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White Sox Minor League Update: July 11, 2019

a.k.a. Luis Robert murdered baseball in Charlotte tonight

Birmingham advice, true: “Don’t worry, once you get to Charlotte, see how that ball travels there.”
Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights front page, baby!

Charlotte Knights 15, Gwinnett Stripers 12

Luis Robert (CF) 3-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR (2), 7 RBI (7) (.600 BA, 2.300 OPS) (first game in Charlotte) **MVP**
Yermin Mercedes (DH) 2-for-4, 3 R, BB, 2 K, (.344 BA, 1.088 OPS)
Danny Mendick (2B) 4-for-5, 3 R, 2B (12), K, (.275 BA, .796 OPS)
Donn Roach (SP) 4 13 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, BB, 2 K, 2 HR, WP, HBP, E, 80 pitches/50 strikes (9.29 ERA)
Colton Turner (RP) IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, K, WP (6.78 ERA)
Matt Foster (RP) IP, H, 2 K, W (4-1) (4.36 ERA)

Well, if you haven’t heard the news, it was an extraordinary show put on by Luis Robert in the first Triple-A game of his career. In the first two innings, Robert had two fly outs to right field, with the second one scoring a run on a sacrifice fly. In the third inning, Robert got his third at-bat, and boy, did he make it count:

Robert actually got one inning off with the bat, but then came back in the fifth, and turned a memorable debut into something legendary:

In the sixth inning, it was an RBI single for La Pantera:

And finally, in the eighth, Robert crashed down to earth with a ground out, ending his night at 3-for-5, with several dented baseballs. He assessed his first game postgame, and unless the Charlotte translator is a very colorful interpreter, Robert gets off a pretty hilarious line describing the differences between Birmingham and Charlotte:

Other players did appear in the game tonight. Donn Roach probably wishes he did not, as he took the good fortune of a 9-2 lead through three and blew it all to smithereens. The starter was knocked from the box in the fifth inning, failing to get a win with three home runs, including a grand slam, hit behind him.

Flip side, Danny Mendick beat the drum for his own call-up in the second half, choosing an all-eyes-on-Charlotte game to author a four-hit game. Likewise Yermin Mercedes, who answered the question, “who the hell needs a right-handed DH prospect” with two hits, three runs and nearly an 1.110 OPS by game’s end.

And just to make this ever-so-slightly less Panteracentric:

Jackson Generals 8, Birmingham Barons 4

Luis González (CF) 2-for-5, R, 2B (10), K, E (3) (.235 BA, .632 OPS)
Nick Madrigal (2B) 1-for-4, R, K (.377 BA, .898 OPS)
Ti’quan Forbes (3B) 1-for-4, 2 RBI (27), 2B (9), 2 K, E (14) (.245 BA, .687 OPS)
Laz Rivera (SS) 1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI (22), BB (13), K (.248 BA, .594 OPS) **MVP**
Blake Battenfield (SP) 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, HR, 81 pitches/51 strikes (5.18 ERA)
Luis Martinez (RP) IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, L (4-2), BS (2) (5.09 ERA)

Listen now, if you lost a panther and had no other fierce offensive creature to replace him with, and at the same time that wildcat landed in Charlotte and immediately started mauling opponents, you’d probably lose your game that night, too.

Lose Birmingham did, despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a Ti’quan Forbes two-run double. Luis González also doubled, as he attempts to fill the La Pantera vacuum as replacement center fielder/leadoff hitter. With a .632 OPS, which I believe Robert sneezed out by the second inning tonight, González has his work cut out — but has the entire second half to do it.

Blake Battenfield was not good tonight, but good enough to keep the Barons in the game, and in fact in line for the win after clawing his way through five innings. First reliever Luis Martinez was even worse tonight, blowing the save and getting the loss in one horror show of a sixth-inning swoop.

Oh, and Nick Madrigal struck out [insert panic or disbelief gif here].

