“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.
Right field is traditionally fielded by outfielders with the strongest arms and most potent bats. While most of the top outfield prospects in the White Sox system finished the season with Winston-Salem or higher, the lower levels also had their fair share of right field prospects. Player’s ages listed below are as of April 1, 2019.
Additional positions: center field, left field
Frost hit fairly well, if unexceptionally, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. His junior season largely paralleled his collegiate career, as he slashed .284/.372/.442 with five doubles, one triple, nine homers, 38 RBIs, two stolen bases, 25 walks (10.00%) and 39 strikeouts (15.60%) in 215 at-bats. While Frost was consistent at Gonzaga, he didn’t do anything especially well. As a result, he fell to the 15th round of the 2017 MLB draft. Frost reported to Great Falls after being drafted and slashed .261/.331/.465 in 142 at-bats, with seven doubles, five triples, four homers, 26 RBIs, 13 walks (8.13%) and 33 strikeouts (20.63%).
In 2018, Frost let things rip a bit with Kannapolis. In a tough place to hit, he provided decent power numbers by slashing .241/.324/.445 in 407 at-bats, with 21 doubles, four triples, 18 homers, 65 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 46 walks (9.91%) and 129 strikeouts (27.80%). It appears Frost sacrificed average and contact for power; that sacrifice may pay dividends in an hitting-friendly environment like Winston-Salem, but could come back to haunt him if he wins a promotion to Birmingham. Frost’s splits are fairly even (.244 vs. southpaws, .240 vs. righties), so a platoon doesn’t appear in his immediate future.
Frost has an above-average arm, as he threw out 13 baserunners this year. Expect a promotion to Winston-Salem for 2019.
Great Falls Voyagers
Sowers had a solid four-year run at Indiana, but his numbers dropped a tad bit his senior season as he focused on improving plate discipline at the expense of power. In his junior season with the Hoosiers, he hit .291/.356/.536, with 19 doubles, 13 homers, 43 RBIs, 20 walks (7.58%) and 74 strikeouts (28.03). In 2018, his senior season, Sowers slashed .299/.407/.484, with 11 doubles, 10 homers, 34 RBIs, 37 walks (14.07%) and 58 strikeouts (22.05%). Concerns about his declining power numbers and mediocre plate discipline dropped Sowers to the 28th round, where the White Sox were happy to sign him to a $5,000 bonus.
After signing, Sowers had a good season with Great Falls, but it could’ve been great if he would have limited his whiffs. He slashed .296/.385/.483 in 240 at-bats, with 16 doubles, one triple, nine homers, 35 RBIs, 32 walks (11.64%) and 82 strikeouts (29.82%). His plate discipline and batting average worsened as the season went along. After hitting .349 in June and .327 in July, Sowers slipped to .253 in August, with two walks and 30 strikeouts in 79 at-bats. For the year, Sowers hit .358 against southpaws and .278 against righties. Defensively, Sowers gunned down eight runners, while committing just two errors. Sowers should begin the 2019 season with Kannapolis.
Additional positions: first base, left field
Connell, as a native of Panama, was signed on International Signing Day in 2015 by the Milwaukee Brewers and received a $179,000 bonus. Ben Badler of Baseball America said at the time, “Connell stands out more for his physicality than baseball polish. He has a chance to hit for power from the right side as a corner outfielder with solid athleticism for his size.” That statement seems prescient, because Connell’s career really hasn’t taken off yet, despite his physical build. Connell spent 2016 with the DSL Brewers squad, and finally earned a promotion to the States this year after slashing .256/.408/.512 in 82 at-bats, with four doubles, one triple, five homers, 13 RBIs, 17 walks (16.50%) and 24 strikeouts (23.30%).
This year, Connell was hitting just .219/.288/.342 with two homers in 72 at-bats for Pioneer League Helena prior to being traded to the White Sox along with RHP Johan Dominguez for LHP Xavier Cedeno. Connell was just 1-for-20 with 10 strikeouts. in his short stint with Great Falls. Expect a return to Great Falls for this lottery ticket; how far Connell advances will obviously depend upon how much he improves his plate discipline and hitting tool going forward.
Arizona League White Sox
Additional position: center field
Comas was one of four outfielders who got a large signing bonus with the White Sox on July 2, 2016 — joining Josue Guerrero, Luis Mieses and Anthony Coronado. Comas’ signing bonus that year ($450,000) was second only to Guerrero’s $1.1 million. Of the nine players who signed that day with the White Sox, the only two players to possibly outshine Comas this year were shortstop Lenyn Sosa (who spent the year with Great Falls) and starter Brayan Herrera.
