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White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 3

It hasn’t been fun watching the White Sox over the past week, but the farm system has Sox fans covered, with three second-place teams

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners
Eloy is Back! Starting slow, but starting ...
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the Chicago White Sox putting on an abysmal performance last week, it’s hard to not get frustrated. But the minor league teams and top prospects are still putting on a show: Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis are all second in their divisions and very much involved in the playoff hunt in the early season.

Not only are the farms off to a competitive start, they had a busy transaction week. Eloy Jimenez is back — at the expense of Courtney Hawkins. Jimenez has not collected a hit as of yet, but with Ryan Cordell’s injury Sox fans should see him in Charlotte soon enough.

Speaking of Cordell, he will be out a minimum of two months with a broken clavicle, giving Charlie Tilson and Daniel Palka a better chance to see Chicago. Eddy Alvarez took Cordell’s roster space in Charlotte.

On two lesser notes, Kevan Smith and Jace Fry are back. Smith was officially activated from the 10-Day DL and optioned to Charlotte, where he is on a hot start. He provides much-needed catching depth, as none of the Charlotte catchers should be in the majors. Fry takes over for Robbie Ross (DL), giving Charlotte a much younger arm in the bullpen.

Since Danny Farquhar’s brain hemorrhage and Miguel González’s rotator cuff flareup, Gregory Infante and Chris Beck were called back to the South Side. Ricardo Pinto and Matt Tomshaw are moving to Charlotte, with Drew Hasler stepping in for Pinto in Winston-Salem.

Charlotte Knights

Charlie Tilson: .238 BA, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K

Daniel Palka: .235 BA, 2 R, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 8 K

Jose Rondon: .267 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 SB

Casey Gillaspie: .211 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K

Kevan Smith: .294 BA, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K

Donn Roach: 12 IP, 4.45 FIP, 5.25 K/9, 2.25 BB/9

Michael Kopech: 11 IP, 2.26 FIP, 10.64 K/9, 2.45 BB/9 ***MVP of the Week***

Jace Fry: 1 IP, -0.47 FIP, 18 K/9, 0 BB/9

Thyago Vieira: 3 13 IP, 8.03 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 8.1 BB/9

Michael Kopech has picked up right where he left off last season, showing improvement in his command. In Kopech’s three starts, he has an improved FIP (2.13), K/9 (12.6), and BB/9 (3.0) compared to last season. The only aspect of Kopech’s game that needed improvement was his command, and ostensibly is the only reason for his placement in Charlotte beyond his super-two status. Now that his arbitration years are seven instead of six, continued improvements in his command should be reciprocated with a promotion in the coming month.

Thyago Vieira came over from the Seattle Mariners as a fastball pitcher with some command issues, and that has continued in Charlotte. His fastball still rings in the upper 90s, but his walk issues continue to flare up. His FIP in AAA last season was at 4.57, which has skyrocketed to 7.48 FIP this year because of his command issues. His walks per nine is up from 3.57 to 8.53, and his home runs per nine has surged from 0.51 to 2.84. What also has not helped Vieira’s stats is that his BABIP is an astronomical .467. As the season goes on, Vieira’s FIP will drop even if his K/9 and BB/9 hold — but that alone will not earn him a promotion.

Birmingham Barons

Eloy Jimenez: 0-for-10, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K

Seby Zavala: .318 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K

Matt Rose: .182 BA, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K

Tito Polo: .105 BA, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 SB

Jameson Fisher: .133 BA, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K

Zack Collins 0-for-11, 2 R, 6 BB, 7 K

Ian Clarkin: 12 13 IP, 4.39 FIP, 5.11 K/9, 2.19 BB/9

Jordan Guerrero: 7 IP, 1.64 FIP, 14.14 K/9, 3.86 BB/9 ***MVP of the Week***

Jordan Stephens: 10 IP, 4.40 FIP, 7.2 K/9, .9 BB/9

Ian Hamilton: 3 IP, 1.83 FIP, 12 K/9, 3 BB/9

Jordan Guerrero’s base stats (1-1, 6.75 ERA) look terrible, but they don’t paint a full picture. Guerrero’s BABIP is at an uncharacteristically high .463, with a low left-on-base (LOB) percentage of 54.6%. He has not gone six innings in any of his three outings, but he has done all he can in each start. He has a 2.08 FIP, with a career high 9.75 K/9 and his lowest BB/9 (2.25) since 2015. Guerrero’s ERA will go down, and he will pitch further into starts, as his LOB percentage and BABIP move down to the mean. It was a surprise that Guerrero was sent to Birmingham to start the season instead of Charlotte, and as he collects more innings he should be a Knight soon enough.

