For the first half of the season, the 2023 Arizona Complex League White Sox’s roster was almost entirely composed of international signings. To borrow from Pedro Grifol, that might’ve been neat and cool in certain years, but regarding this particular team, it just meant that they weren’t very good.
If they stick to the same plan next year, it could be a whole different story, considering how unusually polished the 2023 DSL White Sox offense seemed to be. But the talent didn’t manifest itself here, and most of the draft picks who made professional debuts in Arizona only enjoyed brief stays. The ACL White Sox finished the season 21-35 thanks to the league’s worst offense …
|ACL White Sox||19.6||4.29||10.7||26.1||.237/.333/.334|
and a pitching staff that was only decent.
|ACL White Sox||21.4||6.00||12.3||24.7|
(Note: For the most part, I’ll be reviewing individual players in the post covering the affiliate with whom they finished the season. In the case of Ryan Burrowes, Ronny Hernandez and George Wolkow below, while they were added to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers development list after the conclusion of the ACL season, they didn’t appear in a game, so they’re covered here.)
Ryan Burrowes: Some of Burrowes’ game suffered in the transition from the DSL to the ACL, particularly in the OBP department. He more or less hit the same (.266 in the DSL to .260 this year), and for power (.392 SLG to .386), but his plate discipline took a hit. He went from 25 walks and 34 strikeouts to 12 walks against 51 strikeouts.
He lost some steam over the course of the season …
- June: .269/.388/.463 over 80 PA
- July: .256/.289/.372 over 45 PA
- August: .250/.272/.292 over 53 PA
… and there was an injury in the middle of it, as he played in just one game over the first 12 days of July. The timing lines up with the erosion of his power, and his ability to draw a walk.
On the plus side, he logged 43 games of playable stateside experience in his age-18 season, and he made 32 of 41 starts at shortstop, so he still has youth on his side. That’s the benefit of younger international signings.
Ronny Hernandez: Hernandez built upon his fine DSL debut with his first season stateside. He hit .338/.430/.493 with three homers, a triple and 12 doubles over 172 plate appearances. He also maintained his handle on the strike zone, with 22 walks against 35 strikeouts, so he was the team’s best hitter in all regards at age 18, so the Sox have already gotten their $30,000 worth. If he showed cracks anywhere, it was behind the plate, where he cut down just 10 of 43 runners, but there’s a lot of noise in rookie ball catching stats. The White Sox didn’t play him anywhere else defensively, so they must be believers for now.
Erick Hernández: Conversely, the White Sox’s rare $1 million Dominican teenage signing hasn’t found any professional traction. He cooled off after an encouraging start in his DSL debut last year due to leg injuries, but then he hit .145/.295/.210 over 78 plate appearances in the ACL. He also played most of his games in left field, which isn’t a positive development. If he goes the way of Josue Guerrero, there may be another six-year gap before that kind of outlay.
George Wolkow: Considering he’s 17 years old and 6’7″, one can only be encouraged by the Downers Grove product’s professional debut. He hit .225/.392/.325 over 51 plate appearances after the White Sox drafted him in the seventh round and paid him well over slot. He struck out in 11 of 13 games, but he also drew at least one walk in each of his last six games, and he had enough time to notch his first homer and a couple of stolen bases. He probably should start next season in the ACL, but maybe he gets a taste of Kannapolis sooner since the White Sox let him train there after the completion of the short season.
Christian Oppor: He turned 19 shortly after the White Sox drafted him out of junior college in the fifth round, and he turned in a positive professional debut. Oppor made five appearances covering 7⅔ innings, and he allowed just six hits and two walks while striking out nine. It’s exactly what you want to see from him in short stints, but his draft stock lost a little steam because he didn’t maintain his stuff over the course of starts, so the next step will be a sizable one.
Jake Peppers: When your first professional season comprises just four appearances, it only takes one to spoil the line. Peppers stumbled in his debut, allowing three runs on a pair of hits and a pair of walks over two-thirds of an inning. In the other three games, he struck out eight against just four baserunners over five innings, which is more like it. The ninth-rounder out of Jacksonville State turns 22 in December, so Kannapolis is a sensible starting assignment at some point in the first half of the 2024 season.
Chase Krogman: After failing to make it out of Kannapolis as an outfielder, the White Sox converted Krogman to pitching. An April assignment with the Cannon Ballers proved too ambitious, as evidenced by a 34.71 ERA(!!!) over four appearances. When he resurfaced in the ACL in mid-June, he experienced similar issues with control, but then something clicked. Krogman allowed just three hits and four walks over his final 10 appearances, striking out 17 of the 36 batters he faced. He’s 22, and lots of players get looks on the mound in a last-ditch effort to salvage a career, but that last stretch is worth filing away if he remains in the organization after the winter.