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White Sox Deep Dive: Charlotte Left-Handed Relievers

Lefty relief abounds, both in quality and quantity, with the Knights.

Anderson Severino, shown here with fellow rising prospect, catcher Carlos Pérez, was a somewhat surprising 40-man roster add this year.
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 on a White Sox player
  5. Free agent options

The one southpaw reliever on the MLB list of Top 30 White Sox prospects is found here, along with an eclectic mix of soft-tossers and hard throwers. This list includes two that were recently added to the organization’s 40-man roster.

Below are those lefty relievers who finished the 2021 season with Charlotte.

Ages below are as of April 1, 2022

Charlotte Knights

Anderson Severino
190 pounds
Age: 27

Severino signed with the New York Yankees on June 1, 2013 as an international free agent out of Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic. His professional career got off to a rough start after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was suspended for 50 games.

After his suspension, he spent the first four seasons of his career in rookie ball. The next two years (2018-19) were spent in A-ball, as he kept getting passed over for promotions by shinier, more polished prospects. By 2020, he was technically on New York’s Triple-A roster at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Of course, he could’ve been merely been placed there to avoid being selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft just months before. We’ll never know for sure, as there was no minor league ball played there due to the pandemic.

Severino became a minor league free agent last November and promptly signed with the White Sox, with little or no fanfare. His reputation was one of an extremely hard thrower with no concept of home plate, and that’s the main reason he stalled in the Yankee system. That reputation didn’t brush off right away, as in his first game for Birmingham this year, he relinquished four walks and a hit-by-pitch to the only five hitters he faced. Whether it was rust, nerves involved with starting a new organization, or simply a carry-over of poor mechanics from previous years, it certainly was an ominous beginning. In fact, Severino had a terrible May, walking 13 batters in eight innings on his way to an ERA of 7.88 that month.

Something clicked for Severino in June. While his control was never perfect for the Barons, he kept the walks at least somewhat under control, and his numbers dramatically improved. For the next 12 weeks, he compiled a 1.52 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 23 23 innings as he allowed 11 hits and 12 walks while striking out 23 during that span. His numbers with Birmingham, at the time he was promoted to Charlotte on August 24, were as follows:

27 G, 31 13 innings, 3.13 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 19 H (.178 OBA), 25 BB (18.5%), 33 K (24.4%)

The progress Severino made after his disastrous May didn’t end with his promotion to the Knights. In 13 games totaling 14 innings, these were his numbers in Charlotte:

0.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9 H (.176 OBA), 7 BB (11.9%), 20 K (33.9%)

It’s important to note, that at not one of any of Severino’s stints during his seven years in the minors did his ground ball rate ever fall to less than the 40% level. Thus he has been keeping the ball down, which is extremely important when pitching at Charlotte’s Truist Field or Guarantee Rate Field. As cited by 2080 Baseball, Severino’s two main pitches are a heater that typically runs 94-99 mph and a high-spin curve that runs 78-81. The scouting outfit also stated he has a whippy arm action, which may be the root of some of his control issues.

The White Sox brass decided this offseason to add Severino to their 40-man roster to avoid potentially losing him via minor league free agency. He’s a fairly late bloomer, but perhaps his development may have been stifled in the Yankees system, and a change of scenery was the remedy to jump-start his career.

Despite his great 2021, Severino likely will have to prove that the command/control improvements he made this year were indeed real. If so, he’d be a dynamite third option in the South Side bullpen to join Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet.

Bennett Sousa
210 pounds
Age: 26
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 58
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 36
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 36

While Sousa had a decent four years with the University of Virginia, especially in the strikeout department, his numbers were hampered by his relative lack of control. His senior season was a microcosm of this, as Sousa posted a 5.23 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 23 games; in 43 innings, he relinquished 36 hits (.220 OBA) and 22 walks (11.2%) while striking out 61 (31.1%). When he was available in the 10th round in the 2018 MLB draft, however, the White Sox couldn’t resist selecting him.

In 20 combined games with Great Falls and Kannapolis spanning 35 13 innings during the 2018 season, Sousa compiled a nifty 1.27 ERA and 0.88 WHIP by allowing 24 hits (.195 OBA) and just seven walks (5.2%) while fanning 42 hitters (31.3%). The following year was split among three squads (Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham) with the lion’s share of the outings spent with the Intimidators and Dash. Sousa again had a solid campaign, as he combined with all three teams to post a 2.49 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his 43 games encompassing 65 innings — relinquishing 62 hits (.249 OBA) and just 13 walks (4.9%) while striking out 74 (27.8%).

Sousa split 2021 equally between Birmingham and Charlotte this year, after the one-year pandemic break. He combined with both teams to provide a 3.61 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 41 relief appearances. In his 47 13 innings, he relinquished just 37 hits (.209 OBA) and 20 walks (10.0%) while fanning an impressive 71 hitters (35.5%). He continued his mastery against lefties, as they hit a mere .140 against his offerings. Sousa also induced a ground ball rate just less than 42%, which he needs to continue doing with either Charlotte or Chicago.

