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White Sox Minor League Player of the Week (August 16-22): José Rodríguez

Another MVP comes out of Birmingham, as a new development idea there gets underway

Chicago White Sox Taxi Squad Workout
Chris Getz might get the true MVP this week, with his Project Birmingham brainstorm.
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Birmingham Barons

José Rodríguez: .444/.524/.944 — 3 HR, 3 BB, 1 K, 6 R, 9 RBI, 1 SB **Weekly MVP**
Yoelqui Céspedes: .227/.320/.273 — 2 BB, 10 K, 3 R, 4 RBI
Oscar Colás: .167/.231/.333 — 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 K, 6 R, 1 RBI
Sean Burke: 4 IP, 6.75 ERA, 3 BB, 8 K
Matthew Thompson: 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2 BB, 5 K
Caleb Freeman: 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 2 K

It took a while, but José Rodríguez finally has a wRC+ of better than 100 for the season in Birmingham. How has he done this? Power, power, and some more power. To break it down, since July, Rodríguez has a .282 ISO, a walk rate near 12%, and a K-rate near 13%. So, he is showing a lot of power, and still not striking out much. That is a good combination, and it really helps that the walks are up, too — he is just a really difficult out and if you leave a pitch in the zone, it is getting crushed. Over the last two weeks, though, it has become a bit ridiculous: Rodríguez has a 217 wRC+ and a .467 ISO over the last 11 games. That is a product of six homers, five of which came in five straight games. It took just about the whole season, but Rodríguez is back to being the top prospect people thought he was last season.

To stay in Birmingham, the White Sox are also doing something new with their top prospects, you can read all about it here from Scott Merkin. It is called Project Birmingham, an idea from Chirs Getz, and the Sox are bringing up a group of players from A-ball to basically have an instructional league with the Double-A squad.

The group is a who’s who among top prospects (the full list was in Monday’s Minor League Update) and they will be working with “all the White Sox Minor League coordinators” and all qualify for the Arizona Fall League with the promotion. They are able to do this because of something called the “development list.” This allows players, ‘“who are inactive and then become active to allow other players to fill in and make it still a competitive environment for these players.”’ This will give the Sox the opportunity to bring up the rookie class to play in Winston-Salem or Kannapolis while also keeping some players they would have released in previous years. With the advanced rookie league (the Pioneer League’s Great Falls Voyagers) gone from organization, this seems like a good tool to get the ball rolling for the rookies and give the top prospects some specialized coaching at a critical stage of development. Will it work? No idea. Is it a fun idea? Yes. Good for Chris Getz to think outside of the box.

Charlotte Knights

Lenyn Sosa: .333/.429/.917 — 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K, 6 RBI **Weekly MVP**
Yolbert Sánchez: .211/.333/.263 — 4 BB, 2 K, 3 R, 3 RBI
Jake Burger: .412/.474/.412 — 1 BB, 5 K, 2 R, 2 RBI
Jason Bilous: 4 13 IP, 8.31 ERA, 3 BB, 5 K
Kade McClure: 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 4 K

Lenyn Sosa is back in Charlotte after the Sox signed Elvis Andrus. It was the right decision to bring him up to Chicago for a second time in 2022, but it is clear he is not ready for the majors yet. It is also clear he can hit Triple-A pitching pretty well, with two homers in his first two games back. His power surge seems to be real, as he has a high ISO in Charlotte at .184, which the second-best rate over his professional career. Sosa is just 22 and not ready to go against MLB pitchers. That is completely OK, and does not mean he isn’t a major-leaguer going forward. He will be in that group to compete for the starting second baseman spot in 2023 or at the very least, a backup infielder.

Winston-Salem Dash

Bryan Ramos: .217/.308/.348 — 1 HR, 3 BB, 6 K, 5 R, 3 RBI
Colson Montgomery: .000/.118/.000 — 2 BB, 4 K, 2 RBI
Luis Míeses: .238/.273/.381 — 1 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 R, 3 RBI
Duke Ellis: .286/.318/.333 — 1 BB, 5 K, 3 R, 4 SB
Brooks Gosswein: 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 BB, 1 K **Weekly MVP**
Norge Vera: 1 13 IP, 20.25 ERA, 4 BB, 3 K
Drew Dalquist: 4 23 IP, 11.57 ERA, 0 BB, 3 K
Cristian Mena: 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1 BB, 2 K

It was a plain bad week for the Dash, and because they are losing their best players to Project Birmingham it will just get worse. Brooks Gosswein did well enough, though, only giving up three unearned runs. He gets the MVP because of poor defensive play helps keep his ERA at nil. It was also his first High-A start, and generally speaking it will be nice to see the younger talent move up the at the end of this year and into next. Again, Charlotte does not have starting pitching in general — not just no prospects, they don’t have enough starters, period. Gosswein probably won’t make the majors, but he is going to get a lot of opportunities in the White Sox organization to prove people (me) wrong.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers

Wes Kath: .286/.375/.667 — 2 HR, 3 BB, 6 K, 5 R, 2 RBI **Weekly MVP**
Wilfred Veras: .417/.423/.542 — 1 BB, 6 K, 2 R, 6 RBI
Jordan Sprinkle: .176/.263/.176 — 2 BB, 4 K, 3 R, 1 SB (4th round pick, $452,900 bonus)
Jacob Burke: .182/.438/.364 — 3 BB, 2 K, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB (11th round pick, $225,000 bonus)
Jared Kelley: 3 23 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 BB, 2 K
Kohl Simas: 3 23 IP, 12.27 ERA, 1 BB, 3 K

It was either Wes Kath or Wilfred Veras this week, and Kath’s two homers beat an over-.400 batting average, basically. Kath was having a good month for Kannapolis before getting the Project Birmingham call. He slashed .263/.382/.544 for a 153 wRC+. He is making more contact; the power was way up with a .281 ISO, and he was walking more. Kath still struck out a third of the time even with all the better aspects of his game shining, and that will be his Achilles heel moving forward. He should be a three true outcome player; the overall power is not there yet, but the walks and strikeouts are. He should start next year in Winston-Salem, along with Wilfred Veras.

ACL White Sox

Chris Lanzilli: .462/.533/1.000 — 2 HR, 2 BB, 2 K, 4 R, 5 RBI **Weekly MVP**
Drake Logan: .200/.385/.400 — 3 BB, 6 K 2 R, 2 RBI (19th round pick, $125,000 bonus)
Brooks Baldwin: .308/.438/.385 — 3 BB, 3 K, 4 R (12th round pick, $125,000 bonus)
Ethan Hammerberg: 1 IP, 0.00, ERA, 0 BB, 2 K (20th round pick, $100,000 bonus)
Billy Seidl: 3 IP, 3.00 ERA, 2 BB, 1 K (15th round pick, $100,000 bonus)
Shane Murphy: 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1 BB, 2 K (14th round pick, $125,000 bonus)
Jonathan Cannon: 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 1 K (3rd round pick, $925,000 bonus)
Eric Adler: 13 IP, 27.00 ERA, 2 BB, 1 K (6th round pick, $200,000 bonus)
Mark McLaughlin: 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 BB, 1 K (7th round pick, $150,000 bonus)

DSL White Sox

Godwin Bennett: .500/.619/1.000 — 2 HR, 4 BB, 4 K, 7 R, 6 RBI, 1 SB **Weekly MVP**
Erick Hernández: (Did not play last week)
Loidel Chapelli Jr.: .182/.357/.182 — 2 BB, 1 K, 3 R
Ryan Burrowes: .200/.409/.267 — 3 BB, 3 K, 5 R, 3 RBI, 5 SB
Marcelo Valladares: (Did not pitch last week)