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White Sox Minor League Weekly Update: July 19-25

Our last before the trade deadline looks at trade pieces, and a wild week in review, with Yermín Mercedes and Luis Robert back

MLB: Game Two-Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox
Yermín Mercedes retired, came back — and hit two homers.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Knights (26-44 - 23 GB)

Yermín Mercedes .368 BA, 2 HR, 0 BB, 1 K

Luis González (injured list)
Blake Rutherford .333 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 6 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Jake Lamb .095 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K
Micker Adolfo .316 BA, 2 HR, 4 XBH, 5 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
Hunter Schryver 1 23 IP, 5.40 ERA, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Kodi Medeiros 2 IP, 27.00 ERA, 8 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Jonathan Stiever 8 23 IP, 10.38 ERA, 13 H, 5 BB, 12 K
Jimmy Lambert 3 13 IP, 18.90 ERA, 4 H, 4 BB, 3 K
Tyler Johnson (did not play)
Zack Burdi 2 IP, 31.50 ERA, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K
Matt Foster 2 13 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Bennett Sousa 2 13 IP, 7.71 ERA, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Jace Fry 1 23 IP, 10.80 ERA, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K

Well, he’s back, or never left, whatever the case is. Yermín Mercedes came out of retirement and hit two homers. The situation was very strange, in whatever angle you look at it. A first-time big leaguer reached stardom very quickly, and then it all fell apart. That cannot be easy to handle. Or, another way to see it, a career minor leaguer got the call to the majors at age 28 because of several injuries and thought he was untouchable despite not being able to play a defensive position and came off a month where he had an 18 wRC+. He then got demoted so the Sox could carry another catcher after losing Yasmani Grandal. No matter how you size it, it’s a very weird situation and Mercedes shrugged it off — at least on the field — right after it happened. He has been in Triple-A for 18 games and is mashing like he usually does in the minors, slashing .329/.382/.686 for a 176 wRC+. He seems to be swinging more often, for whatever that is worth, and his K-rate is down from his terrible June. Of course the competition is weaker in Triple-A, but if the Sox are looking to trade him this is not a bad time to hit well, even if off the field it may have brought down his trade value a peg.

Speaking of trades, Micker Adolfo was good this week, too! This may be the last update with him in the Sox system. He has actually been better than Mercedes in Charlotte so far with a 199 wRC+; of course, that is in just four games, but still, a fun time for him. Hopefully Adolfo gets a chance in the majors soon, and odds are it will be somewhere else. Of the other notable trade pieces, really only Matt Foster did well last week, but that could be a big thing since he did show he could be a good reliever in the big leagues.

MVP Ranks

Jake Burger (60.5)
Gavin Sheets (54.8)
Tim Beckham (44.1)
Mike Wright (32.4)
Luis González (20.1)
Yermín Mercedes (19.5)
Marco Hernández (18.8)
Deivy Grullón (15.4)
Mike Mahtook (13.8)
Adam Engel (12.1)

Cold Cat Ranks

Reynaldo López (-32.7)
Matt Tomshaw (-25.5)
Kodi Medeiros (-22.8)
Nate Nolan (-17.9)
Tyler Johnson (-17.4)
Jonathan Stiever (-15.9)
Seby Zavala (-15.0)
Zack Burdi (-13.9)
Félix Paulino (-12.8)
Ryan Burr (-12.6)

Birmingham Barons (39-32 - 1 GA)

Taylor Varnell 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 4 K

Romy González .182 BA, 2 HR, 3 XBH, 5 R, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
Yolbert Sánchez .500 BA, 2 XBH, 5 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
Kade McClure 4 IP, 4.50 ERA, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K
Konnor Pilkington 5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K
Jason Bilous 4 IP, 4.50 ERA, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Andrew Perez 3 23 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K

The new guys came to play this week, starting with Taylor Varnell. His long-anticipated, -awaited, overdue promotion to Double-A finally happened — and he dominated. Varnell threw five shutout innings, and though he did not strike out many batters, he got the job done in typical Varnell fashion. Because this is more or less a trade deadline type of update, it is hard to see Varnell being a main trade piece for somebody, but he could still be traded in a bigger deal as a dart-throw prospect. The reason Varnell is not a top prospect, even though he does have a mid-90s fastball, is due in part to his age (26 in Double-A). But also, he does not have a good strikeout pitch and relies a bit too much on fly outs. He has made it work for him so far, but against far younger opposition than normal.

