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Deep Dive: left field edition, part 4

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A snapshot of the top free agent left fielders, as well as the best projected left fielders in next year’s draft

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians
On the Mend: With a bWAR of 3.6, Michael Brantley is the best available left fielder in this year’s free agent class.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position will be a four-part series:

  1. Depth in the lower levels (Dominican through Kannapolis)
  2. Depth in the higher levels (Winston-Salem through Charlotte)
  3. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  4. Free-agent options at that position, plus sneak peeks into available players in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft.

So, finally, let’s take a look at free agent left fielders, as well as those who could be available in the first few rounds of the upcoming MLB draft.

Free Agents

Because of Eloy Jimenez’s imminent arrival, left field really isn’t a priority for the White So in free agency. However, if Eloy moves over to right field, and/or if Leury Garcia or Avi Garcia aren’t tendered arbitration, there may be an opportunity to add someone in left field. With that said, this is a list of this year’s free agent class, in descending order of bWAR.

(age as of April 1, 2019)

Michael Brantley
Cleveland Indians
2018 bWAR: 3.6
Slash/power: .309/.364/.468, with 17 HR, 76 RBIs and 12 SB
Age: 31

Struck out just 60 times in 570 at-bats.

Marwin Gonzalez
Houston Astros
2018 bWAR: 2.5
Slash/power: .247/.324/.409, with 16 HR and 68 RBIs
Age: 30

Played all positions except pitcher and catcher for 2018. Played more at left field than anywhere else.

Denard Span
Seattle Mariners
2018 bWAR: 1.9
Slash/power: .261/.341/.419 with 11 HR and 58 RBIs
Age: 34

Also played center field and stole nine bases.

Cameron Maybin
Seattle Mariners
2018 bWAR: 1.2
Slash/power: .249/.326/.336 with four HR, 28 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases
Age: 31

Also played center field and right field.

Craig Gentry
Baltimore Orioles
2018 bWAR: 1.1
Slash/power: .269/.321/.346 with one HR, 11 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases.
Age: 35

Also played right field and center field.

Curtis Granderson
Milwaukee Brewers
2018 bWAR: 0.9
Slash/power: .242/.351/.431 with 13 HR and 38 RBIs
Age: 38

Also played right field and center field.

Gerardo Parra
Colorado Rockies
2018 bWAR: 0.5
Slash/power: .284/.342/.372 with six HR, 53 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases
Age: 31

Also played right field.

Matt Holliday
Colorado Rockiess
2018 bWAR: 0.1
Slash/power: .283/.415/.434 with two HR and 3 RBIs
Age: 39

Also played first base.

Matt Joyce
Oakland Athletics
2018 bWAR: 0.1
Slash/power: .208/.322/.353, with seven HR and 15 RBIs
Age: 34

Also played right field and center field.

Gregor Blanco
San Francisco Giants
2018 bWAR: -0.8
Slash/power: .217/.262/.317 with two HR and 12 RBIs
Age: 35

Also played center field and right field.

Hunter Pence
San Francisco Giants
2018 bWAR: -0.9
Slash/power: .226/.258/.332, with four HR and 24 RBIs
Age: 35

Also played right field.

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2019 MLB Draft prospects

I will be doing a more comprehensive list next year, so this is just a preliminary look at left fielders the White Sox could draft in the first round and beyond. The number in parentheses before the name is where FanGraphs ranked each player as of November 2. Of course, players may move up or down the charts depending upon how well they do in various offseason tournaments and upcoming collegiate/prep seasons. The left field class this year is the weakest of all outfield positions.

College

Bryant Packard
6´3´´
210 pounds
School: East Carolina

Packard, after an anemic freshman season, had a terrific sophomore campaign for the Pirates in 2018. He slashed .406/.42/.671, with 16 doubles, 14 homers, 50 RBIs, six stolen bases, 20 walks (8.03%) and 46 strikeouts (18.47%). If he makes similar improvements with his power and plate discipline in 2019, he should be selected by the middle of the first round. Packard did boost his status this offseason by performing well in the Cape Cod League and with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.

