The Arizona Complex League, formerly known as the Arizona Rookie League, begins play on Monday. Although the name has changed, the league format and playoff qualifications remain the same.
The league is broken down into two halves, with three division leaders for each half qualifying for the playoffs. If a team is the division leader in both halves, then the team with the best overall record from that division would earn a playoff spot.
With no advanced rookie ball affiliate for the White Sox (most recently, the Great Falls Voyagers), the ACL squad will look a little different than it has in years past. This year will feature prospects who struggled in Low-A, but need a place to play, as well as prospects who are making their Stateside debuts.
These types of players will make up most of the roster. However, there will be some minor league free-agent signings, as well as 2021 draft choices made next month to round out the roster throughout the year.
So, how does the ACL White Sox roster look heading into the 2021 season? Let’s take a look starting with the pitching staff.
Lefthander Ronaldo Guzman, at 18, will be one of the youngest members of the team, but is one worth keeping an eye on. As a 16-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, Guzman struck out 76 batters in 51 2⁄3 IP, giving him an impressive 13.2 K/9 on the season. This will be Guzman’s Stateside debut.
Cristian Mena, a 2019 international signing, hasn’t appeared in a game since joining the organization. There isn’t a ton of info available on Mena, but Ben Badler of Baseball America has raved about his potential.
Mena isn’t the only member of the 2019 International class who will be make his organizational debuts this year on the pitching side. Joining him in that regard is righthander Erick Bello.
Recently acquired from Cleveland, Heylin Taveras will be with the ACL White Sox this year. Taveras struggled in the DSL and AZL in 2019. He’s considered to be more of a project with a strong arm, but command and control issues have haunted him thus far.
Making up the rest of the ACL White Sox pitching staff is:
- Cam Beauchamp (LHP, 2021 free agent signing)
- Jacob Gilliand (RHP, 2021 acquired from Dodgers)
- Bryce Hutchinson (RHP, 2021 free agent signing)
- Dilmer Mejía (LHP, 2021 free agent signing)
- Corey Stone (LHP, 2021 acquired from Rangers)
- Frander Veras (RHP, 2019 free agent signing)
- Garvin Alston Jr. (LHP, 2019 37th round selection)
For the catchers, Jefferson Mendoza is the most notable name among the bunch. The 20-year-old has spent two seasons in the DSL. In 2019, he slashed .305/.391/.484 with three home runs, 21 RBIs, 10 walks, and 28 strikeouts in 33 games. Mendoza has put up respectable numbers throughout his time with the White Sox. While he’s not a Top 30 prospect at the moment, he can certainly find himself closer to that ranking with a strong Stateside performance this year.
Jhoneiker Bentancourt and Richard Garcia fill out the backstops to start the year. Both have spent their White Sox tenures playing in the DSL since 2017.
First baseman Sam Abbott will be making his way back to Arizona, where he spent time with the AZL White Sox in 2017 and 2018 after he was drafted. Abbott is a solid athlete with potential to be an impact hitter. After struggling in Kannapolis this year, he will look to figure things out in Arizona.
A 19-year-old with a familiar surname, Elijah Tatís, will be making his Stateside debut in 2021 and I know what all of you are thinking: Don’t trade him, no matter what. Tatís came into the White Sox organization with a skinny frame as an international signing in 2019. Since then, Tatís looks to have added some muscle. In 2019, he slashed .187/.300/.213 with two doubles, 10 RBIs, 13 walks, and 16 strikeouts. His development will be interesting to watch, with his added strength.
The remaining infield group consists of:
- Wilfred Veras (3B, 2019 international signing)
- Wilber Sanchez (SS, 2019 international signing)
- Edwin Peralta (3B, 2018 international signing)
- Anthony Espinoza (SS, 2018 international signing)
- Jeremiah Burks (2B, 2021 free agent signing)
That leaves us with the outfielders. Benyamin Bailey initially was given an aggressive assignment this year, jumping from the DSL in 2019 to Kannapolis to begin the year. With no advanced rookie ball, aggressive assignments are going to be a common thing. Bailey had a tough time in Kannapolis, and now he will head to Arizona, where he hasn’t played before, to continue his development. I’d expect Bailey to have a successful run in the ACL. He showed an impressive ability to get on base in the DSL, and it should be more of the same for him in Arizona.
The 2019 22nd round selection, Logan Glass, saw 17 games of action in Arizona that year and he will be back again for more in 2021. Glass came in with an aggressive approach at the plate, but he put together a solid first taste of professional baseball, slashing .284/.342/.403 with one home run, nine RBIs, two walks, and 23 strikeouts.
Johnabiell Laureano was coming off a solid 2019 campaign with the DSL White Sox, looking to make his Stateside debut in Arizona this year. His Stateside debut came a little sooner than he expected, as he went to Kannapolis for 15 games earlier in 2021. Similar to Bailey, Laureano struggled at Kannapolis as well. Laureano, however, was assigned to help fill out the roster at that time, and Kannapolis wasn’t his plan initially. At 20 years old, Laureano will be considered old for the ACL, but he will be exciting to watch.
Rounding out the rest of the outfielders are:
- Anderson Comas (2016 international signing)
- Misael Gonzalez (2019 12th round selection)
- E.P. Reese (2021 free agent signing)
- Danny Sinatro (2021 free agent signing)
The ACL White Sox roster might look a little different this year than it has previously. However, there are still plenty of names to watch and developments worth monitoring as they begin play in Arizona.