Saturday, February 29, 2020

2020 Salem Red Sox Prospect Preview

In 2018 the Red Sox won their fourth World Series in a fifteen year span.  They got contributions from home grown players such as Mookie Betts, Xavier Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr.   In addition, they traded top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to acquire their ace starting pitcher, Chris Sale.  However, there was very little left in their farm system.

Recently the Red Sox have been focused on getting under the luxury tax and cutting expenses. They fired Dave Dombroski as the President of Baseball Opations and replaced him with Chaim Bloom who was previously in the cost efficient Rays organization. The results of the Red Sox 2018 draft look very promising and the Red Sox have improved their farm system in the last couple years.  Recently they acquired Jeter Downs and Connor Wong from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, further strengthening their minor league talent.

In 2019 Salem Red Sox made the Carolina League playoffs but were not a prospect laden team.  Jarren Duran, a 2018 seventh round pick got a lot of prospect buzz with a couple of outstanding months for Salem at the beginning of the season before getting promoted to Portland.  Salem had several work horse type pitchers that were solid Carolina League pitchers, but were fringe prospects at best.  The Red Sox promoted several prospects from Greenville in the Sally League to Sally at the very end of the season.

Best Guess on Assignments

Position  Prospect  Assignment
RHP Aldo Ramirez Most likely to spend most of the season with Greenville, but could reach Salem at the end of the season.
RHP Alex Scherff Salem
RHP Andrew (AJ) Politi Portland 
3B Brandon Howlett Greenville  to start. He could be promoted to Salem  if he performs well.
RHP Brayan Bello Greenville  to start. He could be promoted to Salem  if he performs well.
2B Cameron Cannon Good chance to start with Salem or at least spend most of the year with Salem.
LHP Chris Murphy Could start with Greenville or Salem, but expect him to be on Salem for most of the year.
CF Gilberto Jimenez Greenville  to start. He could be promoted to Salem in the second half if he performs well.
C Jaxx Groshams Greenville  to start. He could be promoted to Salem in the second half if he performs well.
LHP Jay Groome  Greenville most likely to start, but be promoted to Salem quickly if he gets off to a strong start.
LHP Jhonthan Diaz Portland most likely.
C Kole Cottam Salem
SS Matthew Lugo Lowell or Greenville
OF Nick Decker Greenville  to start. He could be promoted to Salem in the second half if he performs well.
1B Pedro Castellanos Portland most likely.
RHP Ryan Zeferjahn Most likely to start with Greenville, but will get promoted to Salem if he performs well.
RHP Thad Ward Portland most likely.
1B Triston Casas Salem for at least the first half of the season.
OF Wil Dalton Greenville or Salem
LHP Yoan Aybar Salem 

Returning Salem Red Sox

Triston Casas (6'4" 238 lbs DOB 1-15-00 1B LR 1st round 2018) was called up to Salem from Greenville in the Sally League for the last two regular season games and the playoffs. Casas had a successful first full professional season in 2019 hitting .256 / .350 /.830 with twenty homers as a nineteen year old in full season ball after being the 26th overall draft pick out of high school in Florida.
Casas is a classic big strong power hitter.  He was drafted a third basemen who was likely going to be too big to stay at third and he only played eight games at third in 2019.  Casas' future appears to be at first base.  Casas will likely be in Salem for at least the first half of 2020 before possibly being promoted to Portland.  Casas projects to be the Red Sox first basemen in a few years.

Alex Scherff (6'3" 205 lbs DOB 2-5-98 RHP 5th round in 2017) like Casas, Scherff was called up from Greenville to Salem at the very end of season.  Scherff was a big overslot signing for the Red Sox after Scherff fell in the draft despite being the Gatorade Texas High School Player of the Year.   Scherff is represented by Bobby Witt Sr and played in high school with Bobby Witt Jr.  The Red Sox signed Scherff for a $700,000 signed bonus with high expectations that he had far more upside than a typical fifth round draft pick.

Scherff results in the Sally League have been disappointing.  In two seasons at Greenville, Scherff has pitched 188 innings allowing 212 hits and walked 76 while striking out 160.  Scherff is still very young and there is talent here.  Scherff seems to struggle with his mechanics and his velocity can fluctuate significantly. He also can flash a promising change up at times.  

This is a big year for Scherff.  He needs to start to show improvement to remain a prospect on the Red Sox' radar.

Kole Cottam (6'3" 220 lb DOB 5-30-97 C  RR 4th round pick in 2018) an offense first catcher that hit 19 homers in 56 games as a Junior at Kentucky in 2018, trailing only Jonathan India for homers in the SEC.  Cottam had a solid but unspectacular first full pro season mostly for Greenville where he hit .255 / .377 / .787.  Cottam was called up to Salem on August 17th and played eleven regular season games and five playoff games.  In Rotowire's hit strength data, Cottam is one of the leaders in A ball with a 36.2 hard hit percentage in 2019. 

