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White Sox Deep Dive: Winston-Salem Right-Handed Starters

The Dash righties may have left something to be desired in 2021, but look out next year.

Jerry Burke had a strong Single-A season in 2021.
| Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican and 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 a White Sox player
  5. Free agent options

This time around, we split up the Single-A teams, so here’s a profile of the primary Dash righty starters.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2022

Winston-Salem Dash

Jerry Burke
195 pounds
Age: 23

As a freshman at Georgetown, Burke struggled mightily out of the bullpen with a 10.12 ERA and 2.53 WHIP. However, he elevated his game as a swingman during his sophomore campaign and enjoyed a solid junior season for the Hoyas in 2019, with a 4.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIP as he relinquished 83 hits and 25 walks while fanning 86 during his 85 innings. This earned him the notice of the White Sox, who selected him in the 17th round of the 2019 MLB draft.

Burke’s pro debut overall numbers were decent but unexceptional in 2019. In his 12 games for the AZL Sox (eight starts), he posted a 4.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP by ceding 63 hits and 18 walks while striking out 42. The numbers can be taken with a grain of salt, however, as Burke’s 139 combined collegiate and professional innings nearly tripled the combined totals of his freshman and sophomore years. With that said, his best monthly numbers came in August, when he posted a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 18 strikeouts during his 20 innings.

After the pandemic shutdown terminated his 2020 season before it started, Burke began this year with a short two-week stint in Kannapolis before earning a promotion to Winston-Salem. He was placed on the injured list twice, with the latter stint coming on August 28 and ultimately ending his year. In 13 combined outings (nine starts) totaling 44 23 innings, he posted a solid 3.43 ERA and 1.19 WHIP by surrendering 40 hits (.237 OBA) and 13 walks (2.6 BB/9) while striking out 43 (8.7 K/9).

Chase Solesky
201 pounds
Age: 24

Solesky struggled in his sophomore season at Tulane, as he tried to rush back from Grade 1 spinal spondylolisthesis — a slipping of vertebra that occurs most commonly at the base of the spine. As a result, his results tanked. While he enjoyed a better junior season, it still wasn’t as good as Solesky had hoped because he was trying to alter his delivery. But a 5.05 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, to go along with 66 strikeouts in his 67 23 innings in the Green Waves rotation, were enough to convince the White Sox to select him in the 21st round of the 2019 draft.

A first look at Solesky’s numbers with Great Falls in 2019 (6.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) would tell you there’s not much to get excited about. However, when looking at his strikeout and walk totals, he flashed potential. With 45 strikeouts (9.57/9IP) and just 12 walks (2.66 BB/9) over just 42 13 innings, Solesky managed a nifty 3.75 K/BB ratio. He’s clearly got the stuff and control, but he obviously needs the command to limit damage. It may also help to have a little good luck as well, as he vastly underperformed his 4.77 FIP.

After a 14-game run to begin the 2021 season where Solesky posted a 5.08 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, his numbers dropped a bit in a smaller sample-size (four starts) with Winston-Salem where he posted a 5.29 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Combined with both teams, Solesky posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 18 starts totaling 68 13 innings. In those starts, he allowed 78 hits (.277 OBA) and 24 walks (3.22 BB/9) while striking out 88 (11.59 K/9). Again Solesky posted a great BB/K ratio, and an especially good strikeout rate, but still was too hittable. Thus, it seems like he’s fine when working ahead in the count, while throwing pitches down the middle when behind. The numbers back this up, as opponents hit .327 (giving him a 2.92 WHIP) off of him when behind the count and just .215 against him (and a tiny 0.85 WHIP) when he was ahead.

If Solesky can find ways to pitch when behind, like providing a better change-of-speed offering, his ability to rise through the system would increase. Certainly, his ERA and WHIP numbers haven’t been good, but his low walk and high strikeout ratios continue to offer hope. In the long run, Solesky may have a more rapid chance of advancement if put into the bullpen. In the meantime, expect him to return to Winston-Salem to begin the 2022 season.