Blake Sabol
6´4´´
190 pounds
School: USC

Sabol’s numbers haven’t really stood out during his first two seasons with the Trojans. He finished his sophomore season by slashing .276/.338/.390, with four homers, 24 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 19 walks (8.19%) and 42 strikeouts (18.10%) in 210 at-bats. He split time between outfield and catcher, but it’s believed that by playing more in left, Sabol will be able to center his focus on the offensive side of the ball. What’s boosted Sabol up the rankings is his performance in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League in 2018, where he ranked second in OPS (1.018), third in home runs (seven) and fourth in batting average (.340). He definitely has the projectable build to hit many more homers than he did with the Trojans last year.

Will Robertson
6´2´´
210 pounds
School: Creighton

Robertson enjoyed a terrific freshman season in 2018 with the Blue Jays, slashing .333/.412/.641 in 198 at-bats, hitting 17 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 59 RBIs, 17 walks (7.52%) and 31 strikeouts (13.72). He’s another left fielder with a strong, projectable build and an above-average Cape Cod season now under his belt.

Ryan Ward

5´11´´
186 pounds
School: Bryant

Ward plays for a small school, so his results should be taken with a grain of salt. However, Ward’s school choice had more to do with being relatively close to his home in Millbury, Mass than lack of big-time interest; he was good enough in high school to get scholarship offers from Texas Tech, Kentucky and St. John’s. This year in 247 at-bats, the lefty slashed .409/.449/.636, with 22 doubles, five triples, eight homers, 52 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 21 walks (7.72%) and just 10 strikeouts (3.68%). Ward’s whiff aversion alone should make him a strong consideration for the White Sox in the top few rounds of the upcoming draft.

Matt Gorski
6´4´´
195 pounds
School: Indiana

After drafting outfielders Craig Dedelow in 2017 and Logan Sowers in 2018 from the Hoosiers, could Gorski complete the trifecta? He certainly has a projectable build for power, although it hasn’t translated yet to games. Gorski may be a bit more athletic than Dedelow or Sowers, as he swiped 24 bases last year. In the 2018 season, the right-handed batter slashed .356/.404/.554 in 222 at-bats, with 14 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 40 RBIs, 18 walks (7.14%) and 37 strikeouts (14.68%).

High School

Jason Hodges
6´3´´
210 pounds
School: Marist H.S., Chicago, Ill.
Verbal commitment: Arkansas

Hodges, a local kid who hails from Park Forest, has an extra-strong physical build. He has great bat speed, and the ball really jumps off his bat. He’s got a below-average arm, so Hodges appears to be suited for left field. In the Area Code Games, where he played for the Chicago White Sox Ace, he actually looked more comfortable at first base, and has been said to have quick feet for the position if he has to move from the outfield.

Sammy Siani
5´11´´
175 pounds
School: William Penn Charter H.S., Philadelphia
Verbal commitment: Duke

Siani is the younger brother of Mike, who was selected in the fourth round of last year’s MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He consistently drives the ball into the air and into the gaps, and has a chance for plus power as he continues to physically develop; in fact, while scouts say Sammy is not as athletic as his brother, he’s a higher-level offensive prospect because of his swing. Siani is a solid outfielder with good range; he also fields cleanly and throws accurately. By all accounts, he’s a very fundamentally sound ballplayer.

Chris Newell
6´2´´
190 pounds
School: Malvern Prepatory School, Malvern, Pa.
Verbal commitment: Virginia

Scouting Report: An athletic outfielder with a lean frame, Newell showed a solid tool set at a number of events this summer, and wowed scouts with his hit tool during a Perfect Game event in Atlanta. Newell has a smooth, uphill bat path from the left side and shows solid power with a good launch angle. He also has above-average arm strength, though he’s still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. While I have him listed here as a left fielder, he seems to have the athleticism to play center.

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Summary

Acquiring a left fielder shouldn’t be a priority, since Eloy Jimenez looks primed to man the position by mid-April. The White Sox could look at a potential left fielder or center fielder via free agency or trade, however, if they want to upgrade over the likes of Avi Garcia, Leury Garcia or Adam Engel. It never hurts to acquire more outfielders in the draft, and while the more elite outfield prospects happen to play center and right, there are still a few left fielders worth considering in the later rounds.