Each night from July through mid-August, pounding out the minor league box scores is a lot like playing all of Billy Joel's greatest hits at once:
At its peak, there seven affiliates to cover, and sometimes up to 10 games if there was a massive storm in the southeast. They include names whose spellings aren't yet conducive to muscle memory (names that begin with "Jh," for one). And I try to get it done before the water for my coffee starts boiling.
But like all of Billy Joel's greatest hits played at once, the leagues and games start dropping out -- a couple significantly earlier than the others, a bunch around the same time, and one or two that linger until "Captain Jack" (shown as "Winston-Salem Dash" in your programs this year) outlasts the rest.
I suppose that makes the White Sox' Dominican Summer League affiliate "Don't Ask Me Why." Since it's the first affiliate to wrap up its play, it's the first to be wrapped up by us.
A note about reviews: Players will be highlighted in the review of the level at which those players ended their season. In this case, Maiker Feliz and Hanleth Otano made the jump to the Arizona Rookie League, so we'll catch up with them there. (This is bad news for Kannapolis. Sorry, Kannapolis.)
A note about the DSL: Well, I'll just use Larry's description from his season preview, which contains background notes on the players featured below.
First, we need to set some baselines. The DSL is a short-season league and is the lowest level of competition in affiliated baseball. The average hitter's triple slash line is .245/.339/.331. Almost no home runs are hit. The average pitcher walks 10.3% of the batters he faces while striking out just 19.0%. Other signs of lack of skill, such as HBPs (0.9/g) and WPs (1.54/g), are plentiful and young starters rarely throw more than a handful of innings. The average player is just 18.6 years old.
Also, the first seasons for 16- and 17-year-olds are usually rough ones.
The 2015 DSL White Sox finished last in their division at 30-42. They finished middle of the pack in batting average (.253) and OBP (.340), but in the bottom quarter in slugging (.315). The pitching staff was middle of the pack in strikeouts (536) and ERA (3.79), but were in the top third in walks (310). Their defense was leaky, even by DSL's already-shaky standards.
Nelson Acosta: He emerged last year as a 16-year-old who held opponents to a 2.35 ERA and a .221 batting average allowed over 14 games (12 starts). That was surprising debut for a guy who signed for $50,000. He made all the necessary improvements -- upping his innings (from 46 to 55), raising his strikeout rate (from 18.6% to 21.7%), and cutting his walks (from 14.5% to 9.8%). His ERA rose to 3.25, but that might be more of a reflection of the defense. He finished his season with seven no-hit innings.
Edinxon Arias: He signed for $350,000, and his frame filled out (originally listed at 6'2" and 155 pounds, Baseball America says he's an inch taller and 45 pounds heavier). The 17-year-old received a starting assignment and established a baseline: 44⅓ IP, 57 H, 4 HR, 28 BB, 34 K.
Carlos Perez: The best story out of the White Sox' DSL affiliate is a catcher who is the younger brother of MLB catcher Carlos Perez, and he doesn't strike out. He hit .333/.424/.438 in his second DSL season at age 18, with an incredible 22 walks to five strikeouts over 191 plate appearances (a 2.6% K rate). He also flashed more power, raising his ISO by almost 100 points and hitting his first professional homer, which were hard to come by for this team. Like Acosta, he also signed for only $50,000.
Jose Colina: The 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher hit .187/.296/.242 with 24 strikeouts over 109 plate appearances). He signed for $450,000, with the White Sox liking his power potential and defense, but it didn't materialize in his first go-around.
Jose Reyes: The 18-year-old turns 19 next month, so he was one of the older players to sign a few years ago ($100,000). He improved his strike-zone judgment markedly in his second DSL season:
- 2014: 4 BB, 17 K over 77 PA
- 2015: 16 BB, 13 K over 77 PA
But he went the entire season without an extra-base hit (.259/.376/.259). So he's living up to his billing as a contact-oriented second baseman.
Ricky Mota: The White Sox had long been a fan of the Dominican shortstop, and they were finally able to sign him last year (for $750,000). Now 17 and making his DSL debut, Mota hit .208/.272/.245 with 33 errors in 60 games. The White Sox put him through his paces, as he led the team in plate appearances with 275.
Jorgen Rosas: Rosas almost saw as much playing time as Mota, playing 56 games at second base and racking up .236 plate appearances. The 17-year-old Venezuelan hit .242/.298/.326 in his first season after signing for $380,000. He had a suboptimal walk total (12), but an encouraging contact rate (only 42 strikeouts) befitting of his 5-foot-9-inch frame.
Ramon Beltre: Outside of Perez, Beltre boasts the team's most noteworthy offensive performance, even though he didn't have a set position. In his second DSL season, the 18-year-old Dominican hit .301/.368/.405 with five doubles, five triples and a homer over 196 plate appearances, although he wasn't quite as active on the basepaths (30 stolen base attempts to 13). After spending his 2014 bouncing between short and second, Beltre played third base and center field the most, followed by appearances at short, second, left field and right field.