Jesus Valles
178 pounds
Age: 24

Valles joined the Pirates in early March 2018. His signing was made official at the same time that the Pirates signed South Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae for $1.2 million, so Valles and six other players who signed at that time got lost in the mix. The native Venezuelan produced solid numbers for the DSL Pirates squad as he posted a 3.86 and 1.11 WHIP, allowing 49 hits and eight walks while fanning 40 over the span of 51 13 innings.

In 2019 in the New York-Penn League’s West Virginia, Valles produced a 3.55 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 66 innings as he allowed, 65 hits (.256 OBA) and 16 walks (2.18 BB/9) while striking out 36 (4.81 K/9). He, of course, missed the 2020 season due to the pandemic shutdown. Then, toward the end of April this year, shortly before the full-season leagues were slated to begin, the Pirates released him. Perhaps this is because of his low strikeouts, which reveals a fairly low ceiling.

The White Sox signed him three weeks later to a minor league deal, and Valles began this season with Kannapolis. In 18 outings totaling 65 innings, he relinquished 85 hits (.311 OBA) and nine walks (1.25 BB/9) while striking out 35 (3.89 K/9) for the Cannon Ballers. Valles received a promotion to Winston-Salem in late August, and struggled with a 5.40 ERA and 1.45 WHIP; in his small sample-size of four starts totaling 16 23 innings, he ceded 20 hits (.278 OBA) and five walks (2.70 BB/9) while fanning 12 (6/.48 K/9).

As one can surmise by his numbers, Valles is all about control — but gives up too many hits and too few strikeouts because he doesn’t have the velocity to put away hitters. When Valles was with the Pirates, his four-seam fastball typically ran 90-92 mph while he presented an 80-84 mph change which helped stifle left-handed bats. The rest of his repertoire includes a sinker typically running 88-89 mph, with a curve in the mid-to-upper 70s. Based upon Valles’ continued lack of strikeouts, those velocity levels likely haven’t changed significantly. With the lack of pure stuff, he has to be pinpoint with his command, which he hasn’t mastered as of yet.

Valles’ best chance for advancement seem to be as a middle reliever, where opponents can see him no more than one or two times a game. He was slightly younger than the league average while at Winston-Salem, and because he only pitched four games for the Dash this year, he likely will return to begin the 2022 campaign.

Isaiah Carranza
180 pounds
Age: 25
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 40

Used solely as a reliever for the University of Oregon, Carranza transferred to Azusa Pacific and eventually became a starter. While pitching for the Division II squad in 2018, he went 9-1 in 13 starts, with two complete games. He had a 3.89 ERA, with 86 strikeouts and 31 walks — and a 1.46 WHIP that built on his first two years of college pitching at Division I Oregon.

The righthander was drafted as a bargain by the White Sox in 2018 at No. 348, given his ranking at 166th per MLB Pipeline. Alas, injuries and the pandemic had prevented this high-ceiling arm from showing what he was capable of.

At least, that is, until the 2021 season.

Unfortunately for Carranza, the three-year layoff off wasn’t worth the wait. In 15 games (eight starts) totaling 44 23 innings, he posted a 6.25 ERA and 1.68 WHIP by relinquishing 52 hits (.283 OBA) and 23 walks (4.63 BB/9) while striking out 37 (7.46%). He was placed on the injured list on August 7 and never returned. Lefties hit him significantly harder (.316) compared to righties (.259), so he may need continued work on his changeup. Nothing was ever announced, so it’s possible this was done more to rest his arm than as a harbinger of another long-term injury.

At the time of his draft, MLB Pipeline gave Carranza the following tools: 55 for fastball, 50 for both slider and control, and 45 for both his changeup and curveball. Granted, his 2021 results were borne more of rustiness than anything else, but he will need to work on endurance and a legit third pitch to continue as a starter; this could happen if he’s both (1) healthy and (2) getting solid enough effectiveness from that changeup to help keep hitters at bay. It also goes without saying that Carranza’s command can only improve with additional reps. If he continues to have health issues and/or has difficulties developing that third pitch, his best chance of any pro future may be that of a reliever.


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