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White Sox Monthly Minor League Update: July 2021

A fair amount of movement in the system this month, meanwhile minor league veterans earn July MVPs

MLB: Game Two-Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox
Yermín Mercedes was demoted to Charlotte, but started hitting dingers right away to earn the monthly MVP.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

[I do the vote tabulations, and due to operator error — yeah you do enough compiling at 3 a.m. there’s bound to be a mistake here and there — I don’t have the July totals for the usual Hot/Cold listings. Apologies, and fingers crossed August proceeds smoothly — Brett]

Charlotte Knights (28-49 - 23 GB)

Yermín Mercedes .303 BA, 7 HR, 13 XBH, 16 R, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 16 K, 1 SB

Luis González .333 BA, 4 HR, 5 XBH, 11 R, 8 RBI, 9 BB, 13 K, 4 SB
Blake Rutherford .255 BA, 3 HR, 11 XBH, 16 R, 14 RBI, 3 BB, 26 K, 1 SB
Jake Lamb .260 BA, 3 HR, 6 XBH, 6 R, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 12 K
Jake Burger Triple-A .273 BA, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K (MLB .263 BA, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 5 R, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 15 K)
Micker Adolfo Triple-A .179 BA, 2 HR, 3 XBH, 5 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 11 K (Double-A .306 BA, 3 HR, 7 XBH, 8 R, 13 RBI, 1 BB, 18 K
Danny Mendick Triple-A 1-for-4, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K (MLB .138 BA, 2 R, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 9 K)
Jonathan Stiever 27 23 IP, 6.18 ERA, 32 H, 11 BB, 38 K
Jimmy Lambert 17 IP, 5.82 ERA, 14 H, 11 BB, 19 K
Zack Burdi 9 23 IP, 11.17 ERA, 11 H, 7 BB, 13 K
Matt Foster 5 13 IP, 1.69 ERA, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K
Bennett Sousa Triple-A 3 13 IP, 5.40 ERA, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K (Double-A 6.00 ERA, 4 H, 6 BB, 10 K)
Jace Fry 6 23 IP, 4.26 ERA, 5 H, 5 BB, 11 K (MLB 2 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K)

Yermín Mercedes had an interesting month, to say the least. He was demoted, retired, and unretired, but still played like his normal self in the minors with a .301 ISO and a 141 wRC+. This is Mercedes’ 12th season, with time in the minors dating back to rookie ball in 2011, and he has always been able to hit the ball often, and far. Right now he seems to be in a “let’s just swing and see what happens” mode even more so than he was in the majors this season. Mercedes’ K-rate is down along with his walk-rate, so a lot more batted balls in Charlotte for Mercedes. This may be a reason why he was not doing well in the final month in the majors, because the patience he showed in 2018-19 with a BB-rate at 10% has gone all the way down to 4% now. As for Mercedes’ prospects to get back to Chicago, it is pretty grim, at least this season. The 40-man roster is full and that is with Luis Robert seemingly coming back on Tuesday. Though Jake Lamb is not on the 60-day IL like Robert and Evan Marshall, somebody still needs to be sent down. Right now, if a catcher gets injured, Mercedes may be the one to get a shot, but the Sox added Deivy Grullón for a reason. As a DH, Mercedes seems to be behind Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets, and Jake Lamb. In a few words, Mercedes may have to wait until 2022 to be back with the Sox — if ever.

Birmingham Barons (41-35 - 1 12 GA)

Emilio Vargas 20 IP 0.90 ERA, 10 H, 5 BB. 27 K

Romy González .292 BA, 5 HR, 9 XBH, 16 R, 18 RBI, 20 BB, 29 K, 6 SB
Yolbert Sánchez Double-A .474 BA, 3 XBH, 7 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 SB (High-A .264, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 6 R, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 SB)
Jason Bilous 20 23 IP, 5.23 ERA, 17 H, 5 BB, 24 K
Kade McClure 24 IP, 2.63 ERA, 21 H, 7 BB, 29 K
Andrew Perez 12 IP, 3.75 ERA, 13 H, 3 BB, 18 K

Another career minor leaguer, Emilio Vargas, has had quite the year in Double-A. You can see the numbers of how well he did last month with a 0.90 ERA, something that really doesn’t seem possible over 20 innings, but he did it. In the season as whole, Vargas has a 2.85 ERA with a 27.5% K-rate which is his best mark in Double-A over his career and second-best mark in his career over a meaningful stint. There are some concerning things that may indicate he is not having a good a season as is 2.85 ERA says, though. The line-drive rate is up a good amount, in place of ground balls. The pull rate is also near 50%, and both of those numbers usually indicates good contact, or at least average contact. It is just something to keep an eye on, if you think he should be a Quad-A pitcher who goes up and down between Charlotte and Chicago. Whatever eventually happens, he is having one of his better season in MiLB this season.

I also want to say congratulations and thank you to Konnor Pilkington — in the running for this month’s MVP — as his success this season helped the Sox land César Hernández.

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

Alex Destino .313 BA, 8 HR, 13 XBH, 20 R, 18 RBI, 13 BB, 27 K, 1 SB

Lenyn Sosa .259 BA, 4 HR, 9 XBH, 16 R, 17 RBI, 2 BB, 24 K
Yoelqui Céspedes .273 BA, 3 HR, 7 XBH, 14 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 33 K, 6 SB
Caleb Freeman 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 8 H, 2 BB, 14 K (Promoted to Double-A)

The Dash are really stretched thin right now in top prospects, but we still have our Yoelqui Céspedes watch, and he put together a decent month with a 102 wRC+. He is showing decent pop with a .181 ISO, and good speed with eight stolen bases, but he still has a lot to prove, and 2022 is a more important year for that.

