Well well well, the first summer addition from the lower minor league ranks is upon us, as the Dominican Summer League kicked off on June 3.
In 2018 the White Sox still were saddled with the international signing restrictions from the Luis Robert signing, but they did add some bats in last year’s crop who will be making their debuts. Some other lesser signings like Enoy Jiménez (Eloy’s brother) occurred earlier this year but overall, this is a team filled with very young and inexperienced players.
Some may break through to the bigs, most will not, but we are about to meet and watch these players grow into their games. Without further ado, your DSL White Sox.
The entire roster can be found here, FYI, if you are feeling old today, I would not recommend looking at all the players born in the 2000s (including the multiple born in 2002).
The DSL Sox have a couple notable holdovers from last year’s DSL team. Luis Rodriguez seems to be the most interesting of the bunch. He was fourth on the team in strikeouts last year, but really struggled with command. Most of the pitchers in the DSL struggle with command because, well, they are teenagers, but Rodriguez really struggled. He had a 6.84 BB/9, which did not help his 1.64 WHIP. But Rodriguez had some strikeout stuff, and was able to keep the ball on the ground. At 19 and already 6´6´´, he has a lot of room to grow, both in his game and in general.
Two other pitchers are more or less in the same boat as Rodriguez. Dionicio Jiménez and Francisco Benitez are both back in the DSL for their age-18 seasons. While I cannot put that much stock in how they pitched as 17-year-olds last year in the DSL, but they might have showed even more potential than Rodriguez. They both had a K/9 of more than 10 — but also had a BB/9 of more than 10. In Jimenez’s case, he walked more batters than he struck out, which is hard to do when he struck out at least one batter an inning. But again, these guys were 17! For all three of these holdover pitchers, command is the big issue, and if they can correct it significantly this year, they could be in the States soon.
None of the big signings, well, “bigger” when a team cannot acquire a player for more than $300,000, were pitchers. But Baseball America highlighted one, and he is currently just 16 years old! Ronaldo Guzman, according to BA, has a “fastball [that gets] up to 89 mph with easy arm action and an athletic delivery that he repeats well to throw strikes with an advanced changeup for his age.” He signed for $75,000 so he did not come with much fanfare, but it seems like he could have a future.
The DSL Sox have five catchers rostered, so it’s hard to say how they will all get at-bats or time to grow as a catcher, but two are worth highlighting. The first is a holdover from last year, Jefferson Mendoza. He was a max contract signee in 2017 and recently turned 18. He did not do very well in his first stint in the DSL, though, slashing .207/.289/.289 in 38 games. He walked about 9% of the time and struck out in 19% of his plate appearances, both are fine numbers, but he was not really able to hit many fly balls, as revealed by a .289 slugging percentage.
Luis Piñeda was a higher-profile signing and is just 17. Baseball America commends his power at the plate and “above average arm” behind the dish. They do mention conditioning issues, which probably stem from the fact Piñeda already weighs in at 201 per MILB.com, but he should make a quick impact in the DSL.
The infield is where the new signees are the highlights of the group. First, Alberto Bernal is a first baseman who signed for $250,000 out of Cuba per BA. BA also commends Bernal’s bat, specifically his power thanks to his 6´1´´ and 215 pound frame. He will be 16 for another week, as he is one of the younger players on the team.
Anthony Espinoza is the second higher-profile signing that will debut this season. The 17-year-old shortstop, per BA’s quick summary, seems like he could stick at short and at the very least land at second base. This is the main takeaway: “quick-twitch athlete with average speed and arm strength, moving around well at shortstop with a good glove and high all-around baseball instincts.” BA also mentions, in the kindest way possible, that Espinoza is more of a slap hitter than a batter with power, so it seems like he is defense-first so far.
Two other guys to note, Enoy Jiménez is listed as a shortstop here but does not have that much fanfare about his playing ability. Elijah Tatis was also signed for $500,000, but per Enrique Rojas, the signing will not be official until July 2, when the restrictions from the Robert signing are lifted. Per James Fox at Future Sox, the Sox are also interested in shortstop Yolbert Sánchez, who is one of the more highly-ranked players in this upcoming international signing period.
It does not seem like the outfield currently has a big name yet, and the holdovers from last season were not highly regarded, either. So the infield is where the talent is currently.
Special thanks to the writeups from Ben Badler of Baseball America.