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Season Review: 2014 AZL White Sox

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Arizona League affiliate reappears after 13 year absence

With the return of their Arizona League affiliate, the White Sox now have a much better stepping stone between the DSL and non-complex league affiliates, as well as a better starting spot for draftees, particularly high school ones.

It is also beneficial for older players, as the White Sox are also able to use it for rehab for players further up the chain and take advantage of their superb facilities at Camelback Ranch (as opposed to Bristol, Virginia) and the consistent Arizona weather and field conditions provided at the teams' spring training complexes. The likes of Frank Montas, Tim Anderson and Chris Bassitt completed rehabs in the AZL.

Let's get to the baselines: The average hitter's line was .248/.328/.338. The average pitcher struck out a rather extraordinary 23.2% of hitters and walked 9.3%. There were 1.28 wild pitches and 0.62 hit batters per game. Home runs are comparatively scarce in the AZL. The average player was just about 20 years old.

Position Players

RF Micker Adolfo had an almost league average-ish line of.217/.281/.378 in 200 PA. His 43% strikeout rate obviously isn't ideal but allowances must be made for the 20th youngest player in the league who's making his pro debut and hadn't really ever seen a legitimate breaking ball before 2014. It was essential, though, that Adolfo, who turns 18 in a couple weeks, showed that his raw power could translate from batting practice to games. His five home runs tied for fifth in the AZL, though he had significantly more plate appearances than his closest competitors - his 200 PA were 7th most in the league and easily the most given to a White Sox player. As things look right now, he's probably best-served by staying in short-season rookie to start 2015.

SS Johan Cruz was one of the success stories from the DSL White Sox, as he started the season there with .329/.424/.471 in 103 PA - a rather marked improvement from his .126/.220/.163 in 2013 - before getting the promotion stateside. The 17-year-old found the AZL a bit more difficult, as he batted just .175/.267/.250 in 91 AZL plate appearances. Still, he kept the strikeout rate reasonable at 22% and the walk rate slightly above league average at 9.9%. The Dominican is considered a good defensive player. We'll see if he'll continue towards a pattern of needing time to adjust to a league, as I'd expect he'll be back in the AZL for 2015.

OF Antonio Rodriguez is reputed to have potential plus speed, arm and power and his stat line largely bears that out: .256/.293/.393 in 181 PA, 4 for 5 in stolen bases and 7 outfield assists. This was the 19-year-old's second taste of stateside ball, as he had a forgettable seven games with Bristol in 2013 before being sent to the DSL. The Dominican's 26% strikeout rate and 5% walk rate obviously need work but I wouldn't expect to see him getting that work in the AZL next season.

C Jose Barraza, who turned 20 last month, finally realized some of the potential that had him drafted in the 7th round out of California high school. The left-handed hitter missed all of 2013 with an elbow injury to his non-throwing left arm but showed no ill effects with his .283/.351/.457 line in 154 PA and above league average 33% CS. He's a big guy who, like most young catchers, needs significant work on his catching skills. But he translated his raw power into games, which makes him a very intriguing player indeed. His five home runs tied Adolfo for the team lead, though he also nearly matched Adolfo in the not-so-desirable category of strikeout percentage with 41.6%. Probably ready for full season ball.

Pitchers

RHP Victor Done made the step up from the DSL for his second pro season. Done, who will turn 19 next week, was still quite raw but the talent was on display. His changeup and slider were not very good but his fastball got good reviews. His line: 11 G, 10 GS, 47.1 IP, 47 H, 32 BB, 52 K, 2 HBP, 7 WP.  The Dominican's strikeout rate was 24% against a walk rate of 14.7%. That was an improvement from 16.5% and 17.7%, respectively, last season. Another year in the AZL would do him some good.

RHP Spencer Adams certainly wasn't impressed with the hitters facing him, as he steamrolled his way to a line of 10 G, 9 GS, 41.2 IP, 49 H, 4 BB, 59 K, 0 HBP, 5 WP. Yes, that's a 33% strikeout rate against just a 2.2% walk rate. A couple weeks ago, Rick Hahn announced that the 2014 second round pick was promoted to Great Falls but that never actually happened. Instead he sat for almost two weeks before throwing a couple innings in the season finale. Perhaps indicates some kind of injury issue. At any rate, the 18-year-old is headed home to Georgia. Arguably ready for full season ball but may get held back in extended spring training to better manage his workload.