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White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: May 10-16

The White Sox farm system came to play and win last week — even Kannapolis broke into the left-hand column!

Blake Rutherford is showing off some leather, along with his bat.

Charlotte Knights (6-6)

Blake Rutherford .438 BA, 2 XBH, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K

Seby Zavala .278 BA, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K
Luis González .250 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K (activated off the IL on Sunday)
Gavin Sheets .435 BA, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K
Jake Burger .280 BA, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K
Jonathan Stiever 9 IP, 4.00 ERA, 11 H, 5 BB, 10 K
Hunter Schyrver 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Kodi Medeiros 1 23 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Tyler Johnson 1 IP, 18.50 ERA, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K
Zack Burdi 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Jimmy Lambert 2 23 IP, 6.75 ERA, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K
Reynaldo López 5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 4 H, 3 BB, 8 K

Especially after the injuries to Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, the outfield has and will continue to be an issue for the White Sox. So when Blake Rutherford bats better than .400 and completes a web gem, it should turn some heads. Going into the year, Chris Getz was talking up Rutherford’s improved hitting, specifically his power. Though Rutherford only has one home run so far, he has five total extra-base hits, so his ISO is a good-looking .216. On top of that, he is walking in about 12% of his plate appearances, a rate he has not see since he was in rookie ball. Now, this could just be a good two weeks, but Rutherford is showing the front office and fans exactly what was needed, more power and a better bat overall. His ground ball rate is below 50%, which would be a first if it held. A couple of concerning things are that he is not hitting line drives, and he isn’t really pulling the ball. Not that using the whole field is bad; Rutherford still just has a lot to prove, and he needs to prove it for more than two weeks.

MVP Ranks
Gavin Sheets (23.3)
Blake Rutherford (10.1)
Mike Wright (6.0)
Jake Burger (5.0)
Reynaldo López (4.6)
Mikie Mahtook (4.3)
Ryan Burr (2.8)

Cold Cat Ranks
Jimmy Lambert (-9.6)
Tim Beckham (-9.6)
Zack Burdi (-6.3)
Danny Dopico (-6.2)
Matt Tomshaw (-5.1)
Joe DeCarlo (-5.6)

Birmingham Barons (9-3)

Konnor Pilkington 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K

Romy Gonzalez .500 BA, 2 HR, 4 XBH, 5 R, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
Micker Adolfo .182 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K
Kade McClure 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 3 H, 0 BB, 4 K
Alec Hansen 2 IP, 0.00ERA, 1 H, 3 BB, 2 K
Will Kincanon 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Andrew Perez 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K

Another level, it’s another prospect with a lot to prove in 2021, as Konnor Pilkington gets the Week 2 MVP. A former Top 30 prospect and a third round draft pick did not have a good season back in 2019 in Winston-Salem. He allowed more hits than innings pitched, and had a 4.99 ERA. So far in his first 10 innings in 2021, Pilkington has a 1.80 ERA and has only allowed five hits. So far, it appears Pilkington is inducing pretty weak contact. More than 50% of his batted balls are grounders, and two-thirds of his fly balls allowed have been in the infield. Batters are also not squaring up Pilkington’s pitches right now, and are mostly sending batted balls to the opposite field, so most hitters seem to be late or aren’t reading him well. Pilkington is also showing better command: His K-BB rate is not quite as good as it was when he was in Kannapolis, but it is better than his time with the Dash, and that is going to be key for him. A pitcher with a fastball in the low-90s is not going to have a lot of room for error, and so far Pilkington hasn’t found himself in a bad spot. It is a long season, but any former high draft pick playing well can do wonders for the Sox. Pilkington could be an arm the Sox can use if there are injuries on the big club, or he can be a trade chip. Whatever the case is, it is good to see him doing well so far.

MVP Ranks
Kade McClure (13.3)
Blake Battenfield (12.2)
Konnor Pilkington (11.7)
Zack Granite (8.2)
Ti’quan Forbes (8.1)
Ofriedy Gómez (7.4)
Romy González (6.8)

Cold Cat Ranks
Micker Adolfo (-12.3)
Ian Dawkins (-12.2)
Peter Tago (-8.1)
Alec Hansen (-7.9)
Laz Rivera (-5.9)
Craig Dedelow (-5.2)

Winston-Salem Dash (7-5)

Jason Bilous 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Yolbert Sánchez .286 BA, 2 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 6 K
Luis Mieses .111 BA, 2 XBH, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
Lenyn Sosa .231, 3 XBH, 1 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 12 K
Luis Curbelo .278 BA, 4 XBH, 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K
Bryce Bush .222 BA, 0 BB, 3 K
Caleb Freeman 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 SV
Johan Dominguez 3 IP, 9.00 ERA, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K

Jason Bilous was picked in the same draft as Pilkington, but his mold is much different. Pilkington is a starting pitcher; Bilous could be a starter, but will probably end up being a reliever. Right now though, he is starting and missing just about as many bats as one can right now. Back in 2019, Bilous started the year as a reliever. It was mostly long relief, with a 2.96 ERA (good) and a 5.79 FIP (bad). Bilous went back to being a starter and the ERA was about a run worse, but the FIP was about a run better. It was a very weird season, but the main demerit on Bilous was his command. He has been at a 13% walk rate in his first two professional seasons, and while the K-rate was good, it was not good enough for that high of a walk rate. So far this season, Bilous has a 50% (!) K-rate and just a 5.6% BB-rate. He won’t continue to strike out that number of batters, but the walk rate is a good sign. It probably will not stay that low but a noticeable improvement from 13% BB-rate could make Bilous an interesting prospect to keep an eye on, as a starter or a reliever.

