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White Sox Deep Dive: Birmingham and Charlotte First Basemen

A couple of longtime Sox farmhands, Ti’quan Forbes and Jameson Fisher, enjoyed career years in 2021.

Seen here with Birmingham, Ti’quan Forbes slugged .456 for the Barons before being promoted to Charlotte.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization.

Welcome to another year of Deep Dive, where we analyze the past, present and future for each position in the White Sox organization. Each position is broken into five parts:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Arizona)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players
  5. Free agent options

The top first basemen in the system (Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets) last year are now both in the major league roster, which means the team no longer has any Top 30 prospects who currently man the position according to MLB Pipeline.

Below are the first basemen who finished the year with Birmingham and Charlotte.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2022

Charlotte Knights

Ti’Quan Forbes
225 pounds
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Second base
2019 SSS Top Prospect ranking: 46
2020 SSHP Top Prospect ranking: 99
2021 SSS Top Prospect ranking: 100

Forbes’ season with Winston-Salem in 2018 was solid, as he slashed.273/.313/.391 in 119 games with 21 doubles, six triples, six homers, 51 RBIs, four stolen bases, 21 walks (4.5%) and 74 strikeouts (16.0%). With Birmingham the following year, Forbes slashed just .242/.333/.327 in 116 games as he produced 18 doubles, three triples, three homers, 31 RBIs, four stolen bases, 45 walks (10.0%) and 106 strikeouts (23.6%).

After last year’s layoff due to Covid-19, Forbes got off to a terrific start with Birmingham this year (thanks in large part due to a .408 BABIP). Through Independence Day, he slashed .299/.399/.456 in 40 games with nine doubles, four homers, four stolen bases and a 127 wRC+. This success prompted a promotion to Charlotte, where although he improved his walk (from 5.0% to 8.0%) and strikeout rates (from 28.1% to 25.9%), his ISO slipped from 156 to 103. Despite playing in a more friendly hitter’s environment, he slashed just .237/.305/.340 in 50 Triple-A games. Combined with both teams, Forbes slashed .267/.329/.396 with 15 doubles, three triples, six homers, six stolen bases, 22 walks and 90 strikeouts.

Forbes has played more frequently at third and second base throughout his career, but with Jake Burger and Romy González plying those positions with the Knights (and with Sheets playing in the majors), Forbes spent more of his time this year at first. His versatility should help him keep his roster spot this year, barring a surprise selection in this winter’s Rule 5 draft.

Despite his size, his career-high in dingers was just 11, back in 2017. For any chance to earn a promotion to the majors, however, Forbes will need to stop hitting worm-burners (he’s historically hit the ball on the ground more than half of the time) and start hitting more over the fence — especially if first base is to be his defensive home going forward.

Birmingham Barons

Jameson Fisher
210 pounds
Age: 28
Bats/Throws: L/R

During Fisher’s college days with Southeastern Louisiana University, he was considered one of the premier college hitters in the country. The big question was where to play him. He was a catcher during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he tore his labrum, which cost him the entire 2015 season. He returned in 2016 to play first base and left field, but no matter where he played, his bat was his ultimate card-carrying tool. In that junior season, he slashed .424/.558/.692 in 61 games by producing 16 doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 66 RBIs, 54 walks (19.6%) and 31 strikeouts (11.2%). As a result of his efforts, the White Sox selected him in the fourth round of that year’s MLB draft.

With Great Falls in 2016, Fisher proved every bit the hitter he was expected to be as he slashed .342/.436/.487 in 50 games with 13 doubles, a triple, four homers, 25 RBIs, 27 walks (12.3%) and 43 strikeouts (19.6%). The 2017 season saw him split time with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem with decent but unspectacular numbers: .245/.342/.402 in 124 games with 30 doubles, six triples, 10 homers, 68 RBIs, 58 walks (10.8%) and 114 strikeouts (21.3%). In 2018, Fisher was completely overmatched with Birmingham in 97 games, as he produced a .216/.321/.321 slash line with 11 doubles, two triples, six homers, 24 RBIs, 44 walks (11.9%) and 113 strikeouts (30.5%).

Fisher was demoted to Winston-Salem for the 2019 season, and although his numbers received a bit of an uptick, they weren’t enough for him to earn a return trip to Birmingham. In 127 games for the Dash, he slashed .242/.343/.375 with 30 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 72 walks (13.3%) and 130 strikeouts (23.9%).

The 2021 season after missing all of 2020 due to the pandemic was a bit of a renaissance year for Fisher, as he posted a full-season career high .826 OPS for Birmingham by posting career highs in many statistical categories. In 88 games totaling 328 at-bats, he slashed .287/.359/.463 with 18 doubles, 12 homers, 47 RBIs, 35 walks (9.5%), 84 strikeouts (22.8%) and 129 wRC+.

Fisher, however, turns 28 in December and just played against competition two-and-a-half years younger. Despite his success this year, it’s unclear what his role will be in 2022. He’s in a similar position as Forbes, but he’s older and less versatile than Ti’Quan. Fisher could perhaps merit a promotion to Charlotte to begin the year, where he may divide time among DH, first base and perhaps left field on an emergency basis; otherwise, he could simply return to Birmingham as an organizational first baseman. It’s also entirely possible he opts for minor league free agency.