For some reason the Arizona Complex League is starting about a month before the amateur draft. Why is that weird? Well, the draft is for rookie players and this is a rookie league, so, why not have the draft first and start the season after that?
Whatever the real or imaginary reasons are, this ACL White Sox team won’t have a consensus top prospect until the 2022 first and second round draft picks come to the team, until then, it is a lot of really young players trying to show everybody what they can do.
The vast majority of the notable players in the rookie leagues are going to be the younger players, so, let’s start with the youngest on the team, Manuel Guariman. He is an 18-year-old catcher who played 31 games in the DSL last year. He was fine there, with a 116 wRC+, but is pretty much as anti three-true-outcome as one can be. He had a .050 ISO, just a 5.4% BB-rate, and a 10% K-rate. He is a catcher in the ACL and very young, so odds are not huge he wins any weekly or monthly MVPs with the lack of playing time he will get, but he is very young so any success would be notable.
Coming in to the infield from the catching spot, you have familiar family names in Brandon Bossard and Elijah Tatís but the main name to know is Victor Quezada, who is the youngest guy in the infield. This is also his age-18 season and he also had a successful stint in the DSL last year but he was much more three-true-outcomey. He had a .186 ISO, a 14.1% BB-rate, and a 28.3% K-rate. The power and walks, great, that helped him to a 120 wRC+ which is what you want out of a third baseman. However, that many strikeouts in the DSL is concerning and is something that must go down this year. If it does with the similar walk and power totals, that would put Quezada more on the map. Though, that is not usually what happens.
In the outfield there are a lot of familiar names. Caberea Weaver is back in the ACL along with Johnabiell Laureano, and Cameron Butler. However, each of these players had very difficult seasons last year, and Weaver has gone from High-A back down to a rookie league. Dario Borrero might end up the most intriguing name here by the end of the season because, yes, he’s the youngest of the group. He was listed as a first baseman last year but in his five DSL games he did play the corners, so it seems like he will be back out there in the ACL. He is a really tall (6´5´´) lefty so one can dream up a big power profile for the kid.
On the pitching side, well, not a ton outside of Yohemy Nolasco. He is, guess what, the youngest of the group, though this time, he is in is age-19 year. Baseball America actually rates him as the 28th best White Sox prospect, the only outlet that does so. They note he has a fastball between 92-96 mph and what they call a “slurvy breaking ball.” I’m not going to say the comparison they give, at risk of over-hyping a prospect who could easily flame out in the ACL. He got time in the DSL last year and had better peripherals (3.81 FIP) than real-life stats (5.32 ERA). He appeared in 13 games over 23 2⁄3 innings, so it says he started seven games but he never really went deep in any. Maybe this is what his time in the ACL will be used for, to better understand if Nolasco can be a starter, or move him directly to the bullpen to maximize what Baseball America seems to suggest is a pretty good two-pitch combo he has right now.
Again, why is this starting now, before the draft? Why is the draft in July? Sheesh.