MVP Ranks
Luis Curbelo (19.2)
Luis Mieses (12.7)
Jason Bilous (10.0)
Taylor Varnell (5.1)
Johan Dominguez (4.4)
Isaiah Carranza (3.6)
Cooper Bradford (2.3)

Cold Cat Ranks
Dilmer Mejía (-9.6)
Wilber Perez (-9.3)
Declan Cronin (-8.3)
Duke Ellis (-7.3)
Bryce Bush (-5.1)
Dan Metzdorf (-5.0)

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (1-11)

José Rodríguez .167 BA, 1 XBH, 4 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 SB

Chase Krogman HBP injury, currently sidelined
Bryan Ramos .087 BA, 1 R, 1 RBI,6 BB, 14 K
DJ Gladney .000 BA, 1 R, 8 BB, 6 K
James Beard .176 BA, 1 HR, 4 BB, 9 K, 1 SB
Benyamin Bailey .056 BA, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K
Andrew Dalquist 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K
McKinley Moore 1 13 IP, 27.00 ERA, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K
Bailey Horn Did not pitch
Yoelvin Silven 4 13 IP, 6.23 ERA, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K
Matthew Thompson 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K
Jared Kelley 4 13 IP, 12.46 ERA, 5 H, 7 BB, 6 K

It was another very tough week for the Cannon Ballers, but they were at least able to eke out a win. If you look at the everyday hitters in this lineup, you can really only say two of them are hitting well, José Rodríguez (.294 BA) and AJ Gill (.292). The third-best batting average of the everyday guys is James Beard at .207, so the offense has been quite bad. The pitching has been a bit better, but top prospect Jared Kelley has not looked good at all and is really pitching to where his draft rankings were. He has a live arm that will induce strikeouts, but he has a long way to go with his command. Right now, he is walking batters more often than striking them out. Though a 25% K-rate is good, it is not nearly good enough to keep runners that he puts on base from scoring. Kelley was drafted in 2020 out of high school, he did get into prep games before the COVID shutdown but it was just 12 innings according to Manny Randhawa of So from 12 high school innings to Low-A baseball is a gigantic jump, especially when those high school innings were probably in early March. It is going to take time for many other Cannon Ballers to get into a groove after that much time off, but Kelley is now the top prospect in the White Sox organization according to MLB Pipeline. He just needs to show us that he deserves that ranking, even if it is still very early in his professional career.

MVP Ranks
José Rodríguez (23.1)
Matthew Thompson (9.8)
Brandon Jenkins (7.3)
Bailey Horn (3.6)
Bryan Ramos (3.6) (for the first and perhaps only time this year, a player has swung from Cold Cat to MVP in one week)
DJ Gladney (3.0)
Chase Krogman (3.0)

Cold Cat Ranks
Garvin Alston Jr. (-10.8)
Trey Jeans (-7.5)
Jared Kelley (-6.9)
Jerry Burke (-6.4)
Dan Metzdorf (-5.0) (yes, he was already promoted to W-S, and yes, he’s a 2x Cold Cat)
Ramon Laureano (-4.6)
Yoelvin Silven (-4.5)
Rigo Fernández (-4.1)

White Sox Organizational All-Stars

First Base Gavin Sheets, Charlotte Knights (**Offensive MVP**)
Second Base Romy González, Birmingham Barons
Third Base Luis Curbelo, Winston-Salem Dash
Shortstop José Rodríguez, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Left Field Blake Rutherford, Charlotte Knights
Center Field Zack Granite, Birmingham Barons
Right Field Luis Mieses, Winston-Salem Dash
Designated Hitter Ti’quan Forbes, Birmingham Barons
Bench (3B) Jake Burger, Charlotte Knights
Bench (OF) Mikie Mahtook, Charlotte Knights
Bench (2B) Bryan Ramos, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (RF) Chase Krogman, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Kade McClure, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Blake Battenfield, Birmingham Barons
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Konnor Pilkington, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Jason Bilous, Winston-Salem Dash
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Matthew Thompson, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Ofriedy Gómez, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Brandon Jenkins, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Right-Handed Long Relief Pitcher Mike Wright, Charlotte Knights
Left-Handed Long Relief Pitcher Taylor Varnell, Winston-Salem Dash
Right-Handed Long Relief Pitcher Reynaldo López, Charlotte Knights
Right-Handed Long Relief Pitcher Isaiah Carranza, Winston-Salem Dash
Left-Handed Long Relief Pitcher Bailey Horn, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Right-Handed Short Relief Pitcher Ryan Burr, Charlotte Knights

It’s early, so no full All-Star roster yet.
Voting tallies based on SSS voting in nightly Minor League Updates.