clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

White Sox Deep Dive: Birmingham and Charlotte Shortstops

Three of the team’s Top 30 prospects manned shortstop in the higher minors this year.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
The ever-versatile Romy González was a 20-20 man in Birmingham this year — which ended up propelling him to the majors!
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

“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 a White Sox player
  5. Free agent options

It didn’t seem all that long ago when very few shortstops manned the list of the team’s top draft prospects. This has now changed due to recent drafts and international signing classes. Four shortstops now are listed in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 White Sox prospect list — and this doesn’t even include Yolbert Sánchez, who was detailed in the second base Deep Dive.

Birmingham and Charlotte’s final rosters included three shortstops in the team’s Top 30 prospect list per MLB Pipeline, while also including two former major leaguers and one of the organization’s most versatile defenders.

Without further ado, below is the list of farmhands who primarily played at shortstop who finished in the upper levels.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2022

Charlotte Knights

Romy Gonzalez
215 pounds
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 3B, 2B, RF, LF
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 90

As a sophomore for the University of Miami, in 2017, González enjoyed his best collegiate year by slashing .265/.344/.462 in 58 games with nine doubles, 11 homers, 38 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 27 walks (10.6%) and 58 strikeouts (22.8%). González slumped a bit (especially in the power department) for the Hurricanes as a junior, however, as he slashed .273/.358/.394 in 52 games with eight doubles, four homers, 30 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, 21 walks (9.2%) and 60 strikeouts (26.3%).

These struggles caused him to slip to the White Sox in the 18th round of the 2018 draft. He played for Great Falls that year, and performed well by slashing .254/.323/.498 with 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 18 walks (8.1%) and 65 strikeouts (29.1%).

Gonzalez struggled with Kannapolis in 2019, as he slashed just .244/.329/.364 in 101 games with 22 doubles, four triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 38 walks (9.4%) and 108 strikeouts (26.7%). He did display plenty of versatility by playing all defensive positions, sans shortstop and catcher.

Limited to at-home development in 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the minor league season, he made the jump from a start at Double-A this summer to the majors, and obviously has been one of the top performers in the White Sox system. In 78 games for Birmingham this year, he slashed .267/.355/.502 with 11 doubles, 20 homers, 47 RBIs, 21 stolen bases, 38 walks (11.0%), 97 strikeouts (28.2%) and 136 wRC+. He was merely getting started, as after a promotion to Charlotte on August 20, he clubbed .370/.417/.794 in 15 games with six doubles, four homers, 14 RBIs, three stolen bases, five walks (8.3%), 15 strikeouts (25.0%) and 192 wRC+. He did struggle with his initial call-up to the majors, as most rookies are wont to do, as he hit .250/.273/.344 in 32 at-bats.

González is an above-average athlete and seems like the type of guy who could be a regular 20-20 threat if he can can make more consistent contact. MLB Pipeline currently ranks him 20th among all Sox prospects. They give him a 50 grade in power, running and throwing arm; 40 grades are given to his hitting and fielding. While not an especially gifted fielder, he does have the versatility to play most positions well enough to avoid being a significant liability. It is important to note that before taking the field this May as Birmingham’s starting shortstop, he had played zero games at short professionally.

Expect González to battle for a utility role and/or second base spot depending upon trades or free agency acquisitions; because he does have three options remaining, it seems likelier that he’ll begin on Charlotte’s roster for 2022.

Tim Beckham
215 pounds
Age: 32
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 3B, 1B, 2B

As a highly-touted prep prospect from Griffin High School (Ga.), Beckham was the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays — seven picks ahead of another Beckham (Gordon), from the University of Georgia. As a 23-year-old, Tim made his major league debut against the Rangers and, with his combination of speed and power, looked to be the next baseball superstar.

However, being a first overall pick doesn’t guarantee major league success. Due to a combination of injuries and inconsistency, Beckham has exceeded 100 games just once in his career — 2017. Unsurprisingly, that was the year where he enjoyed the most success, hitting .278/.328/.454 for the Rays and Orioles, with 22 homers and 109 wRC+. For his six-year MLB career, he’s slashed .249/.301/.431 with 63 homers. Beckham last played in the majors with the Seattle Mariners in 2019, where he slashed .237/.293/.461 with 15 homers in 88 games. He opted for free agency after that season, and the Sox signed him to a minor league deal less than two months before the 2021 season got underway.

After a sluggish start with the Charlotte Knights, Beckham was on fire as he slashed .317/.363/.732 and .545/.583/.909 in June and July respectively. However, before he could be called up to the majors, he was placed on the injured list on July 13 and never returned. In 45 games for the Knights, he slashed .279/.330/.545 with 11 doubles and 11 homers, on the way to a 127 wRC+.

It seems unlikely at this point in his career that Beckham will sign a Major League contract for 2022; his best bet for a return would be via another a minor league deal, where if healthy, he can contribute offensively at a premium position.

