This was the first year where the League formerly known as Arizona Rookie turned into the Arizona Complex League. This affiliate featured some similar faces, as well as a variety of prospects making their Stateside and organizational debuts.
With no minor league season in 2020 due to the pandemic, the White Sox were faced with pushing some aggressive assignments to start the year. In addition to that, they also found some prospects having to stick around in Arizona who weren’t ready for Low-A ball. The loss of the Great Falls affiliate also played a role in the delayed promotions, as roster crunches became more prevalent than before.
Even though this was a tough year for a lot of prospects, and the team missed out on the postseason with an overall record of 25-34, 2021 still featured some exciting storylines that developed throughout the year.
Speedy outfielder Misael González was the star of the show before earning a much-deserved promotion to Kannapolis towards the end of the season. González was a repeat Arizona League prospect, and in 21 games with the ACL White Sox, he slashed .311/.393/.595 with six doubles, five home runs, and 23 RBIs.
Gonazlez’s development of power was exciting to see throughout the 2021 season. His five home runs ended up leading the ACL White Sox this season, despite not spending the full year with the affiliate.
A big surprise came from 18-year-old Wilfred Veras, who made not only his Stateside but also his organizational debut in 2021. In 46 games, Veras slashed .322/.416/.533 with 16 doubles, four home runs, 26 RBIs, 21 walks, and 42 strikeouts. He led the team in average, runs, and RBI. His .949 OPS led all of the Arizona Complex League, and he finished tied for third in batting average.
Wilfred Veras sends one off the batter’s eye for a grand slam. ACL White Sox are now up 8-1 in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/wvNMwnqFSX— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) August 17, 2021
Veras came into the 2021 season as a lesser-known prospect, with no professional experience within the organization. After his strong showing this year, he is someone to keep an eye on at the lower levels of the minors, and could be climbing the prospect rankings soon.
One prospect who fell victim to an aggressive assignment was Benyamin Bailey. After putting up ridiculous numbers with the DSL White Sox in 2019, Bailey was set to make his Stateside debut in 2020. That season was obviously cancelled, causing Bailey to be rushed to Kannapolis to start the 2021 season.
Bailey struggled in Kannapolis and was demoted to Arizona, where he should have had a lot of success. Unfortunately, the struggles continued for Bailey in Arizona. He slashed .216/.347/.320 with two doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs, 24 walks, and 46 strikeouts in 40 games.
There were flashes where Bailey showed an advanced approach for his age, but it seemed like too often he was pressing at the plate and got caught up in trying to do too much. The 2022 season will be viewed as more of a sink-or-swim season for a lot of prospects, and Bailey will have to prove himself moving forward to reclaim his stock.
Colson Montgomery was the headliner of the White Sox 2021 draft class, and he made his professional debut in Arizona shortly after being selected at No. 22 overall. This was the first time the White Sox had selected a prep player in the first round since 2012 and Montgomery showed flashes of why he was worthy of the pick.
In 26 games with the ACL White Sox, Montgomery slashed .287/.396/.362 with seven doubles, seven RBIs, 13 walks, and 22 strikeouts. Montgomery came to Arizona showing a patient approach at the plate, and that’s something that you don’t see too often for a 19-year-old making his professional debut.
Colson Montgomery drops one into center for a single in the 6th.— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) August 17, 2021
He’s reached twice tonight. The first time was a HBP. pic.twitter.com/VEPvSHEJwm
Defensively, Montgomery made a few errors at shortstop, but that’s to be expected with a transition from high school to the pros. Overall, he was solid defensively and shows the ability to stick there moving forward. And the White Sox believe he will stick at short, too.
Wes Kath, 2021’s second round selection, joined the ACL White Sox with Montgomery as the pair made their debuts around the same time. In 28 games, Kath slashed .212/.287/.337 with two triples, three home runs, 15 RBIs, eight walks, and 42 strikeouts.
At the plate, Kath brings a more aggressive approach, but he’s strong and has a smooth swing that will develop a lot of power as he grows into his frame. He showed the ability to impact the ball consistently during his brief time in Arizona.
White Sox second rounder Wes Kath is 1-2 with an RBI single and a ground out tonight.— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) August 8, 2021
He’s been hitting the ball hard in his brief pro debut up to this point. pic.twitter.com/BkgtmVGhUj
Behind the plate, Jefferson Mendoza was the primary catcher for the ACL White Sox. Defensively, he showed the ability to call a strong game. Offensively, he slashed .216/.319/.392 with three doubles, five home runs, 15 RBIs, 11 walks, and 33 strikeouts across 32 games.
On the pitching side of things, both Cristian Mena and Ronaldo Guzman were the two most notable prospects on the ACL White Sox roster heading into the season. Guzman was coming off a very impressive DSL stint in 2019, where he posted a 13.24 K/9 in 51 2⁄3 innings.
