Partial rosters for the Arizona Fall League were released yesterday. This year, White Sox prospects will play for the Mesa Solar Sox, joining players from the Cubs, Orioles, Twins and Pirates. The announced participants are: RHP Terry Doyle, OF Brandon Short, SS Tyler Saladino and "C" Josh Phegley. The White Sox will be adding three more pitchers, though pitchers sent to the AFL generally (and by the White Sox specifically) tend to be of the roster filler variety. Charlotte manager Joe McEwing will also be managing the Solar Sox.
There are constraints that can impede a team getting a position player on a roster. Obviously, teams are being constructed and, while there is rotation of players, if other organizations are intent on getting, say, their third baseman on the team, you might be out of luck getting yours on the team. The organizations that comprise each team hold a "position" draft and then the club will assign one of their players who meets eligibility requirements to the team. Those requirements include that organizations are initially only allowed to put two players not on an AA/AAA roster on the team. Finally, foreign players from countries that have winter ball must not be on that country's "protected player list".
All that said, who the White Sox put on the team (or don't) does say quite a bit about how they view players. I'll go over the players after the jump.Doyle is likely to be the only kind of pitching prospect on the team. A 37th round pick out of Boston College in 2008, he pitched a full four seasons there after declining to sign with the Dodgers, who drafted him in the 21st round of the 2007 draft. Obviously, he wasn't particularly well-regarded then. He's improved his standing somewhat with consistently good performances at every level, culminating in a half season at Birmingham (92.1 IP, 85 H, 21 BB, 67 K). He is 25 and thus can be accused of beating up on younger players but that criticism dissipates quite a bit when you get to AA. Doyle is primarily a fastball-curveball pitcher who pitches to contact and I'm looking forward to getting some Pitch F/X data on him. He's possible backend rotation fodder.
Short was the obvious choice for the White Sox' outfield contribution and clarifies their thinking on Tyler Kuhn as not really much. Short, a 28th round pick in 2008, has a lot of swing and miss in his game (21% K rate) and doesn't take many walks (6% BB rate), though the righty does help his OBP some by getting hit at a decent rate (9 times this season). He's contact dependent and he's learning this season what happens when your BABIP isn't above average: .265/.320/.411. The 22 year old has some speed but isn't particularly effective stealing (21 for 30). The reports on him in center field are mixed; whether he can play there is essential as his offensive skills don't play in a corner.
Saladino is the White Sox' A ball choice and this solidifies his rapidly rising prospect status. A 2010 7th round pick, coming into the season there were significant questions about whether he can stick at shortstop. The defensive reports this season have been favorable, though I will add the "your defense is as good as your offense" caveat that seems to distort the defensive assessment of some prospects. And the righty's offense has been good:.265/.358/.497. The power is particularly interesting, though Winston-Salem is an inflated offensive environment. While the pitching in the AFL is generally behind the hitting (because most top pitching prospects are shut down), it will be a test for the 22 year old as he hasn't before faced such advanced pitching. Barring the addition of an Addison Reed type, Saladino will be the best prospect the White Sox send.
Phegley was supposed to play in the AFL last year but the surgery to remove his spleen and solve his problem with ITP, a blood condition, prevented that. The alleged catcher split time between Birmingham (88 games) and Charlotte (22 games) this season. The righty hit better in AAA (.253/.337/.380) than he did in AA (.241/.286/.371). Those offensive number would be fine if he could actually catch. As we have discussed many times, he cannot. He's certainly looking like a waste of the White Sox' supplemental first round pick in 2009.
Games begin October 4 and go to November 19.