Matt Reynolds
200 pounds
Age: 31
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 2B, RF

While not drafted as loftily as Beckham, Reynolds was quite the prospect in his own right as he was selected in the second round (71st overall) of the 2012 MLB draft by the New York Mets out of the University of Arkansas. That year with the Razorbacks, he had slashed .323/.427/.498 in 67 games with 20 doubles, seven homers, 45 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 40 walks (13.9%) and 33 strikeouts (11.5%). Reynolds’ best year prior to his MLB debut was in 2014 with Binghamton (Double-A) and Las Vegas (Triple-A), as he combined with those teams to slash an impressive .343/.405/.454 with six homers and 20 stolen bases.

From 2016 through 2020, Reynolds shuttled between the Las Vegas 51s and Mets. Essentially, he became the quintessential Quadruple-A player, as he was too good for Triple-A but not good enough to stick in the majors. In a combined four years for the Mets, Nationals and Royals totaling just 130 games, Reynolds has hit just .212/.282/.323 with four homers, 19 RBIs, 19 walks and 75 strikeouts.

After signing a minor league contract with the White Sox shortly after Christmas 2020, Reynolds played fairly effectively for Charlotte. In 111 games totaling 376 at-bats, he slashed .279/.358/.415 with 20 doubles, five homers, five stolen bases, 51 walks (13.9%), 93 strikeouts (25.3%) and 53 wRC+. Like Beckham, he seems destined to sign another minor league deal; unfortunately, unlike the former first-rounder, he may not possess the bat to return to the majors despite his versatility.

Zach Remillard
185 pounds
Age: 28
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 1B, 3B, LF, 2B, RF
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 48
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 51

Remillard was a four-year starter for Coastal Carolina, but it wasn’t until his senior year when he really boosted his profile. That year for the Chanticleers, he slashed .345/.392.617 in 72 games with 17 doubles, two triples, 19 homers, 72 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 19 walks (6.0%)and 81 strikeouts (25.4%). As a result of his efforts, he was selected by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 2016 draft.

After splitting time in 2016 with the AZL Sox and Kannapolis, Remillard played the entire 2017 season with the Intimidators and slashed .246/.281/.353 in 133 games with 27 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 50 RBIs, four stolen bases, 19 walks (3.6%) and 124 strikeouts (23.4%). The 2018 season was spent exclusively with Winston-Salem, where he played all positions aside from the battery and slashed .250/.316/.395 in 110 games with 16 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 52 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 30 walks (7.2%) and 103 strikeouts (24.6%).

Remillard got off to a great start with Winston-Salem in 2019, ultimately slashing .289/.358/.378 in 95 games with 15 doubles, one triple, five homers, 37 RBIs, six stolen bases, 33 walks (8.2%) and 89 strikeouts (22.2%). However, he did struggle in 27 games after his promotion to Birmingham, hitting .232/.321/.326 for the Barons in 27 games, with three doubles and two homers.

After the pandemic cancellation of 2020, a solid start in 13 games with Birmingham to begin 2021 after slashing .295/.458/.455, got Remillard a promotion to Charlotte. Like his 2019 promotion, he struggled adjusting to the new league. In 82 games for the Knights spanning 269 at-bats, Remillard slashed just .193/.283/.357 with eight doubles, 12 homers and 10 stolen bases while producing 27 walks (8.8%) and 85 strikeouts (27.8%). On the positive side, he continued to supply his team with his usual versatility, walked at a decent rate and boosted his power production. Unfortunately his 72 wRC+ was far below his expectations thanks to the low average. Without a doubt, he wasn’t aided by his uncharacteristically low .231 BABIP.

Remillard is an athletic infielder with a plus arm, soft hands and good raw power. He displays defensive versatility and can play all infield positions, as well as the corner outfield spots in a pinch. He will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. If undrafted, he likely will begin the season with Charlotte in the hopes that an opportunity for an in-season major league promotion will be in the offing.

Birmingham Barons

José Rodríguez
175 pounds
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 2B, 3B
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 32
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 18

Rodríguez, a Dominican native, received a signing bonus from the White Sox in February 2018 and was inserted into the DSL lineup just a few months later. He turned out to be was one of the few bright spots on a miserable 2018 DSL squad, slashing .291/.318/401 in 60 games with 13 doubles, three triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, nine walks (3.8%) and 29 strikeouts (12.1%). Rodríguez even participated in that year’s DSL All-Star game.

With the AZL White Sox in 2019, Rodríguez started hitting more homers while avoiding any significant decline in any of the other batting categories (besides strikeouts). In 44 games spanning 188 at-bats, “Popeye” slashed .293/.328/.505 while producing seven doubles, three triples, nine homers, 31 RBIs, seven stolen bases, nine walks (4.5%) and 45 strikeouts (22.5%). He walloped southpaws by slashing .423/.423/.788.

