In the video I pieced together above, you'll get a glimpse of five White Sox prospects adding a highlight to the team's Arizona Fall League reel.
Unlike previous years, the Sox won't have to evaluate any head-turning performances in AFL play. Some guys did better than others, and most had their video moment, but nobody really played outside of himself, for better or for worse. That's in line with how the rest of the league fared. Offense took a hit across the board, and standout performances were hard to find.
11 1/3 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 HR, 10 BB, 13 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.85 WHIP
Let's start with Rodriguez, because he wasn't in the video, but he pitched in the AFL championship game, so I can paint a little bit of a picture. He's a tall, lanky lefty who sat around 92-93, but reached back and hit 97.
From the four outs I saw him record on Saturday, both his slider's command and movement were suspect. When he didn't bounce it (he threw two wild pitches), I didn't see a lot of bite. The changeup got a swing and miss for a strikeout, though. So maybe that's why his platoon splits went through a massive reversal during the jump from Winston-Salem in 2011 to Birmingham and Charlotte this past season (via minorleaguecentral.com):
- 2012 vs. LHP: .239/.294/.402, 8 BB, 25 K over 103 PA
- 2011 vs. LHP: .233/.356/.250, 11 BB, 18 K over 75 PA
- 2012 vs. RHP: .118/.254/.217, 27 BB, 43 K over 165 PA
- 2011 vs. RHP: .313/.380/.497, 21 BB, 31 K over 208 PA
.299/.367/.368, 9 BB, 18 K, 11-for-14 SB over 87 AB
Continuing in the fine tradition of White Sox infielders using the AFL to boost their stock, Sanchez didn't quite reach the heights set by Brent Morel or Eduardo Escobar, but he handled the competition capably, and at a younger age. He's way ahead of the game as a 20-year-old, and he'll be a popular name if the Sox continue to have holes at third (or second).
While most observers expected Billy Hamilton to lead the AFL in stolen bases this fall, the Reds prospect actually came up one short, with the title going to Salt River infielder Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) with 11 thefts. The native of Venezuela said through an interpreter that he worked hard this fall with Rafters hitting coach Jon Nunnally on getting better leads and studying the pitchers and their moves to home and to first base.
.208/.333/.424, 2 HR, 17 BB, 17 K over 48 AB
Thompson took his time getting going, but overcame an ice-cold start with a .276/.488/.483 line over his last 10 games. FanGraphs said he had the sixth-best SCOUT score among AFL hitters, and the second-highest among players 22 or younger (Thompson is 21). He left Keith Law wanting a little, but he did OK.
24 2/3 IP, 21 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 0 HR, 15 BB, 24 K, 4.74 ERA, 1.73 WHIP
Rienzo started strong, but shaky command limited his effectiveness over his final four starts. He left AFL play early to join Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier, and Brazil overcame this wild, abbreviated start to advance to the World Baseball Classic, so Rienzo will likely leave the Sox for a little bit during spring training. He's got a big fastball and cutter, and he'll be on the bullpen radar, but talk of him challenging for a rotation spot is premature.
.270/.327/.416, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 22 K over 89 AB
One encouraging sign for Wilkins -- he hit lefties better than righties during AFL play (.876 OPS to .684 OPS). The big disparity went in the opposite direction during the regular season. That said, he didn't hit righties all that well, so he's still on the outside looking in when it comes to big league plans.
11 2/3 IP, 9 H, 0 HR, 12 BB, 9 K, 2.31 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
When it comes to converted position players going through a minor-league cram school for pitching, the easy comparison is Sergio Santos, who pitched in the AFL back in 2009. Sanchez's stuff hasn't progressed as quickly as Santos' repertoire, as evidenced by sizing up his numbers against Santos' AFL stats (he struck out 20 batters to 10 walks over 14 2/3 innings).
13 1/3 IP, 16 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 10 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
The Sox had at least one strike-thrower in their ranks down in Arizona, but he's 25 years old and spent the last two years in Winston-Salem, so he's also the least intriguing of the bunch.