2022 Chicago White Sox Instructional League Preview

The Arizona Fall League is largely considered to be a fall showcase for the game’s brightest prospects, but there’s more that occurs in the desert during this time on the calendar in regards to baseball. Instructional league is taking place and organizations typically send their youngest players to get some more seasoning in prior to an offseason break.

Before the pandemic, many teams were opting for a mini-camp like environment and some weren’t playing instructional league contests. Things were mostly back to normal last year, however, and traditions appear to be back on track this year, too. Mini-camp environments have a place in the sport and the White Sox just attempted Project Birmingham themselves but there’s not really a substitute for young players playing baseball games.

Things are happening in the desert and while the Sox used Birmingham as a testing site theoretically to get a look at their top players, intriguing youngsters are currently participating on the back fields in the sun. Seven players will participate in the Arizona Fall League, many are done for the year but the others will be spending October in Glendale.

Instructional league action began on September 18th and clubs will participate throughout the month of October. The Chicago White Sox play their games at Camelback Ranch, the site of their spring training home in Glendale, AZ.

These games will provide some needed reps for some of the youngest players in the White Sox’s farm system. Many were drafted this past July and others are playing in the United States for the very first time.

Who is Participating? (age in parenthesis)

Right Handed Pitchers: Eric Adler (21), Nick Altermatt (23), Ricardo Brizuela (19), Jonathan Cannon (22), Adisyn Coffey (23), Juan Jimenez (20), Will Kincanon (26), Drew McDaniel (21), Tanner McDougal (19), Mark McLaughlin (21), Kade Mechals (24), Jesus Mendez (18), Jose Mendoza (18), Yohemy Nolasco (19), Kole Ramage (24), Johnny Ray (23), Ronny Robles (20), Gabriel Rodriguez (18), Jose Rodriguez (22), Billy Seidl (22), Norge Vera (22), Frander Veras (23).

Left Handed Pitchers: Daniel Gonzalez (20), Chase Krogman (21) , Shane Murphy (21), Noah Schultz (19), Tyler Schweitzer (22).

The highlight of this pitching staff is 2022 first rounder Noah Schultz as he’s currently making his professional debut in Arizona. The 6-9, 220 pound southpaw has impressed team personnel so far in the early going. Schultz posted a 0.93 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched in a prospect league over the summer. The lefty has started where he left off, displaying a 93-96 mph fastball with a plus slider from a three-quarters slot. The White Sox believe that the local product can become a top of the rotation starter.

Righty Jonathan Cannon (third round) and lefty Tyler Schweitzer (fifth round) were also taken in this year’s draft and they are part of the fall instructs roster. The 6-6, 213 pound Cannon threw 6.1 innings to finish the year in Low-A with Kannapolis after a very brief stint in the Arizona Complex League. Schweitzer profiles as a back of the rotation starter and he signed out of Ball State after winning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year this season. 13th rounder Mason Adams was on the roster for the bridge league portion of instructs but he doesn’t appear to be participating currently.

Norge Vera is one of the best pitching prospects in the system and the Cuban made his stateside debut finally during the 2022 season. The 22-year-old is now 6-4 and 185 pounds and he looks the part of a future big league starter. Vera missed half the season recovering from a lat injury but he ultimately threw 35 innings across three levels. The fastball gets into the high nineties and he shows a slider, curveball and changeup as well. The hurler struck out 52 hitters on the year but also walked 31. He’s likely ticketed for Double-A Birmingham in 2023.

Tanner McDougal was selected in the fifth round as a Nevada prep in 2021. He underwent Tommy John surgery prior to 2022 and he missed the entire season. The 6-5, 185 pound right hander oozes projection and he posts elite spin data on his pitches. He should throw in Low-A next year as he makes his full season debut. He struck out 17 hitters in just over nine innings in the complex league prior to being shut down with surgery.

Yohemy Nolasco caught the eye of some scouts when he was pitching on the back fields in Arizona during extended spring training. With a body reminiscent of the Guardians’ Triston McKenzie, he’s extremely projectable with room to add strength. The 6-3, 160 pounder was signed a couple of years ago out of the Dominican Republic but he wasn’t highly regarded at the time. He threw 34 innings in rookie ball this past season and he should debut stateside next year.

