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White Sox Minor League Weekly Update: Week 5

Luis Robert is MVP again, Daniel Palka and Jameson Fisher find their power stroke, and Bryce Bush and Jonathan Stiever help get the Intimidators back on track

I can see clearly now: Bryce Bush seems to be heating up, with an average near .400 last week.
Dan Victor/South Side Sox

Charlotte Knights

Zack Collins: .200 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
Danny Mendick: .364 BA, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI
Daniel Palka: .292 BA, 3 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K ***MVP OF THE WEEK***
Joel Booker: .182 BA, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K
Charlie Tilson: ,214 BA, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Caleb Frare: 3 IP, 5.12 FIP, 12.0 K/9, 12.0 BB/9 (also made an appearance with the White Sox)
Zach Thompson: 3 IP, 2.79 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Matt Foster: 5 IP, 2.79 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
Ian Hamilton: 2 13 IP, 7.64 FIP, 7.71 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Jordan Stephens: 10 IP, 9.29 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 0.9 BB/9
Dylan Cease: 6 IP, 1.12 FIP, 16.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9

Last time we spoke about Daniel Palka, he was on his way down to Charlotte after only getting one hit in all of April with the big club. With the Knights, Palka is rediscovering his power stroke. Overall, he has been much better at the plate. Yes, it is against Triple-A competition, but his plate approach has been night and day. Both the MLB and Triple-A stint are small sample sizes, but Palka is walking about 4% more and striking out about 14% less. As alluded to earlier, he is showing vast power, too, with a .269 ISO, and all of that helps lead to a 133 wRC+. These numbers are much more aligned with 2018 Triple-A Palka, which bodes well for when he is needed back in Chicago. There is still some cause for concern though. As of this post, Palka’s HR/FB rate is a smidge over 30%. Yeah, he has a lot of power, but the main reason why the HR/FB rate is unsustainably high is because he isn’t hitting a normal amount of fly balls. At just 34.2%, it is his lowest fly ball rate in his career. A huge issue with Palka in the majors was the lack of fly balls, and that concern is still there, though everything else seems to be on the mend.

Birmingham Barons

Gavin Sheets: .158 BA, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
Laz Rivera: .286 BA, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K
Luis Basabe: .150 BA, 2 R, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 SB
Luis Gonzalez: .125 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K
Blake Rutherford: .364 BA, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Luis Robert: .350 BA, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 SB ***MVP OF THE WEEK***
Hunter Schryver: 4 IP, 1.77 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Alec Hansen: Has not pitched in AA yet.
Zack Burdi: 2 IP, 3.27 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 9.0 BB/9
Bernardo Flores: 6 IP, 4.60 FIP, 6.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Kodi Medeiros: 6 IP, 3.60 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Jimmy Lambert: 6 IP, 3.77 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 7.5 BB/9

We cannot talk about Luis Robert all the time, even though it is quite fun. With that said, let’s take a look at a pitcher that could see himself on the South Side this season, in Hunter Schryver. So far this season in Double-A with 15 innings pitched, the lefty has not allowed a run, with a batting average against of .167. And as of right now, in the surface stats there are no discernible differences between Schryver’s lefty-righty splits. However, Schryver has been forcing right-handed batters to hit ground balls more than left-handed hitters. Schryver’s K-rate is down from last season a good amount (when he was in Single-A+) and the walks are up as well, but the contact is also vastly different and mitigates the lack of Ks and increased BBs. Schryver’s ground ball rate is up a whopping 15% from 2018, which is mostly on the back of a big decrease in line drives. On top of that, a little more than a quarter of the fly balls Schryver allows are in the infield, so the contact has not been great. A promotion to Triple-A seems to be on the horizon.

Winston-Salem Dash

Nick Madrigal: .263 BA, 3 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K
Steele Walker: .188 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Jameson Fisher: .421 BA, 2 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K ***MVP OF THE WEEK***
Codi Heuer: 4 IP, 3.43 FIP, 4.5 K/9, 2.25 BB/9
Blake Battenfield: 6 IP, 7.18 FIP, 6.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Lincoln Henzman: 5 IP, 3.28 FIP, 1.8 K/9, 0.0 BB/9

Former fourth round pick and regarded prospect Jameson Fisher has had a winding road with the White Sox. After a very good season in rookie ball right out of the draft and successful stints in both Single-A leagues in 2017, Fisher found himself in Double-A for 2018. However, by that time the White Sox also had started gathering other outfield prospects, and Fisher’s name started to fade from Sox fans’ minds. It did not help that last season in Double-a was a pretty bad one for Fisher. He had an 87 wRC+ and his K-rate skyrocketed while he showed less power — not a good combo. So far this season, buoyed in a big way by a great Week 5, Fisher has been much better. He has a 110 wRC+, a huge improvement, albeit at lower level. What is more promising, though, is Fisher’s plate approach. With his BB-rate currently at a career high and K-rate at a career low, Fisher’s BB/K number is at .82, far and away a career best. With this improved approach, Fisher has been hitting more fly balls, and most to the outfield, as has has only hit one infield fly. There is a huge road block in Double-A with Robert, Basabe, Gonzalez, and Rutherford all there, but once those guys more to Triple-A, Fisher should be back in Birmingham.

Kannapolis Intimidators

Gunnar Troutwine: .286 BA, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Corey Zangari: .286 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K
Luis Curbelo: .118 BA, 3 BB, 7 K
Romy Gonzalez: .421 BA, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K
Bryce Bush: .389 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 SB ***CO-MVP OF THE WEEK***
Lenyn Sosa: .200 BA, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB
Bennett Sousa: 2 IP, 2.60 FIP, 4.5 K/9, 0.0 BB/9
Andrew Perez: 3 IP, 2.27 FIP, 15.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9
Jonathan Stiever: 7 IP, 1.89 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 1.29 BB/9 ***CO-MVP OF THE WEEK**
Konnor Pilkington: 5 IP, 2.40 FIP, 10.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
Kade McClure: 5 13 IP, 1.73 FIP, 8.44 K/9, 0.0 BB/9

What has been a very tough time for Bryce Bush has gotten a lot better the past couple weeks. Since April 22, the teenager is slashing .367/.475/.612, for a 213 wRC+. This also happens to coincide with the report from SSS’s Dan Victor that Bush was getting contacts and has been wearing glasses. Improved eyesight is probably a good idea for hitters, and it has certainly made a difference for Bush. Before April 22, Bush had a 5.3% walk rate and was striking out nearly 40% of the time. Since April 22, his walk rate has been 13.6% with the K-rate plummeting to 23.7% — still a little high, but a massive improvement. He is showing a good amount of power as well in the past couple of weeks. With five doubles, two triples, and a homer, Bush has a .245 ISO over a 14-day period. What seemed like a miscalculation to place a 19-year-old in full season pro ball, now looks like a brilliant decision.