The other newbie who did well was Yolbert Sánchez. He is probably the best prospect left in Birmingham with Micker Adolfo gone, but he came out swinging in his first week with the Barons. Sánchez hit .500 in his first five games for a 216 wRC+. That will not stick! The biggest thing Sox fans need to see from him during his Double-A stint is going to be the strikeout number. His K-rate went up about 4 % going from rookie ball in 2019 to High-A in 2021. He should be a hitter with a lower K-rate, maybe even less than 10%, but it should be closer to that number, somewhere in the 9.5% to 11% range should be the goal. He does not seem like a prospect who will get traded, but on the pitching side, Konnor Pilkington would be the guy to watch out for as a secondary or tertiary trade piece.

MVP Ranks

Konnor Pilkington (36.5)
Kade McClure (36.0)
Ti’quan Forbes (26.8)
Carlos Pérez (22.3)
Micker Adolfo (20.3)
Ofriedy Gómez (12.9)

Cold Cat Ranks

J.B. Olson (-40.2)
Ian Dawkins (-30.4)
JJ Muno (-21.3)
Xavier Fernández (-19.9)
Luis Ledo (-16.8)
Alec Hansen (-15.0)
Craig Dedelow (-14.3)

Winston-Salem Dash (29-43 - 21 GB)

Luis Curbelo .462 BA, 3 HR, 6 XBH, 6 R, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K

Lenyn Sosa .407 BA, 1 XBH, 4 R, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K
Luis Robert .250 BA, 1 XBH, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K (On a rehab Assignment)
Yoelqui Céspedes .333 BA, 2 XBH, 5 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K, 3 SB
Bailey Horn 6 IP, 6.00 ERA, 2 H, 6 BB, 7 K
Caleb Freeman 3 IP, 6.00 ERA, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K

The best player in the White Sox minors last week was probably Luis Curbelo. Not only was he hitting for average, he smashed the ball for six extra-base hits, including three homers, to put his wRC+ (115) healthily above 100. He still has a strikeout problem overall, and he does not walk enough. But when Curbelo hits, he hits it hard. He is slugging .521 on the year with a .275 ISO. About 57% of his batted balls are pulled, and those are the harder-hit pitches. He is doing that a lot, so his power numbers have never been better. Curbelo just needs to fix the plate discipline, as if that’s so easy to do.

Don’t worry, here is the Cuban section. Luis Robert is back in action and will probably matriculate to the White Sox while taking the same path as Eloy. Robert did not hit a homer as quickly as Eloy did, but it is good that he is out in the field and it isn’t as worrisome when a fly ball is hit to him. For Yoelqui Céspedes, he continues to have a decent start to his professional career in the U.S. He has a 105 wRC+, but is really swinging at whatever. His BB/K ratio is just .10, though it probably will not stay like that, he, like many other guys in the minors, just has not played a ton in the past couple of years. On top of that, Céspedes left his home, so he has a lot to go through but still finds a way to be productive. For trades, there probably is not any prospect in Winston-Salem who is going to leave the Sox organization.