Unfazed by the 2020 pandemic shutdown, Rodríguez picked up in 2021 right where he left off. Versus competition more than a year older than he, all he did was slash .283/.328/452 in 78 games with Kannapolis while producing 22 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 20 stolen bases, 21 walks (5.8%), 57 strikeouts (15.8%) and 109 wRC+. Rodríguez was undeterred against the older and more advanced competition after being promoted to Winston-Salem, as he slashed an amazing .361/.381/.538 in 29 games while contributing four doubles, one triple, five homers, 10 stolen bases, five walks (4.0%), 13 strikeouts (10.3%) and wRC+ of 141. He did struggle a bit in a final, four-game cup of coffee with Birmingham by slashing just .214/.214.286, but again, it was an extremely small sample size and he was playing against competition 4 12 years older!

Combined with all three teams, Popeye slashed .301/.338/.469 spanning 111 games with 27 doubles, five triples, 14 homers, 30 stolen bases, 26 walks (5.2%) and 72 strikeouts (14.4%) and was named the South Side Sox Minor League Player of the Year. It is important to know that, despite the fact that he entered more games than the previous two years combined, Rodríguez seemed to get better as the season progressed.

The only weaknesses in Rodríguez’s game may be his unwillingness to take walks, and the number of errors he committed defensively (27) this year. As for his defense, it could simply be chalked up to youthful exuberance, as he may simply need work on setting his feet when ready to throw. There are concerns that his aggressiveness may be exploited in Birmingham and Charlotte, but the similar issues have plagued Tim Anderson in the past as well, with little to no lasting effect. MLB Pipeline currently ranks Rodríguez ninth among Sox prospects, although all his categories are graded ‘50’.

According to Baseball-Reference, Rodríguez’s range factor was significantly better at second base than shortstop. While second may be his eventual home, the team will still give him every opportunity to improve his game at shortstop. Expect that 2022 opportunity to begin with Birmingham, with an opportunity for promotion to Charlotte if all goes well.

Lenyn Sosa
180 pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
Other positions played: 2B, 3B
2018 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 39
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 30
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 27
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 23

It was easy for Sosa to get lost in the shuffle, as he was one of a nine-member 2016 International Signing Day class that included Josue Guerrero, Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas. Yet, while most of this class have either been cut or advanced ever-so-slowly through the ranks, it’s this Venezuelan shortstop (who signed for $350,000) who has advanced further than anyone.

The Sox brass liked Sosa so much that he actually skipped the DSL and instead began his career with the AZL squad. For that 2017 team, where he was nearly three years younger than league average, he slashed .270/.330/.358 in 42 games with four doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, three stolen bases, 14 walks (7.8%) and 24 strikeouts (13.3%). Sosa continued his progress in 2018 with Great Falls, as he slashed .293/.317/.406 in 65 games with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers, 35 RBIs, two stolen bases, seven walks (2.4%) and 36 strikeouts (12.4%).

The 2019 season saw Sosa took a step back, although he still showed promise. In 122 games with Kannapolis spanning 501 at-bats, he slashed .251/.292/.371 with 35 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 51 RBIs, six stolen bases, 27 walks (5.0%) and 102 strikeouts (19.0%). He began turning on the ball in a tough ballpark for hitters, and while he still didn’t walk a lot, he provided glimpses that he could still have a future in a White Sox uniform. For example, when Sosa should have wearied at the end of the season (as he’d nearly doubled his career-high in games played), he slashed .429/.455/.714 over his last 10 games. Sosa committed 14 errors at shortstop, which actually is quite good for such a young player — competing this year about 2 12 years younger than his competition.

After a year off due to the pandemic shutdown, Sosa began 2021 with Winston-Salem and performed quite well. In 82 games for the Dash spanning 334 at-bats, he slashed .290/.321/.443 with 19 doubles, 10 homers, three stolen bases, 14 walks (4.0%), 77 strikeouts (21.8%) and 103 wRC+. He struggled a bit, however, upon his August 10 promotion to Birmingham as he slashed just .214/.240/.282 in 33 games with five doubles, a homer, two walks (1.7%), 28 strikeouts (23.1%) and 44 wRC+. With the Barons, he was playing against competition typically 3 12 years younger than he. For the year, he slashed .271/.301/.401 with 24 doubles, 11 homers, three stolen bases, 16 walks (3.4%) and 105 strikeouts (22.2%).

While Sosa doesn’t possess Nintendo stats, there are similar concerns about his aggressiveness at the plate when compared to Rodríguez. In Lenyn’s case, he actually possessed worse walk and strikeout rates. Sosa, with 12 errors this year, was a steadier glove defensively. The biggest disparity between the two players may simply be Rodríguez’s athleticism, as he swiped 27 more bases than did Sosa. Thus, Sosa may be the likelier to switch to second base if both return to Birmingham to begin the 2022 season.

Speaking of next season, the Sox have an important decision to make regarding Sosa’s future, as he will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. He currently ranks 17th among the team’s top prospects per MLB Pipeline, so there is a possibility he could be selected if left unprotected.