- Salem. His follow-up season in Birmingham did not disappoint. In 104 games, the right-hander slashed .280/.340/.430, smacked 11 home runs and stole a whopping 40 bases. Combine that with a 7.9% walk rate and an impressive 13.6% strikeout rate, and you have a top 10 prospect in the system.

Sean Burke

The 6-foot-6 right-hander out of Maryland played at three levels this season, getting the bulk of his work in the Yellowhammer state. After dominating in Winston-Salem, Burke struggled in his first two months in Birmingham, posting a 6.75 ERA in June and a 7.71 ERA in July.

He dramatically turned things around in August. In 21 innings of work over five starts, his ERA plunged to 2.45, opponents hit .176 against him and his WHIP was an eye-popping 0.95. This performance was good enough to earn him pitcher of the month honors. In two starts in September, his ERA continued to trend downward, resulting in a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte.

Burke has electric stuff, featuring an above-average fastball, curve and slider. Striking out 99 hitters in 73 innings in Double-A proves his stuff will play in the higher levels of the minors. However, it’s the walks that stand out. In Low-A Kannapolis in 2021, Burke walked a whopping 6.43 batters per nine innings. 2022 showed significant improvement in that department as his walk rate plummeted to 4.07 during his time in Birmingham.

Jason Bilous

After being added to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection in November, big things were expected from the 6-foot-2 right-hander out of Coastal Carolina. The season did not go as planned for the 2018 13th-rounder.

Command continued to be an issue as he posted a 5.92/9 walk rate and a 1.59 WHIP in 83 innings. With a low to mid-90s fastball, a plus slider and an average curve and changeup, Bilous struck out more than a batter per inning at the Double-A level in 2022. Despite a 5.27 ERA and a 4.80 FIP, Bilous received a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in early August, where he finished the season. He will enter his age 26 season in 2023.

Lenyn Sosa

In addition to these top prospects, Lenyn Sosa played 62 games in the deep south, obliterating the level with a 142 wRC+, smashing 14 home runs and driving in 48. He hit for contact, delivering an excellent 13.8% strikeout rate and power with an ISO of .218. These astounding numbers catapulted him to two stints in Chicago with the big league team and an extended run in Charlotte to close out the season.

2023 Outlook

Whether from the pitching rubber or at the dish, fans saw a season full of dynamic prospects play in Birmingham. No doubt keeping fans of the longtime Chicago White Sox minor league affiliate engaged for the duration of the campaign, particularly the last month or so. The big question of the offseason is how the White Sox will handle Project Birmingham. Will they return the top prospects to more appropriate levels, or will they keep the team that ended the season intact? Either way, there should be an abundance of talent to captivate fans and observers in 2023.

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Colas, Cespedes, Pollock likely to come back, (Gavin Sheets in the OF), and whichever of Adam Engel, Mark Payton, Adam Hasley being brought back, former prospects Rutherford, Adolfo, and Basabe) make me worry White Sox won’t bring in a LHH OF.

Similar to Mendick, Romy, Leury, Lenyn, Yolbert, Jose Rodriguez (and Remillard and Rivera) makes me think they will not pay for a 2B.

Remember 30th in fWAR for RF and 29th in fWAR for 2B.


the window to spend on 2nd and RF was definitely 2020-22, they do actually have valid in house candidates for 2023 in Colas RF and who ever can emerge for 2nd between Sosa, Rodriguez, Mendick, and Gonzalez.

Sheets, pollock, engel, payton, hasley, rutherford, adolfo should have absolutely no barring on anything the sox plan to do.

A real world series or bust team would look for solid vets at these positions but given my extremely low expectations for this team and their front office the best course of action is probably just having Colas in RF and Sosa at 2nd

Last edited 1 year ago by knoxfire30
Torpedo Jones

I’m on board with giving Colas every chance to win that starting RF job ASAP. While he hasn’t played at AAA, he’s 24 and has crushed the minor leagues to this point. To your point, I don’t trust the front office to add an outside RF at this point – might as well take the risk of rushing Colas versus what we have currently.


I mean this team still needs another OF (Eloy to DH, and not wanting Sheets/Pollock as starters).


I agree. Brandon Nimmo would look good in LF and at the top of the lineup.


I live in Arizona, Dodgers are on TV all the time, 3B will be Miguel Vargas, CF will be James Outman, new pitchers, Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller, they never take a break, they always win, Tony Gosselin was a 9th round s/s, have the Sox ever developed any minor leager, watch the Astros and you’ll see how far the Sox have to go