Sousa’s repertoire includes a 90-94 mph fastball according to Baseball America, in addition to a low-80s slider with promise per Baseball Draft Report. With his control much improved since his college days, Sousa has definitely begun tapping into his potential.

Recently added to the 40-man roster to over more highly-touted bullpen options like Hunter Schryver, Sousa will be competing against Severino for that third lefty role out of the pen — especially since Jace Fry is now a free agent. Between the two pitchers, Sousa is definitely the more polished, although Severino does possess the better heater. It will be fun to see how they fare in spring training.

Hunter Schryver
205 pounds
Age: 26
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 94
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 48

As a four-year starter with Villanova, Schryver improved with each passing year. Ultimately as a senior in 2017, he posted a solid 2.44 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 12 starts spanning 73 23 innings. For the Wildcats that year, he ceded 56 hits (.213 OBA) and 37 walks (11.8%) while striking out 91 (29.0%). Because he was a senior with good results, he was selected in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Rays but was paid an under-slot bonus.

Schryver started his minor league career with Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League and provided a respectable 3.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in just under 35 innings of work. The lefty pitched excellent ball for Low-A Bowling Green and the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in the 2018 season.

Then, just two days after the White Sox acquired left-handed reliever Caleb Frare, they also picked up Schryver in exchange for international bonus pool money. Schryver pitched well for Winston-Salem after the trade, posting a microscopic 1.20 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in nine appearances with the Dash. Overall for 2018 with three teams, he combined to post a 2.12 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 40 appearances. In his 63 23 innings that year, he relinquished just 47 hits (.203 OBA) and 17 walks (6.6%) while striking out 80 (30.9%).

Birmingham was Schryver’s first stop in 2019, and he continued to fare well despite the stronger competition. In 30 appearances for the Barons spanning 48 23 innings, he allowed 47 hits (.261 OBA) and 17 walks (8.5%) while striking out 39 (19.4%). He ultimately received a promotion to Charlotte, and he scuffled there for the first time in his minor league career. In 11 outings for the Knights totaling 13 23 innings, Schryver surrendered 16 hits (.291 OBA) and 12 walks (17.4%) despite a high strikeout total of 23 (33.3%). However, he required Tommy John surgery in February 2020.

Often the first full year back from Tommy John surgery is the roughest in regards to results, and Schryver’s case certainly wasn’t aided by pitching half of his games at Charlotte’s Truist Field. In 40 appearances for the Knights in 2021 totaling 43 13 innings, he posted a 4.98 ERA and 1.62 WHIP by allowing 42 hits (.249 OBA) and 28 walks (13.9%) while striking 48 hitters (23.9%). Righties hit him (.252) only slightly better than lefties (.242). His ground ball rate was actually quite good (44.2%), but his home/road splits seemed to tell the story. He compiled a 3.78 ERA and .200 OBA on the road, while his home numbers were 5.74 and .275. Schryver’s control was unexpectedly shaky this year, which led to more walks and falling behind in counts, which is often the death knell for pitchers. Perhaps a lack of confidence in his stuff, with his first post-surgery action, may have been a co-culprit to his disappointing results.

MLB Pipeline presently ranks Schryver 24th among the top White Sox prospects, but that ranking is expected to take a tumble. The site grades his fastball at 55, because although it possesses relatively modest velocity, it does provide good carry and throws off hitters thanks to a high arm slot. His secondary offering is his 79-82 mph slider, which is also graded at 55. His control is graded at 45, and that seems a fair grade given his lack of both command and control this year.

The White Sox decided not to protect him in November from the Rule 5 draft, instead protecting Sousa. Thus Schryver will return to Charlotte for 2022, presumably as the third lefty relief call-up option.

Kyle Kubat
195 pounds
Age: 29
2020 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 67
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 54

Kubat ended his four-year career with the University of Nebraska on a high note, as he posted a superb 2.97 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 15 starts, spanning 94 innings. However, because he only struck out 63 batters and he was a fourth-year senior, Kubat wasn’t selected in the 2015 draft.

He ultimately signed as a UDFA with the Kansas City Royals, and pitched well for the AZL Royals that year in 12 relief outings by posting a spectacular 0.76 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 35 ⅓ innings with 26 hits (.202 OBA) and just three walks (2.2%) while fanning 26 (19.4%). After another solid campaign in 2016 split between Low-A Lexington and High-A Wilmington, he was traded to the White Sox in March 2017 for cash considerations.

Kubat split the 2017 season among three White Sox affiliates (Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham) and excelled at each stop. In 35 outings (three starts) totaling 74 ⅔ innings, he surrendered just 50 hits (.184 OBA) and 12 walks (4.1%) while striking out 77 (26.5%) in posting a combined 1.69 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Despite that work, he returned to Winston-Salem in 2018 and basically pitched there the entire year and did quite well despite some regression (3.55 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .279 OBA, 3.5 BB%, 20.7 K%).

