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White Sox Minor League Update: May 4, 2021

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Happy Opening Day, everybody ... it’s been a long time coming!

@KCannonBallers/Twitter

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the famous South Side Sox White Sox Minor League Update! We’ve been gone a whole year, and gone from these pages for a bit more than that (the end of 2019 was spent over at South Side Hit Pen, don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten!). I’m your host for opening night and spot-starter duty throughout the season, Brett Ballantini. We have regular writers for almost every game this season, and here’s your stellar lineup:

Tuesday: Darren Black
Wednesday: Joe Resis
Thursday: Julie Brady
Friday: Julie Brady
Saturday: Starter TBA
Sunday: Darren Black
Monday: Off-day, so this is where our SSS on the Farm podcast will land, as well as Darren Black’s Weekly and Monthly player honors will run.

Recall that this season, in a nod to pandemic times, all MiLB series run six games, Tuesday through Sunday, with an off-/travel day Monday.

The basic features of the Minor League Update — do I have to remind you that nobody else does this, anywhere, in White Sox-dom, perhaps not even in baseball-dom? — remain intact. But rather than just having our authors name an MVP for each game, we’re going to open up the floor and make things a little more interactive. Simmer down, simmer down, you’ll see soon enough.

Well, enough of my yakkin’ — let’s get to Opening Night!


In Charlotte, hearts were broken, as this back-and-forth game ended in razor-thin, extra-innings defeat for the home Knights.

Jimmy Lambert started for the White Sox, and things didn’t go very well for him in his return to starting duty. James Fox recently opined that Lambert might be getting groomed for a “Michael Kopech” long relief role in the second half of the season, but if so he’s going to have to do better than this. He threw just 22 of 41 pitches for strikes, and on top of the expected damage that such wildness will do to a box score line (four outs, three earned runs), inability to avoid working deep in counts and convert key pitches into strikes is worrisome when you’re any pitcher, much less the likely No. 7 starter in the system.

Lambert put the Knights in a 2-0 hole, but Charlotte came back with seven unanswered, including Gavin Sheets’ first Triple-A homer. If the first-baseman-to-corner-outfielder trend continues for the star-crossed Sox, Sheets showing power in Charlotte could see him scratch out some time in the majors this season; to wit, he started in right field tonight and had a 2-for-5, four-RBI night.

Another right fielder who would benefit from flashing power is the top outfield prospect so many love to hate, Blake Rutherford. Rutherford’s solo shot in the bottom of the seventh tied the game back up at 8-8, where it would stand until the 12th inning.

So, to the 12th, where Tyler Johnson entered the game an immediately gave up the lead, as an Abraham Almonte double drove home that MLB innovation, the runner-on-second-in-extras. For good measure, second baseman Matt Reynolds made a throwing error later in the inning that brought Almonte home with what would end up as the deciding run. Johnson gave up another ringing double that could have brought home a third tally in the 12th, but a Rutherford-Tim Beckham-Seby Zavala relay from left field cut down the runner from first at home. Whew.

With two outs in the Knights half, Zavala singled home Rutherford (yeah, the starting on second guy!) to bring Charlotte to within one and rendering this dumb experiment even more fruitless by pushing opening night to 13 frames. But Mikie Mahtook whiffed on a full count and sent the Queen City faithful home frustrated.

In case you’re missing out on how miserable this game was, underpinning the illusion of excitement (like, telling yourself a 16-inch, over-60 softball game in Grant Park is as exciting as Sox action on the South Side), the Knights were an astounding 3-for-18 with RISP, few Charlotte pitchers could find the plate (eight walks and endless deep counts) and the game lasted well in excess of four hours.

Poll

Who was the MVP of Charlotte’s heartbreaking loss on Tuesday?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Blake Rutherford: 1-for-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 LOB, LF assist at home
    (4 votes)
  • 87%
    Gavin Sheets: 2-for-5, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K, 3 LOB
    (84 votes)
  • 0%
    Matt Reynolds: 1-for-3, R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, SB, K, LOB, E
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Nik Turley: IP, H, 2 K
    (0 votes)
  • 8%
    Hunter Schryver: 2 IP, BB, 2 K, escaped 10th and 11th scoreless despite runner starting on 2nd
    (8 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was the Cold Cat of Charlotte’s heartbreaking loss on Tuesday?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Jimmy Lambert: 1 1⁄3 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, BB, 3 K, HB, 41 pitches/22 strikes
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    Kyle Kubat: 3 1⁄3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HR, 61 pitches/33 strikes
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    Tayron Guerrero: IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 2 K, HR, BS, 30 pitches/18 strikes
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    Tyler Johnson: IP, 2 H, 2 ER, K, L
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    Mikie Mahtook: 0-for-5, 3 K, 3 LOB, CF assist at 2B
    (8 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

Somehow, I didn’t yet know the answer to the question of whether MiLB would reschedule postponed games; given the nature of this breakneck 2021 season, I would have guessed no. Clearly not the last time I’ll be wrong this year on these updates about anything tonight.