Cottam is a below average athlete whose best chance to reach the majors is as a back up catcher.  Cottam only allowed five passed balls in 76 games in 2019 but also only threw out 19% of base stealers.  His offense may suffer some as he focuses on improving his catching skills.

Yoan Aybar (6'3"165 lbs DOB 7-3-97 LHP 2013 IFA Signing) the Red Sox converted Aybar from outfielder to relief pitcher in 2018.  Aybar received a $450,000 signing bonus and is very athletic, but as a position player he  had a .624 career OPS and never made it above Greenville. 

As a pitcher, Aybar is obviously raw and struggles with his command but he has a very lively arm.  Aybar throws in the mid to upper nineties, but his secondary pitches need a lot of work.  Aybar spent most of 2019 with Greenville and was promoted to Salem on August 21st.  In 56.2 innings, Aybar only allowed 36 hits and struck out 70 but walked 41.   The Red Sox were impressed enough with Aybar's pitching to add him to their forty man roster this off season.

Likely to Be Promoted From Salem to Portland

Thad Ward(RHP) - has gotten a surprising amount of attention from prospect gurus this off season.  The stuff is nasty but the command will have to improve significantly for Ward to remain as a starter. After being a 2018 fifth round draft pick out of Central Florida where he was primarily a reliever, Ward split his first full season as a pro between Greenville and Salem working as a starter.  Combined Ward made 25 starts, throwing 126.1 innings and allowing 89 hits and 57 walks while striking out 157.  He certainly has the most upside of any pitcher for Salem in 2019.

Pedro Castellanos (1B) - as a righthander that has shown limited power while playing only first base with a 4.5% walk percentage, Castellanos odds of contributing in the major leagues seem slim.  However, Castellanos just turned twenty two and has shown that he can hit. He has the size to hit with power and after hitting seven homers in approximately one thousand career at bats, Castellanos hit eight homers in the second half of 2019.  

Andrew (AJ) Politi (RHP) - Jersey guy, a 2018 fifteenth round draft choice out of Seton Hall where he showed the ability to miss bats but struggled with his control (94 innings with 132 strikeouts and 53 walks). 

With Salem in 2019, a couple rough outings in May, made Politi's first half numbers look rough (6.68 ERA and 1.71 WHIP), but he really mastered the Carolina League in the second half (47.2 innings with 61 strikeouts and only 16 walks with a .147 BAA and a 0.84 WHIP).  Politi was moved to the starting rotation at the end of the year and did not allow a hit in hit first two starts (9 innings total).  I would not be surprised if Politi is the last man in the Red Soz bullpen in a couple of years.  

Jhonathan Diaz (LHP) -  Salem had a trio of fringe pitching prospects that were workhorses in their 2019 starting rotation with Diaz, Daniel Gonzalez (no longer with the Red Sox organization) and Enmanuel De Jesus.  Diaz, who is the youngest, is the most interesting.  After a strong season in 2018 for Greenville, Diaz struggled significantly in the first half of 2019 for Salem (7.33 ERA, .327 BAA and 1.91 WHIP) but turned things around in the second half ( 1.62 ERA, .188 BAA and 1.01 WHIP).  Diaz's BABIP was .411 in the first half and .238 in the second half which partially explains the huge difference in outcomes.    

Diaz throws the four pitches which he mixes well including a low nineties sinking fastball that can generate a lot of grounders.  However, none of his pitches are plus.  Diaz will be twenty three for the entire 2020 season.  

New Salem Red Sox Prospects

Jay Groome (6'6" 220 lbs DOB 8-23-98 LHP 1st round in 2016)  at one point Groome was considered the favorite to be the first overall pick in the draft.  The Red Sox were thrilled when he dropped to them as the twelfth overall pick.  Groome has an elite fastball (mid nineties) and curveball combination.  In his full full season in 2017, Groome missed a couple of months with a back injury and struggled more than expected for Greenville in the Sally League.  Groome them hurt his arm in the spring of 2018 and eventually had Tommy John surgery.

Groome made it back at the very end of 2019.  He pitched a couple innings in the GCL and then went to Lowell in the NY Penn League where he threw 7.2 innings in three games including the playoffs.  Groome whose body is prone to putting on weight, looked to be good shape and impressed scouts with an improved change up.

Groome should be ready to go from the start of 2020 and could move fast.     

