The Appalachian League finished its regular season on Friday. The Bristol White Sox weren't brimming with talent. But there were a few notables, largely from the 2013 Draft, along with couple international amateur free agents.
We'll again start with setting some baselines. The White Sox do not have a "complex league" Rookie-level affiliate. Those affiliates play at their parent club's spring training facilities in Florida (the Gulf Cost League) or Arizona (the Arizona League). Those leagues are the lowest-level of affiliated baseball stateside and where clubs ordinarily send most of their high school draft picks to begin their careers and most of their international players to begin their stateside careers.
Instead, the White Sox, in accordance with their philosophy on prospect development, have two Advanced Rookie affiliates, one of which is Bristol. Ordinarily, this is where the White Sox send their high school picks and international players. As you can probably guess, this is an aggressive assignment for many of those players.
In the Appy League, the average hitter's triple slash line was .247/.324/.360. The average pitcher's strikeout rate was 21.9% and his walk rate was 8.9%. The average player was 20.5 years old.
*Note: Players who played at multiple levels will be recapped with the club with which they finished their MiLB season.
Position Player Prospects
Third baseman Trey Michalczewski, a 2013 seventh-round pick out of Oklahoma high school, signed for a well-above slot $500K. The switch-hitter held is own, batting .236/.324/.328. He has gap-to-gap power now but is expected to develop more pop. A shortstop in high school, his transition to third base was okay. He'll be getting more reps when the fall instructional league begins in a couple weeks. He was the ninth-youngest player in the league.
Infielder Victor Velasquez signed for $120,000 in 2011 as a glove-first shortstop. The Venezuelan spent most of his time at second base and his bat certainly lived up to his offensive reputation in his stateside debut: 219/.308/.226. Defensively, the 18-year-old switch-hitter showed above-average ability. He was the 12th-youngest player in the league.
The White Sox drafted catcher Sammy Ayala in the 17th round last year out of California high school and gave him an above-slot bonus. In left-handed hitter's second try at Bristol, his offense didn't really improve, as his .210/.278/.267 line pretty much replicated his 2012 line. He did show some improvement behind the plate, as he threw out 41 percent of basestealers compared to 15 percent last year; however, he had a lot more passed balls.
RHP Thaddius Lowry is a recent convert to pitching and it showed. The White Sox drafted him in this year's fifth round out of Texas high school and signed him to a well-above slot bonus. In 15 games (7 starts), he threw 44⅓ innings, giving up 55 hits, walking 22 and striking out 30. Expect improvement and more consistency with continued reps.
RHP Yelmison Peralta also had a shaky first season stateside. Signed to a $200,000 bonus in 2012, he was wild and hittable in the DSL. Coming to Bristol didn't change much for the 18-year-old Dominican. In 10 games, he threw 16 innings, giving up 19 hits and 13 walks while striking out just eight. He's a big guy and he's got a low-90s fastball but he's going to need to get some secondary pitches and some control. He was the eighth-youngest player in the league.
RHP Matt Ball signed for slightly above slot after being drafted out of California high school in the 11th-round. The seventh-youngest player in the league, the 18-year-old showed a pretty advanced feel for pitching, as he threw 22⅓ inning in 14 games, while giving up 25 hits, walking just eight and striking out 23. A 21.7 percent strikeout rate and a 7.6 percent walk rate are a good sign from such a young pitcher. He's also a big guy and is going to continue to add more velocity to his 90ish-mph fastball.
LHP Chris Freudenberg also signed for slightly above slot after being drafted out of junior college. He has three decent enough pitches - a low-90s fastball, curve and cutter - but he was victimized a bit in his first pro season by BABIP. In nine games, six of which were starts, the 20-year-old threw 28⅓ innings, giving up 35 hits, walking 10 and striking out 28. Despite the hits, a 20.5 percent strikeout rate and a 7.6 percent walk rate is a good result.
Marco Paddy's first signing, RHP Luis Martinez, spent the entire season on Bristol's 60-day DL with an unknown (though presumably serious) injury.
Another spectator was the White Sox's top Latin American signing of 2013, Micker Zapata, who spent the last six weeks of the season with Bristol becoming acclimated to the life of a professional baseball player. After more acclimation in fall instructs and extended spring training, he'll likely be playing for Bristol in 2014.