Winston-Salem Dash 8, Fayetteville Woodpeckers 5 (8, shortened by rain)

Tyler Frost (DH) 1-for-3, R, 2B (19), BB, 2 K (.252 BA, .758 OPS)
Steele Walker (CF) 1-for-2, R, 2 RBI (31), 2B (11), BB, 2 assists (2B, 3B) (.266 BA, .765 OPS) **MVP**
JJ Muno (LF) 2-for-2, 3 R, 2 RBI (26), 3B (5), BB, SB (10) (.254 BA, .815 OPS)
Konnor Pilkington (SP) 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (2-5) (5.40 ERA)

A nice game all-around for the Dash, who had to fight through two rain delays before claiming their 48th win of the season. JJ Muno and Steele Walker were neck-and-neck MVPs in this one, but Walker gunning down runners both at second and third (just his second and third assists of the season) to stem rallies gives him the edge.

An exercise in how silly counting stats for pitchers can be comes in the form of the hold and save tonight. Both relievers behind Konnor Pilkington (decent, not great, start, but the offense generated him a win) did their damndest to lose the game for Winston-Salem, yet come away with “happy” stats. First, Luis Ledo threw two-thirds of an inning and coughed up three hits and an earned run, and pocketed his second hold of the season. Jake Elliott threw 1 13 innings and gave up an earned run as well, but came away with his second save. Take those flatulent stats to your arbitration hearings, boys!

Greensboro Grasshoppers 15, Kannapolis Intimidators 7

Andrew Vaughn (1B) 3-for-5, 2 R, 2B (1) (.318 BA, .929 OPS)
Alex Destino (LF) 3-for-5, 4 RBI (39), K (.313 BA, .901 OPS) **co-MVP**
Alex Destino (RP) IP, H, K (3.38 ERA) **co-MVP**
Ramon Beltre (3B), 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI (21), HR (2), K (.225 BA, .590 OPS)
Davis Martin (SP) 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 82 pitches/55 strikes, L (5-8) (6.08 ERA)

The fact that Kannapolis managed to score four runs in the early innings kept this debauched start by Davis Martin from seeming as ugly as it really was, as the struggling righthander was bounced from the contest with the score merely 7-4. But the pitching got worse. In fact, it’s notable when a position player is your best hurler in a game. Yeesh.

Andrew Vaughn had himself a sweet game, with an interesting observation from scout’s eye and SSS’s own Dan Victor:

But tonight belonged to the four-RBI bat and K-power of Alex Destino, who’s quietly put together a helluva last month or so. Ice that elbow for a bullpen session tomorrow, Alex!

Grand Junction Rockies 8, Great Falls Voyagers 2

Luis Curbelo (3B) 1-for-4, 3B (1), 3 K (.277 BA, .822 OPS) **MVP**
Kelvin Maldonado (2B) 0-for-4, 2 K (.238 BA, .562 OPS)
Jakob Goldfarb (C) 0-for-3, 2 K (.138 BA, .478 OPS)
Jason Morgan (SP) 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, BB, 2 K, 2 HR, WP, 87 pitches/60 strikes, L (0-2), (6.14 ERA)

A game where the MVP had, uh, a triple, is a lousy game indeed. But that’s what Big Sky Country offered us tonight, as Great Falls pitching got lit up and the offense could muster six hits and one walk against 12 strikeouts. Would it help if I told you the Voyagers once held a 1-0 in this game? OK then.

