Pandemic stalled White Sox’s international results, but hopefully spared progress

Player, coach or executive, Marco Paddy might be the hardest member of the White Sox to evaluate.

The bar for the team’s international scouting director was set so low that you and I could clear it simply by not actively defrauding Jerry Reinsdorf and the United States government. Paddy being knowledgeable and networked makes him an improvement by an indistinguishable exponent, regardless of results.

Speaking of which, Paddy’s greatest success is Fernando Tatis Jr., who cannot be discussed by White Sox fans without being accused of picking at scabs. He hasn’t had any comparable developments with any players that required a normal amount of money, but then again, his front office keeps trading away cash he could use to increase the number of chances, and most of the farm system’s depth was built on top-five picks and other teams’ prospects. Maybe he’s doing fine on his end, but player development is to blame?

This being the case, when James Fegan tweeted out his story about Paddy’s international department with a quote about the pandemic…

… my mind ran with it two ways.

  1. A typical lemonade-from-lemons mindset, but welcome nevertheless.
  2. The White Sox’s international department is behind to such a degree that a once-a-century pandemic actually helps.

The second one is a touch too cynical, but at some point, the program needs to produce players who can put Winston-Salem in their rear-view mirror. José Abreu and Luis Robert are the only ones who have done so, but they required the team to commit around $120 million between them. Eight-figure bonuses are no longer allowed. Now what?

That’s where the pandemic doesn’t help, because we haven’t been able to see whether there’s anything to the promising DSL seasons from Benyamin Bailey and Ronald Guzman, or the stateside debuts of Jose Rodriguez, Bryan Ramos and Yoelvin Silven. Chris Getz talked up Yolbert Sanchez’s instructional league work, but I’ve also never heard of anybody ever looking awful in instructs, unless “he’s working on [facet]” is purely a euphemism.

Losing this past season in particular also hurts, because the White Sox won’t have Great Falls or an equivalent as a gentle first step outside of the Arizona complex next season. I’m curious to see how the White Sox will handle this rare surge of performing teenagers and prep-heavy drafts without an extra short-season league to relieve some of the roster pressure. I’m also curious to see whether the four full-season affiliates we know and love will continue to be a part of the White Sox in the future. There’s a lot up in the air right now, and I’m not sure how much control anybody has over the proceedings. Paddy just happens to be a bigger mystery than most, at least to me.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of prospects, Baseball Prospectus became the first to release a top 10 list for the White Sox in 2021. Nick Madrigal headlines the list because his separated shoulder caused him to miss enough time to retain his eligibility. Why Codi Heuer is on the list at No. 9 I’m not certain, because logged more than 45 days of service time and thus won’t be considered a rookie in 2021. Perhaps BPro is adhering to the pre-2020 rules, instead of the amendment that included September service time this year.

None of the names in front of Heuer surprised for their inclusion:

  1. Nick Madrigal
  2. Andrew Vaughn
  3. Garrett Crochet
  4. Michael Kopech
  5. Dane Dunning
  6. Jared Kelley
  7. Jonathan Stiever
  8. Andrew Dalquist

Heuer’s appearance is a surprise, and so is the name after: Avery Weems, the Arizona senior lefty signed for $10,000 in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. He struck out 74 batters against 10 walks in the Fire League and Great Falls, a marked improvement over his final season with the Wildcats that led to this dismal Baseball America scouting report:

There’s nothing in his Wildcats career that suggests he’s a candidate to be drafted except for the fact that he’s left-handed and can be an inexpensive senior sign. He’s a pitchability southpaw who throws strikes, with a low-90s fastball that touched 94 this year. He complements the fastball with an average curveball and an infrequently used changeup that comes in straight. Weems’ 2019 season was marred by inconsistency, with a final ERA of 7.15 and issues in making accurate throws to first base.

But BPro sees him as a guy who now sits mid-90s and a better breaking ball who looked great in instructs. You can apply the previous caveat here, but I’m inclined to give this write-up a little more credence because BPro wouldn’t be the captain of the Weems Team. A member of the Sox Machine community had started building the bandwagon during and after the 2019 season.

Aug. 22, 2019, was the first mention:

Avery Weems, our 6# pick this year is having a very nice year.
He gave up 4 earned runs in one start and five earned runs total in his other 10 starts. Yesterday five innings of shut out ball with nine strike outs.

He reaffirmed the attention a day later, when digger0910 asked everybody who their favorite lower-level prospects were:

Victor Torres for me,
and now Avery Weems.
1.64 era 49.1 innings/ 43 hits / 9 earned runs/ 63 strike outs 1.05 whip

And he remained steadfast in his support of Weems in the Great Falls season recap that year:

Weems is 22, plus 3 months. so still 22 to begin the 2020 season. I’d love to see him make it to High A next year. Lefty Starters are in demand.

Whenever the next minor league season starts in earnest, it’s really going to suck not having Lil Jimmy around for it.

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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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GrinnellSteve

I didn’t know Jimmy, but I agree: his loss is enormous to all of us who appreciated his Sox insights.

I like that Top 10. Gives me hope.

shaggy65

Even if you leave Heuer on the list, doesn’t his 2020 performance move him up higher? I know he’s not a starter, but doesn’t an impressive high-leverage reliever in the majors rate above a 3rd Rd high school pitcher with no real professional experience?

what

Relievers typically do not have a large FV in prospect rankings. When accessing a prospects Future Value Dalquist has a higher value because of A: His potential for growth (just 20 years old) and B: Being a starter he has more potential to throw more innings to Heuer. Codi is a fantastic reliever but we are already seeing his ceiling while Dalquist has remaining projection to explore

knoxfire30

I have had this knock on fv-listings and rankings for a long time, guys with potential to be high end closers or set up men usually are severely downgraded but if you are a 26 year old possible backup catcher look out! I dont get it, especially as the game has evolved into two halves at this point with most starters going 5 or less and relievers going the rest of the way.

John SF

I think that projection systems have done a better job at assessing reliever value recently as it’s been shown that relievers will eat more and more innings each season.

At one point in 2017, the Fangraphs projection system had really over corrected for that and was listing guys like Zack Burdi in the blackened of the top 100 prospects. The problem is that high end relievers are still quite volatile and they have no where to fall. But potential starters often have high leverage reliever as fallback built into their value.