The South Atlantic League concluded their regular season on Labor Day. As is usual, the Class A club saw quite a few notable prospects spend all or part of their seasons with the Intimidators and the quality ebbed and flowed. Mid-season, however, saw the beginning of the arrivals of high draft picks and the season ended with some highly rated prospects on the roster.
Again, the baselines. The average hitter in the Sally batted .248/.322/.364. The average pitcher had a 21.6% strikeout rate and a 8.7% walk rate. The average player was 21.7 years old. Kannapolis' stadium is a slight hitter's park. The Sally is a slight hitter's league but generally the parks suppress home runs.
SS Tim Anderson became the headliner when he arrived midseason, shortly after being drafted 17th overall out of junior college. The White Sox should be happy with their $2.16 million investment, as the 20-year-old acquitted himself well in his first professional season. In 68 games, he ended up with a .278/.348/.363 triple slash and also stole 24 bases in 28 tries. Less enthralling, however, was his 25.9% strikeout rate, though he did have a 7.6 walk rate to go along with it. The righty only recently began focusing on baseball and his defense is where that becomes most obvious, as he made a number of errors (recorded and otherwise). Repetitions are what he needs to determine where his long-term defensive home is, as well as what his offensive profile will be.
1B Keon Barnum also joined the Intimidators midseason but for a different reason and one that's becoming too familiar. After playing in only 13 games after being drafted in 2012 out of Florida high school, the supplemental round pick had to have surgery to remove the hamate bone in his right hand early in spring training. After rehabbing that, just prior to reporting to Kanny, he injured his left knee. The big 20-year-old finally arrived June 20 and, setting aside a two week absence because of a concussion sustained on a plate collision, managed not to get another musculoskeletal injury. The lefty batted a disappointing .254/.315/.403, though he did have consistently improving performances as the season wore on. Quite worrying, of course, is the lack of power, as he hit just 5 home runs. Even more worrying is that the 3 home runs he hit outside of his home park all were at Hickory, a rather home run friendly venue. Most worrying, though, was his 29.1% strikeout rate, against a 8.6% walk rate. Barnum probably needs 2000 plate appearances to find out what he can be. He only has 272 PA so far; hopefully he's not as injury-prone in the future.
CF Jacob May made short work of Great Falls after being drafted in the 3rd round out of Coastal Carolina and got promoted to Kanny after 12 games. The switch-hitter spent the balance of the 2013 season impressing while hitting .286/.372/.458, swiping 19 bases in 24 attempts and generally making those who felt he was an over-draft look silly. The 21-year-old showed some surprising power, hitting 8 home runs in just 230 plate appearances, though his small-ish frame suggests he shouldn't fall in love with that. His excellent speed means he should be at least an average defender in center but is a little shaky out there now. He kept the strikeouts reasonable at 18.7% against a 7% walk rate. Overall, he showed consistent improvement and certainly has punched his ticket for Winston-Salem in 2014.
OF Jason Coats slipped to the 29th round in 2012 after seriously injuring his right knee late in his senior season at TCU. The White Sox waited until January to sign him and the 23-year-old spent the entire season with the Intimidators, batting .271/.320/.426 and stealing 12 bases in 15 attempts. He played all three outfield positions, though mostly patrolled right field, but defensively he's probably a left fielder long-term. The righty has good bat-to-ball skills and projects as a possible average hitter, though he's going to need to get moving through the system.
LHP Jefferson Olacio had a much better season than his first try with Kannapolis last season. In his first two pro seasons, the Dominican had a lot of trouble finding the strike zone. The 19-year-old corrected that in 2013 but somewhat at the expense of whiffs. He has a build very similar to fellow lefty C.C. Sabathia and he should be capable of a mid-90s fastball as he develops. The question will be whether dialing up the velocity again will cause him to lose the command gains he's made. He still had a walk rate of 9.4%, so the job there isn't done yet, and he'll need to improve his strikeout rate from 14.6% back up to the 20% range of prior seasons. He started the season as one of the youngest in the league and ended it as the 19th youngest. Final line: 136.2 IP, 136 H, 57 BB, 89 K, 8 HBP, 14 WP.
RHP Tyler Danish spent the vast majority of the season with Brisol after being drafted in the 2nd round out of Florida high school. While the White Sox intend to develop Danish as a starter, to keep his innings in check, they limited him to 2 inning outings in his first pro season. With Bristol, the 18-year-old's line was 26 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 22 K ; with Kanny, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K. His strikeout rate and walk rate were both very impressive. Danish ended up as the sixth youngest player in the Sally. His funky delivery adds significant deception and he handled righties and lefties with equal aplomb. Next season, we'll see what hitters do against him when they see him more than once in a game.
RHP Brandon Brennan had a rough season and, when it ended with Tommy John Surgery, he may have had a good reason why. The 2012 4th round pick will have a lot to do when he comes back because he's been pretty hittable and he hasn't missed many bats as a professional. The 22-year-old's line: 15 GS, 81.1 IP, 99 hits, 27 BB, 54 K.