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White Sox Minor League Weekly Update: Week 5

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Kevan Smith, Matt Rose, Micker Adolfo, and Luis Gonzalez all have an MVP start to their May

En Fuego: Micker Adolfo extends his award-winning April with a hot start to May.
Clinton Cole / Future Sox

As the Chicago White Sox deal with a rash of injuries, call-ups from Charlotte are becoming more prevalent. Last week, Jace Fry and Jose Rondon were added to the Sox, and more callups are coming as Kevan Smith, Jeanmar Gómez, and Xavier Cedeño are all having great starts in their seasons. But the prospect fun really starts with Birmingham.

Don’t look now, but Eloy Jiménez and Zack Collins are starting to hit. Jiménez is in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak. Collins has hit more than .400 over the last 10 days and is coming off of his own 10-game hitting streak. Meanwhile, that outfield down in Winston-Salem continues to impress.

Micker Adolfo is doing special things for the Dash. He has another chance to become Player of the Week for the Carolina League after hitting .462 to start May. Blake Rutherford, Joel Booker and Alex Call join Adolfo in productive weeks, but Luis Alexander Basabe finally came down to earth (.231 last week). And while Adolfo and Jimenez did well last week, it was a Kannapolis outfielder who took the cake.

Luis Gonzalez hit .538 over the past seven days that helped Kannapolis win six straight. Everything is clicking for the Intimidators in May. The team has a 2.45 ERA so far and are almost averaging eight runs a game. Their hot start has helped them climb all the way to first place in the South Atlantic League.


Charlotte Knights

Charlie Tilson: .211 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 SB

Jose Rondon: .286 BA, 1 HR, 5 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K

Patrick Leonard: .150 BA, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K

Kevan Smith: .467 BA, 3 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K ***MVP of the Week***

Casey Gillaspie: .071 BA, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Michael Kopech: 12 IP, 2.58 FIP, 10.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9

Thyago Vieira: 3 IP, 4.75 FIP, 12.00 K/9, 12.00 BB/9

Tyler Danish: 4 IP, 1.16 FIP, 13.50 K/9, 2.50 BB/9

With Yoan Moncada on the 10-Day DL, Jose Rondón was called up to replace him. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres after Jake Peter was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason. Rondón is a high-average hitter with little to no pop in his bat. His career AAA slash line is .289/.326/.433, but he has had an uncharacteristic power stroke in Charlotte. Rondón currently has an isolated power of .204, which would be a career high as is 18.2% of his fly balls leaving the yard. What is interesting from Rondón’s batted-ball data is that more than 50% of his balls in play are a line drive or fly ball, which means he puts the barrel on the ball more often than not; he is just not strong enough to have those numbers translate to more home runs. He will probably be with the team to break camp in 2019 in a similar role as Tyler Saladino filled this season.

Charlie Tilson still needs more at-bats to have a complete look at his development, but he cannot seem to string together more than a couple good games — and the batted ball data shows that. Tilson’s 12.3% line drive rate is his lowest since 2013. His fly ball rate (12.3%) is the lowest of Tilson’s career. What is more poignant than any other stat is his ground ball rate, which is at a terrible 75.3%. His speed is still there, as he is 6-for-6 in steal attempts, steals can’t help him hit. Such a high ground ball rate seems to indicate that Tilson is rolling over the top of the baseball when he makes contact. Normally, you’d say Tilson just needs more at-bats, but with other outfield prospects tearing up their respective leagues in Birmingham and Winston-Salem, Tilson is running out of time.


Birmingham Barons

Eloy Jimenez: .458 BA, 1 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K

Seby Zavala: .200 BA, 3 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K

Matt Rose: .350 BA, 3 HR, 3 R, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K ***MVP of the Week***

Tito Polo: .333 BA, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K

Jameson Fisher: .353 BA, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K

Zack Collins .429 BA, 1 HR, 7 R, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 2 K

Ian Clarkin: 9 IP, 7.44 FIP, 4.00 K/9, 6.00 BB/9

Dane Dunning: 12 IP, 2.69 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 2.25 BB/9

Spencer Adams: 9 13 IP, 8.48 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 2.89 BB/9

Jordan Guerrero: 11 13 IP, .89 FIP, 12.71 K/9, 0.79 BB/9

Jordan Stephens: 11 23 IP, 1.90 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 3.09 BB/9

Ian Hamilton: 4 IP, 1.69 FIP, 11.25 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 2 Saves

Ryan Burr: 3 IP, 5.11 FIP, 6.00 K/9, 9.00 BB/9

Matt Rose is having quite the month-plus start to his season. He is tied with Eloy Jiménez for the team lead in home runs and has an isolated power of .230. His slash line is .280/.345/.510, with his highest walk rate of (9.1%) since 2015. He has a 26.6% line drive rate and 39.1 fly ball rate, which gives his .367 BABIP some leeway. There are no hard-hit contact rates for the minor league,s but that batted ball data indicates Rose is putting the barrel on the ball more often than not. Rose will be a high BABIP guy, as Yoan Moncada is now with the White Sox. Rose is making the full-time transition to third base, which gives him an opening for a roster spot on the White Sox.

Eloy is back. He is currently on a 10-game hitting streak and has six home runs in 17 games. The best aspect of Jiménez’s game currently is that his BABIP is just .294. Like Rose, Sox fans should expect Jiménez’s BABIP to be higher in the majors because of how good he is with the bat. He is cutting down on his strikeouts with what would be a career-low 16.9% strikeout rate, but also a career-low walk rate (4.2%). Jimenez, like Michael Kopech, is ready for the next level, but do not expect him to be promoted anytime soon, since he only has 75 plate appearances in the 2018 season.


Winston-Salem Dash

Joel Booker: .294 BA, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K

Micker Adolfo: .462 BA, 1 HR, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K ***MVP of the Week***

Alex Call: .308 BA, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K

Luis Alexander Basabe: .231 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K

Blake Rutherford: .400 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB

Gavin Sheets: .222 BA, 3 R, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K

Yeyson Yrizarri: .294 BA, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K

Dylan Cease: 10 23 IP, 1.81 FIP, 15.19 K/9, 5.06 BB/9

Bernardo Flores: 13 IP, 4.34 FIP, 8.31 K/9, 2.08 BB/9

Matt Foster: 3 IP, 3.49 FIP, 9.00 K/9, 6.00 BB/9

Micker Adolfo has an OPS of .996 and has a career high in almost every statistical category, including batting average (.327), OBP (.400), slugging (.596) and walk percentage (9.2%). Like many other prospects in the Sox farm system, he will be a high BABIP hitter, but his .438 so far this season is unsustainable. His 27.1% line drive rate does indicate progress in his swing, as it’s his highest since rookie ball in 2015 as is his batted balls hit to center field (31.4%). Adolfo’s batting average may not hold at .327, but his approach at the plate is a positive sign in his development as a hitter. However, with his injury limiting him to DH, he may not be promoted to Birmingham until next season.

After being named by the White Sox as a top minor leaguer in April, Luis Alexander Basabe started his trend back towards the mean. Basabe’s .375 BABIP has quickly dropped to .333, lowering his batting average. FanGraphs tabs Basabe as a 25 out of 80 on the hit scale, but his average has risen more than 70 points from 2017 (.221) to 2018 (.299). Not all of the improvement is because of BABIP, though. His strikeout and walk rates have improved from last season. He is also utilizing more of the field, with more hits going into center and to the opposite field. Only time will tell if Basabe is seeing legitimate developmental growth or if his BABIP and uncharacteristically high home run per fly ball rate (15.6%) is giving him luck.


Kannapolis Intimidators

Tate Blackman: .263 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K

Craig Dedelow: .417 BA, 7 R, 8 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K

Laz Rivera: .400 BA, 7 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K

Luis Gonzalez: .538 BA, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K ***MVP of the Week***

Justin Yurchak: .286 BA, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K

Evan Skoug: .294 BA, 3 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 SB

Lincoln Henzman: 12 IP, 3.02 FIP, 8.25 K/9, 0.00 BB/9

Kade McClure: 9 23 IP, 4.86 FIP, 3.72 K/9, 5.59 BB/9

Jose Nin: 2 IP, .52 FIP, 13.50 K/9, 0.00 BB/9

Tyler Johnson: 2 13 IP, 4.38 FIP, 19.29 K/9, 15.43 BB/9, 1 Save

Heading into the season, Luis González was the highest rated Intimidator, at No. 18 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 prospects, and he showed why last week, hitting better than .500. For the season, González’s slash line is .340/.409/.490. However, like Adolfo, González’s .431 BABIP is too high for this type of success to continue all season long. This is only Gonzalez’s second year, so there is not a lot of data on him; however, his batted ball data indicates he is getting lucky. González’s line drive rate is down to 12.3%, ground ball rate is up to 60.3%, and fly ball rate is down to 27.4%. González has had a great start to the season, but his peripherals shows that his start cannot last.

Evan Skoug has really struggled this season. Even coming off of his best week all season, the catcher is slashing .182/.304/.390. His average jumped from .150 to .182, thanks to a rise in BABIP from .222 to .286. The power stroke was a reason why Skoug was heavily touted coming out of high school, and again three years later out of TCU, and that power reappeared this past week: Skoug’s isolated power was at .647. Unlike Gonzalez, Skoug should progress up to the mean as the season goes on and his BABIP rises near .300. He has not played enough professionally to get a read on what his BABIP averages project to be, but this week is a step in the right direction.