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White Sox Monthly Minor League Update: May 2021

Other than Birmingham, the MiLB teams are not doing so well, but a lot of the prospects came out hot in their first month of games since 2019

Aren’t these jerseys awesome? José Rodriguez certainly has played well in them.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Charlotte Knights (8-15)

Gavin Sheets .326 BA, 4 HR, 8 XBH, 9 R, 19 RBI, 6 BB, 20 K

Seby Zavala .229 BA, 4 HR, 7 XBH, 10 R, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 33 K
Luis González .182 BA, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 4 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K
Adam Engel .375 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
Blake Rutherford .306 BA, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 15 R, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 23 K
Jake Burger .353 BA, 6 HR, 12 XBH, 13 R, 16 RBI, 5 BB, 20 K
Jonathan Stiever 15 IP, 6.00 ERA, 17 H, 10 BB, 18 K
Hunter Schryver 9 23 IP, 4.66 ERA, 7 H, 5 BB, 9 K
Kodi Medeiros 9 23 IP, 2.79 ERA, 4 H, 6 BB, 8 K
Tyler Johnson 3 13 IP, 13.50 ERA, 6 H, 7 BB, 4 K
Zack Burdi 6 13 IP, 4.26 ERA, 3 H, 7 BB, 11 K
Jimmy Lambert AAA 15 IP, 6.00 ERA, 17 H, 10 BB, 18 K (MLB 3 23 IP, 7.36 ERA, 7 H, 1 BB, 4 K)
Reynaldo López 11 IP, 6.55 ERA, 15 H, 3 BB, 11 K
Jace Fry 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K

Gavin Sheets has had a whirlwind of a time in the last couple of seasons. The White Sox drafted a first baseman in Andrew Vaughn because Sheets was not performing the way they liked, among some other things. Sheets didn’t play at all in 2020 due to a global pandemic. Heading into this season, he actually started the process of switching positions from first base to the outfield so he could find playing time, but now Vaughn is actually an outfielder, so maybe that didn’t even matter. But what Sheets is doing this season is great for him and the Sox right now. His slash line this first month was .326/.370/.512, and Sheets is showing some improved power with a .186 ISO. All of that comes out to a very good 136 wRC+. Most of his games have been at first, but he has nine starts in the outfield, mostly in right, so a new position is not getting in the way of his bat.

That is the good, but there are some concerns to look out for and some reasons why Sheets probably will not be the first guy called up from Charlotte. He is playing in a very hitterish park and seven of his eight extra-base hits are at home, though he still has a decent average on the road. Why that is concerning is that his hitting profile (ground balls, fly balls, and liners) is not really different than his 2019 season in an unfriendly-to-hitter’s park in Birmingham. So Sheets’ homers might just be because he plays in a hitter’s park, and the HR/FB rate seems to indicate that, with a 5% increase from 2019 to 2021. The other thing is that Sheets isn’t walking as much, about a 4% decrease, and is striking out more, about a 3% increase, along with a .387 BABIP.

It is early so maybe all these things will normalize, he has only played 21 games so a long way to go, but keep these things in the back of your mind.

May MVP Ranks

Gavin Sheets (41.6)
Jake Burger (22.4)
Mike Wright (14.9)
Marco Hernández (12.7)
Blake Rutherford (11.2)
Adam Engel (10.4)
Brian Goodwin (5.8)

May Cold Cat Ranks

Jacob Lindgren (-28.7)
Ryan Burr (-12.6)
Jonathan Stiever (-10.5)
Danny Dopico (-8.5)
Jimmy Lambert (-7.9)
Alex McRae (-7.7)
Will Carter (-6.6)

Birmingham Barons (16-8)

Konnor Pilkington 20 IP, 2.70 ERA, 16 H, 6 BB, 18 K

Micker Adolfo .238 BA, 6 HR, 9 XBH, 11 R, 17 RBI, 9 BB, 31 K
Romy González .286 BA, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 12 R, 14 RBI, 8 BB, 21 K, 4 SB
Kade McClure 16 13 IP, 6.61 ERA, 23 H, 4 BB, 20 K
Jason Bilous AA 7 IP, 2.57 ERA, 9 H, 0 BB, 7 K (High-A 14 23 IP, 2.45 ERA, 11 H, 2 BB, 26 K)
Alec Hansen 8 IP, 5.63 ERA, 4 H, 12 BB, 13 K
Andrew Perez 9 13 IP, 2.89 ERA, 8 H, 3 BB, 14 K
Bennett Sousa 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 5 H, 5 BB, 16 K
Ofriedy Gómez 15 23 IP, 1.15 ERA, 6 H, 7 BB, 24 K

