White Sox Minor Keys: May 13, 2018

Alex Call and Ti'Quan Forbes making Winston-Salem's lineup deeper this month

The first time I saw the Winston-Dash play this season, it was a chilly doubleheader during the first weekend of the season, and nobody on the team stood out save Dylan Cease.

Today’s game seemed more representative of a Carolina League season, played on an 87-degree day under a cloudless sky, and it was more indicative of the quality of their lineup. They piled on the runs late to pull away from Down East for an 11-3 Mother’s Day victory.

A lot’s been made of the team’s biggest names, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and Blake Rutherford. They all contributed to the cause:

  • Rutherford was 1-for-4 with a walk and had one of the game’s highest-leverage hits, a sliced two-run triple down the left-field line that opened the scoring in Winston-Salem’s seven-run seventh.
  • Adolfo drew a pair of walks and scored a run. Both walks came after a swinging strike on the first pitch, and the first one was after he trailed in the count 0-2. Those are the kinds of plate appearances that have boosted his walk rate above 10 percent.
  • Basabe had the weakest game of the three, going 1-for-5. He lost a fly in the sun in left and overcharged a single, intending to make a strong throw home but letting it clank off his glove instead. He was also caught stealing.

But Sunday’s game also showcased two of the Dash’s hotter hitters of late.

*Alex Call might’ve had the Dash’s two hardest-hit balls, both of which resulted in extra bases. He blasted a a 407-foot solo shot to left field in the first inning and laced a double to the left-field corner later in the game. He’s hitting .278/.388/491 on the season, thanks in large part to a torrid start to May (.366/.458/.756). He also drew a walk, which was part of his game even when he struggled to start the year. His rate is a healthy 15.3 percent.

*Ti’Quan Forbes, who hit his first homer of the season on Saturday, had his fourth multi-hit game of the week by going 2-for-3 with a bases-clearing triple and a walk today. The 21-year-old is hitting .271/.350/.393 this season, including a .342/.405/.526 start to his May.

When Forbes was selected in the second round by the Rangers in the 2014 draft, Baseball America said he had “arguably the biggest gap between the player he is today and the player he could be at maturity.” He seems to be developing a plate approach this season. His OPS now sits at .743 after it failed to clear .600 in the Carolina League last season.

If Forbes can hold these gains over the course of the season, it gives him some sorely needed demonstrable progress. An uptick in power would also be nice, but at least he’s got something for the home run column, leaving Gavin Sheets as the only Dash starter without one.

Charlotte 3, Durham 2

  • Casey Gillaspie went 1-for-4 with wo strikeouts.

More:

*Jordan Stephens will give Charlotte another brand name, as the Sox promoted him to Triple-A. Matt Tomshaw headed to Birmingham to make the room.

Mobile 3, Birmingham 2

  • Zack Collins went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Eloy Jimenez, 3-for-4.
  • Matt Rose was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
  • Jameson Fisher went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
  • Spencer Adams: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K

Winston-Salem 11, Down East 3

  • Luis Alexander Basabe went 1-for-5 with a strikeout, and was caught stealing.
  • Alex Call went 2-for-4 with a homer, double, walk and strikeout.
  • Blake Rutherford was 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk.
  • Micker Adolfo went 0-for-3 with two walks.
  • Gavin Sheets, 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Yermin Mercedes went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Yeyson Yrizarri cleared the bases with a double and was hit by a pitch over his four trips to the plate.
  • Ti’Quan Forbes went 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk.
  • Bernardo Flores: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

More:

*Flores pitched 89-91, but held his velocity all the way through the seventh. All three runs scored in the sixth inning, during which Flores had to weather two errors and a passed ball.

Kannapolis 7, Asheville 5

  • Luis Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and an HBP.
  • Evan Skoug, 1-for-4 with a double.
  • Michael Hickman went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Kade McClure: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

More:

*The last event in the game log before McClure’s departure was a line drive to the pitcher.

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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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PauliePaulie

How’s Rutherford’s game speed?

Trooper Galactus

What’s happened to Spencer Adams? His walk rate has spiked and he’s getting teed off on like never before. For a guy who had a reasonable amount of success at AA across 35 starts coming into this season I expected at least incremental improvement and a promotion to AAA in due course, but he’s taken a MASSIVE step back, and it seems to be entirely to his once plus control abandoning him. Is he trying to work new pitches into the mix or something?

mikeyb

He was hurt in the spring. I wonder if he rushed back before being fully healthy. It has to be tough seeing all of these other pitching prospects in the system. If I was in his position, I can definitely see myself trying to rush back to not become the forgotten man.

Or maybe he’s just maxed out.

Josh Nelson

I think he’s maxed out.

lil jimmy

Nice to see Alex Call picking up his game.

NateDPT12

Luis Gonzalez has been a monster so far. If not for the outfield logjam he’d be in Winston-Salem at this point, right?

PauliePaulie

Half that Kann. team is going on 24 years old. I’d think most systems would have them at age appropriate levels to see if they’re for real.

PauliePaulie

*23

sgp2204

Most systems also have nowhere near the talent that Winston-Salem has in their outfield… 

At least Gonzalez and Rivera, while old for their level, aren’t repeating a level. It’s an extremely positive sign, despite their age. The promotions will start coming shortly, and then we’ll get a better idea of which prospects are for real.

Charlotte’s roster basically has 8 open spots (giving the benefit of the doubt to Tilson). Outside of a couple guys, Birmingham’s roster is trash. It’s only a matter of time before these lower level guys start climbing. 

lil jimmy

At this time last year Luis Gonzalez was playing college ball. You think he’s too old for A ball ?

Greg Nix

Not sure why you think Birmingham is trash. Over a quarter of their roster is top-30 prospects. And that doesn’t include semi-interesting guys (Rose, Polo, Mendick), injured guys (Hansen, Puckett) or the just-promoted guy (Stephens).

In general, there’s a fair amount of prospect depth below Charlotte right now.

sgp2204

Sorry, I should’ve been more specific. I was only referring to the position players – Birmingham has a lot of arm talent. In my opinion, there are only a few worthwhile position players in Birmingham right now: Eloy, Collins, Seby, and Mendick. Outside of that, it’s a bunch of mediocrity at best. Polo and Rose are a small step up from the rest of the roster (trash), but I don’t expect much of anything from either of them going forward. 

Right Size Wrong Shape

I wouldn’t consider Michalczewski and Fisher to be “trash”. Either way, it wasn’t too long ago that we didn’t have as many interesting prospects in our entire system as we do in Birmingham right now.

sgp2204

I’ll have to agree to disagree on both of those guys. 

And you’re right, our farm was god awful, and it’s significantly better now. That being said, most of the real talent (position player-wise) is at the lower levels. Some (most) of those players should be jumping up and replacing the weak links soon. That’s the point I was making. 

Amar

Encouraging observation on Adolfo, thanks Jim!

Greg Nix
Eagle Bones

If they can get Robert and Hansen back and rolling, this has to be considered a really great start to the MiLB season for the org. Bummer to lose Burger, but a ton of other success stories to point to and few major disappointments.

Amar

Burger and Burdi, but yeah otherwise agree

Eagle Bones

Burdi is hopefully back throwing this summer, so that’s actually a positive for this year (assuming he doesn’t have a setback).