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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 84: Kaleb Roper

His move to the pen late in 2021 could be the righty’s key to seeing the South Side one day.

Whether starting or in relief, Kaleb Roper’s fastball ticked upward in 2021.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Kaleb Roper

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
193 pounds
Age: 26
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 15

Kaleb Roper was quite the well-traveled collegian, as he pitched for the University of Arizona his freshman year, San Jacinto Community College his sophomore season, and Tulane University for his junior and senior years. In his senior season for the Green Wave, Roper posted a 4.60 ERA and 1.33 WHIP but provided decent peripherals: 86 hits (.258 OBA), 31 walks (8.1%) and 90 strikeouts (23.6%). The White Sox, through diligent scouting, lassoed Roper in the 29th round of the 2019 MLB draft.

For Great Falls that year in 14 appearances (two starts) spanning 34 innings, Roper relinquished only 22 hits (.193 OBA) and 12 walks (3.2 BB/9) while striking out 43 (11.4 K/9). He apparently boasts an above-average changeup, as lefties only hit .088 against his offerings as opposed to righties’ .238. And he kept the ball down, as Pioneer League hitters hit grounders 50% of the time off him.

Roper continued to rise through the ranks after the 2020 pandemic cancellation, as he began the 2021 season with Winston-Salem. In 17 outings for the Dash (16 starts), Roper struggled with a 7.61 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in his 62 2⁄3 innings of work by allowing 72 hits (.283 OBA), 26 walks (3.8 BB/9) and 89 strikeouts (12.8 K/9). On September 22, he received a surprise late promotion to Charlotte, where he pitched three games in relief; in his short, four-inning sample size, Roper posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP by relinquishing two hits, four walks and six strikeouts.

Thanks in part to Driveline, Roper’s heater kicked up a notch or two, as he was regularly faster than 95 mph in 2021. Unlike 2019, however, lefties hit Roper much better (.324) than did righties (.253) while at Winston-Salem.

Charlotte had it right by inserting Roper into the pen. Despite this being just the second year he’s actually pitched in professional ball, his best chance for success may be in shortened stints. He won’t be eligible for the Rule 5 draft until 2022, so Roper will need to provide his best results next year with either Birmingham or Charlotte in order to eventually win a 40-man roster spot.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP