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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 98: Jonathan Stiever

Injured for three years, the righthander gets a ceremonial ranking before falling off of the radar entirely

If you think one lat surgery to end a season is bad, Jonathan Stiever now has undergone two in his career.
| Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Jonathan Stiever
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
210 pounds
Age: 26
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 27
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking 5
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 6
2022 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 25
2023 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 29
2023 High Level Charlotte (AAA)
Age relative to high level -0.9 years
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system 21
Overall 2023 stats 0-0 ⚾️ 2 games (2 starts) ⚾️ 4 IP ⚾️ 6.75 ERA ⚾️ 2.000 WHIP ⚾️ 2 K ⚾️ 3 BB

Jonathan Stiever capped a great three-year run with the Indiana Hoosiers in 2018, when he posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 16 starts spanning 100 innings, surrendering just 94 hits and 32 walks while striking out 97. Although MLB Pipeline ranked him 88th among all draft prospects, he mysteriously fell to the fifth round (138th overall) in the draft, where the White Sox happily snatched him up. Despite only pitching in just two- or three-inning spurts that year for Great Falls in High-Rookie ball, Stiever held his own for the Voyagers with a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 28 innings as he surrendered just 23 hits (.258 OBA) and nine walks (7.2%) while fanning 39 (33.2%).

In 2019, Stiever struggled unexpectedly for Kannapolis in 14 starts (77 innings) with a 4.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, as he ceded 88 hits (.293 OBA) and 14 walks (4.4%) while fanning 77 (24.1%). A promotion on June 20 to Winston-Salem to face more advanced hitters in a hitting-friendly ballpark, however, saw Stiever turning in an incredible 12 starts for the Dash. Although his walk (13) and strikeout totals (77) were eerily similar to Stiever’s Kannapolis numbers in nearly the same number of innings (71), hitters only batted .216 against his offerings. With the Dash he elevated his fastball, which made it far more difficult for opponents to hit. Thus, while Stiever maintained his solid walk (4.7%) and strikeout rates (28.0%) in A+ ball, his ERA and WHIP dropped precipitously, to 2.15 and 0.97.

Participating in Schaumburg’s alternate site in 2020 for much of the year, Stiever was promoted to the White Sox in an abbreviated stint and had a solid major league debut start, but overall didn’t fare well, with a 9.95 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 6 1⁄3 innings (two starts). He uncharacteristically struggled with walks (four) while, worse yet, relinquishing the same number of homers.

The 2021 season was rough one for Stiever, as he compiled a 5.84 ERA and 1.46 WHIP for Charlotte in 17 starts. In his 74 innings, he surrendered 80 hits (.265 OBA) and 28 walks (3.4 BB/9) while fanning 88 (10.7 K/9). He surrendered a high number of gopher balls (13), but it can’t be blamed on the hitting-friendly Truist Field — he actually pitched better at home than on the road. Lefties were stifled somewhat, as they hit .236 against him, while righties hit 50 points higher.

Stiever was called up for one start with the White Sox on April 25, allowing three runs and four hits without retiring a hitter. Finally, on August 12, he was placed on the injured list, ultimately receiving season-ending right lat surgery shortly thereafter.

Due to that injury, Stiever did not see much of the field in 2022. He returned at the tail end and pitched three scoreless innings, posting a 3.84 FIP with Triple-A Charlotte. In 2023, Stiever duplicated his workload, pitching two games and four innings, before succumbing to a SECOND season-ending lat surgery in April.

It has been an unfortunate tumble down the rankings for the 25-year-old, who was once as high as No. 5 in the White Sox farm rankings on MLB Pipeline — and No. 6 at South Side Sox. At this point, Stiever’s appearance on our Top 100 is as close to ceremonial as you can get, and he now ranks 21st (10th a year ago) among all White Sox RHSP prospects. You can’t ignore a resume that includes a fast climb to the major leagues at age 23, you have to pay attention to pitching in just five games over the past two years.

Stiever’s Baseball Cube player ratings
K/BB 84
Walks 77
Strikeouts 65
Durability 56 (-2 from 2022)
Power 45
Hittable 45
Team Winning Percentage .514

At his peak, Stiever has had a fastball in the upper 90s. In addition to having the potential to fire fastballs well faster than league average speed, Stiever also has a 55-rated slider, a 50-graded curveball, and a 50-graded changeup. As a result, Stiever has a lot on paper, but he will be interesting to follow as he attempts to return to form after another lat surgery.

Prior to Stiever’s run of injuries, command was lacking. Despite having a strong, balanced repertoire, the righty was hesitant to attack hitters with pitches in the zone early in counts. For Stiever to make an impact at the major league level, he will need to trust his ability to force weak contact and work to get ahead in counts rather than get hitters to chase outside the zone.

It’s hoped that this second lat surgery will help Stiever rediscover his velocity, giving him the confidence he needs to attack hitters and hit his spots with authority instead of nibbling around the corners — which ultimately leads to falling behind hitters and grooving one to the hitter’s liking.

Stiever will continue to be closely monitored by the White Sox, and his starting days are almost surely numbered. If healthy, expect Stiever to begin or quickly matriculate back to the Triple-A Knights in 2024. Perhaps the best thing to say about Stiever at this point is while he is an organizational vet, in 2023 he was still almost a year younger than his level; there’s still time.

2024 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

98. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
99. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
100. Daniel González, LHRP

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