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White Sox Minor League Weekly Update: Week 7

With the draft only weeks away, it is almost promotion season in the farm system, and Kopech, Jimenez, Cease, and Gonzalez are primed for one

He’s Back! Carlos Rodon pitched well over five innings for Kannapolis last week.
Kannapolis Intimidators

Charlotte Knights

Charlie Tilson: .313 BA, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — played four games

Kevan Smith: .176 BA, 0 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K

Casey Gillaspie: .222 BA, 1 BB, 9 K

Michael Kopech: 7 IP, 1.68 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 ***MVP of the Week***

Jordan Stephens: 6 IP, 2.23 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 0 BB/9

Ricardo Pinto: 1 IP, 17.40 FIP, 9 K/9, 9 BB/9

Thyago Vieira: 2 IP, 5.40 FIP, 18 K/9, 18 BB/9

Tyler Danish: 5 1⁄3 IP, 2.45 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 1.69 BB/9

Another week, another promotion for ... Dylan Covey. Michael Kopech is being passed up for a reason, and it is his super-2 status. Yes, Kopech needs to work on his changeup. Yes, Kopech needs to be consistent week-in and week-out. Yes, Kopech needs to lower his walks. No, no pitcher in the White Sox organization is better, even with those flaws. There have been reports by reporters like Scot Gregor that Kopech should be up in July, probably after the All-Star Break. All he needs to do is stay healthy over the next two months.

On the other hand, Charlie Tilson may not be ready for a call-up but he is starting to regain his batting form. Every single week, Tilson is raising his batting average. From April 30 to May 5, he hit .211. Last week, he hit .258, and Tilson has upped his average again this week, to .313. His ground ball rate is slowly going down as his fly ball and line drive rates go up. The walks are still too low, and have gone down to 3.2% in May, but his strikeouts are starting to fall, too. Tilson is obviously not near MLB-ready, but slow progression is a good sign from a player who has had two straight season-ending injuries. All Tilson needs is his timing in the batters box to line up with his skills on the basepaths, and he should be the next outfielder promoted.

Birmingham Barons

Eloy Jimenez: .385 BA, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K ***MVP of the Week***

Seby Zavala: .250 BA, 1 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K

Matt Rose: .042 BA, 2 R, 5 BB, 10 K

Jameson Fisher: .263 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K

Zack Collins .269 BA, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 8 K

Dane Dunning: 4 IP, 2.59 FIP, 13.50 K/9, 4.50 BB/9

Spencer Adams: 10 23 IP, 5.41 FIP, 9.28 K/9, 5.06 BB/9

It is safe to say, like Kopech, Eloy Jiménez is a man among boys in his respective league. Even when he is not hitting home runs, Eloy still finds a way to be productive. His line drive and fly ball rates are even better than they were last season. The best of the batted-ball data is his ground ball rate, as it is less than 40% (39.4%). All that means is that Jiménez is not rolling over the ball, and that he is seeing the ball better than he has in his career. His strikeout rate backs that up, falling to 14.8% for the season (this past week alone, it was at 11.5%). Now, walks are important, but we all would agree that Eloy’s walk rate will be higher in the majors than it is in the minors, once pitchers start to pitch around the strike zone. Last week Jiménez’s BB rate was at 7.7%, so it is rising. But at this point in Eloy’s development, just let him swing at everything. More often than not, it will have a positive result.

Matt Rose did not have a good week, as his slash line has steadily fallen to .231/.317/.427. His ISO has also fallen to its lowest point since 2016, at .196, while his K-rate is at a career high (30.4%). However, those stats are more indicative of how bad Rose has been in May: This month’s slash line is .155/.300/.328. With Jake Burger’s injury, Matt Rose is the lone third base prospect in the White Sox system who has any major league potential whatsoever. Now, Rose’s stats do not look great, but his peripherals are still keeping pace; his line drive rate is still up 2%, along with his fly ball rate (up 4%). He is not pulling the ball as much, and is squaring it up the middle of the diamond 9% more than last season. Rose’s BABIP is at an uncharacteristic .299, so fans should expect his batting average to rise after a bad half-month.