Zack Collins is a confusing prospect for the White Sox. He continues to have a low BABIP (.063) and his walk percentage is up to 27.7%. It is easy to assume that his average should go up, and it will, but there seem to be problems developing in his approach. His line drive percentage has dropped every single year of his professional career, to a current 11.8%. His opposite field hit percentage has also risen this year which, for a pull-hitter, means that he could be late on most pitches. The season is still early, but Collins needs to begin squaring up on pitches at a higher rate to be considered a future starting catcher.

Winston-Salem Dash

Joel Booker: .222 BA, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 SB

Micker Adolfo: .208 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 12 K

Alex Call: .286 BA, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K

Luis Alexander Basabe: .250 BA, 1 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K

Blake Rutherford: .444 BA, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 SB ***MVP of the Week***

Gavin Sheets: .111 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K

Yeyson Yrizarri: .211 BA, 4 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K, 3 SB

Dylan Cease: 11 IP, 3.72 FIP, 9 K/9, 2.75 BB/9

Dane Dunning: 13 IP, 3.60 FIP, 10.38 K/9, .69 BB/9

Matt Foster: 2 23 IP, .44 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 0 BB/9

Blake Rutherford is having a stellar start in 2018. He is slashing .373/.421/.510, with a weighted runs created plus of 161, which means he is roughly better that 61% of the hitting competition. He has not hit a home run yet, but he already has seven doubles in 12 games. He is also sporting a career-high line drive rate of 26.3%, which means he is showing improvement in elevating the ball thus far. His BABIP is high (.475) so his slash line will dip, but Rutherford should still be around a .280 hitter if he wants to show more pop.

Gavin Sheets has not demonstrated his power potential yet, slugging .327 with an isolated power of .073. Sheets’s power struggles can be found in his batted ball data. Any power hitter should not have a ground ball percentage over 40%, let alone over 50% — which Sheets has this season (52.2%). Even more indicative of his power struggles is his 28.3% fly ball rate, which should at least be more than 40%. Even without hitting a home run so far this season, Sheets still has a 110 weighted runs created because of his approach at the plate. He has just as many strikeouts (nine) as he does walks.

Kannapolis Intimidators

Tate Blackman: .227 BA, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K

Craig Dedelow: .200 BA, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K

Laz Rivera: .409 BA, 2 HR, 6 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K ***MVP of the Week***

Luis Gonzalez: .320 BA, 2 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI 2 BB, 8 K

Justin Yurchak: .364 BA, 2 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K

Evan Skoug: .200 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K

Kade McClure: 13 13 IP, 3.03 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 2.03 BB/9

John Parke: 10 IP, 2.63 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9

Tyler Johnson: 3 IP, 2.30 FIP, 15 K/9, 3 BB/9

Laz Rivera was a 28th round pick in last year’s draft, which is turning out to be a productive one for Nick Hostetler and the White Sox organization. Rivera won’t walk much (1.6% walk rate) but he has proven to be a .300 hitter in his short professional career. He plays mostly shortstop, which could prove a problem because of Tim Anderson, but Rivera could become trade bait if his development continues to point up. He is slashing .362/.373/.552 so far this season, but because of his .388 BABIP and his 12.5% home run per fly ball rate, his slash line will fall — especially his slugging. But his success continues to prove that the Sox scouting department is much improved, in a week where Hawkins was released.

Evan Skoug is having a rough start to his season, but there is no cause for great concern yet for the young catcher. His walk (11.1%) and strikeout (37.8%) percentages have slightly improved from last season in Kannapolis. What has changed is that he is hitting more ground balls than fly balls. Much like Collins, he seems to be late on pitches, as he normally pulls the ball more than 50% of the time; this season, he’s down to 30.4%. Even more unlucky is that Skoug’s infield fly ball rate is an astronomically high 28.6%. It still is early in his career, but Skoug did slide down to the 7th round for a reason.