Alex Destino is why you all are reading, though. He was a 14th round pick back in 2017, so he has been around for awhile. He just is not moving up the system quickly. So far this year, he has a 122 wRC+ thanks in large part to a healthy BB-rate (11%) and a .245 ISO. He normally shows decent pop, but this year it has exploded. Though he is 25 and nobody should discount that when figuring in a sudden surge in power, this is his first full season in High-A so it is not like he has much experience at this level. He is a far cry from a prospect one should expect to make the majors at some point, but it seems like Destino will be here to continue his improbable rise in the ranks, thanks to his success this season. If he could cut down on that 28.6% strikeout rate while keeping the power and the walks, maybe he could have a place.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (25-53 - 21 GB)

Luis Mieses .336 BA, 3 HR, 10 XBH, 20 R, 23 RBI, 9 BB, 19 K (promoted to the Dash)

James Beard: .200 BA, 1 XBH, 7 R, 9 BB, 20 K, 3 SB
Bryan Ramos .214 BA, 2 HR, 6 XBH, 21 R, 12 RBI, 13 BB, 24 K
José Rodríguez .279 BA, 4 HR, 11 XBH, 25 R, 16 RBI, 9 BB, 15 K, 6 SB
DJ Gladney .306 BA, 1 HR, 3 XBH, 5 R, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 18 K
Chase Krogman .159 BA, 3 HR, 4 XBH, 9 R, 9 RBI, 13 BB, 38 K
Lency Delgado .214 BA, 1 HR, 2 XBH, 4 R, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 20 K
Drew Dalquist 20 IP, 7,65 ERA, 25 H, 13 BB, 11 K
Jared Kelley Low-A 5 IP, 7.20 ERA, 7 H, 5 BB, 5 K (ACL 2 23 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3 H, 4 BB, 2 K)
Matthew Thompson 17 IP, 4.24 ERA, 16 H, 3 BB, 18 K (ACL 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K)
McKinley Moore 10 23 IP, 7.59 ERA, 10 H, 7 BB, 19 K

Luis Mieses was very good with the Cannon Ballers, in what was his best stint with an MiLB team in his career. His 117 wRC+ at the time of his promotion was the first time he had above-average offensive numbers, and he did it with plate discipline. From the Dash to Cannon Ballers, his walk rate went up 2% while the K-rate fell 11%. His line drive rate was up a little as well along with the fly ball rate, so he was getting better contact while seeing pitches better. That is a good combo to get your batting average to .305. Mieses really turned his season around, and got rewarded for it with a promotion to Winston-Salem.

For others, it has not been a fantastic season, especially Jared Kelley. Kelley came off of the IL this month and though he did not get a lot of innings under his belt, his command issues are starting to become a problem that warrants some reservations. Everybody should understand that this is a very weird year, especially for a player that went from high school in 2020 to Low-A in 2021, but a 21% walk rate is pretty terrible. Thankfully, the high-90s fastball is still there and the strikeouts are at a healthy 25%, so there certainly is no reason to panic. But a walk rate like that must improve, and hopefully will with a more normal offseason and season in 2022.

ACL White Sox (6-16 - 13 GB)

Misael González .311 BA, 4 HR, 9 XBH, 9 R, 21 RBI, 4 BB, 21 K, 3 SB

Benyamin Bailey .200 BA, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 9 R, 8 RBI, 11 BB, 22 K
Bryce Bush 0-for-3, 1 BB, 2 K (played one game, on July 2)
Jefferson Mendoza .263 BA, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 7 R, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 12 K
Logan Glass .138 BA, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 10 R, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 27 K, 1 SB
Ronaldo Guzman 18 IP, 7.50 ERA, 18 H, 23 BB, 17 K
Cristian Mena 24 13 IP, 8.14 ERA, 34 H, 10 BB, 32 K

Well, well, well, look who is doing well here after being drafted back in 2019 out of high school, Misael González. He has been one of the rare young players to do well after a lost 2020, that may be in part because he at least had some professional experience back in 2019. However, it was not a good season. Back in the AZL, González had a 38 wRC+, as his K-rate was slightly more than 40% and was showing little to no power with a .042 ISO. So far, all of those have improved. González’s K-rate has fallen 10%, though 30% is not great, a 10% improvement is a good sign for progress from a young player. The ISO has increased to .279, thanks to actually hitting homers, as González has four already. It probably will not stay that high but again, it is an actual improvement compared to González’s first season in pro baseball. It also helps that only a quarter of his batted balls are on the ground, another stat that will not stick, but certainly a fun one.

DSL White Sox (8-7 - 1 12 GB)

Guillermo Cuevas 11 IP, 0.82 ERA, 7 H, 1 BB, 17 K

Manuel Guariman .353 BA, 1 XBH, 1 R, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K
Dario Borrero .357 BA, 1 XBH, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
Victor Quezada .107 BA, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 BB, 14 K
Norge Vera (has not played yet)
Adrian Gil 3 23 IP, 4.91 ERA, 5 H, 4 BB, 6 K