White Sox Minor Keys: Aug. 16, 2022

It is time for FutureSox writers to huddle and come up with a mid-season Top 30 prospects list. And that means it is time to take a closer look at Blake Rutherford.

Blake’s uneven results last year prompted him to fall off the end-of-season list.  And I don’t see him sneaking back on, though he’s much-improved from a year ago and you don’t have to squint as hard to see him as a future MLB corner outfielder.  

Most importantly, the former 2016 first-round pick of the Yankees has found his power stroke this year.  He has 10 homers, a triple and 19 doubles on the year.  If I had access to his hard-hit data, I’d bet that he is barreling a lot more balls, with vastly improved exit velos.  

A lot of home runs in Truist Field are 330-foot, routine-fly-ball wall-scrapers, but that’s not the case with the Blake’s shots.  They are line drives that clear the right-center fence with ease.

And yet, curiously, nine of his 10 home runs have come at home.

Blake’s slash line on the season is .270/.313/.434. (But he’s currently in the midst of a nice hot streak: .324/.342/.459 in his last 11 games.)

His league average-ish OBP is noteworthy, because it has languished much lower during most of his time in Charlotte this year and last.  In large measure, that’s because Blake is an aggressive hitter, with a walk rate of just 4.7%.  But his strikeout rate is a modest 19.4%, so he’s making a lot of contact and not chasing a lot of pitches outside the zone.

Blake’s manager for much of his 1½ seasons in Charlotte, Wes Helms, talked earlier this year about a more mature Blake Rutherford this season, one who is engaged in the game and with his teammates rather than pouting after a bad at bat.  Helms expressed confidence that Blake would eventually blossom into a power-hitting MLB corner outfielder.

Hitting coach Chris Johnson is also enthused about Rutherford’s growth: “I see him being more consistent,” he said, “More consistent in his work. He is relentless every single day with his routine, working on his path, working on his approach. And he’s really gotten into game-planning this year. He’s done a really good job of looking at the pitcher, figuring out what he’s going to do and how he’s going to beat him. He’s just kind of growing up as a hitter.”

Johnson also acknowledged that Rutherford is tapping into more power this year. “Absolutely,” he said, “Because now he is comfortable with what he’s attacking. He’s looking for a pitch and trying to get his ‘A swing’ off, and that’s what we preach. He’s up there to do damage. He’s got an approach and he’s getting after it.”

Spoiler alert: Blake is unlikely to find his way back onto the top 30 list. There’s definitely prospect fatigue here for White Sox fans and it is more fun to dream on the untapped upsides of 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids. But Rutherford is turning a corner, and looking like a major leaguer for the first time in his career. And for a guy carrying the pressure of being a first-round draft pick, good for him!

Minor Keys

Syracuse 9, Charlotte 8

  • Yolbert Sánchez went 0-for-3 with a walk and a sac fly.
  • Adam Haseley, 0-for-4 with a strikeout and an HBP.
  • Carlos Pérez hit his 17th homer as part of a 2-for-4 night, also drawing a walk.
  • Romy Gonzalez was 0-for-5 with a K.
  • Davis Martin: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HR

Birmingham 10, Tennessee 6

  • José Rodríguez went 2-for-4 with his ninth homer, a walk, and his 40th stolen base. He was also caught stealing.
  • Oscar Colás was 1-for-4 with his 10th homer, and he struck out twice.
  • Yoelqui Céspedes, 1-for-4 with a K.
  • Sean Burke: 4 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 46 of 75 pitches for strikes.
  • Luke Shilling: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 13 of 26 pitches for strikes.

Hickory 15, Winston-Salem 1

  • Colson Montgomery went 0-for-3 with a walk.
  • Bryan Ramos, 1-for-4 with a K.
  • Luis Mieses, 2-for-4.
  • Adam Hackenberg was 0-for-1 with a walk and a sac fly.

Columbia 6, Kannapolis 4

  • Jordan Sprinkle went 1-for-5 with a K.
  • So did DJ Gladney, who doubled for his hit.
  • Wes Kath, 1-for-5 with a homer and two K’s.
  • Wilfred Veras was 2-for-4 with a double.
  • Jacob Burke, 1-for-2 with two walks.

AC:L White Sox 5, ACL Royals 0

  • Brooks Baldwin went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.
  • Luis Pineda was 1-for-4 with an HBP and two strikeouts.
  • Dario Borrero, 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
  • Victor Quezada, 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
  • Cam Butler doubled, singled, struck out twice and stole a base.
  • Manuel Veloz: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

DSL Padres 10, DSL White Sox 6

  • Guillermo Rodriguez went 0-for-5.
  • Ryan Burrowes, 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Loidel Chapelli went 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Carlos Jimenez, 1-for-3 with a homer and a walk.
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Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen
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Augusto Barojas

Viva Colas!

Willardmarshall

What’s Rutherford’s status after this season?

Greg Nix

Single and ready to mingle?

soxfan

He was on the 40-man roster in 2020 and 2021 and had one option left for 2022, but then he got designated for assignment and outrighted to the minors so he’s no longer on the 40-man roster. I don’t know this for sure but I’d assume that there are three options this winter: 1) re-add him to the 40-man roster and use his last option to keep him in the minors again (if the last options doesn’t go poof because of the DFA?); 2) expose him to the Rule 5 draft; or 3) he becomes a free agent.

(I know this is an at-best incomplete answer, but I’m hoping that by posting the wrong answer Cunningham’s Law will take over and provide the right one.)

upnorthsox

He’d be a FA. He was exposed to rule 5 last year and wasn’t selected. :shrug

Right Size Wrong Shape

I am so happy to see Rodriguez turning it on this last month.

