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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 89: Laz Rivera

Still on the radar, but slipping on the depth chart

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
The momentum of Laz Rivera’s stellar Charlotte run in 2021 was lost in a tough 2022 campaign.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Laz Rivera
Third Baseman

185 pounds
Age: 28
2018 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 37
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 21
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking 59
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 60
2022 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 65
2022 High Level Charlotte (AAA)
Age relative to high level +0.7 years
SSS rank among all third basemen in the system 5
Overall 2022 regular season stats 80 games ⚾️ 7 HR ⚾️ 32 RBI ⚾️ .237/.326/.375 ⚾️ 9-of-16 (56.3%) SB ⚾️ 23 BB ⚾️ 61 K

After a college career that spanned three years with different levels (University of Miami, Chipola JC and Div. II University of Tampa), Laz Rivera was selected by the White Sox in the 28th round of the 2017 draft. He was immediately inserted into the AZL lineup, where he slashed .296/.374/.446 in 47 games with 12 doubles, five triples, two homers, 24 RBIs, three stolen bases, eight walks (3.8%) and 26 strikeouts (12.2%).

Rivera enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2018. In his 63 games with Kannapolis, he slashed an impressive .346/.395/.502 with 15 doubles, two triples, six homers, 24 RBIs, seven stolen bases, six walks (2.3%) and 48 strikeouts (18.1%). While not as sensational, Rivera performed quite well for Winston-Salem in 61 games by slashing .280/.325/.458 with 15 doubles, two triples, seven homers, 37 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, seven walks and 44 strikeouts. Overall, Rivera finished 2018 with a terrific slash line of .314/.361/.481.

Baseball America said of him at the end of 2018, “He is part of the new breed of infield prospect who hits first and asks questions later, a la Brandon Lowe and Nick Solak with the Rays. He brings above-average bat speed and a short path to the ball, which he used to post excellent numbers at both Class A levels. He’s an aggressive hitter who crushes fastballs but needs to work on not chasing off-speed pitches. He played almost exclusively at shortstop, though his 40-grade arm profiles better at second base.”

Of course, as with nearly every Sox hitter not named Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Yermín Mercedes, Rivera struggled big-time with Birmingham in 2019. In 121 games totaling 424 at-bats, Rivera slashed just .248/.287/.318 with 22 doubles, one triple, two homers, 39 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 17 walks (3.7%) and 81 strikeouts (17.8%). Once an organizational Top 30 prospect, Rivera fell off most lists due to his lackluster offensive performance. Worse, he didn’t get an opportunity to redeem himself in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The 2021 season saw a resurgence of sorts for Rivera. In 47 games for Birmingham, he slashed a respectable .259/.322/.411 in 47 games with seven doubles, five homers, nine stolen bases, nine walks (5.2%), 41 strikeouts (23.6%) and 104 wRC+. After receiving his long-awaited promotion to Charlotte, he performed even better by hitting .317/.369/.483 in 18 games with four doubles, two homers, three walks (4.6%), 14 strikeouts (21.5%) and an impressive 130 wRC+. For the year, he slashed .275/.335/.441 with 11 doubles, seven homers, 35 RBIs, 12 walks (5.0%) and 55 strikeouts (23.0%). Rivera played quality defense at all three positions he played, but his range factor indicates he’s actually a most adept second baseman.

On the doorstep of the majors, Rivera took a big step back in 2022. Playing in just 80 games for Charlotte, he split time between second and third base but didn’t hit enough to warrant regular playing time (.701 OPS). While by 2021’s end Rivera was poised to push up into the majors, as Romy González did in 2021 and Lenyn Sosa ended up doing in 2022, but it was not to be.

Rivera’s Baseball Cube player ratings
Speed 68
Contact 64
Durability 64
Hitting 64
RBIs 61
Runs 58
Power 52
XBH 46
Team Winning Percentage .536

At 28, Rivera’s considered old for a prospect but still may have some use as a utility infielder at the major league level. Unlike a year ago, however, Rivera is an afterthought heading into camp and will need a hot spring and April in Charlotte to get himself back on the injury call-up radar.

2023 South Side Sox Top 104 White Sox Prospects

89. Laz Rivera, 3B
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