Dylan Axelrod's season with the Chicago White Sox has certainly not gone well. After winning the fifth starter job out of spring training, he held it into July. Since then, his appearances from the bullpen have been both rocky and sparse. While his spot in the rotation and even on the current roster has been debated, Alexrod's path to the majors has been different from most other players.
After being drafted in the 30th round by the San Diego Padres, Axelrod pitched in their system for nearly two years. During the 2009 season, he was cut by the Padres and went to play for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League. After pitching in 22 games for the ThunderBolts, including his first eight starts in the minors, Axelrod was signed by the Sox. In just over two years, he made it to the majors. While Axelrod has been the exception, the Sox have made it a habit to sign players out of the Frontier League.
Before signing Axelrod, the Sox had signed Brandon Kloess from the Windy City ThunderBolts in 2009. He made it as far as the Charlotte Knights in 2012. Had the callups of rookie pitchers to fill the bullpen that year continued, he might have made it to the major leagues as well. In the 2012 offseason, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for Blake Tekotte. Jim noticed his magnificent facial hair, but a full season at AAA has lead to some refinements.
Aside from Axelrod, there are nine other former Frontier League players in the White Sox farm system.
- Chris Curley, infielder (2013 Carolina League MVP)
- Max Peterson, relief pitcher
- Mike Recchia, starting pitcher
- Josh Richmond, outfielder
- Ryan Bollinger, relief pitcher
- David Haselden, starting pitcher
- Jacob Sanchez, starting pitcher
Axelrod is the only player to make it to the majors for the White Sox out of the Frontier League. The remainder would be long shots to make it the the major leagues, but If you feel like rooting for the underdog, there's several Frontier League teams around Illinois to fill that need.