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White Sox sending eight prospects to Arizona Fall League

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Will play for Glendale Desert Dogs when season begins on October 13th

Hawkins
Hawkins
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last year's Arizona Fall League contingent was a nice change for the White Sox, as in-season pitcher injuries resulted in the White Sox sending their strongest group in recent memory.

This year's contributions to the Glendale Desert Dogs are more like the pre-2014 years, as there's only one particularly notable prospect. However, the pitching has more interesting arms than is usual. Let's get to the players:

Courtney Hawkins: The left fielder probably would have been going to the AFL regardless but injuries have limited him to just 78 games this season. The 21-year-old spent three weeks on the DL in June with a finger injury and has been on the disabled list since the start of August with plantar fasciitis - so he certainly needs to get more reps. Hawkins' stats for his first season in AA are pretty blasé: .243/.300/.410 with a 6.1% walk rate and a 30.3% strikeout rate. In his defense, though, Birmingham's home park is death for power hitters. On the road, Hawkins put up a .273/.344/.476 line and showed better plate discipline so it's still reasonable to hold out hope for the 13th overall pick in 2012.

Keon Barnum: Another player who probably would have been going to the AFL regardless but needs reps after missing time injured. The first baseman missed three weeks, which is a running theme in his pro career. Drafted in 2012, he's only accrued a little over 1200 PA and he's pretty much stunk in all of them. The 22-year-old is in his second year at High-A and he's only shown small improvements from 2014. For an alleged left-handed power hitter, .249/.311/.381 is bad, particularly given his home stadium. The 7.6% BB rate and 27.0% K rate don't offer much promise, either. He's a "taxi squad" player, meaning he can only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Jake Peter: This 2014 7th rounder is looking like a nice bargain. Outside of a plus arm at second base, he's not going to wow anyone with his skills. The 22-year-old has decent contact skills from his short, line-drive swing from the left side but pretty limited power. His .260/.331/.352 line is about his offensive ceiling, give or take some BABIP luck. He's stolen 23 bases in 25 tries but that's less to do with speed and more to do with intelligence. The AFL will be a nice test for a guy who hasn't played in the upper minors.

Nick Delmonico: The 2011 6th rounder was an over-slot draft signing of the Orioles. Traded to Milwaukee in 2013, he was released this past winter after the Brewers "had lost contact with him." His time in that organization was troubled, as he missed 2014 spring training due to "personal reasons" and was later suspended for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines. That suspension carried over into this season. In addition to all that, he's had back and left knee injuries, as well as a concussion, that made him miss time. He's also bounced around positions, playing second and first before settling at third. The left-handed hitter knows what he's doing at the plate but the lack of any plus skills looks like it will limit him to AAAA status. He's only gotten 1150 or so PA so it's still possible that the 23-year-old is a late bloomer. For Birmingham: .250/.333/.405 with a 9.7% BB rate and 18.5% K rate.

Brandon Brennan: The 24-year-old showed some promise in his pro debut in 2012 but the following year was quite bad and it ended early with Tommy John surgery. The righty came back late in 2014 for six starts but he was held back in extended spring training and didn't make his 2015 debut until mid-June. So he's another guy who needs reps badly. The 2012 4th rounder is not without promise, as he's got a sinker that can approach the mid 90s and a low 80s slider that flashes above average. He lacks consistency with his delivery, though, and that hurts his control. His changeup isn't anything. While the White Sox are developing him as a starter, the bullpen looks like it will be his long-term home. For Winston-Salem: 11 GS, 53.1 IP, 15.8% K rate, 10.1% walk rate.

Robin Leyer: The 22-year-old is interesting. He's got a mid-90s fastball and, well, that's about it. He can throw a passable changeup that shows promise, as well as a slider. It seems like the White Sox have given up on the righty as a starter and now are developing him as a reliever. In a very limited sample, he's shown a better ability to throw strikes out of the pen. There's some stuff to like about the Dominican but he's still rather raw. The White Sox will need to make a 40-man roster decision on him and the AFL will certainly tell us whether he's someone to watch. Between W-S and Birmingham: 117 IP, 17.3% K rate, 7.8% walk rate.

Peter Tago: The White Sox took him in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft this past offseason and he's looking like another White Sox pitcher turnaround job. The righty was a supplemental round pick of the Rockies in 2010 and there was good reason he was available via Rule 5 - he was a mess. The 23-year-old never managed to harness his control, let alone his command. The White Sox tightened up a slider Tago was messing with in the offseason and, coupled with his mid-to-upper 90s heat, he's managed to up the strikeouts significantly and limit the walks a bit more. Another guy on whom the White Sox need to make a roster decision, showing continuing development in the AFL will seal it for him.  He's been at three levels in 2015 but for Birmingham: 11 G, 17.2 IP, 22.1% K rate, 13.2% walk rate.

J.B. Wendelken: The "other" Red Sox pitcher acquired in the Avisail Garcia trade, the White Sox developed him as a starter in 2014 to get him reps before moving him back to relief this season. There isn't a great deal to say about the 22-year-old. He's got a low 90s fastball and a pretty good changeup that's upper 70s. He's dabbled with a few different breaking balls during his time with the White Sox. He seems like the kind of guy who will get minor league hitters out but would be eaten alive by major leaguers. After excelling at Birmingham, he's had trouble adjusting at Charlotte, as he's returned to being quite hittable. At Charlotte: 9 G, 11.2 IP, 21.8% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate.

To head off the inevitable questions:

  • Tim Anderson has been pretty banged up this season and rest is probably the better course for him rather than another stint in the AFL.
  • Jacob May is in the same boat.
  • Non-U.S./Canada players are restricted to one per MLB club so that's why your favorite Latin American player is not going.
  • Most pitchers have pitched full seasons so that's why your favorite pitching prospect is not going.
  • AFL teams are made up of players from 6 MLB clubs. Who gets on the team is determined by a kind of draft, where the clubs take turns putting players on the roster until it's full. So too many players already at a position may be why your favorite position player prospect didn't make it on.
The Desert Dogs are made up of players from the White Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Pirates and Astros. The full roster is here. Andy Tomberlin, Charlotte's hitting coach, will serve as hitting coach for Glendale.