“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:
- Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Arizona)
- Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
- Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
- Under the Radar-type detail on a White Sox player
- Free agent options
With the loss of Nick Madrigal in the Craig Kimbrel trade, and the possibility that César Hernández’s option won’t be picked up, the White Sox may either choose internally or select free agent/trade options. Aside from Yolbert Sánchez and Bryan Ramos (who’ll be profiled in the third base deep dive), the internal cupboard is relatively bare.
Below are the players who primarily played second base for the ACL and DSL squads in 2021.
Ages below are as of April 1, 2022.
ACL White Sox
Other positions played: 3B, SS
Espinoza signed with the White Sox on International Signing Day last year. While his numbers weren’t terrific this year, they were actually better than the next two guys on this list, who have much loftier pedigrees.
In 55 games totaling 190 at-bats for the DSL squad in 2019, Espinoza slashed .263/.347/.332 with six doubles, two triples, one homer, 32 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 20 walks (9.0%) and 25 strikeouts (11.2%). He spent 46% of his time at second base, while also spending a decent amount of time at third (33.6%) and short (20.4%).
After the Covid-19 virus laid waste to the 2020 season, Espinoza joined the ACL Sox this year and provided the best offensive production of any rookie league second baseman — of course, this doesn’t say very much. Splitting his time primarily between second and third base, Espinoza slashed .243/.296/.271 with three doubles, five RBIs, eight walks (7.0%) and 27 strikeouts spanning 107 at-bats for a 57 wRC+ (23.5%). To his credit, he came on strong in September by slashing .320/.393/360 to provide some glimmer of improvement. Defensively, he seems a natural at second base but did struggle at the hot corner in a small sample size.
Expect Espinoza to begin the 2022 season with Kannapolis, but don’t be surprised if he’s asked to repeat the ACL instead.
Other positions played: SS
Probably the biggest name on this list, Elijah is the son of former major leaguer Fernando Tatís and the brother of former Sox farmhand Fernando Jr. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, “Tatís possesses a strong and accurate arm and has impressed scouts with the way the ball jumps off his bat, as well as his ability to square up fastballs.” With that kind of ability, the White Sox were happy to sign Elijah with a $500,000 bonus on 2019’s International Signing Day.
Tatís struggled in his first taste of professional ball in 2019 with the DSL Sox, as he slashed just .187/.300/.213 in 75 at-bats with two doubles, five stolen bases and a 58 wRC+ despite walking nearly as much (13) as he struck out (16). With the 2020 year cancelled due to Covid-19, it was expected that Tatís would bounce back with another full year of physical development. However, his struggles only escalated for the ACL squad this year, as he slashed a meager .106/.164/.133 in 113 at-bats with three doubles, six RBIs, eight walks (6.6%), 58 strikeouts (47.5%) and an embarrassingly low 17 wRC+. Defensively, he showed far better range at second than short, and was more sure-handed there as well (.973 fielding pct. compared to .857).
Thus far, Tatís has slashed a disappointing .138/.164/.133 in two rookie league campaigns. Is this a question of him simply not being very good, or has the development staff has let him down thus far? It’s still a little early to answer that question definitively. He was nearly a younger than the league average this year, so despite his baseball bloodlines, Tatís seems destined to repeat the ACL until he can tighten up his plate discipline and hit with more authority (just five extra-base-hits, all doubles, in his career to date).
DSL White Sox
Other positions played: SS, 3B
Cesar (the player formerly known as Enoy) Jiménez signed with the White Sox in October 2018 with significant fanfare, as a result of his being the brother of Sox outfielder Eloy. Cesar, who is obviously much smaller than his big brother, spent the vast majority of his time defensively that year (91.8%) at second base and did a respectable job there. However, concerns amplified regarding his hitting skills. In his first professional year with the DSL Sox, the Dominican native slashed just .208/.282/.247 in 29 games with three doubles, six RBIs, four stolen bases, eight walks, 15 strikeouts and 57 wRC+.
While not a great year in 2021, Jiménez did perform much better in his return to the DSL squad after the cancelled 2020 season. This year in 94 at-bats, Jiménez slashed .255/.339/.319 with three doubles, a homer, 10 RBIs, 12 walks, 27 strikeouts, eight stolen bases and 93 wRC+. He did display above-average range at second base, third base and shortstop, so his niche could be that of utility infielder until he wields a stronger bat. At more than two years older than the league average, Jiménez’s time with the Dominican League is over. He likely will begin next year in the ACL.
Other positions played: SS
Not much was known about Venezuela native Mora when he signed a minor league contract with the Sox on Jan. 24, 2020. Of course, he wasn’t able to play his first professional game until 2021, due to Covid-19. Rustiness was evident in his 2021 results for the DSL Sox, as Mora slashed just .152/.292/.192 in 99 at-bats with four doubles, four RBIs, three stolen bases, 18 walks (15.0%), 27 strikeouts (22.5%) and 56 wRC+. He handled every ball hit his direction defensively, although his range was below-average at both second and short. Mora was at league-average in age, but it seems like a return to the Dominican may be in order until he can step up his offensive game.