Some White Sox benefit more from Schaumburg than others

It had been a few weeks since the White Sox had a scheduled off day in Chicago, so it had been a few weeks since we had cell phone video footage of events at the team’s alternate training site in Schaumburg.

If this homer off Bennett Sousa is any indication, separating a shoulder might’ve been just the thing Nick Madrigal needed to unlock his power.

I’m guessing Madrigal didn’t pull a hitting equivalent of Henry Rowengartner or step on a radioactive Lego at Woodfield Mall, but any footage of authoritative contact is welcome, because Danny Mendick has made it incumbent on Madrigal to show at least a little extra-base pop when he returns to the White Sox lineup. Mendick’s OPS (.724) is nearly 100 points higher than Madrigal’s (.627), and his production isn’t luck-based. Then again, “Mendick or Madrigal” could flip to “Mendick and Madrigal” a little too often for everybody’s liking if Mendick slides over to third on Yoán Moncada’s bad days.

It’s good news in the big picture. Mendick confirmed what he’d hinted at last year with his September call-up by showing real utility-infielder value on a consistent basis, and the Sox need additional layers of adequacy with Leury García out for the (regular) season. His contributions just weigh less on a relative scale when they’re trying to compensate for the absence of the team’s most valuable player. A bottom of the order with Mendick, Madrigal and (Nomar) Mazara is not something that makes you say “MMM…”, unless it’s followed by “no.”

(Update: Yolmer Sánchez is now back in the mix, as the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal.)

* * * * * * * * *

Jake Burger is back under White Sox supervision after getting long-sought game reps with the CarShield Collegiate League in the St. Louis area. According to the league’s stats on GameChanger, Burger hit .297/.395/.405 with a homer and a double over 43 plate appearances. If there’s any evidence of his rust, it’s in the strikeout column. He fanned 10 times against three walks.

The numbers are less impressive when compared to, say, Chase Krogman‘s. The Sox selected Krogman out of Liberty High School on the other side of Missouri, and signed him away from Burger’s Missouri State Bears with a $190,000 bonus. He had an unremarkable seven games with the Arizona Rookie League affiliate in 2019, but he’s followed up by hitting .398/.510/.590 for the O’Fallon Hoots, and he doesn’t turn 20 until February.

But the numbers aren’t as important as Burger showing he’s physically able to perform after rupturing the same Achilles twice. He’s finally putting the surgeries in his rear-view mirror, exuberant to the point that third base isn’t the only position he’s considering.

“I feel like I could play almost anywhere they put me,” said Burger during a Zoom call on Monday. “Maybe not center field or shortstop. But I feel great.” […]

“Obviously, the situation didn’t unfold the way we first saw it,” said Burger, referring to the COVID-19-related Minor League postponement. “I took the momentum going home and played tennis every day, did a pool workout every day and biked every single day.

“After I did that for three months, I was feeling better than I ever have. Lost some weight. Felt good physically, mentally. I honestly feel better defensively now than I did prior to the Draft, almost just because of the quick-movement stuff I did with tennis and stuff.”

The Schaumburg environment isn’t a great place to develop most players, but it could have a special appeal for somebody like Burger, who can log hours and hours of baseball activity against players more advanced than him without the pressure of bad stats hanging over his head.

* * * * * * * * *

This imbalance of benefits from the Schaumburg environment can also be seen on the pitching side, at least per James Fegan’s account. Jonathan Stiever is somebody who would be best suited coming back from spring forearm discomfort in Winston-Salem or Birmingham, but instead he has to take moral victories in losses to better players.

All on one field, there’s more of a feel for what a balancing act this is between a surfeit of pitchers and selected reserves as you watch Cheslor Cuthbert, designated for assignment twice this year, drill top pitching prospect Jonathan Stiever all over the yard repeatedly in the many at-bats a sim game allows. Since Stiever had forearm soreness in spring and finished last season in the Class A Advanced Carolina League, that he’s stretched out to throw six innings and looked healthy and lively doing it — and is getting vital development time out of an otherwise lost year — are the key takeaways, rather than that his struggles to get ahead with his curveball were exploited by significantly more experienced hitters.

On the other hand, it’s a perfectly fine introduction for Jared Kelley, the White Sox’s flame-throwing second-round pick. Were he able to pitch a full season, he probably would have faced a similar program that Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist adopted after their selections in the draft — new training regimens and a minimal amount of innings.

