The Arizona Fall League wrapped up in a very marketable fashion, with potential No. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna driving in four runs to seal both an MVP and a Peoria championship.
The White Sox didn’t have that kind of name-brand talent in the desert. Instead, Eloy Jimenez stole the show from the Dominican Winter League, hitting .368/.443/.676 with five doubles, two triples and four homers in just 19 games before the White Sox allowed him to cash in his winnings for the season.
The Glendale Desert Dogs roster included a more modest group of White Sox prospects, all of whom stood to benefit from the extra playing time and/or evaluation, since they could otherwise get lost in the rebuild.
*Seby Zavala: Hit .326/.407/.435 with two doubles and a homer over 13 games. One of the few guys to outhit him on Glendale was Dodgers catching prospect Will Smith, who led the Desert Dogs in playing time at the position. It certainly doesn’t hurt Zavala’s sleeper stock after posting an .851 OPS and 21 homers over 107 games between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, although he turned 24 at the end of the season.
*Danny Mendick: Overcame a slow start to hit .290/.324/.391 over 18 games (69 at-bats), including this homer.
It’s a better finish to his season than his Birmingham debut, as he went from being Winston-Salem’s steadiest bat (.289/.373/.468) to bringing up the rear with the Barons (.197/.280/.293) over the course of the 2017 regular season. Like Zavala, he recently turned 24, but with 41 games at Birmingham, he’s age-appropriate with his level, and with a glove strong enough to stay on the fringe of the infield conversation.
*Tito Polo: His AFL season was cut short by a dental procedure. He played in just seven games, going 8-for-30 at the plate with a walk and 10 strikeouts, and 4-for-7 on the basepaths. He was removed from the roster late in the season for ...
*Charlie Tilson: ... whose results aren’t as important as the fact that he appeared in actual games with actual players after missing more than a year with an assortment of leg injuries. He hit .188/.325/.250 over nine games. Looking at it another way:
- First four games: 0-for-14, 3 BB, 3 K, 0-for-1 SB
- Last five games: 6-for-18, 2 2B, 4 BB, 4 K, 1-for-1 SB
It’s not substantial enough to pencil him into early-season center field plans, but at least it’s reasonable to believe he’ll be available in Cactus League games this time around.
*Dylan Covey: He continued to not excite anybody over his three starts, allowing seven runs on 16 hits and four walks over 12 innings, with just six strikeouts. His AFL experience ended early due to arm fatigue, according to the White Sox. Whatever the case, he seems ticketed for Triple-A next season.
*Connor Walsh: Bad news: He took three losses in 10 games while allowing 11 runs on 11 hits and eight walks over 11 1⁄3 innnings (8.74 ERA). The good news? He picked up a save. He missed some bats in Birmingham (along with the plate) and he’s Rule 5 eligible, so this might have given the Sox a few extra weeks to evaluate his case.
*Matt Foster: He attacked hitters, allowing one walk over 11 1⁄3 innings. They attacked back, lighting him up for 11 runs on 20 hits and three homers. At least he caught up on some innings he missed earlier in the season, when personal issues caused him to retire for a couple months.
*Jace Fry: The least successful pitcher for the White Sox in 2017 was the club’s most successful pitcher for Glendale. He struck out 10 batters to one walk over eight innings, six of which were scoreless, and five of which were hitless. The extra work pushed the two-time Tommy John surgery recipient to 60 innings on the season after missing all of 2016. It also helped remind everybody that there is some talent there.