Julie Brady would make this loss read like poetry, but I’m no Julie Brady. So you’re stuck with the notion that this game threatened to get out of hand quick, as the Braves Roamed if they wanted to, to the tune of six runs in the third. Our Dash fought back, scraping to within a run in the fifth before Rome dropped another B-52 on W-S, a three-spot that crushed spirits and loaded up the Cold Cat ballot for real.

In what is sadly a theme among affiliate starters allowed more than 30 tosses in their games, Davis Martin got himself clubbed but good, five earned over two. Sal Biasi and erstwhile closer Lane Ramsey also bent down low to let Rome up and punch ’em. That pitching Triad of Terror set the tone for the loss.

Were there good things? You know, it was an 11-5 loss, but let’s find some.

University of Illinois product Luke Shilling shook off a shoddy surname and leapt out of the Where Are They Now file to put together a sweet inning, and J.B. Olson doubled Shill’s effort. And Luis Mieses, tackling his aggressive assignment with cocksure clouting, spun out both a triple and homer in bravehearting his Dash back into the game not once but twice.

Poll

Who was the MVP of Winston-Salem’s 11-5 drubbing on Tuesday?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Luis Mieses: 2-for-5, R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K, 4 LOB
    (44 votes)
  • 29%
    Lenyn Sosa: 3-for-5, R, K, LOB
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    Evan Skoug: 1-for-2, R, 2 BB, 0-for-3 CS
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    J.B. Olson: 2 IP, 3 K
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Luke Shilling: IP, H, BB, 2 K
    (0 votes)
62 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was the Cold Cat of Winston-Salem’s 11-5 drubbing on Tuesday?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Duke Elllis: 0-for-5, 3 K, 6 LOB
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    Bryce Bush: 0-for-4, BB, 2 K, 5 LOB, CS
    (4 votes)
  • 15%
    Yolbert Sánchez: 0-for-5, 2 K, 2 LOB
    (7 votes)
  • 48%
    Davis Martin: 2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, BB, 4 K, Loss
    (22 votes)
  • 2%
    Sal Biasi: IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Lane Ramsey: IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 K
    (0 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now

Well, the shiny new ballpark in Kannapolis was christened with a loss tonight, as Down East busted open the game in the seventh inning, crooked-numbering the Cannon Ballers with a six spot. Garvin Alston Jr. walks away from his Low-A debut with a 135.00 ERA after getting touched for five earned off two hits and three walks while retiring just one batter.

To be fair, Ty “Big Bro” Madrigal helped usher home some of the damage; while Garvin issued a single and homer to snap a 2-2 tie, then walked the bases loaded, Madrigal issued a fourth straight free pass in the inning, putting the Wood Ducks up, 5-2. But Ty otherwise did his job, inducing three straight ground balls from there; unfortunately, first baseman Sam Abbott’s throwing errors allowed two more runs, and the game was out of reach before the seventh-inning stretch.

As Dan Victor wrote in tonight’s Kanny season preview, patience will be necessary with this Ballers club, oozing with talent but prone to make you want to crawl into a cannon and light the fuse.

Highlights? Oh, the CB’s had some, good buddy. Drew (we’re not calling him “Andrew” any more?) Dalquist had a successful first start in A-ball, throwing five outs without a hit, with a walk and three Ks. The curious collar came before the end of two innings, and as Dalquist had just hit 31 pitches this veteran scribe would guess at a 30-pitch limit.

Offense? Yeah, there was some. José Rodriguez, my No. 12 White Sox prospect (only FanGraphs ranks this young buck higher out there in the ranking world) and a guy you clowns (whoops, respected readers) voted as just the No. 21 dude, went ham in his first Kanny day, exploding for a 3-for-5 night, with two doubles, an RBI and a couple of Ks. As an all-or-nothing hitter, this ascendant shortstop his leaning toward ALL.

And another comer, right fielder Chase Krogman, killed it in the cleanup spot, hitting the first CB’s HR in the new ballpark and checking in with a two-hit, two-rib, two-K night.

But it wasn’t Kanny’s night, with four errors and a shower of nervous, opening-night energy. Back at ’em tomorrow.

Poll

Who was the Kannapolis MVP of Tuesday’s 8-4 loss to the Wood Ducks?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    José Rodriguez: 3-for-5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 K
    (24 votes)
  • 18%
    Chase Krogman: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 2 LOB
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Lency Delgado: 1-for-2, R, K, LOB, E
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    Drew Dalquist: 1 2⁄3 IP, R, BB, 3 K, 31 pitches/20 strikes
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    Jeremiah Burke: 4 1⁄3 IP, 3 H, R, 9 K
    (14 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was the Cold Cat of Tuesday’s 8-4 loss to Down East?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Victor Torres: 0-for-4, LOB, 2 E, PB, 0-for-2 CS
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Sam Abbott: 1-for-4, 3 K, LOB, E
    (1 vote)
  • 83%
    Garvin Alston Jr.: 1⁄3 IP, 2 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, K, HR, Loss
    (35 votes)
  • 9%
    Ty Madrigal: 1 2⁄3 IP, R, 2 BB, 27 pitches/12 strikes
    (4 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now