Comas, a native of the Dominican Republic, turns 19 in February and enjoyed a respectable rookie campaign in 2017 with the DSL White Sox by hitting .291/.316/.329 with eight walks, 45 strikeouts, and one stolen base (but no homers) over 237 at-bats. The peripherals weren’t anything to get too excited about, but keep in mind Comas was just 17, and a strikeout rate of 18.29% isn’t too bad by today’s standards. Plus, many hitters his age aren’t usually patient enough to coax a high walk rate. Comas did improve significantly, however, after a difficult first month (.216/.272/.257); he hit a combined .325/.339/.362 afterward.
The 2018 season with the AZL White Sox, at 1.4 years younger than league average, saw Comas hit at a .306/.339/.388 clip with one homer, seven walks, 26 strikeouts, and five steals over 160 at-bats. His reduced number of plate appearances didn’t have anything to do with performance — because of the expanded rookie league rosters, there was a plethora of outfielders in Arizona, all needing playing time. Comas improved his walk rate from 3.25% to 4.19%, dropped his K rate to 15.57%, and improved his K/BB ratio from 5.63 to 3.71. Not only was 2018 a more productive season than the year before, Comas’ numbers also saw an improvement during the year, as he hit .269/.321/.308 in June, .290/.303/.339 in July and .333/.377/.458 in August. The improvements across the board show that Comas isn’t afraid to make adjustments, which could reap him huge dividends as he gets older.
It stands to reason that Comas will gain more weight and muscle as he gets older. He’s got average- to slightly-above-average speed, but should slow down with age (hey, who doesn’t?). However, he’s savvy enough to develop into a double-digit base-stealer as he develops more confidence.
Comas should begin next year in the hitting-friendly confines of Great Falls. Due to his age and system’s current outfield depth, there’s certainly no need to rush him; as a result, he shouldn’t play full season ball with Kannapolis until 2020.
Additional position: left field
Coronado signed with the same 2016 international class that included Comas, Mieses, Guerrero, Sosa, and several others. He signed for less than the other outfielders ($150,000). Badler wrote at the time, “He’s a right-handed hitter with gap power now but the physical projection to hit 12-15 home runs down the road, though there is swing-and-miss in his game.” Coronado did reasonably well with the DSL and AZL squads in 2017, as he combined to slash .265/.354/.425 in 200 at-bats with 20 doubles, four homers, 28 RBIs, 17 walks (7.39%) and 60 strikeouts (26.09%).
As Coronado had only 13 at-bats with the AZL Sox in 2017, he returned to Glendale in 2018 but struggled badly in limited at-bats. With the plethora of promotions from the DSL to begin the season, in addition to this year’s draft picks, there simply weren’t enough at-bats to dole out. Only the most proficient of backups can thrive with infrequent appearances, let alone somebody barely 18.
For the year, Coronado slashed just .145/.229/.194 in 62 at-bats, with one double, one triple, four RBIs, six walks (8.57%) and 23 strikeouts (32.86%). He made just one error but had no assists in his 16 games in the outfield, so Coronado should move to left field eventually. Expect the youngster to return to the AZL Sox for 2019, with hopefully more plate appearances showcasing his potential.
Dominican Summer League White Sox
Additional positions: left field, center field, first base
Martinez, a native of Venezuela, signed an international contract with the White Sox on June 3, 2016. Martinez has played all three outfield positions for the DSL Sox during his three years in the Sox organization. The good news is he’s thrown out six baserunners compared to just two errors while playing outfield. Also, he enjoyed a career season at the plate in 2018.
Don’t get too excited, though. This year in 57 games totaling 177 at-bats, Martinez slashed .198/.230/.226 with five doubles, 11 RBIs, five walks (2.67%) and 67 strikeouts (35.83%). His career slash line has now reached the lofty heights of .176/.231/.198, with no homers. If Martinez returns to the DSL White Sox for 2018, he’ll be more than two years older than league average.
In the lower levels, the right field depth is far weaker than the upper levels. Frost and Sowers have significant power potential, but their strikeout frequencies limit their ceilings. Connell also has power potential and strikeout issues, but he’s even less refined at the dish than either Frost or Sowers. Coronado, while raw, simply needs more playing time. Martinez is just organizational filler at the lowest levels, and will likely leave the organization if the White Sox can find a new international right field prospect in 2019. Comas has the highest ceiling of these guys; how quickly he can tap into his power potential will determine how quickly he moves through the system.