Also, weird that Davis Martin always looks good with the Sox, but every time I see a Charlotte box score he’s getting lit up.

Augusto Barojas

Yeah that doesn’t make sense with Martin. It was kind of like when Crochet first came up in 2020. His ERA his prior year in college was 4, and yet somehow he dominated MLB hitters right away. It did not make sense that guys in college seemed able to hit him at least a bit based on his numbers, and yet MLB hitters were overmatched. Like he made a huge leap forward without actually pitching. Weird.

Last edited 1 month ago by Augusto Barojas
soxygen

Davis Martin could be struggling with all the up-and-down… Or, the Sox don’t think very highly of him and are willing to sacrifice him just to fill a short term need… We can only guess for now.

knoxfire30

Blake rutherford LOL thats all

soxfan

I’d venture that he puts up as much major league career WAR as at least half of the current top-30 prospects (granted, that baseline will be 0.0 WAR since most of them will never crack the 26-man roster).

The problem with these prospect rankings is that no one knows nothing, so the range of possibilities is so wide that taking a median (or any other average) result becomes more or less meaningless because it almost certainly includes variables that aren’t going to be relevant in hindsight.

So take a guy like Rutherford – we know that his ceiling has been lopped off. He’s never going to be an all-star or command a nine-figure contract. BUT we also know that he’s surpassed his floor – he’s in his mid-20s, stayed healthy, proven he can play multiple professional seasons in a row, and hold his own at the AAA level. So maybe he’s only going to be a AAAA player or at best a 4th OF, but that’s still a more valuable role than a guy that gets stuck in AA and never makes it to the bigs.

Davis Martin (who already has positive major league WAR) and Carlos Perez (who is the next man up at the catcher position) are two other guys who are almost certainly going to provide more major league value that most of the “top” prospects in the system.

I made a joke (and then justified it) a couple of minor league keys ago, but there’s no reason to believe that Schultz or Pallette will be better than Kelley or Thompson, but the raters are still considering the blue sky upsides for the recent draftees while the incumbents are working their way toward a backend of the rotation or long-relief role. But it’s more likely that Kelley or Thompson make it to the bigs in a non-starring role than either Schultz or Pallette make it at all.

Maybe some projectors do this (implicitly or explicitly), but these ratings should really come with a standard deviation. Boom or bust high-school pitchers shouldn’t be compared to mid-20s guys who are one or two injuries away from getting a call up because while they both provide an indication of system quality, they provide it in completely incomparable ways.

knoxfire30

Ive never liked blake , I hated the return on the yanks deal and was adamant they got fleeced on him.

There are 100-150 AAAA types that are as good maybe better then blake

upnorthsox

The fact that he hasn’t even gotten a consideration the last 2 years while we’ve started entire outfields of 1B/DH types says it all.

knoxfire30

right haseley and sheets are replacement level and they have gotten a lot of run at the mlb level ahead of him, and soon colas and cespedes will be in AAA and this guy will be totally forgotten

jorgefabregas

MLB Pipeline new top 100 and team top 30s out. Montgomery 60, no Colas in top 100. They have Noah Schultz stuffed way up there in the White Sox list. https://www.mlb.com/prospects/whitesox/

jorgefabregas

On the MLB Pipeline podcast, Jim Callis mentioned Colas as a just-missed for the top 100.

jorgefabregas

3 current DSL players on the list and the highest among those 3 might surprise you.

Augusto Barojas

Someone else mentioned him just breaking top 100 on another list. He will for sure next year if he keeps this up, dude is just raking at AA. I hope they promote him to AAA for a couple weeks if he keeps going.

knoxfire30

he got to 99 on baseball america’s updated list

BenwithVen

Ryan Burrowes being the discussion of trade talks makes me intrigued.

Jim Margalus

comment image

Right Size Wrong Shape

Arghhhh! Beat me to it!

metasox

Elvis Andrus now added to the mix of available infielders

jorgefabregas

Man, that is pretty tempting compared to the usual scrap heap pickup. I would sign him if he’s amenable.

As Cirensica

Better than Simmons and Gregorio for sure.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Is he the one who didn’t like his head being touched, or was that Beltre?

soxfan

Beltre.

soxfan

That’s gotta be worth a phone call at least. He’s a league average bat that plays passable defense. It would depend on how his contract and the option for next year get adjudicated – he’s certainly not worth a $15M commitment if it comes to that – but if there’s a way to make him a rental until Anderson returns he’s a better option than Sosa or Garcia.

jorgefabregas

They’d be signing him to a new contract. The Sox wouldn’t be on the hook, just like the Diamondbacks weren’t for Keuchel’s old vesting option.

HallofFrank

If the Sox sign Andrus, he’ll immediately be 4th among position players in WAR (and fWAR) on the White Sox. Put me down for a “yes, please.”

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I always knew Elvis wasn’t really dead.

metasox

He even overlapped with Harrison in Oakland so benefit of familiarity

upnorthsox

That works for me!

Joe

Put me down as a yes on Elvis.

Phil

“José Rodríguez went 2-for-4 with his ninth homer, a walk, and his 40th stolen base.”

Spring training tournament to finally solve the 2b problem: Jose v. Mendick v. Yolbert v. Romy.

Jose replacing Micker as my fave minor league guy.

Okay Jose!!

Right Size Wrong Shape

It appears that Sosa is ahead of Yolbert in the pecking order.

metasox

Interesting deal Atlanta made with Harris. He has close to half a season under his belt but not too dissimilar a plan from what the Sox did in extending players early.