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White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 1

Luis Robert and Zack Collins won the week, hitting three home runs apiece

Big bopper: Luis Robert has been on a tear the first few games; he already has more home runs than in his 2018 calendar year.
@WSDashBaseball/Winston-Salem Dash

Hello all, welcome back to the White Sox MiLB weekly updates. This will be a slightly abbreviated version because of the lack of games played, but the concept is still the same. If you are new, this introduction usually includes overall themes of the week, but again, it’s too soon for any of that. Also, the players in each section are more or less arbitrarily selected, providing the player was active that week. Some players will be added to the regular review rotation, like Laz Rivera last season, and some underachievers will be removed. If there is a player that catches your eye, just comment below! Unfortunately, the early returns of Chicago White Sox baseball means this year’s happiness might be located in North Carolina and Alabama once again this season.

Charlotte Knights

Zack Collins: .364 BA, 3 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K ***MVP of the Week***
Seby Zavala: .308 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K
Danny Mendick: .176 BA, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
Nicky Delmonico: .313 BA, 5 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 SB
Jordan Stephens: 6 IP, 6.54 FIP, 1.50 K/9, 1.50 BB/9
Carson Fulmer: 2 13 IP, 2.85 FIP, 15.43 K/9, 7.71 BB/9 (promoted to the White Sox on Monday and sent back down after one game)
Spencer Adams: 3 IP, 9.30 FIP, 3.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9
Ian Hamilton: 1 13 IP, 20.14 FIP, 13.50 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Thyago Vieira: 1 IP, 1.71 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Dylan Covey: 2 IP, 3.14 FIP, 9.0 K/9 4.50 BB/9
Juan Minaya: 3 IP, 2.97 FIP, 12.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

Have a start, Zack Collins! In his first three games, Collins is averaging one home run, with an ISO of 1.000. Both of those statistics are unsustainable and will regress; however, there are some statistics already holding. Collins is still striking out at an better-than-average clip right now (23.1%). That would be a career low, but the high Ks are still there. The continuation of Collins hitting more fly balls than ground balls, though much larger than normal right now, is still evident. Whatever the case is for Collins, or whatever your opinion is of him, this year is a big one. Look, he will always strike out, a lot, but he’ll also walk a lot. What Collins needs to do better, catching aside, is make better contact. Collins was at his best when his fly ball rate was more than 45%, last season. So far this season, he’s at 42.5%. That’s not a huge difference, but for a true three-outcome hitter, more fly balls are needed for home run production. Watch Collins’ fly ball rate — even if many are outs, some will leave the yard.

Birmingham Barons

Gavin Sheets: .000 BA, 3 BB, 5 K
Laz Rivera: .000 BA, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 K
Luis Gonzalez: .077 BA, 1 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K
Micker Adolfo: .000 BA, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K
Joel Booker: .273 BA, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 SB
Blake Rutherford: .091 BA, 1 BB, 3 K
Jimmy Lambert: 4 IP, 2.31 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Bernardo Flores: 2 IP, 1.81 FIP, 4.50 K/9, 0.0 BB/9 (rain-shortened outing)
Hunter Schryver: 2 IP, 0.81 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Matt Foster: 2 IP, -0.19 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 0.0 BB/9 ***MVP of the week***

It was not a good offensive start for Birmingham, nor a good weather start. So in other words, it’s a perfect scenario for a relief pitcher to stand out. Matt Foster, who started to get more looks because of his dominance in A+ last season, was that reliever this week. He did only pitch in one game, which makes sense for a team that essentially played two doubleheaders. In his lone, two-inning appearance, Foster struck out three hitters and left without allowing a run. FIP loves a good BB per K ratio, and gave Foster a -0.19 FIP for his efforts. Last season, Foster was at his best when his command was closer to his career norm. Once he was called up to AA, his K/BB% fell from 30% to 12.3%. (In years prior, Foster’s K/BB% was closer to 30%.) Foster was not able to deal with the increased runners on base and increased balls in play, as his left-on-base rate hit a new career low. If Foster wants to be put onto the reliever fast track again, his command will need to be better.

Winston-Salem Dash

Nick Madrigal: .083 BA, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K,2 SB
Luis Robert: .529 BA, 3 HR, 5 R, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 3 SB ***MVP of the week***
Lincoln Henzman: 13 IP, 12.88 FIP, 0.0 K/9, 27.0 BB/9 (left his start with an injury)
Blake Battenfield: 6 IP, 4.05 FIP, 1.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Codi Heuer: 2 IP, 3.38 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Alec Hansen: 1 IP, 1.88 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9

Like Zack Collins, Luis Robert had the weekend of his life as a professional baseball player. Well, maybe that was the day he signed for multi-millions, but last weekend was his best performance ever (it continued on Monday as well). In a four-game span, Robert has already met his career homer total of three (excluding the AFL). If his time in the AFL is included, well, it took Robert four days to beat his entire 2018 calendar year total. In other words, Robert is on full display, and probably should be in AA. Now, he will come back to earth. as 100% of his fly balls hit left the yard. His .667 BABIP also will not hold forever, but what is exciting is that all of Robert’s potential has quickly showed this season. He had his power, he was 3-for-3 in steals, and he was credited with an assist in center field. We know his athleticism is off the charts; hopefully, this is the year it all comes together.

Kannapolis Intimidators

Gunnar Troutwine: .429 BA, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Bryce Bush: .167 BA, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K
Luis Curbelo: .167 BA, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Lenyn Sosa: .471 BA, 3 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K
Steele Walker: .231 BA, 1 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
Konnor Pilkington: 5 23 IP, 3.01 FIP, 9.53 K/9, 1.59 BB/9 ***MVP of the week***
Jonathan Stiever: 3 IP, 8.20 FIP, 18.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Davis Martin: 6 IP, 5.70 FIP, 12.0 K/9, 1.50 BB/9
Jason Bilous: 2 23 IP, 10.29 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 3.37 BB/9
Andrew Perez: 3 13 IP, 7.44 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 5.4 BB/9
Wilber Perez: 1 IP, -0.46 FIP, 18.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Bennett Sousa: 2 13 IP, 0.54 FIP, 19.29 K/9 3.86 BB/9

The 2018 third round draft pick takes the MVP for his first start of 2019, Konnor Pilkington. South Side Sox had a man in Dan Victor to take in Pilkington’s first start. His fastball was running 88-90 mph, which is slightly lower than his scouting report, but it is April, so the velo should be back up in a jiffy. What was good was Pilkington’s command of the zone. Pilkington is supposed to have a three-pitch mix, with a plus curve and change. All three pitches worked well in his first start, with a K/9 more than nine and a BB/9 at 1.59. The only quarrel on his first start was his fly balls allowed. In total, he allowed seven, while only recording two ground balls, which is not a good recipe for sustained success. Bernardo Flores’ typical batted ball and BB% is what Pilkington will need to match to be successful, as neither pitcher will blow hitters away with the fastball. This is not a critical year for Pilkington, but if he does well he could be in MLB sooner than later.