Winston-Salem Dash

Joel Booker: .167 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K

Micker Adolfo: .176 BA, 1 R, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 5 K

Alex Call: .294 BA, 1 HR, 5 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K

Luis Alexander Basabe: .273, BA, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K

Blake Rutherford: .231 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 SB

Gavin Sheets: .136 BA, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K

Yeyson Yrizarri: .143 BA, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K

Dylan Cease: 6 IP, 2.50 FIP, 9.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9 ***MVP of the Week***

Bernardo Flores: 6 2⁄3 IP, 4.25 FIP, 2.70 K/9, 4.05 BB/9

Jimmy Lambert: 6 IP, 2.84 FIP, 7.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9

Matt Foster: 2 IP, 0.50 FIP, 13.50 K/9, 0.00 BB/9

Whenever Dylan Cease has a good game, the next is most likely a shorter outing or a complete blowup. This season, Cease has gone six-plus in two straight games only once. This week, he will attempt to make that a second time, after throwing six shutout innings this past weekend. However, more often than not, Cease does get knocked out for things he cannot control, as evidenced by his 2.86 FIP this season. Still, Cease’s walks are still too high (4.02 BB/9). He has the talent, and he has the pitching repertoire to be an ace, with a great fastball, a plus curveball, and a plus complimentary changeup. He just needs his command to follow suit.

The Joel Booker extravaganza seems to be over. He is starting to lose playing time to Alex Call after a poor half-month of hitting. Booker still has a great eye, with a slash line of .200/.368/.378, but his BABIP is starting to normalize. Unfortunately for Booker, it is still at an unsustainable .370. His batted ball data also indicates that he is not timing up pitches well. In previous years and levels, Booker, like any normal hitter, pulled the ball more than hitting the ball to center or the opposite field. That has switched this season. He is now hitting almost 9% more to the opposite field. That may be a sign of an improved hitter, but it is more likely that he is late on pitches. Booker does have a career high BB rate this season (11.3%) and it could be that he is making a conscious effort to wait on pitches, therefore, pulling the trigger too late on pitches. It worked out for him in April, but not so far in May.

Kannapolis Intimidators

Tate Blackman: .217 BA, 2 R, 3 BB, 8 K

Craig Dedelow: .182 BA, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K

Laz Rivera: .368 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K

Luis Gonzalez: .370 BA, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K ***MVP of the Week***

Justin Yurchak: .353 BA, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K

Evan Skoug: .333 BA, 4 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K

Lincoln Henzman: 5 23 IP, 3.53 FIP, 12.71 K/9, 1.59 BB/9

Carlos Rodon: 5 IP, 1.13 FIP, 10.80 K/9, 0.00 BB/9

Blake Battenfield: 6 IP, 4.36 FIP, 10.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9

Tyler Johnson: 3 IP, 0.86 FIP, 12.00 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 1 save

Carlos Rodon is not a prospect, but he will be a big part of the White Sox future. He had an impressive rehab start, and now will continue his climb back to the majors on Thursday in Charlotte. Rodon has not completed a full innings load in his MLB career, with a career high of 165 IP, which he obviously will not eclipse this season. It is tough to look at Rodon’s 2017 campaign as an indicator for this season. He started late last year, and then needed to get surgery anyway. However, the 25-year-old’s walks per nine did jump from 2.95 to 4.02. The most important thing to watch from Rodon this season is his velocity. Last season, his fastball speed dropped down 0.6 mph, to 93.6. Any more drop, and there will be obvious repercussions back in the majors.

If anybody deserves a pre-draft promotion, it’s Tyler Johnson. His walks are still high, but with a K/9 of 16.30, walks don’t mean much. In Johnson’s past three outings, he has not walked a single batter, a streak he’s managed twice this season. Like Cease, Johnson needs to string together more games with better command, but he has back-of-the-bullpen stuff already with a high-90s fastball. With 54.6% of the balls hit against him going to the opposite side, it’s clear that hitters in low-A ball cannot keep up with Johnson’s heater. It is time for a promotion.