MVP Ranks

Yolbert Sánchez (52.8)
Taylor Varnell (41.7)
Luis Curbelo (34.3)
Alex Destino (24.7)
Jason Bilous (19.6)
Ian Dawkins (18.5)
Evan Skoug (13.6)
Eloy Jiménez (13.1)
Johan Dominguez (11.6)

Cold Cat Ranks

Kaleb Roper (-27.1)
Cooper Bradford (-24.9)
Wilber Perez (-21.5)
Duke Ellis (-19.3)
Lázaro Leal (-17.3)
Isaiah Carranza (-17.2)
Edgar Navarro (-12.3)
Bryce Bush (-12.2)
Bailey Horn (-10.1)

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (23-49 - 21 GB)

Luis Mieses .333 BA, 1 HR, 3 XBH, 3 R, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K

James Beard: .250 BA, 4 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 SB
Bryan Ramos .100 BA, 1 HR, 6 R, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K
José Rodríguez .276 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 SB
DJ Gladney (Did not play)
Chase Krogman 0-for-7, 1 BB, 6 K (played in two games)
Lency Delgado .200 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K
Drew Dalquist 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K
Jared Kelley 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2 H, 4 BB, 2 K
Matthew Thompson 8 IP, 5.63 ERA, 7 H, 3 BB, 9 K
McKinley Moore 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K
Yoelvin Silven 3 IP, 9.00 ERA, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K

He has really turned around his season, probably not in the way Luis Mieses wanted to, with a demotion to do it. But it is still impressive. After another great week, Mieses is slashing .302/.350/.451 for a 116 wRC+. If he is able to keep that for the rest of the season, it will be the first time, at any level, in any amount of games, that Mieses would end his year with a wRC+ above average. His plate discipline has been much better overall, but especially over the past few weeks. Over the past two weeks, Mieses has the same about as walks (12.3%) as strikeouts (12.3%), and both are at great rates. Again, it is unfortunate that it was due to a demotion, but Mieses seems to have really figured something out to cut down on strikeouts by a little more than 11%.

This is also where the trade talks spice up, as the best prospects here in Kannapolis. Of the guys that did well, both Drew Dalquist and Matthew Thompson had a great starts last week. Both of them went five innings, and in Dalquist’s case, he just allowed one run and Thompson had a shutout. Neither of these players are marquee prospects but they could help lead a deal to find another right-handed reliever. Jared Kelley is the best prospect in the Sox organization, and José Rodríguez and Bryan Ramos are both young, impressive bats who could net a decent return if Rick Hahn can find a deal. Kelley has struggled this year but has great stuff and was a second round pick just last season. If I had to guess, none of these starters will be on the move, but Hahn should use whatever he can to find the right player.

MVP Ranks

José Rodríguez (86.9)
Luis Mieses (54.9)
Bryan Ramos (29.6)
Chase Krogman (19.9)
Samil Polanco (19.6)
DJ Gladney (19.4)
Harvin Mendoza (18.4)
Bailey Horn (14.8)

Cold Cat Ranks

Tyson Messer (-31.5)
Marcus Evey (-30.2)
Garvin Alston Jr. (-24.8)
Angel Acevedo (-21.9)
Yoelvin Silven (-18.3)
Ty Madrigal (-18.2)
Lency Delgado (-17.6)
Jared Kelley (-13.6)
Drew Dalquist (-13.4)
Martin Carrasco (-11.8)

ACL White Sox (5-13 - 9 12 GB)

Rigo Fernández 5 23 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB, 11 K

Benyamin Bailey .143 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Bryce Bush (Played in the Complex League on July 2)
Jefferson Mendoza .429 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K
Logan Glass .000 BA, 2 BB, 6 K
Ronaldo Guzman 3 13 IP, 5.40 ERA, 4 H, 4 BB, 2 K
Cristian Mena 7 IP, 16.71 ERA, 15 H, 3 BB, 10 K

Rigo Fernández, what a week for the reliever. He had two perfect outings last week and has been much better in the ACL compared to Low-A. With Kannapolis, Fernández had a 9.82 ERA, with most of his problems stemming from walks. He was walking 18.8% of the batters he faced and while his K-rate was down, it was still pretty good. Now, Fernández has just been in the ACL for 7 23 innings, but he has not allowed one walk in that time. Maybe the strike zone is bigger there in Arizona, but Fernández has figured something out, and very well could be back in North Carolina soon.