The 2019 season was the first time Kubat started more than he relieved, and he acquitted himself exceptionally well. In four starts for the Dash spanning 22 innings, he posted a 1.23 ERA and 0.73 WHIP by relinquishing just 11 hits (.145 OBA) and five walks (6.0%) while striking out 19 (22.6%). He then started eight games for Birmingham, and in his 48 1⁄3 innings for the Barons, he compiled a 2.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP by ceding 43 hits (.239 OBA) and seven walks (3.7%) while fanning 35 (18.4%). He did meet his match, however, due to the juiced baseball and the favorable hitting dimensions of BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. Kubat posted a 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP for the Knights in 12 starts that year totaling 56 innings, as he allowed 60 hits (.278 OBA) and 17 walks (7.1%) while striking out 35 (14.7%). All nine homers he served up were with the Knights.

After the 2020 pandemic cancellation, Kubat rejoined the Barons to begin 2021 — but after three good games for Birmingham, the southpaw pitched the remainder of this year with Charlotte. Like Schryver, Kubat struggled with his home park’s dimensions. In 24 games for the Knights totaling 52 13 innings, he posted a 5.33 ERA and 1.42 WHIP by surrendering 59 hits (.280 OBA) and 16 walks (7.0%). Grounders were hit off his Triple-A offerings 40.6% of the time, which isn’t a bad rate, but aside from his 2017 stint with Birmingham it was the worst of his career. Kubat became a minor league free agent at the end of the season, but recently opted to re-sign with the Sox

Despite not possessing premium stuff, Kubat throws strikes, keeps the ball down, and isn’t afraid to use any of his four pitches (upper-80s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) at any given time. His power changeup is generally considered his best offering, and works best when behind in the count to throw off hitters’ timing. Kubat likely will be a long reliever in Charlotte in 2022, and if he performs well, could still have a role similar to Ross Detwiler’s when he was with the Sox.

Tanner Banks
210 pounds
Age: 30

After Banks spent his first two years with Salt Lake C.C. (where one of his teammates was former White Sox farmhand Eddy Alvarez), he transferred to Utah for his junior and senior seasons. After a decent junior season with the Utes, Banks struggled badly in his senior season with a 5.71 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 52 innings, allowing 65 hits and 19 walks while striking out 39 batters. The White Sox, however, drafted Banks in the 18th round in 2014. Later that year, he posted a combined 1.48 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 24 1⁄3 innings, allowing 16 hits (.188 OBA) and six walks (6.5%) compared to 33 strikeouts (35.9%).

The 2015 season saw Banks split his time with Great Falls and Kannapolis, as he combined to post a 2.71 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 86 1⁄3 innings, relinquishing 85 hits (.256 OBA) and nine walks (2.6%) compared to 43 strikeouts (12.3%). Banks split his time in 2016 with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem over a career-high 159 1⁄3 innings, posting a respectable 3.50 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while allowing 164 hits (.265 OBA) and 31 walks (4.7%) compared to 116 strikeouts (17.6%). In 2017, Banks split time with Winston-Salem and Birmingham and combined to post a 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 141 innings, as he relinquished 151 hits (.271 OBA) and 37 walks (6.1%) compared to 113 whiffs (18.7%).

Banks again pitched for both Winston-Salem and Birmingham in 2018, and posted far better numbers in his second go-around. In 146 innings, Banks combined to post a 2.59 ERA and 1.18 WHIP and ceded just 140 hits (.255 OBA) and 32 walks (5.4%) while striking out 100 (16.8%). Banks pitched in the Arizona Fall League that year and acquitted himself fairly well with a 4.43 ERA — which would’ve been much better if not for one disastrous appearance. In a combined 30 appearances in 2019 with Birmingham and Charlotte, of which the vast majority was spent for the Barons, he compiled a respectable 4.19 ERA and 1.25 WHIP as primarily a starter.

After inactivity in 2020 due to the pandemic, in 25 games (five starts) for Charlotte in 2021, Banks adjusted to his new bullpen fairly well. He did surrender 69 hits in 59 23 innings (.289 OBA), but he limited the damage by only walking 13 (5.1%) while fanning an impressive 72 hitters (27.2%). Pitching at Truist Field didn’t affect his results much, as his home/road splits were nearly identical. He also helped his cause by inducing grounders, which were hit 43.5% of the time against him.

Banks is a near-clone of former White Sox hurler David Holmberg. Per 2080 Baseball, Banks’s repertoire includes a fastball that peaks at 90 mph, an above-average curveball with nice separation at 80-81 mph, a cutter and a change. He maximizes his results by keeping the ball down and throwing strikes. Like Kubat, Banks is a smart pitcher and fundamentally sound. He likely will return to Charlotte for the 2022 season.

Other free agent lefties who could return to Charlotte

Jace Fry (28 years old) — He actually pitched quite well with Charlotte as he posted a 4.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 34 appearances. When in the majors this year, Fry had difficulty throwing strikes and posted a 10.80 ERA and 2.40 WHIP in six relief outings.

Nik Turley (32) — Turley started his season well with Charlotte, but faded down the stretch. For the year, he posted a 5.02 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 43 innings but with 60 strikeouts.

Kodi Medeiros (25) — Medeiros posted a 5.52 ERA and 1.67 WHIP for Charlotte, as he walked 25 in 29 13 innings of work.