Welcome to a bit of a new year-end feature here at South Side Sox, postseason affiliate All-Star teams. In 2018, we introduced the MVP concept to the Minor League Updates, but didn’t do anything with the data. This year, I compiled the MVP votes for each affiliate game, ranked performances in order of value (on a day when seven affiliates played, Luis Robert going 3-for-3 with six RBIs would earn seven points, Tate Blackman going 1-for-4 with a double would earn one), and came up with our minor league All-Star teams.
Obviously, these All-Stars are subjective and based merely on individual MVP awards and not all-around season performance; thus players who were very hot and cold have an unfair advantage over the slow and steady performers. Still, with a few oddball exceptions, the results seem pretty true to form.
MVP voters this season at South Side Sox and South Side Hit Pen include Brett Ballantini, Darren Black, Julie Brady, Leonard Gore, Joe Resis, WSM, Tiffany Wintz and Year of the Hamster. Four days of results in July are missing, as Sox on 35th deleted our Minor League Updates after the site had been scolded for both censoring and “rebranding”/lifting our work, so this final tally is about 2% incomplete.
2019 Kannapolis Intimidators All-Stars (MVP votes in parenthesis)
Catcher Evan Skoug (12)
First Base Corey Zangari (22)
Second Base Amado Nuñez (20)
Third Base Luis Curbelo (20)
Shortstop Lenyn Sosa (27)
Left Field Romy González (21)
Center Field Ian Dawkins (35)
Right Field Alex Destino (43)
Designated Hitter Johan Cruz (16)
Utility Player Taylor Varnell (48)
Right-Handed Pitcher Jonathan Stiever (54)
Left-Handed Pitcher Sam Long (50)
Points leader missing the cut Konnor Pilkington (44)
Well, where did all the pitching stars in the White Sox organization go? Apparently, it’s Kannapolis. And not just pitching, but left-handed pitching, as Varnell, Long and Pilkington all fought their way onto our All-Star team.
Perhaps logically for the crossroads of the affiliates (Kannapolis is smack in the middle between the rookie leagues and higher levels), there weren’t any really “cheats” onto this squad, either with jimmying positions or placing a player with very modest MVP points. Skoug comes closest, with a nod to the dearth of good catching in the system.
2019 Kannapolis Player of the Year: Jonathan Stiever
As we are all pretty familiar with by now, Stiever had a phenomenal season, as strong as any hurler in the system. He split time between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, ironically with a much stronger overall performance at High-A than Low-A. Also ironic is that Stiever earned more MVP points at Kannapolis, during his weaker stint of the season, than with the Dash. It all comes down to timing. For the 2019 season, Stiever went 10-10 with a 3.48 ERA in 26 starts and 145 innings. He allowed just 27 walks against 154 strikeouts, contributing to a 1.179 WHIP. And finally, spoiler alert: Stiever will show up on tomorrow’s Winston-Salem All-Stars, but not as prominently.