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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 25: Jonathan Stiever

It’s a wait-and-see season from this Triple-A righty, as he recovers from lat surgery.

Seattle Mariners v Chicago White Sox
Jonathan Stiever saw his 2021 season end early due to lat surgery, and will see his 2022 start delayed because of it, as well.
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Jonathan Stiever
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
210 pounds
Age: 24
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 27
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 5
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 6
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 10

Jonathan Stiever capped a great three-year run with the Indiana Hoosiers in 2018, when he posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 16 starts spanning 100 innings, surrendering just 94 hits and 32 walks while striking out 97. Although MLB Pipeline ranked him 88th among all draft prospects, he mysteriously fell to the fifth round (138th overall) in the 2018 draft, where the White Sox happily snatched him up. Despite only pitching in just two- or three-inning spurts that year for Great Falls, Stiever held his own for the Voyagers with a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 28 innings as he surrendered just 23 hits (.258 OBA) and nine walks (7.2%) while fanning 39 (33.2%).

In 2019, Stiever struggled unexpectedly for Kannapolis in 14 starts (77 innings) with a 4.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP as he ceded 88 hits (.293 OBA) and 14 walks (4.4%) while fanning 77 (24.1%). A promotion on June 20 to Winston-Salem, against more advanced hitters and in a hitting-friendly ballpark to boot, however, saw Stiever turning in an incredible 12 starts for the Dash. Although his walk (13) and strikeout totals (77) were eerily similar to Stiever’s Kannapolis numbers in nearly the same number of innings (71), hitters only batted .216 against his offerings. With the Dash he elevated his fastball, which made it far more difficult for opponents to hit. Thus, while Stiever maintained his solid walk (4.7%) and strikeout rates (28.0%) in A+ ball, his ERA and WHIP dropped precipitously, to 2.15 and 0.97.

Participating in Schaumburg’s alternate site in 2020 for much of the year, Stiever was promoted to the White Sox in an abbreviated stint and had a solid major league debut start, but overall didn’t fare well, with a 9.95 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 6 1⁄3 innings (two starts). He uncharacteristically struggled with walks (four) while, worse yet, relinquishing the same number of homers.

The 2021 season was rough one for Stiever, as he compiled a 5.84 ERA and 1.46 WHIP for Charlotte in 17 starts. In his 74 innings, he surrendered 80 hits (.265 OBA) and 28 walks (3.4 BB/9) while fanning 88 (10.7 K/9). He surrendered a high number of gopher balls (13), but it can’t be blamed on the hitting-friendly Truist Field — he actually pitched better at home than on the road. Lefties were stifled somewhat, as they hit .236 against him, while righties hit 50 points higher.

Stiever was called up for one start with the White Sox on April 25, allowing three runs and four hits without retiring a hitter. Finally, on August 12, he was placed on the injured list, ultimately receiving season-ending lat surgery shortly thereafter.

MLB Pipeline has Stiever’s fastball typically averaging 92-96 mph with a peak of 98 as of 2018, featuring plenty of running and sinking action. However, it was noted that his heater has dropped a couple ticks since then and has now dropped from a 60 to 50 grade. Like his fastball, Stiever’s upper-70s spike-curveball has also dropped a couple ticks and is now graded at 55. His third hard pitch is a hard slider that currently grades at 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he features a changeup as well (currently grading at 50, which he used to help stifle lefties). His command is graded at 50, and based by his results, his control seems more advanced than his command.

At the time of his surgery in 2021, it was thought that Stiever would be ready for spring training in 2022; however, he was placed on the 60-day injured list during spring training, so at best Stiever will be starting his season late.

It’s hoped that the lat surgery will help Stiever rediscover his velocity. This may give him the confidence he needs to attack hitters and hit his spots with authority instead of nibbling around the corners — which ultimately leads to falling behind hitters and eventually leads him to groove one to the hitter’s liking. Ahead in the count, hitters were just .205 against him; behind in the count, hitters rocked at .351.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

25. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
26. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
27. Misael González, RF
28. Terrell Tatum, CF
29. Carlos Pérez, C
30. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
31. Luis Basabe, RF
32. McKinley Moore, RHRP
33. Emilio Vargas, RHSP
34. Blake Rutherford, LF
35. Anderson Severino, LHRP
36. DJ Gladney, 3B
37. Luke Shilling, RHRP
38. Chase Krogman, LF
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