On the trade front, it is a bit harder to find players to trade here. Not only are a lot of these guys not doing well right now, but most are so young it is more difficult to project where they will go in their development. Benyamin Bailey is the best prospect there, but he also looked outmatched in Low-A already this season. Now, he has some potential and could do better in the right system, but right now, his trade value has diminished. For the other guys, they are closer to lottery tickets than actual prospects at this point in their young careers.

MVP Ranks
Misael González (20.2)
Dilmer Mejía (14.9)
Wilber Sánchez (13.2)
Rigo Fernández (11.7)
Richard García (11.6)
Jefferson Mendoza (10.3)

Cold Cat Ranks

Elijah Tatís (-36.3)
Jacob Gilliland (-10.0)

DSL White Sox (5-6 - 3 GB)

Alberto Bernal .333 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 2 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K

Manuel Guariman .250 BA, 3 BB, 1 K
Dario Borrero 1-for-3, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 SB (played one game)
Victor Quezada .111 BA, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K
Norge Vera (has not played yet)
Adrian Gil 23 IP, 13.50 ERA, 0 H, 4 BB, 2 K

Unlike a lot of other players in the DSL, Alberto Bernal actually has some professional experience, with 43 DSL games back in 2019. Without the pandemic and with another rookie-level team, Bernal might be playing in the States by now, so hopefully he rakes — because he should. He is one of the players who also plays a regular load of games; the new guys, like the others listed above, mainly play two to three times a week, Bernal is at four right now. The stats available from the DSL are not great, but Bernal does have a swinging problem. He is striking out 45.8% of the time so far and though it will go down, it was more than 30% back in 2019, so it is a big problem. He does walk a bit, but maybe that is because DSL pitching isn’t so crisp.

In terms of trades, look, it’s the DSL and Norge Vera isn’t even playing.

MVP Ranks

Emerson Talavera (17.2)
Randel Mondesi (9.0)
Carlos Hinestroza (7.2)
Yohemy Nolasco (6.8)
Guillermo Cuevas (6.7)
Carlos Gomez (6.2)
DSL Intern (5.9)

Cold Cat Ranks

Arxy Hernández (-13.6)
Victor Quezada (-7.9)
Daniel González (-6.1)
Layant Tapia (-5.2)
Carlos Jiménez (-5.0)

White Sox Organizational All-Stars

Catcher Carlos Pérez, Birmingham Barons
First Base Gavin Sheets, Charlotte Knights
Second Base Yolbert Sánchez, Birmingham Barons
Third Base Jake Burger, Charlotte Knights
Shortstop José Rodríguez, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (**Player MVP**)
Left Field Luis Mieses, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Center Field Misael González, ACL White Sox
Right Field Micker Adolfo, Charlotte Knights
Designated Hitter Tim Beckham, Charlotte Knights

Bench (3B) Luis Curbelo, Winston-Salem Dash
Bench (2B) Bryan Ramos, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (1B-3B) Ti’quan Forbes, Charlotte Knights
Bench (OF) Alex Destino, Winston-Salem Dash
Bench (CF) Luis González, Charlotte Knights
Bench (OF) Chase Krogman, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (2B-3B) Samil Polanco, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (C-1B) Yermín Mercedes, Charlotte Knights
Bench (3B) DJ Gladney, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Bench (2B) Marco Hernández, Charlotte Knights
Bench (1B) Harvin Mendoza, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Taylor Varnell, Birmingham Barons (**Pitcher MVP**)
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Konnor Pilkington, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Kade McClure, Birmingham Barons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Mike Wright, Charlotte Knights
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Jason Bilous, Birmingham Barons

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher Emerson Talavera, DSL White Sox

South Side Sox Writer Standings