Luis Robert has moved on the greener pastures, but that does not mean future major leaguers do not populate the Dominican Summer League White Sox.
Now, last season, the average age of the team’s hitters was 17.9 and the average age of the pitching staff was 19.3. These players are clearly far away from the big leagues, but some could make the jump to the states to this or next season.
Because of the Robert contract, the White Sox couldn’t sign prospects for more than $300,000 this offseason. While that took them out of the running for many top international blue chips, the Sox used some international signing money in trades for other prospects, like Thyago Vieira of the Seattle Mariners.
Chicago signed five international players last season — three at the max $300,000 — and that's where our preview will start.
Only one of the international signees at $300k is on the Domincan Summer League team, as Sydney Pimentel and Camilo Quintero are not on the roster. We don’t know yet where they are placed. Jefferson Mendoza, the third of the $300,000 signees, is listed on the DSL roster as a catcher.
Ben Badler of Baseball America cited Mendoza at the time of his signing as “an athletic, right-handed hitting catcher with a strong arm,” while White Sox international scouting director Marco Paddy hailed Mendoza as “a plus defensive catcher with an excellent frame for the position ... his abilities to handle a pitching staff and call a game should help him develop quickly.” Little has been said of Mendoza’s hitting ability, so it may be fair to assume that his glove may be more advanced than his bat in this early stage of his career. There are three others who can catch on the squad (Jhoneiker Betancourt, Richard Garcia and Ulises Martinez), but none have Mendoza’s defensive ability or have proven enough offensively to stand out. Mendoza will be given every opportunity to succeed; from there, who knows?
Francees was the first player from Aruba to ever sign with the White Sox. Here’s the writeup from Perfect Game, published this January:
Jerrick Francees is a 2018 SS/3B with a 6-0 175 lb. frame. Medium build, plenty of room to add strength. Right handed hitter, hits from an open stance with a hitchy hand load, hand action leaves him late at times, swings hard with a pretty short path to contact and develops some bat speed, can make the ball jump when on time. 7.62 runner, second base actions and arm strength, has quick and busy feet and can throw from different arm slots , best from lower slots, makes accurate throws.
The Rotoworld Staff at CBSSports.com also said that Francees has a hitch in his swing, but they mention that he gets his hands to the ball quickly and makes the ball jump off his bat when he’s “on time.” Rotoworld also says he is projected to fit best at second base and he has plenty of time to fill out his thin frame, which could make his “already appealing bat even better.”
The White Sox also have a few returning Dominican Summer League players from last year’s team, but few are relevant.
Rosario was signed in 2016, and this will be his third year in the Dominican League. He has been mostly a starting pitcher since he was signed. Rosario is 19, but his age 18 season in 2017 raised some eyebrows, as he improved across the board from 2016. His ERA was 7.20 in 2016, and dropped to 2.26, while his walks and strikeouts per nine also improved. His batting average against went from .320 to .215, which is an even better indicator of improvement. If everything goes well, this should be the righty’s last year in the Dominican.
Acosta also was signed in 2016, but got his first game action in 2017. The lefty is 19 but will turn 20 in October, which means if everything goes well, Acosta should be in the States next year. Acosta is also a starting pitcher, but he did not go as deep into games as Rosario. In 48 1⁄3 innings, he struck out 43 batters and walked 22, with an ERA of 3.35. Just by the innings work, Acosta will probably make a shift towards the bullpen — but he is only 19, and there’s a long road ahead.
Sánchez was another 2016 signee, but like Acosta did not debut until 2017. The 18-year-old is currently not on the DSL roster, but Badler named him to a sleeper list. There is not much information on why he was not assigned to the DSL, but after last season, Sánchez may have been moved up to the AZL team or Great Falls — or he could be injured. However, he did deserve a call-up after his 2017 performance in the DSL. He slashed .342/.383/.381, with six extra-base hits and 24 strikeouts in 43 games. He is 18, so there are a lot of options that Sánchez can find himself this season; as of right now, he was projected to be in the DSL but he has not been assigned anywhere at this point.
Most of the players in the Dominican League are not going to reach the high minors, let alone the the big leagues. They are mostly teenagers or 20-year-olds, so they are not ready with their skills on the field, or with their mental and physical maturity. This year, without Robert on the squad, it’s clear that all of the DSL White Sox have a long way to go.