With the ACL White Sox, Guzman owned a 7.62 ERA with 38 hits, 48, walks, and 46 strikeouts in 39 innings. While it was a tough year overall for Guzman, he’s still young and managed to put up a respectable 10.62 K/9 in Arizona.
Mena entered 2021 making his professional debut. Some outlets, like Baseball America, mentioned Mena as one of the more intriguing signings of Chicago’s 2019 International signing class.
In 12 starts, Mena posted a 7.82 ERA with 69 hits, 21 walks, and 62 strikeouts across 48 1⁄3 innings. His 62 strikeouts put him at first on the team in that category, and fourth overall throughout the entire ACL.
Tommy Sommer, a 10th-rounder from the 2021 draft, joined the ACL White Sox this summer and gave the starting rotation a big boost. The lefthander out of Indiana made six starts, posting a 2.16 ERA with 13 hits, seven walks, and 33 strikeouts in 25 innings. The pitching staff as a whole struggled throughout the year, but Sommer gave the ACL White Sox some consistency to end the year.
Another fellow draftee that joined the rotation late in the year was Tanner McDougal. McDougal came into the organization as a fifth-rounder out of Las Vegas and was known to have impressive spin rates in his arsenal.
McDougal made four starts with the ACL White Sox this summer. He posted a 9.31 ERA with 10 hits, five walks, and 17 strikeouts across 9 2⁄3 innings. His professional career got off to a strong start by striking out the side in his first appearance. He followed that up by striking out four in two innings over his next appearance. Unfortunately, he left his final game in Arizona with an apparent injury, and the worst was revealed on October 28: McDougal had Tommy John surgery and will likely miss the 2022 season.
While it was a tough year overall for the ACL White Sox, the affiliate hosted some interesting names and included some exciting performances after missing out on a year of minor league ball.
In recent years, this affiliate has been a root for prospects to start making a name for themselves. Hopefully that continues to be the case, as these prospects begin to move on to higher affiliates next season.
Final MVP Ranks
Wilfred Veras (37.1, 202 votes) 2021 South Side Sox ACL White Sox Player of the Year
Misael González (37.1, 193)
Colson Montgomery (23.4)
Homer Cruz (23.2) 2021 South Side Sox ACL White Sox Pitcher of the Year
Dilmer Mejía (21.2)
Tommy Sommer (16.7)
Wilber Sánchez (13.5)
Terrell Tatum (13.1)
Anderson Comas (12.9)
Rigo Fernández (11.7)
Richard García (11.6)
Victor Torres (10.7)
Adam Hackenberg (9.5)
Jefferson Mendoza (8.6)
Haylen Green (8.2)
Jagger Rusconi (7.3)
Brooks Gosswein (7.1)
Noah Owen (6.0)
The Lightning (5.3)
Corey Stone (3.0)
Jeremiah Burks (2.7)
Tanner McDougal (2.6)
Garvin Alston Jr. (2.2)
Gil Luna Jr. (2.1)
Logan Glass (1.8, 14 votes)
Jhoneiker Betancourt (1.8, 7)
Sean Burke (1.7)
Johnabiell Laureano (1.5)
Hansen Butler (1.3)
Darren Black’s Sleep Cycle (1.1)
Colby Smelley (0.6)
Pauly Milto (0.5, 2 votes)
Ruben Benavides (0.5, 1 vote)
Taylor Broadway (0.3)
Final Cold Cat Ranks
Elijah Tatís (-60.4)
Jacob Gilliland (-29.0)
Ronaldo Guzman (-25.7)
Cameron Butler (-20.0)
Wes Kath (-15.7)
Johnny Ray (-14.1)
Anthony Espinoza (-13.8)
Sam Abbott (-13.1)
Deivi Diaz (-12.6)
Brandon Jenkins (-11.7)
Benyamín Bailey (-11.1)
Marcus Evey (-8.9)
Jared Kelley (-8.8)
Erick Bello (-8.4)
Cristian Mena (-8.3)
Vince Arobio (-5.7)
Jake Suddreth (-5.5)
Karan Patel (-5.4)
Edwin Peralta (-4.9)
Drake Nightengale (-4.3)
Keiter Perez (-3.7)
E.P. Reese (-2.9)
Cam Beauchamp (-2.8)
Garrett Schoenle (-2.3)
Christian Edwards (-2.2)
Zach Cable (-1.4, -12 votes)
Everhett Hazelwood (-1.4, -9)
Shawn Goosenberg (-0.8)
Dry Heat (106, or 108) (-0.4, -4 votes)
Kohl Simas (-0.4, 0)
Jayson González (-0.4, 9)
Samir Dueñez (-0.3, -1 votes)/Bryce Hutchinson (-0.3, -1)