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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 65: Laz Rivera

A resurgent 2021 has put this infielder on the doorstep of the majors.

Laz Rivera provided a necessary comeback last summer, lining him up for possible advancement to the majors.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Laz Rivera

Third Baseman
185 pounds
Age: 27
2018 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 37
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 21
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 59
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 60
SSS rank among all third basemen in the system: 7

After a college career that spanned three years with different levels (University of Miami, Chipola JC and Div. II University of Tampa), Laz Rivera was selected by the White Sox in the 28th round of the 2017 draft. He was immediately inserted into the AZL lineup, where he slashed .296/.374/.446 in 47 games with 12 doubles, five triples, two homers, 24 RBIs, three stolen bases, eight walks (3.8%) and 26 strikeouts (12.2%).

Rivera enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2018. In his 63 games with Kannapolis, he slashed an impressive .346/.395/.502 with 15 doubles, two triples, six homers, 24 RBIs, seven stolen bases, six walks (2.3%) and 48 strikeouts (18.1%). While not as sensational, Rivera performed quite well for Winston-Salem in 61 games by slashing .280/.325/.458 with 15 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 37 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, seven walks and 44 strikeouts. Overall, Rivera finished 2018 with a terrific slash line of .314/.361/.481.

Baseball America said of him at the end of 2018, “He is part of the new breed of infield prospect who hits first and asks questions later, a la Brandon Lowe and Nick Solak with the Rays. He brings above-average bat speed and a short path to the ball, which he used to post excellent numbers at both Class A levels. He’s an aggressive hitter who crushes fastballs but needs to work on not chasing off-speed pitches. He played almost exclusively at shortstop, though his 40-grade arm profiles better at second base.”

Of course, as with nearly every Sox hitter not named Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Yermín Mercedes, Rivera struggled big-time with Birmingham in 2019. In 121 games totaling 424 at-bats, Rivera slashed just .248/.287/.318 with 22 doubles, one triple, two homers, 39 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 17 walks (3.7%) and 81 strikeouts (17.8%). A former organizational Top 30 prospect, Rivera has fallen off most lists due to his lackluster offensive performance that year. Worse, he didn’t get an opportunity to redeem himself in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The 2021 season saw a resurgence of sorts for Rivera. In 47 games for Birmingham, he slashed a respectable .259/.322/.411 in 47 games with seven doubles, five homers, nine stolen bases, nine walks (5.2%), 41 strikeouts (23.6%) and 104 wRC+. After receiving his long-awaited promotion to Charlotte, he performed even better by hitting .317/.369/.483 in 18 games with four doubles, two homers, three walks (4.6%), 14 strikeouts (21.5%) and an impressive 130 wRC+. For the year, he slashed .275/.335/.441 with 11 doubles, seven homers, 35 RBIs, 12 walks (5.0%) and 55 strikeouts (23.0%). Rivera played quality defense at all three positions he played this year, but his range factor indicates he’s actually a more adept second baseman.

At age 27, Rivera’s considered old for a prospect but may have some use as a utility infielder at the major league level. He likely won’t get the first call-up next year, but if he gets off to a blazing start at Charlotte and injuries impact the major league roster, Rivera’s name would be one that would be strongly considered — at least on a short-term basis. Of course, other guys who fit that role are Danny Mendick and Romy González, who are both already on the 40-man roster.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
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