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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 90: Xavier Fernández

As an insurance catcher with splendid defense, you could do much worse

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
The defense is on point, but Xavier Fernández will need to improve the bat to make MLB impact.
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Xavier Fernández

240 pounds
Age: 27
2022 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 59
2022 High Level Charlotte (AAA)
Age relative to high level -0.3 years
SSS rank among all catchers in the system 6
Overall 2022 regular season stats 79 games ⚾️ 4 HR ⚾️ 32 RBI ⚾️ .268/.322/.362 ⚾️ 10-of-49 (21%) CS ⚾️ 23 BB ⚾️ 44 K

Xavier Fernández, as a Puerto Rican prep star, was selected in the 11th round by the Kansas City Royals in 2013. Since that time, he’s done a respectable job both offensively and defensively, with the exception of a difficult rookie league campaign in 2014 with Burlington.

Fernández’s rise was slow but sure in the Royals system until things picked up during 2018, when he acquitted himself quite nicely after a midseason promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he slashed .328/.382/.504 (138 wRC+) in 36 games with three homers, 10 walks and 17 strikeouts in 36 games.

Fernández was eligible for the Rule 5 draft that year, and Drew Osborne of The Royals Farm Report stated “Fernández is a solid catcher who will be a big league catcher at some point in the near future ... he could be a backup immediately in the majors. His defense is outstanding. Fernández blocks well and is a tremendous receiver with soft hands that frame well. As far as throwing, he has gunned down minor league runners at a 39% pace in his career and 41% this season in NWA. His throws are low, on the money, and carry well.”

Perhaps it was due to his lack of power, but Fernández was not selected in that Rule 5 draft and received a promotion in 2019 to Triple-A Omaha, but opted for free agency upon season’s end. The Sox snatched him up in 2020, but didn’t get to see him in action due to the pandemic.

After beginning 2021 with Winston-Salem for an injury rehab assignment in mid-June, Fernández slashed .283/.353/.446 for Birmingham in 58 games with five doubles, nine homers, 21 walks (9.5%) and 44 strikeouts (19.9%). His defense was outstanding for the Barons, and he threw out 11-of-27 attempted base-stealers (40.7%).

Last season was a step back for Fernández, as his CS% plummeted (to be fair, the rules tilted dramatically toward base-runners in 2022) and his bat lagged.

Fernández’s Baseball Cube player ratings
Contact 84
Hitting 71
RBIs 58
Durability 52
Power 49
XBH 42
Runs 30
Speed 27
Team Winning Percentage .448

It’s somewhat surprising that a player of Fernández’s ilk has only played 88 games of Triple-A ball. His profile is actually quite similar to Carlos Pérez, who has now made his MLB debut and is the No. 3 catcher on the organizational depth chart.

Fernández, declared an MiLB free agent but re-signing with the White Sox on December 9, has been assigned to Charlotte for 2023. He is an org catcher at this point, but his defense alone would mean spot fill-in duty with the White Sox this summer wouldn’t be catastrophic.

2023 South Side Sox Top 104 White Sox Prospects

90. Xavier Fernández, C
91. Álvaro Agüero, CF
92. Ben Norman, RF
93. Erick Bello, RHRP
94. Adisyn Coffey, RHRP
95. Arnold Prado, RF
96. Alsander Womack, 2B
97. Johan Domínguez, RHSP
98. Evan Skoug, C
99. Noah Owen, RHSP
100. Javier Mora, 2B
101. Will Kincanon, RHRP
102. Yohemy Nolasco, RHSP
103. Billy Seidl, RHRP
104. José Rodulfo, RHRP