AZL Padres1 11, AZL White Sox 0

Tyler Osik (1B) 2-for-4, 2B (2) (.278 BA, .686 OPS)
Josue Guerrero (RF) 0-for-3, BB, 3 K (.184 BA, .586 OPS)
DJ Gladney (3B) 1-for-4, 2 K, E (5) (.304 BA .914 OPS)
James Beard (CF) 0-for-3, 2 K (.192 BA, .564 OPS)
Bernardo Flores (SP) 1 2⁄3 IP, 2 H, 3 K, (0.00 ERA) **MVP**
Jeremiah Burke (RP) 3 23 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, K, HR, L (0-2) (5.75 ERA)
Trey Jeans (RP) 1 13 IP, 3 K (7.71 ERA)

It’s definitely a night of extremes here on the Minor League Update. Hey, an update on scheduled writer, Darren Jackson. Darren had a flight tonight, and natch he arranges all of his business travel around his South Side Sox writing assignments, as any dutiful and generously-paid member of the SSS staff does. Yet it seems his flight was delayed (Home? To Aruba for some “golf meetings?” Down to Charlotte to see Luis? Dunno.) because of “mechanical problems.” And you know, as irritating as those delays can be, boy you don’t want to take off of the ground on a plane with “mechanical problems.” So, DJ, safe trip out, or home, or whatever. Reminds me of some of my favorite beat travel stories. Like the time our flight was halfway to Cleveland, then just turned around and flew back to Chicago, sending me scrambling to get another flight and back to Cleveland, walking onto press row in time for the doubleheader nightcap, to a standing ovation. Or the time I was unaware of a takeoff curfew for the downtown airport in Toronto, and the flight was delayed but we got the go-ahead to take off and were literally sprinting onto the plane to beat the curfew and the plane was racing down the runway and it was all very exciting but then, like a freaking vampire smelling some sun, whammo, decelerate, taxi back to the gate ... a smidge past 11 p.m.! (Canada, love ya, but ... soft.) Or the time flying somewhere in the Midwest, and we got a little rollercoaster hiccup in the air when you lose your stomach for a second and there was a dude behind me screaming JESUS CHRIST JESUS CHRIST like we were all gonna die, and I tweeted that sorta funny “near-death” experience out and like three other passengers mailed me to say they were on the flight too so we all ended up meeting up and had some nachos at the park or something. Man of the people, I am. Oh whoops there was a ballgame in Arizona tonight but great googily moogily, you don’t really wanna hear about it.

DSL White Sox 5, DSL Padres 3

Wilber Sánchez (2B-SS) 2-for-5, R, 2 RBI (14) (.255 BA .731 OPS)
Yolbert Sánchez (SS) 0-for-3 (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
Cesar Jiménez (2B) 2-for-2, R, SB (4), CS (2) (.231 BA, .555 OPS)
Ruben Benavides (C) 2-for-4, R, 2B (3) (.281 BA, .811 OPS)
Ronaldo Guzman (SP) 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 WP (3.86 ERA)
Edgar Navarro 6 IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB, 9 K W (2-0), WP (2.60 ERA) **MVP**

Wow, in a league not necessarily known for ace pitching (as much due to younger arms/limited innings loads than weak talent), the DSL White Sox enjoyed a dynamic duo outing this morning from starter Ronaldo Guzman and reliever Edgar Navarro. Guzman was splendid over a typical, five-inning effort, with those eight Ks looking most tasty. But teammate Navarro raised the ante, bigtime — six innings, including two extras, with no earned runs and nine Ks. Wooo boy, Navarro was hungry to wrap things up for a late early-bird special lunch, friends! It was a particularly moribund ballgame for the Padres, as they racked up 17 Ks, three errors, a balk and just four hits.

In mild downer news, Yolbert Sánchez took a second straight o-fer, this time with no hits in three at-bats, although the tying run in the fifth scored because of a throwing error on his grounder.

If there was hitting hero news for the White Sox, it was Eloy’s little bro, Cesar. Cesar entered the game in place of Yolbert, and in the 11th inning with the game tied 3-3, stole second base and forced a throwing error from first baseman Axcel Peralta (sounds like Cesar was caught off of first on a pickoff, but lets bathe this play in radio-recreation glory nonetheless); runner-starting-on-second Wilber Sánchez scored on the play, with Cesar moving to third. Then on a wild pitch, Cesar scored, securing the eventual win.