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White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 1

We’re taking a weekly look at the White Sox of tomorrow, with updated trends and things to look for in the development process

Movin’ on Up: Dane Dunning’s sparkling Opening Day duty for the Dash earns him this week’s MVP in Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem Dash

This is the first weekly White Sox Minor League Update of the 2018 season. The updates will summarize a week of games and connect those performances to prospect trending, upward or downward.

It will not always be a pretty picture. Part of going through a rebuild is finding which prospects will succeed as a White Sox. Not all of the Top 10 prospects, let alone Top 30, will be a success.

But still, because of how deep the farm system is, the Sox are set up for long-term success like the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros did with their rebuilds. There is major league potential at every level, from Charlotte to Kannapolis.

As the season goes on more advanced stats will be included, but at this point, looking at things like BABIP are not indicative of anything.

The sample size is small after a shortened week, with multiple postponements, but we have to start somewhere.

Charlotte Knights

Charlie Tilson: .308 BA, 0 BB, 1 SB, 3 K

Ryan Cordell: .167 BA, 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K

Jose Rondon: .214 BA, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Casey Gillaspie: .400 BA - all singles, 4 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K ***MVP of the Week***

Thyago Vieira: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Through three games, Gillaspie is 4-for-10 with two walks. Gillaspie used to be a top prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but his average dropped from .284 in 2016 to .223 in 2017. Gillaspie is not a .400 hitter, and probably not even a .300 hitter, but if he can return to hitting around .250, he will push the Sox to add him to their future plans. If José Abreu is traded, expect Gillaspie to get his at-bats.

Cordell is not off to a fast start. He has more strikeouts (six) than times on base (two). His strikeout percentage was 22.3% last season, which would normally be high; however, when coupled with a .855 OPS, the strikeouts are manageable. Cordell figured to be one of the first called up to the White Sox this season but with Tilson’s early success, he could leapfrog Cordell and be the first called up.

Birmingham Barons

Tito Polo: .250 BA, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Matt Rose: .308 BA, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K

Seby Zavala: .444 BA, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K ***MVP of the Week***

Jameson Fisher: .273 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K

Zack Collins: 0-for-7, 1 R, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K

Jordan Guerrero: 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K

Jordan Stephens: 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 K

Ian Clarkin: 5 13 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K

Spencer Adams: 5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 3 K

Ian Hamilton: 1 13 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 2 K

Birmingham has a lot of talent on its roster, at every position. Zavala has shot up the Sox organization and in fans’ minds the past two seasons. He has proven to be a better contact hitter than Collins, but Zavala’s defense is still lacking. In his three games played, two were as a DH and one as a catcher. His bat will get him promoted to Charlotte, and possibly to the South Side, but a catcher with no defense is a big reason why there was a need to sign Welington Castillo.

The trend with Collins’ batting average over his professional career is concerning. His career batting average is .226, but his OBP is off the charts at .376. What is amazing for Collins to start the season is that even though he does not have a hit, his OBP is .333. Collins optimizes a “new” three true outcomes in baseball (home run, walk, strikeout). Collins is the catcher of the future for the Sox, but if he is only a three true-outcome hitter, because his defense is not good enough to warrant him a full-time catching job. Again, that’s why Castillo is team controlled through 2020.

Winston-Salem Dash

Micker Adolfo: .357 BA, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K

Yeyson Yrizarri: .333 BA, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI, 2 K

Blake Rutherford: .250 BA, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K

Gavin Sheets: .273 BA, 3 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K

Luis Basabe: .182 BA, 2 BB, 4 K

Alex Call: .111 BA, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K

Dylan Cease: 4 23 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 K

Dane Dunning: 5 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K ***MVP of the Week***

Bernardo Flores: 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K

Matt Foster: 2 13 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K

Like Birmingham, Winston-Salem has immense talent, especially in the outfield and rotation. Dunning came out in his first start and was electric (his FIP stands at 0.97 because of the walks). However, a key to Dunning’s development will be his walk rate. It is early, but the walks are concerning for Dunning. Last season his walk rate in Winston-Salem was 2.75 per nine innings and it increased more in his last start to 3.6.

Adolfo, injury and all, is off to a hot start after his breakout season last year. Adolfo will be limited on the field and in promotion talks because his injury will limit him to DH. Adolfo is going to strike out — a lot — this season, but his strikeout percentage has decreased every year. Strikeouts will be a key to Adolfo’s success: The more he can work a count, the more he will have a chance to barrel up a pitch.

Kannapolis Intimidators

Tate Blackman: .571 BA, 2 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K ***MVP of the Week***

Luis Gonzalez: .231 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K

Craig Dedelow: .200 BA, 1 BB, 3 K

Evan Skoug: .167 BA, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Justin Yurchak: 0-for-10, 1 BB, 5 K

John Parke: 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K, CG

Lincoln Henzman: 5 23 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K

Kade McClure: 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K

Tyler Johnson: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 Save

Kannapolis has talent at all positions, but more will be on the way after the amateur draft. At the beginning of the season for any low-A minor league team, this is the time to find new and exciting prospects. Recency bias will affect many fans early in the season, but Tate Blackman put on a show. He was a 2017 draft pick and only played in 49 games last season. Most of the players on Kannapolis are entering their first full season, like Blackman, and that’s why it’s the perfect opportunity to find the next unknown prospect.