Eric Adler, Mark McLaughlin, Nick Altermann and Billy Seidl are righty relievers that were drafted this past July. Adler throws really hard and was taken in the sixth round but he’s battled command for years. McLaughlin was solid with the Volunteers and Seidl posted interesting pitch metrics while pitching at Duke.

Drew McDaniel was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss but he could move pretty quickly through the system. The latest foray into the southpaw pool by long time scout John Kazanas led the organization to Shane Murphy out of an Arizona Community College. The day three selection threw seven innings to close out the year but the 6-5, 210 pounder will pitch some more in instructs as well.

21-year-old outfielder Chase Krogman has converted to becoming a two-way player and he’ll pitch this fall. Will Kincanon is 26-years-old and he doesn’t typically fit the profile of the players on the instructional league roster but he was injured all season and he’ll try to make up for lost time. Righty Kole Ramage also signed after the most recent draft and the White Sox took Adisyn Coffey and Kade Mechals back in 2020. Johnny Ray was a day three selection out of TCU in 2021.

Multiple recent international signees will pitch during instructional league as well.

Lefty Daniel Gonzalez will join a plethora of right handers on the pitching staff. Rounding out the group will be Ricardo Brizuela, Juan Jimenez, Jesus Mendez, Jose Mendoza, Ronny Robles, Gabriel Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez and Frander Veras.

Outfielders: Alvaro Aguero (19), Jacob Burke (21), Godwin Bennett (20), Erick Hernandez (17), Arnold Prado (17), Terrell Tatum (23), Wilfred Veras (19)

Infielders: Brooks Baldwin (22), Dario Borrero (19), Loidel Chapelli (20), Tim Elko (23), Arxy Hernandez (19), Carlos Jimenez (20), Wes Kath (20), Drake Logan (22), Javier Mora (19), Victor Quezada (19), Guillermo Rodriguez (18), Wilber Sanchez (20), Jordan Sprinkle (21), Layant Tapia (20)

Catchers: Troy Claunch (24), Ronny Hernandez (17), Luis Pineda (20), Colby Smelley (22), Michael Turner (24)

The outfield group consists of multiple recent international signings and a pair of draft picks from the last two years. Erick Hernández struggled in his first professional season in the organization. The 17-year-old Dominican signed for $1 million and was lauded for his quick left-handed swing and mature approach. The left-handed hitter and thrower has outstanding work ethic and could eventually project to hit 20-25 homers playing in an outfield corner. Instructs is his first stateside action.

Godwin Bennett put up big numbers in the Dominican Summer League this past year. The 6-2, 170 pound Nicaraguan posted a 176 wRC+ with 11 homers in 41 games. With a 15% walk rate, the outfielder slashed .306/.430/.653 after also posting successful numbers in 33 games in 2021. The 19-year-old should begin the 2023 season in Low-A with Kannapolis. 19-year-old Alvaro Aguero hit seven homers in the Arizona Complex League as well but struggled overall and he’ll participate in instructs too.

Curiously, Dominican slugger Wilfred Veras is listed on the instructional league roster as an outfielder as well. Previously known as a 6-2, 180 pound corner infielder, adding an outfield glove to his bag could prove to be a positive development. The 19-year-old has some bloodlines and he posted a 110 wRC+ with 17 homers in Low-A. In his late season promotion to Project Birmingham, Veras posted a 116 wRC+ with three homers in 12 games.

Rounding out the group is athletic center fielder Jacob Burke. The 6-1, 210 pounder was drafted by the White Sox in the 11th round this past July and he signed for an over-slot bonus of $225,000 out of The University of Miami. The franchise was drawn to his leadership, makeup and premium physical tools despite possessing a 2:1 K/BB rate in college. Burke played five games in Arizona before posting a 126 wRC+ in 22 games with the Cannon Ballers in Low-A.

The infield group is intriguing as well and Cuban second baseman Loidel Chapelli might be the most interesting on the list. The 20-year-old hits left-handed and put up huge numbers in the Dominican Summer League despite being quite old for the competition level. In 46 games, the 5-8, 185 pounder posted a 15% walk rate and hitting eight homers while slashing .344/.448/.636. Chapelli posted a 181 wRC+ and he’ll get his first taste of affiliated stateside ball in 2023.

