“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the White Sox organization. Each position will be a four-part series:
- Depth in the lower levels (Dominican through Kannapolis)
- Depth in the higher levels (Winston-Salem through Charlotte)
- Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
- Free-agent options at that position, plus sneak peeks into available players in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft.
Now, let’s focus on the third base depth in the organization by providing small bits of information on players who primarily played third base for Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Charlotte. Those listed here for Charlotte and Birmingham are basically journeymen, but the players at Winston-Salem seem to be the best of this bunch. The player’s age as of April 1, 2019 is listed.
Additional positions: second Base, shortstop
Flete signed a minor league international free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs on March 2, 2012. For five years, the highest level he attained in the Cubs organization was AA Tennessee. And on July 13 of last year, Flete was traded to the White Sox, along with Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Matt Rose, for southpaw Jose Quintana.
In his career, Flete has played 567 games, encompassing 1,915 at-bats, slashing .256/.345/.349 in the process with a combined 17 homers, 51 stolen bases, 233 walks (10.03%) and 381 strikeouts (17.60%). Last year was a microcosm of Flete’s career, as he split time with Birmingham and Charlotte, slashing .250/.352/.327 in 284 at-bats with two homers, 28 RBIs, four stolen bases, 34 walks (10.27%) and 77 strikeouts (23.26%). He actually did quite quite well in an eight-game stint with Charlotte, slashing .346/.393/.423 to end the season. Flete spent 48.4% of his time last year at third base, 44.8% at second base, and 6.8% at shortstop. With his size and lack of power, he profiles far better at second base than the hot corner. He should have an opportunity to return to Charlotte, as a run-of-the-mill, no-hit, all-glove utility infielder. His main competition for that role could include Eddy Alvarez and Jake Elmore, who were detailed in my second base Deep Dive.
Additional position: first base
The Kansas City Royals drafted Leonard in the fifth round in 2011. After a year-and-a-half in the Royals organization, Leonard was traded along with Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, and Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields, Wade Davis and the infamous player to be named later. In Leonard’s seven-year career (including 2018), he has combined for a .255/.331/.409 slash line with 78 homers, 377 RBIs, 61 stolen bases, 291 walks (8.89%) and 821 strikeouts (25.07).
When Leonard signed with the White Sox as a free agent third baseman last offseason, there was some hope that he could eventually earn his way to the majors at some point in 2018. After all, he enjoyed a respectable 2017 with Durham (Tampa Bay’s AAA squad) by slashing .268/.327/.408 with 32 doubles, 12 homers, 70 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Alas, after a difficult start, Leonard slid a bit in 2018, hitting .242/.315/.395 for Charlotte with 29 doubles, 11 homers, 53 RBIs and three stolen bases, walking 43 times (8.96%) and striking out 145 (30.21%).
While the numbers weren’t Keon Barnum/Courtney Hawkins bad, they were disappointing nonetheless. Although there’s certainly a possibility that Leonard’s services may be retained for 2019, he may be on the outside looking, with the Sox more keen on playing long-time organizational prospects like Trey Michalczewski instead.
Additional positions as of 2016: second base, first base, shortstop
Montilla’s had just one at-bat (a strikeout, in case you’re wondering) over the last two years in the Sox organization due to injuries. Yes, he did have a decent season with Winston-Salem as a 26-year-old in 2016, when he hit .266 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. Because Montilla was actually on Birmingham’s DL for the entire year, I feel obliged to mention him here. However, as someone who’ll be turning 29 soon without advancing beyond AA ball, no future for Montilla seems likely with the White Sox organization going forward.
Additional positions: second base, shortstop, first base
Forbes hit .427 during his senior season in high school and verbally committed to the University of Mississippi as a 6´3´´, 175-pound senior from Columbia, Miss. However, a $1.2 million signing bonus was too much to resist, after being picked by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Forbes, who hasn’t added much weight since his varsity days, struggled during his stint in the Rangers system (2014-17). Encompassing 1,305 at-bats (which concluded at A+ Down East), he combined to hit .246/.303/.330 with 15 home runs, 124 RBI, 23 stolen bases, 87 walks (6.1%) and 337 strikeouts (23.6%). Due to these disappointing results, Forbes was traded to the White Sox on Aug. 31, 2017 for Miguel Gonzalez.
In his first full season with Winston-Salem, many of Forbes’s peripherals improved. His slash line, while still unspectacular, improved to .273/.313/.391 while hitting six homers, knocking home 51 runs, 21 doubles and six triples (all but the OBP and homers were career bests). He also struck out just 74 times, which also gave him a career best 16.34 K%. However, Forbes only walked 21 times last year (4.6%) so he still needs work at accepting the free pass.
While considered to have above-average speed, Forbes proved vastly ineffective swiping bases, as he was successful in only four of 13 tries in 2018. Finally, his 1.77 GO/AO rate indicates Forbes hits the ball into the ground far too many times for someone of his power. Forbes just turned 22 last month, and he was 1.4 years younger than the Carolina League average. Defensively, Forbes spent 69% of his time at the hot corner, 23.4% at second, and 7.6% at short (he also played one inning at first). He committed 21 errors altogether, but is considered a respectable gloveman, with slightly above-average range.
Forbes should begin 2019 at hitter-unfriendly Birmingham. This will be a huge year for him, because while there are no real hot corner prospects ahead of him in Charlotte, there are a couple behind him with significantly more power potential (Jake Burger and Bryce Bush). Certainly, Forbes’s lack of overall game power would diminish his role in the majors if he should ever get there.
Additional positions: left field, first base, right field, second base, center field, shortstop
Remillard was a four-year starter with Coastal Carolina and enjoyed a respectable first three seasons with the Chanticleers, combining for a .251/.317/.369 slash line with 12 homers, 95 RBIs, 48 walks (6.95%) and 120 strikeouts (17.37%) over 605 at-bats. He became an entirely different hitter his senior season, however, by sacrificing strikeouts in order to swing for the fences; in 2016, he slashed .345/.392/.617 while hitting 19 homers, 81 RBIs, 19 walks (5.96%) and 81 strikeouts (25.39%). As a result of Remillard’s defensive versatility and power boost, Remillard was selected in the 10th round of that year’s MLB Draft.
Remillard has been a fairly consistent hitter in the Sox organization — hitting .248/.296/.382 over three years, with a combined 23 homers, 118 RBIs, 56 walks (5.05%) and 263 strikeouts (23.69%) over 1,016 career at-bats. He had arguably his best season last year in 380 at-bats with Winston-Salem, slashing .250/.316/.395 with 11 homers, 52 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 30 walks (7.16%) and 103 strikeouts (24.58%) in 103 at-bats.
While Remillard has shown some positive traits offensively, he really shines on the defensive level. He played every position with the exception of the battery last year, and did so quite well. He committed just 14 errors despite playing myriad positions, and was recognized by Baseball America last preseason as having the best infield arm in the organization. Remillard is making the most out of his organizational-depth, utility-man status, and should be a lock to be the primary utility player for the Barons in 2019.
While there’s not a lot to get excited about, third base isn’t entirely bare. However, it will in all likelihood be at least two to three years before any of the most significant prospects are ready for promotion to the majors. Can Burger stay injury-free, improve his defense, and reach his potential? Can Bush continue to mash against more difficult competition in the minors? Can Forbes take the next step and hit with more authority? Only time will tell.