The White Sox’s approach of devoting the most international pool money to older Cubans hasn’t paid off, but it’s fair to wonder if that’s Marco Paddy’s preference, or whether it’s a strategy forced by Jerry Reinsdorf. Perhaps Reinsdorf looked at the swings and misses on seven-figure teenage signings like Franklin Reyes and Josue Guerrero and decided that he’d rather only spend the money on players who didn’t need to start in rookie ball, and so Paddy had to contort his approach accordingly.
In Paddy’s favor, this year’s Dominican Summer League White Sox affiliate had its best year in forever. The team finished 32-22, a record that’s the envy of every other White Sox minor-league team, and what stands out is an offense that was both disciplined and younger than average.
|DSL White Sox||17.3||6.65||16.0||19.3||.263/.408/.384|
The White Sox had the second-highest OBP in the DSL by finishing second in walks and HBP, and the .263 average ranked fourth.
On the other hand, the pitching left a lot to be desired.
|DSL White Sox||18.0||6.43||11.9||22.8|
That doesn’t come as a surprise, because Baseball America’s international review only mentioned two pitchers, and one (Fabian Ysalla) was recently converted from shortstop. The White Sox emphasized hitting with their recent class, and at least that side of the ball came to play.
Javier Mogollon: Baseball America’s lead sleeper pick was wide awake in his debut season. The 17-year-old Venezuelan hit .315/.417/.582, and led the team with 10 homers despite standing a listed 5’8″ and 160 pounds. He also finished second on the team with 11 stolen bases, and while he played two-thirds of his innings at second base, he played an errorless shortstop. That only covered 108 innings, but errors can pile up even in small samples in the DSL. He counted as a sleeper because he signed for just $75,000.
Abraham Nunez: On the other side of the investment spectrum, the White Sox’s $700,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic lived up to the billing. The White Sox’s $700,000 hit .299/.427/.442 over 185 plate appearances, showing more gap power for the time being (eight doubles, two triples, three homers), but he led a surprisingly patient DSL team with 33 walks against just 22 strikeouts. He played most of his innings in center field. He turns 18 next February.
Stiven Flores: The 17-year-old, $250,000 signing out of Venezuela made a run at .400, but had to settle for .391/.456/.477, with 15 walks to just seven strikeouts over 147 plate appearances. He threw out a respectable 20 of 49 baserunners and made all 29 defensive appearances at catcher (with seven starts at DH), which could indicate promise of staying power behind the plate.
Angelo Hernandez: The fellow 17-year-old Venezuela catcher signed for twice as much as Flores, but didn’t offer nearly as much at the plate, hitting .232/.436/.304 over 78 plate appearances. His defense was more highly regarded in BA’s write-up, but it hasn’t yet reflected itself in the paltry stats available from the DSL.
Adrian Gil: Not to be confused with the other Adrián Jesus Gil who signed with the White Sox out of Venezuela as a 17-year-old in 2021 and pitched in seven games this year, Adrian Alejandro Gil, currently 17 and also out of Venezuela, hit .340/.481/.517 with five homers and 11 doubles over 190 plate appearances, and is another guy with more walks (25) than strikeouts (21). He’s shown the least defensive utility of the group, playing mostly first base with a sub-.900 fielding percentage at third.
Rafael Alvarez: Baseball America said the 18-year-old, $350,000 signing out of Cuba possessed right-handed power, and the White Sox liked his potential to convert from outfield to third base, but neither manifested itself in his first professional year. He hit .215/.461/.333 with just seven-extra base hits over 141 plate appearances, and his fielding percentage at third also started with an “8.” Like just about everybody on the DSL roster, he had more walks (32) than strikeouts (31), but the latter column is pretty high for an 18-year-old in the DSL.
D’Angelo Tejada: Finally, somebody who didn’t help the White Sox’s plate discipline numbers. Tejada, a $350,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic, hit .255/.324/.309 and didn’t homer over his 170 plate appearances. He led with his defense with what seems like credible shortstop play. He made all 37 of his defensive appearances there, and his 10 errors isn’t bad for the level.
Juan Uribe Jr.: The favorite son is not exactly a chip off the old block, because all he did was draw walks. He hit .131/.384/.150 with 24 walks in 86 plate appearances. He had nearly four times as many strikeouts (31) as hits (eight).
Marcelo Alcala: Alcala didn’t appear in the preseason write-ups, but he’s another 17-year-old Venezuelan who contributed to the team’s outstanding OBP. He finished the year hitting .245/.417/.408 with 11 extra-base hits over 127 plate appearances, drawing 20 walks and nine HBPs. The 29-percent strikeout rate suggests why he didn’t stand out before the season, and it might keep him from ascending, but let’s blurb him just in case.
Luis Reyes: Considering Reyes and Nunez shared the biggest signing bonus of the class ($700,000), his season line — 7.17 ERA, 30 walks over 37⅔ innings — isn’t the most encouraging initial ROI. Halfway through the season, the White Sox shifted him from starting to bulk/long relief, and he appeared to find something that worked:
|First 9 games||15.1||27||6||19||21||14.09|
|Last 7 games||22.1||11||0||11||28||2.42|
He finished the year completing four innings with regularity, so I’d assume he’ll open the 2024 season as a starter. The bigger question is whether it’ll be in the DSL or AZL.