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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 39: Cristian Mena

This incredibly young righty met an aggressive 2021 assignment head on.

With even minimal maturity in 2022, Cristian Mena should continue to climb the White Sox prospect rankings.

Cristian Mena

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
170 pounds
Age: 19
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 91
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 94
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 12

Cristian Mena, as a 16-year-old Dominican native, was the highest-ranking pitching prospect who signed with the White Sox (for $200,000) on the International Signing Day of July 2, 2019. As many young players, he opted not to play ball until the following year. Unfortunately, Mena’s development was delayed thanks to the pandemic shutdown.

If Mena had played in 2020, it would’ve likely been with the DSL squad. Due to the lost season, however, he skipped the DSL and played ball at the higher-level ACL. His results were up-and-down, as he produced a 7.82 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 13 games totaling 48 2⁄3 innings. In that span, he allowed 69 hits (.337 OBA), 21 walks (3.91/9 IP) and an impressive 62 strikeouts (11.54/9 IP).

Why does someone with such a high strike total relinquish so many hits? Well, for the answer, just repeat the famous real estate mantra: “Location, location, location.” While Mena possesses a low-90s heater with an above-average curveball and solid changeup, and he has already flashed above-average control for someone his age, his command is such that he hits too much of the plate. This is something that should improve with time and experience.

Mena is currently ranked 26th among Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, despite his poor early results. His curve is graded the best at 55, while his fastball and change are both graded 50. His control is graded at 45, but that seems to be a misnomer. His BB/9 rate is actually decent for an 18-year-old and is probably deserving of a 50 or 55, but his command right now is something like 35-40.

Mena likely will begin next season with Kannapolis, but if he struggles at the outset, he may return to the ACL in order to hone his control.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

39. Cristian Mena, RHSP
40. Benyamín Bailey, LF
41. Tyler Johnson, RHRP
42. Andrew Perez, LHRP
43. Tyler Neslony, LF
44. Theo Denlinger, RHRP
45. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
46. Jefferson Mendoza, C
47. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
48. Gil Luna Jr. LHRP
49. John Parke, LHSP
50. Victor Quezada, 3B
51. Haylen Green, LHRP
52. Sammy Peralta, LHRP
53. Yoelvin Silven, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
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