Like Gavin Sheets, the prospect luster has fallen from Konnor Pilkington, though it seems like more people have forgotten Pilkington than Sheets. They both are having much better seasons than 2019. Because all pitchers have not pitched since 2019, none of them are going to get a lot of quality starts. Plus, the White Sox MiLB rosters have a ton of pitchers, and they all need to pitch somehow. So in Pilkington’s four starts he has 20 innings pitched with a 2.70 ERA. He is getting a lot of ground balls, very nearly a 50% GB rate, to help keep that ERA low. Pilkington’s fly ball rate has fallen 11% thanks to all those grounders. Even more remarkable is that 44% of fly balls off of Pilkington are in the infield, so even then they aren’t hit that well. Pilkington’s K-rate is the same as it was in High-A, which is a good sign, and he is walking batters about 2% less often, which is good as well. Even with all of that, Pilkington’s FIP is not great because of a couple things: He is allowing a ton of homers and has a .260 BABIP, so he is getting unlucky with homers but then lucky on balls in play. There isn’t any spin rate data in Birmingham, but if Pilkington is getting more spin on breaking balls that could lead to more homers; right now, my guess is that it will correct itself eventually.

May MVP Ranks

Konnor Pilkington (19.8)
Blake Battenfield (13.6)
Kade McClure (13.5)
Ofriedy Gómez (12.7)
Zack Granite (10.0)
Jason Bilous (8.9)
Ti’quan Forbes (7.9)
Mitch Roman (7.1)

May Cold Cat Ranks

Ian Dawkins (-32.7)
J.B. Olson (-14.6)
John Parke (-8.8)
Joel Booker (-8.6)
Peter Tago (-7.8)

Winston-Salem Dash (12-12)

Luis Curbelo .266 BA, 7 HR, 13 XBH, 11 R, 21 RBI, 5 BB, 32 K

Yolbert Sánchez .222 BA, 2 XBH, 12 R, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 13 K, 1 SB
Luis Mieses .155 BA, 3 HR, 8 XBH, 10 R, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 19 K
Lenyn Sosa .223 BA, 2 HR, 7 XBH, 10 R, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 34 K
Bryce Bush .147 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, 2 SB (Has been out with a shoulder injury)
Caleb Freeman 8 13 IP, 1.08 ERA, 5 H, 5 BB, 9 K

He’s back, Luis Curbelo is back! No, he was not injured, and technically all MiLBers are back this season, but Curbelo is hitting the ball really well. He has a .266/.310/.620 (.620 slugging!) slash for a 155 wRC+. Just to hit home how well Curbelo is hitting the ball right now, even better-looking than his seven homers is his Herculean .354 ISO; that is ridiculous. He is pulling the ball two-thirds of the time he makes contact, and that usually means it is with some thump. With 43.5% of his batted balls as fly balls and another 28.5% liners, the vast majority of balls hit are in the air.

Now, there are some easy indicators that Curbelo will naturally regress. He has a HR/FB rate of 35%, which is unsustainable, and his .354 ISO and .350 BABIP are unsustainable, too. Those levels will go down even if his batted-ball profile stays the same. However, there are some things that look like improvement, at least a little bit. Curbelo is walking slightly more often and the K-rate of 38.1%, which is still extremely high, has improved about 3%. These numbers are on the margins right now, but everything is pointing to Curbelo being a better hitter compared to his 2019 self.

