The concentration of talent in the White Sox system was not in the rookie leagues by the time the ACL and DSL seasons started, but with a headliner in either league this year, guys needed to stand out to get noticed.
In the DSL, that guy was Loidel Chapelli Jr., while the ACL simply did not get that type of production. In fact, the ACL was pretty much an afterthought in the 2022 season. It was where younger prospects went if they struggled in 2021 (Cameron Butler, Chase Krogman, and Erick Bello) until 2022 draft picks arrived. Even then, quite a few of this summer’s draft picks quickly advanced to Kannapolis. The third category for the ACL was that it was the next stop for promoted DSL players in 2021, and they stayed there for the year even if they played well (Dario Borrero, Emerson Talavera).
That is what the ACL is for now, and the DSL will always be a stomping ground for younger international signings. Sometimes it will have headliners like Luis Robert or Norge Vera, other times it will not — like this year. That still means there is interesting young talent, they just are much farther from MLB. The ACL could have a headliner next season in 2022 first round pick Noah Schultz, as he did not get into an ACL game this year right out of high school.
We will try to stick to the first and third categories for the ACL, unless one of the top draft picks did stay there all season. The majority went to Kannapolis, with Schultz, Peyton Pallette, and Tyler Schweitzer not getting into games this year.
Rookie League Hitters
Going into the year, Erick Hernández was the headline player in the DSL with his $1 million bonus, but Chapelli came in and took that spot with his play on the field. in 46 DSL games, the second baseman slashed .344/.448/.636 for a 181 wRC+. He is ranked as the 26th-best White Sox prospect by MLB Pipeline after this offensive outburst. The DSL is not easy to translate, but there should be some aspects to watch for next season. First, Chapelli walked more (27) than he struck out (22). That won’t stick, but if the walk rate stays better than 10% and the K-rate stays short of 20%, that would be a success even if both of those numbers don’t improve. The power was pretty otherworldly as well, with a .292 ISO that will certainly fall because he’s 5´8´´ and that is not a power profile. Those homers and triples need to at least stay as hits, but realistically, they’ll be doubles.
Hernández is rated No. 24 per MLB Pipeline and he started out well in the DSL, but at the end of the year he had an 81 wRC+. Now, he is three years younger than Chapelli, at just 17. Again, this was his age 17 season. Hernández has a long way to go to see MLB, if he ever gets there, and hopefully he will improve.
Hernández’s struggles don’t mean 17-year-old prospects cannot have good seasons, though, and that is why Ryan Burrowes is the highest-rated player coming from this team per MLB pipeline at 21. An added benefit for Burrowes is that he is a shortstop, so he is starting at a premium position. The bat really played, though, with a 120 wRC+. He is young and could literally grow out of shortstop, but if he has to move to third or the outfield, that bat will hopefully still play. There was not much pop in Burrowes’ stint in the DSL, but it should improve as he gets more at-bats under his belt. The plate discipline was good for the level, with 13% BB-rate and 17.3% K-rate. However, Burrowes’ strikeout rate should be something to watch in 2023 in the ACL, as it should increase.
Meanwhile, in the ACL, there were not a lot of hitters really warranting a good look. Again, the draft picks ended up moving to Kannapolis pretty quick. Drake Logan was really the only high-dollar bat who stayed, and he only played in six games. Before Javier Mora’s season ended on July 11, he was doing really well, with a 126 wRC+. His 81 plate appearances were helped by a .408 BABIP, and a 28.4% K-rate is concerning. But he got enough hits, and a .176 ISO is pretty good; it was just a very small sample size in the ACL.
Of the guys that lasted the entire year, Dario Borrero is probably the most intriguing. He showed pretty good bat-to-ball skills again this year, with a 16.6% K-rate and a .313 batting average. However, he does not walk much (4%) and showed little power, with no homers and a .060 ISO. The improvements needed are obvious, but somebody who is 6´5´´ should probably find some more power, and hopefully that comes.
Rookie League Pitchers
The pitching, on both rookie teams, was not filled with a lot of talent. Yohemy Nolasco had some notoriety, but faltered in his 34 2⁄3 innings this season in the ACL. The walks are at a low number overall (8.4%), but coupled with a 16.9% K-rate does not look great. He only has 50 professional innings under his belt and next year is his age-19 season, so Nolasco could be back in the ACL or a later add to Kannapolis. Carlos Hinestroza came from the DSL as one of the better relievers in 2021, but the DSL to ACL promotion did not go well for him. He only appeared in 16 games, but he had a 6.32 ERA and an even worse FIP (8.34). Why was it worse? Well, Hinestroza had an 11.4 % BB-rate for starters, and he gave up five homers in just 15 2⁄3 innings. Yeah, not very good.
If we want to end on a better note for the ACL, another reliever, Emerson Talavera, actually improved on his DSL peripherals. In 26 ACL innings this year, all in relief, he had a 2.77 ERA, and increased his strikeouts and decreased his walks from last season. It came out to a 35% strikeout rate, which is 13 points up from 2021, while his walks dropped to 4%. Now, 26 innings is a small sample, even for a reliever, but he deserves some eyes with peripheral numbers like this.
The DSL did not have much money poured into the mound in 2022, but the top two pitchers were still 19, so maybe there’s something there? Gabriel Rodíguez and Frankeli Arias were basically starters, though they did not start 100% of the time. They had ERAs in the mid-threes, with Arias having the better one at 3.33. Arias had better command, so that is probably where the lower .3 runs came from. There is not much here to watch for at this point, this was Rodíguez’s second DSL stint for the Sox and that is usually not a good sign. Once these two and a reliever like Juan Jimenez get to the ACL, that is when people should take notice if they do well. Right now, they did well in the DSL, on the strength of better command than their peers.
Just a note before we are out, there was a position change this year for Anderson Comás. He went from the outfield to the mound. He didn’t do particularly well, with a 6.35 ERA and 18.6% BB-rate, but he should stick around for another year to see what he’s got as a pitcher.