AFL Report: Yolbert Sánchez had best fall of all White Sox prospects

The Glendale Desert Dogs had a chance to play in the Arizona Fall League’s championship game, but the Suprise Saguaros usurped the second-best record with a 5-3 victory over Glendale in the final game of the season. As a result, the Dogs finished 17-13 over the 30-game schedule, which was the third-best record in the AFL, but also the third-best record in their own division, with both Surprise and Peoria a half-game ahead.

It was an equally uninspiring finish for the class of White Sox prospects involved, although adjusted for expectations, one stood out as excellent, and one can be designated a disappointment. We’ll be starting with the latter.

AFL Report

YOELQUI CÉSPEDES

DateABRHRBIXBHBB/KSB/CSEtc.
Nov. 1530000/2
Nov. 163010
Nov. 17
Nov. 19
Total7281313 2B2/222/0.181/.244/.222

A resounding success for Céspedes might’ve forced people to take notice and update his timeline. Instead, the performance validated the pessimistic assessment of the Céspedes the White Sox signed, which is somebody who’s too aggressive to make use of his strength.

That’s not necessarily damning. He just completed his first full season stateside after two years off. and his production at Winston-Salem and Birmingham were fine, even if there were a couple of caution flags. It’s more that the fizzle at the finish makes it hard to pencil him into any 2022 plans at the major-league level, and the White Sox system’s outfield depth kinda rides on him.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

DateABRHRBIXBHBB/KSB/CSEtc.
Nov. 15
Nov. 1630000/2
Nov. 17
Nov. 19
Total6251413HR, 3B, 2B4/102/0.226/.273/.323

Rodriguez had a similarly flat finish to his fall ball season, but his season was already wildly successful, what with 567 plate appearances for four different teams in his age-20 season. The assignment to the AFL was a little bit of a heat check, and one that caught him at the end of his longest season by far. His prospect stock has already risen plenty, and he didn’t have the strikeout problems that troubled Céspedes, or anything else that would’ve undermined any of the progress he made.

YOLBERT SÁNCHEZ

DateABRHRBIXBHBB/KSB/CSEtc.
Nov. 15
Nov. 164020
Nov. 17
Nov. 19
Total354148HR, 2B10/21/0.400/.533/.514

Sánchez only got in one game the final week of the season, so he could only tie his teammates’ hit totals in the hit column, when he had a shot of drawing 14 walks as well. He had to settle for the highest average on the team, and the highest OBP of anybody who lasted the full season (Nolan Gorman posted a .565 OBP, but only played in six games).

Sánchez won one of the season’s hitter-of-the-week awards, and he talked about the confidence boost such a close provides:

“It has been a very, very good experience,” he said of the Arizona Fall League. “I’ve been fortunate to be around talented players that have been playing at different levels and that have different backgrounds. I’ve been learning from them and I’ve been learning from the experience here and just getting used to what baseball is in the U.S.”

Like Céspedes, Sánchez is 24, which is why his strong showing is fortuitously timed. He too had a nice season at Winston-Salem and Birmingham, and the carryover to the AFL and exceptional strike-zone control makes his first cup of coffee in 2022 seem especially likely.

PITCHERS

PitcherIPHRERHRBBK
Dominguez122415143714
Olson13151094212
Moore10.21155259
Freeman10.29320611

It’s seldom easy to pitch in the AFL, and this year was no exception. The league as a whole hit .263/.369/.417, which is another reason why evaluators were particularly down on Céspedes’ showing.

It’s also why the lines of Caleb Freeman and McKinley Moore are better than they initially appear. Both issued more walks than you’d care to see, but Moore held his own despite no experience above A-ball, and Freeman solidified his gains after a career-long season. J.B. Olson shows what can happen when you throw too many strikes in Arizona, and “the fall of Johan Dominguez” could have multiple meanings now.

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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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Bman41488

Yolbert is interesting. Ideally he would be quality depth in AAA due to his lack of experience above AA but given his age and performance, I hope the front office gives him a real shot to compete for a roster spot w Romy and Mendick

Trooper Galactus

I hope the front office has moved on from Mendick as an option, but Romy has earned his spot on the bench and shouldn’t be supplanted by Yolbert until he shows what he can do at AAA. I’d prefer they not be overly aggressive with Sanchez as we’ve seen generally poor returns from rushing prospects.

Bman41488

I agree re: Mendick. His time on the squad should be over unless injuries plague the team

Last edited 8 months ago by Bman41488
burning-phoneix

Would Yolbert be considered a “Rushed” prospect? He’ll be 25 next season and debuted in the Cuban league in the 2015-2016 season. To put that in perspective, he would be drafted in the same draft class as Carson Fulmer and Danny Mendick.

I agree that Romy has earned his shot but there should be serious consideration for bringing up Yolbert to shore up the Major league side next seasons.

Trooper Galactus

To date, no, he hasn’t been what I’d consider “rushed”. But if they’re forcing him into the 26-man roster at the start of next season, yeah, I think that would be a bit of a rush. Mendick and Fulmer were both collegiate draft picks who older when acquired and had an uninterrupted path to the majors, with the latter being rather rushed himself. They aren’t really comparable.

Yolbert played in the Cuban Leagues ages 18-20 and wasn’t exactly a star there, lost a year to flee Cuba, barely played the year he signed (against much younger competition in the Dominican Summer League), lost another year of development to COVID, and advanced all the way to AA in his first full season. He absolutely earned that advancement, but unless he’s obliterating AAA from the get-go, they shouldn’t be penciling him into any plans based on his AA and AZL stats.

GrabSomeBench

Jim,
Thanks for the write up. I was really high on Cespedes despite his up and down season this year but I would agree that he can’t be counted on for the big club this year. Yolbert on the other hand looks like someone who could fill the hole at 2B. Do you think there is a strong possibility that the White Sox give Romy the shot at second with Yolbert playing the first month or two at AAA? If Romy fails, Sanchez could come up if he continues on this trajectory. I wouldn’t be against him starting at the major league level but it doesn’t seem likely despite his age and Cuban credentials.

GrinnellSteve

I think if plans A and B are Romy and Yolbert, this will be the winter we were warned about in Game of Thrones. Either of these guys could be options, but they have to force their way into the lineup.

I’d feel more optimistic about ignoring RF in free agency and relying on Vaughn and Sheets to cover that and DH than I would about ignoring 2B and relying on Mendick, Gonzalez, and Sanchez.

HallofFrank

Agreed. If they signed Semien then rounded out the roster with some depth adds, I’d be happy.

Augusto Barojas

Semien first choice, Baez second. Either would be a massive get. I hope we start seeing some rumors that they are actually interested in anybody that would be worth getting excited about.

burning-phoneix

I feel the opposite: I’m more concerned about filling in RF with a legit OFer than jury rigged 1st basemen and trying to fill the 2B slot with more appropriate prospects. The system is BARREN in regards to outfielders but there’s plenty of Infielders that can be given a shot.

Trooper Galactus

This I’d agree with. At a minimum, several guys could at least provide some value with their gloves up the middle, whereas we’d have to place a lot of faith in Vaughn and Sheets really breaking through with their bats to bolster their defensive shortcomings. As for Engel, I guess the jury is still out on exactly what he is truly capable of over a full season.

Trooper Galactus

I think far too many people were over-optimistic on Cespedes. The tools are legit, but expecting him to just shoot to the majors within a year was just wildly unreasonable given his specific situation. Personally, I’m not even penciling him in as a late-season reinforcement, but a guy who, with a good 2022 run in the minors, is on a good track for a 2023 debut.

Trooper Galactus

I believe both Cespedes and Sanchez have something to offer at the MLB level, but if the White Sox hold either 2B or RF open (i.e.-free of a multi-year commitment) to keep a spot warm for either of them, that’d just be organizational malpractice. This offseason can’t move fast enough; I’d like it if they could just strike fast in free agency and get me past my fear that they’re going to half-ass another offseason.

peanutsNcrackerjack

My fear is that Jerry’s direction is that there are no new contracts until the Kimbrel trade is done.

Trooper Galactus

If that was his direction, then picking up his option was a terrible idea from that perspective alone.

jorgefabregas

White Sox ZiPS projections are out. Here are the 2B prospects ranked by 2022 major league OPS+ projection (the projection is close enough that you could call all 3 tied).
1. Jose Rodriguez
2. Yolbert Sanchez
3. Romy Gonzalez
https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2022-zips-projections-chicago-white-sox/

Trooper Galactus

Popeye probably has the best bat of the bunch, but his glove still needs to catch up a bit. I think Gonzalez is another Leury type whose defensive value comes more from his versatility than his highlight-reel play.

burning-phoneix

Who’s Popeye?