May MVP Ranks

Luis Curbelo (24.6)
Johan Dominguez (20.1)
Jason Bilous (19.6)
Davis Martin (19.0)
Taylor Varnell (15.9)
Alex Destino (8.6)
Evan Skoug (6.4)

May Cold Cat Ranks

Lenyn Sosa (-17.5)
Daniel Millwee (-14.3)
Bryce Bush (-12.2)
Dilmer Mejía (-9.6)
Declan Cronin (-9.0)
Wilber Perez (-8.9)
Isaiah Carranza (-8.5)
Edgar Navarro (-7.9)
Lazaro Leal (-6.3)

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (2-22)

José Rodríguez .278 BA, 2 HR, 13 XBH, 12 R, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 20 K, 6 SB

James Beard: .203 BA, 2 HR, 3 XBH, 6 R, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 27 K, 2 SB
Chase Krogman .500 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (Has been out due to a HBP)
Bryan Ramos .233 BA, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 7 R, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 38 K, 4 SB
DJ Gladney .169 BA, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 5 R, 5 RBI, 13 BB, 36 K
Benyamin Bailey .156 BA, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 25 K
Lency Delgado .239 BA, 2 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 24 K
Andrew Dalquist 10 23 IP, 6.75 ERA, 14 H, 7 BB, 11 K
McKinley Moore 5 13 IP, 8.44 ERA, 7 H, 4 BB, 8 K
Bailey Horn 7 IP, 6.43 ERA, 6 H, 3 BB, 9 K
Yoelvin Silven 13 23 IP, 8.56 ERA, 20 H, 7 BB, 18 K
Matthew Thompson 17 23 IP, 5.60 ERA, 25 H, 10 BB, 18 K
Jared Kelley 8 IP, 9.00 ERA, 9 H, 10 BB, 12 K

By far and away the best, and maybe most surprising player on the prospect-heavy Kannapolis roster is José Rodriguez. He is also one of the few White Sox prospects doing well while being younger than the league-average age, so think of whatever stats he has as being doubly-good. Rodriguez has an .808 OPS right now with a 123 wRC+. He has shown some pop, though maybe more gap power than home-run power, with a .196 ISO thanks to 11 non-homer extra-base hits. You can just go to the batted ball profile to see why that is: Rodriguez’s fly balls have gone down and line drives have gone up, about 8% each. That is not bad, but the real improvements can always be found with plate discipline. Rodriguez does not and probably will never walk a lot, but that rate has gone up a bit more than 1% — but he’s striking out about 4% less, which is the good number. Rodriguez will be a guy that lives and dies by BABIP and a .333, which he currently has, seems like a good number for him to have a productive season. It has been around there, give or take 10 points, in each of his stops so far in his professional career. Rodriguez has a long way to go before people see him in the big leagues, but he already is shooting up the prospect lists and into Sox fans’ minds.

May MVP Ranks

José Rodríguez (34.6)
DJ Gladney (17.3)
James Beard (11.6)
Matthew Thompson (11.2)
Caberea Weaver (9.6)
Bryan Ramos (8.3)
Brandon Jenkins (7.3)

May Cold Cat Ranks

Garvin Alston Jr. (-13.4)
Yoelvin Silven (-12.8)
Jared Kelley (-10.2)
Marcus Evey (-9.4)
Martin Carrasco (-8.5)
Rigo Fernández (-8.5)
Daniel Millwee (-7.6)
Trey Jeans (-7.5)

White Sox Organizational All-Stars for May

Catcher Evan Skoug, Winston-Salem Dash
First Base Gavin Sheets, Charlotte Knights (**Offensive MVP**)
Second Base Marco Hernández, Charlotte Knights
Third Base Luis Curbelo, Winston-Salem Dash
Shortstop José Rodríguez, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Left Field Blake Rutherford, Charlotte Knights
Center Field James Beard, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Right Field Adam Engel, Charlotte Knights
Designated Hitter Jake Burger, Charlotte Knights
Bench (3B) DJ Gladney, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (CF) Zack Granite, Birmingham Barons
Bench (CF) Caberea Weaver, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (RF) Alex Destino, Winston-Salem Dash
Bench (2B) Bryan Ramos, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (1B-3B) Ti’quan Forbes, Birmingham Barons

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Jason Bilous, Birmingham Barons (**Pitching MVP**)
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Johan Dominguez, Winston-Salem Dash
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Konnor Pilkington, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Davis Martin, Winston-Salem Dash
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Mike Wright, Charlotte Knights

Left-Handed Relief Pitcher Taylor Varnell, Winston-Salem Dash
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Blake Battenfield, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Kade McClure, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Ofriedy Gómez, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Matthew Thompson, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Brandon Jenkins, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers