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Unexpectedly, Yolbert Sánchez was the hitting star among White Sox AFL participants.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

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2021 AFL White Sox Season Review

The Desert Dogs barely missed out on the postseason, with Yolbert Sánchez and Caleb Freeman being the South Side success stories.

Glendale finished the season 17-13, and just a half a game out of the division lead to miss out on the championship game. The White Sox sent seven players to help this team, but in reality, maybe only two helped the Desert Dogs to a winning record, while the rest faltered.

The Hitters

Of the seven players the White sox sent to Arizona, three of them were hitters, with Yoelqui Céspedes and José Rodríguez used basically as starters and Yolbert Sánchez as a kind of alternate.

In 19 games for Céspedes, he slashed .181/.244/.222 — not very good at all. He did not show good plate discipline, with 22 strikeouts against two walks. He also showed little to no power on top of that, with three extra-base hits, none of which were homers. Rodríguez was better in his 16 games but to be frank, it is hard to do worse than Céspedes. Rodríguez finished the AFL with a .595 OPS in 66 plate appearances. He continued to avoid striking out a lot, with just 10 over those games. He hit a homer as well — but still, not a success.

What was a real success though was Sánchez’s stint in the Southwest. In 12 games, he slashed .400/.533/.514, not too shabby. He basically showed how a hot two-week stretch looks like, with some fantastic plate discipline and vision added in there. He walked 10 times compared to two punchouts, and relied heavily on singles (14 of his 16 hits).

It is only 12 games so a sample size is not there, but Sánchez had a great end to his season with Birmingham and that continued into the AFL. With second base open in the majors, Sánchez has thrown his hat into the ring, though it’s a long shot he will come out on top.

The Pitchers

The other four White Sox/Desert Dogs were all pitchers, one starter and three relievers. The lone starter was Johan Dominguez, who had a difficult time. In 12 innings pitched, he had a 10.50 ERA and walked seven batters. Honestly, if the Sox sent a different pitcher, they might be in the championship game. J.B. Olson was slightly better than Dominguez, in a relief role, but Olson’s had a 6.23 ERA in 13 innings. That is a big deal for a team that missed the postseason by half a game.

The better arms were McKinley Moore and Caleb Freeman, who are both legit prospects. Moore was pretty much average with a 4.22 ERA, and he was getting hit a lot, and hard. In 10 23 innings Moore allowed 11 hits, two of which were homers. So you could say it was a bit of sample size bad luck, but he still did get hit hard. He was able to escape most jams he put himself into, though.

The real success story for the White Sox was AFL All-Star Caleb Freeman. In 10 23 innings, Freeman had a 1.69 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He did walk a batter or two more than he would have liked (six), but with only 11 games, it seems like a lot. After his entire 2021 season, from Winston-Salem to Birmingham, and ending in Glendale, Freeman is probably the top relief prospect in the Sox system at this point.

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