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White Sox Minor League Monthly Update: April 2022

Wes Benjamin, Tyler Neslony, Bryan Ramos, and Cristian Mena each earn April MVP slots, with Yolbert Sánchez getting a special mention for his great performance at two levels.

The one-month system MVP? Bryan Ramos has a helluva case.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Charlotte Knights

Romy González: .217/.333/.326 — 1 HR, 8 BB, 21 K, 6 R, 4 RBI, 4 SB
Seby Zavala: .204/.328/.388 — 1 HR, 9 BB, 21 K, 8 R, 3 RBI
Micker Adolfo: .244/.292/.356 — 1 HR, 3 BB, 19 K, 2 R, 2 RBI
Yolbert Sánchez: AA — .353/.507/.373 - 13 BB, 7 K, 7 R, 6 RBI
AAA — .381/.435/.429 - 2 BB, 4 K, 1 R, 2 RBI
Carlos Pérez: .304/.333/.557 — 5 HR, 4 BB, 1 K, 11 R, 17 RBI
Johan Domínguez: (out for the year after Tommy John surgery)
Emilio Vargas: 16 23 IP, 8.10 ERA, 6 BB, 15 K
Kade McClure: 20 23 IP, 7.84 ERA, 9 BB, 14 K
Johnny Cueto: 6 23 IP, 4.05 ERA, 2 BB, 8 K
Wes Benjamin: 23 IP, 1.17 ERA, 5 BB, 26 K **Monthly MVP**

Johnny Cueto is getting all the buzz in Charlotte, and rightfully so since he will be in the majors sooner than later — but maybe Wes Benjamin will be at some point this year as well. The Sox already surprised everybody with Tanner Banks making the team, so why not Benjamin as well? He had a fantastic first month in the White Sox organization, with a 2.48 FIP in 23 innings. He has a miniscule walk-rate (just 5.8%) with a very good K-rate (30.2%). Those strikeout numbers are a best, at least going all the way back to the AZL. Benajmin does have MLB experience as a long reliever and spot starter, he just hasn’t been too successful. He has a career 6.80 ERA with a K-rate at 19%, which is his normal rate; the walks are up in MLB, but that is more of an outlier because he had a terrible 22 23 innings last season and a 15% BB rate. Benjamin probably won’t see MLB time this year, but if struggles continue in the rotation with Vince Velásquez and Dallas Keuchel, he might be a guy they try out to see how much he really has improved.


Birmingham Barons

José Rodríguez: .216/.266/.351 — 1 HR, 4 BB, 17 K, 9 R, 5 RBI
Lenyn Sosa: .324/.407/.432 — 2 HR, 8 BB, 14 K, 14 R, 8 RBI
Yoelqui Céspedes: .253/.277/.481 — 4 HR, 2 BB, 22 K, 11 R, 10 RBI, 3 SB
Tyler Neslony: .328/.411/.625 - 3 HR, 8 BB, 12 K, 9 R, 9 RBI **Monthly MVP**
Jason Bilous: 17 23 IP, 3.06 ERA, 10 BB, 20 K
Davis Martin: 24 IP, 3.00 ERA, 7 BB, 33 K
Caleb Freeman: 2 23 IP, 23.63 ERA, 6 BB, 3 K

If not for a lackluster start by Davis Martin on the last day of the month, he would have been the MVP in April, but he struggled and that gave an opening to Tyler Neslony. Neslony has had quite the start to his 2022 season, with an OPS of more than 1.000. He was acquired last year from the Braves and ended the year in Birmingham with a 203 wRC+, he just has not received much attention because he is in his age 28 season and thus not really a prospect. That does not mean Neslony is not improving, as he continues to show great plate discipline and power. He has a walk rate of more than 10% with a K-rate around 15%. The biggest surprise since Neslony has been in the Sox organization, though, is his power. Neslony had an ISO of .322 in 38 games with the Barons last year, and it is right at .300 now through the first month of this season. The problem is, Neslony is actually hitting more grounders this year, so that should stabilize as the year goes on. No matter, he is still outperforming expectations at the plate.


Winston-Salem Dash

Oscar Colás: .301/.363/.479 — 2 HR, 7 BB, 17 K, 12 R, 14 RBI
Bryan Ramos: .403/.449/.653 — 4 HR, 4 BB, 13 K, 12 R, 16 RBI **Monthly MVP**
Luis Míeses: .272/.330/.457 — 2 HR, 7 BB, 16 K, 14 R, 17 RBI
Adam Hackenberg: .263/.328/.474 — 3 HR, 5 BB, 12 K, 8 R, 12 RBI
Drew Dalquist: 16 13 IP, 7.71 ERA, 12 BB, 12 K
Matthew Thompson: 18 13 IP, 2.95 ERA, 7 BB, 14 K
Sean Burke: 18 23 IP, 2.89 ERA, 11 BB, 23 K

Bryan Ramos was recently rated as the top prospect in the White Sox system, and he backed up that assessment in his first month in High-A. He hit better than .400 in 17 games in April and showed great power to go along with those bat-to-ball skills. His walk rate is down, but who can blame him for swinging more often based on the success he has had? It makes even more sense because Ramos’ K-rate is down about 5% as well, so he is making more contact in general, and reaping the benefits. Ramos is not likely to keep this up given a .431 BABIP and an 18.2% homer per fly ball rate, neither of which are sustainable, but he is hitting the ball well regardless. Ramos is keeping about the same batted-ball profile as he did in Kannapolis last year, but with fewer grounders and more pitches hit to the opposite field, which speaks to how the BABIP is really helping his production. Ramos has really come up since 2020, and he will be a guy to watch in the trade market or as a future South Sider.


Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Misael González: .298/.385/.439 — 1 HR, 6 BB, 23 K, 10 R, 13 RBI
Colson Montgomery: .236/.353/.382 — 1 HR, 9 BB, 14 K, 11 R, 11 RBI
Wes Kath: .183/.300/.233 — 10 BB, 25 K, 7 R, 5 RBI
Wilfred Veras: .203/.321/.743 — 3 HR, 8 BB, 21 K, 9 R, 12 RBI
Jared Kelley: 8 23 IP, 4.15 ERA, 6 BB, 8 K
Cristian Mena: 17 13 IP, 2.60 ERA, 2 BB, 22 K **Monthly MVP**

Cristian Mena’s start may be a surprise to some, but he started out hot last year in the ACL as well before his successes faded down the stretch. Even with that though, Mena’s performance in his first month of Low-A has been stellar, and his last start was about as good as it can get: He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning to punctuate his month. So far in 17 13 innings, the strikeouts are up and the walks are down, each about 6%. Mena’s struggles last year were not really command- and control-related, he was just getting hit a lot, with a .332 batting average against. And that average was off of a .442 BABIP, so his performance last year was really stained by bad luck, and it is much better right now. Mena’s BABIP is down to .250 and so is the BAA, all the way down to .175. So, he’s striking out more batters while allowing far fewer on base compared to last year — not too shabby a start at age 19 in Kannapolis. Mena still needs to improve his velocity on his fastball, and that could still happen, as he is still very young. But right now, everything seems to be clicking regardless off the back of Mena’s plus curveball.