2021 2nd rounder Wes Kath is back in Arizona as well after an up and down season in Low-A Kannapolis. The 20-year-old third baseman posted a 109 wRC+ in 99 games but he struck out way too often while walking at a solid 13% clip. The 6-3, 200 pounder also clubbed 13 homers with the Cannon Ballers. Jordan Sprinkle and Brooks Baldwin were both drafted in July and they’ll be playing in the infield as well.

Selected in the forth round out of UC Santa Barbara, Sprinkle possesses premium speed and defensive skills but he struggled offensively as a junior. The 21-year-old had some trouble at the dish to close out his first professional season as well but he gained some experience in Low-A during that process. The 5-11, 185 pounder could start the 2023 campaign in Winston-Salem.

Baldwin was a favorite of area scouts throughout the draft process. The 12th rounder out of UNC Wilmington plays everywhere defensively and impressed in the Cape Cod League. The 6-2, 175 pounder struggled offensively to end the season but he got the opportunity to play in 27 professional games in his first season. Two recent international signings have stayed in Arizona to participate in instructs as well.

18-year-old Dominican third baseman Victor Quezada really struggled in the Arizona Complex League after clubbing six homers and posting a 120 wRC+ in the DSL last year. The 6-1, 185 pounder boasts huge raw power but he strikes out way too often. Venezuelan outfielder Dario Borrero has converted to first base and the 18-year-old posted a 101 wRC+ in Arizona.

First baseman Tim Elko and third baseman Drake Logan join the crew from the most recent draft class. Arxy Hernandez, Carlos Jimenez, Javier Mora, Guillermo Rodriguez, Wilber Sanchez and Layant Tapia are all recent international signings as well that have been participating with the club in Glendale.

Michael Turner was drafted by the White Sox on day two of July’s draft. The backstop signed as a senior after playing for Arkansas and he’s known for his defense and leadership. Troy Claunch was also signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. Colby Smelley was selected on day three of the 2021 draft. The former junior college standout posted a 123 wRC+ in Low-A before struggling in 16 games in High-A.

Joining those three in instructional league is a pair of Venezuelans who were signed during recent international periods. 17-year-old Ronny Hernandez hit .268/.383/.526 while clubbing six homers and posting a 136 wRC+ over the course of 34 games. 20-year-old Luis Pineda played in the Arizona Complex League this summer after spending two years in the Dominican. The 6-1, 210 pounder also hit six home runs in 40 games.

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James Fox
James Fox
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upnorthsox

Not sure I’d call Norge Vera their best pitching prospect, at least I hope not. Most hyped maybe.

upnorthsox

Last year I’d have agreed, but his lack of control got exposed with the higher levels and more IP this year.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Yeah, that’s not exactly a controversial take.

upnorthsox

James, I appreciate your enthusiasm but I think it’s a stretch to call a 12th rounder “a favorite of area scouts throughout the draft process”.

upnorthsox

I appreciate your time and effort and read most everything you publish. I was just noting that a 12th rounder is hard to be called a favorite, otherwise he wouldn’t be a 12th rounder. A 6th or 7th rounder with limited upside maybe, but by the 12th your talking about longshots and people’s kids getting drafted.

Jim Margalus

That’s not true. It’s better to judge picks by their draft bonuses, not their round, because the draft pool system warps the order in which players are selected.

The first picks of the third day — 11th through 13th rounds — tend to get paid more on average than players picked in rounds 7-10 because for picks after the 10th round, their bonuses don’t count against the draft pool until they’re paid $125K.

Jacob Burke went in the 11th round, but he was paid the sixth-highest bonus of the White Sox’s 2022 draft class. Baldwin went in the 12th round, and he received the eighth-highest bonus. So his characterization is fine.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Good to see Tanner MacDougal back in action. Hopefully he can be a fast riser through the system.

Wayne

Vera needs to build innings for sure.
Excited to see Chapelli and Ronny Hernandez over from DSL.