But with his season cut short by the pandemic, he’s able to get into some live action against those more experienced hitters, and a guy who struck out 34 batters over 12 innings in the Texas prep ranks has difficulty making Nicky Delmonico flinch.

“Threw some good pitches and it was like he didn’t even budge on them,” Kelley said on a Zoom call. “So I was like ‘I guess this is pro ball.’”

Reading about these repeated successes by Cuthbert and Delmonico helps explain their repeated call-ups. It also suggests a zero-sum nature to the alternative training site, where valuable lessons for young pitchers come at the expense of a veteran who is biding his time against competition that doesn’t help raise his game.

* * * * * * * * *

The White Sox will cross the halfway point of the 60-game season on Monday, and after minimal complications on the front half of the schedule, the team shed some of the AAAA pitching depth it stored in Schaumburg in the event of all hell breaking loose. Gone are Bryan Mitchell and Adalberto Mejía, with Kodi Medeiros and Danny Dopico getting reps in their stead.

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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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As Cirensica

The numbers are less impressive when compared to, say, Chase Krogman‘s. The Sox selected Krogman out of Liberty High School on the other side of Missouri, and signed him away from Burger’s Missouri State Bears with a $190,000 bonus. He had an unremarkable seven games with the Arizona Rookie League affiliate in 2019, but he’s followed up by hitting .398/.510/.590 for the O’Fallon Hoots, and he doesn’t turn 20 until February.

That made me think of Benyamin Bailey and his impressive 2019 debut. Let’s hope these under the radar prospects keep evolving.

asinwreck

Return of the prodigal Gatorade bath!

joewho112

So was he at the Giants alternate site all year? Or injured?

As Cirensica

Also, the way Wilmer Flores has been hitting, Sanchez chances to play in the big leagues with the Giants were practically none.

As Cirensica

This makes me very happy.. Yolmer might not be a good hitter, but he is not a liability, and he at least comes with an superb glove. The question mark remains that he has been sidelined because of injuries, and he might need some time to get into shape.

billyok

This confirms to me that Rick reads Sox Machine. I hope Ryan Goins is ok! https://soxmachine.com/2019/10/24/the-yolmer-sanchez-memorial-billyok-offseason-plan/

ParisSox

I don’t believe you that you hope Ryan Goins is ok.

As Cirensica

Surely some team will pick him up

Yolmer's gatorade

I always liked Mendick. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I see a lot of Whit Merrifield in Mendick. I think his ceiling is Merrifield with a little less power and on base skills. Still pretty valuable though.

texag10

If you’re talking about being a versatile player who thrives on solid but unspectacular contact then sure. But Mendick ain’t stealing 30 bases a year anytime soon.

HallofFrank

He probably won’t steal 30, but he stole 20 & 19 in AA & AAA. Merrifield stole 20 last year. So, a poor man’s Merrifield may not be a misplaced hope for Mendick.

joewho112

The problem with this is that Merrifield’s value comes from being pretty good at a lot of things. If Mendick is less good and only a subset of those things, his value evaporates.

karkovice squad

His value is fine as long as he’s deployed as a reserve. Pressed into service as a regular is the kind of full-season ~2-win ugliness the Sox have forced on us repeatedly.

Patrick Nolan

What the junk are the “O’Fallon Hoots?”

Jim is just seeing if anyone calls him on made-up nonsense in the middle of a long-ish post.

asinwreck

Lionel Messi is apparently available. I know he is in his early thirties and plays another sport, but I think he’d be an upgrade over Mazara.

Ted Mulvey

I like it. Messi would be the first Argentinian to play in MLB.

iowasox1971

We need Yolmer on the big-league roster because of Moncada’s uncertain health. Steve Stone has mentioned repeatedly that Moncada is playing hurt, and while Moncada’s been playing hurt he hasn’t been playing very well. An injured-list stint, or playing on a less-regular basis for the next week or two, might help Moncada recover.

ParisSox

Probably why he was signed

As Cirensica

The question becomes, how long before Yolmer is up?

Also, would Rick play Yolmer over Mendick?

egib52

Hasn’t the second question already been answered 🙂

Eagle Bones

Rangers apparently listening on Lynn. Enjoying the meatball comments on twitter about how hes not really an upgrade or worth any decent prospects.

Michael Kenny

Matthew Thompson, straight up. It worked in OOTP, so obviously it will work in reality.