Gilberto Jimenez (5'11 160 lbs DOB 7-8-00 CF SR 2017 IFA) there is a ton of upside you can dream on here.  Jiminez had a very promising year as teenager for Lowell in the NY Penn League (.359 / .393 / .863) in 2019.  He was signed for a $10,000 bonus which looks like a steal. Jimenez has elite speed but is still learning how to steal bases.  In 2018 in the DSL, Jimenez was only successful on sixteen of thirty stolen base attempts.  He did improve to fourteen for twenty in 2019.  

With Jimenez' speed he has the potential to cover a lot of ground in centerfield, but it is still a work in progress.  The upside is a lead off hitter who is an above average defensive centerfielder but there obviously is still a long way to go. Jimenez does need to improve his patience (5.1% walk rate).

Jimenez will start his full season career with Greenville in 2020.  If he has the same type of success in the Sally League as he had in the NY Penn League, he could be promoted to Salem in the second half of the season.

Brandon Howlett (6'1" 205 lbs DOB 9-12-99 3B RR 21st round in 2018) a high school overslot signee from the 2018 draft that the Red Sox convinced to forgo his commitment to Florida State with a $185,000 signing bonus.  Howlett had an impressive start to his pro career in the GCL hitting .307/ .405 / .930 with 20 extra base hits in 39 games.  The Red Sox gave him an aggressive assignment in  2019 to Greenville and after a slow start, he had a strong June and seemed it be coming on, but then struggled the last two months of the year.

Howlett is never going to be a great third basemen but should be good enough to stick at third. Howlett has a decent hit tool and some power but lacks speed. I get a Will Middlebrooks vibe from Howlett. He will likely begin the year in Greenville, but should be promoted to Salem by the second half of the season. 

Nick Decker (6'0" 200 lbs DOB 10-2-99 OF LL 2nd round pick in 2018) a cold weathered high school player whose start to his pro career was slowed by a fractured wrist after only two games in the GCL. As a result Decker spent 2019 in Lowell rather than getting up to Greenville.  Decker was the 64th overall pick in the 2018 draft and the Red Sox paid him a slight overslot to convince him to forgo his commitment to University of Maryland.

Decker has good all around skills.  He combines good athleticism with a decent hit tool and the potential to hit for power.  Since Howlett played all of 2019 in Greenville, he is likely to make it to Salem first, but Decker has more upside.  

Brayan Bello (6'1" 170 lbs DOB 5-17-99 RHP 2017 IFA signing) did not pitch as a professional until he was nineteen in 2018 and that was in the DSL except for three innings in the GCL at the end of the year.  Bello signed with the Red Sox as a eighteen year old receiving a $28,000 bonus.  To begin 2019, Bello was promoted all the way to Greenville in the Sally League.  Bello got off to a strong start in April, but was awful in May and not much better in June.  Bello finished the year strong in his last 54 innings he allowed 48 hits and only 9 walks while striking out 59.  Bello pitched a gem on July 13th, when six innings he struck out thirteen with no walks.

Bello throws in the low to mid nineties and his slider and change up are well developed. The way Bello finished 2019 was encouraging considering it was a big step up in competition. Bello is an interesting sleeper prospect with decent stuff and above average control.  

Aldo Ramirez (6'0" 180 lbs DOB 5-6-01 RHP 2018 IFA signing) was signed out of Mexico in April of 2018.  Ramirez was immediately assigned to the DSL where he allowed only one run on ten hits and three walks in 23.1 innings. Ramirez spent 2019 for Lowell in the NY Penn League where he was pretty good for his age.  In 61.2 innings, Ramirez allowed 59 his and 16 walks while striking out 63 against players that were mostly recent college draft picks.  

Ramirez is a bit undersized, but has a lively arm with good control.  Ramirez throws in the low nineties with a solid curveball and change up.  Ramirez will likely spend at least most of 2020 with Greenville.

2019 Notable Red Sox Draft Picks

If Noah Song had gotten a waiver on his military obligation, he would have been the headliner from the Red Sox 2019 draft, with a strong likelihood of being on Salem in 2020.  However, it appears that Song will be in flight school for the next two years, putting his baseball career on hold.

Round Pick Player Age  Position School Bonus
2 43 Cameron Cannon 21 SS Arizona  $   1,300,000
2 69 Matthew Lugo 18 SS Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy  $   1,100,000
3 107 Ryan Zeferjahn 21 P Kansas  $      500,000
4 137 Noah Song 22 P Navy  $      100,000
5 167 Jaxx Groshans 20 C Kansas  $      304,200
6 197 Chris Murphy 21 P San Diego  $      200,000
7 227 Brock Bell 21 P Florida, Manatee–Sarasota  $      465,000
8 257 Wil Dalton 21 CF Florida  $      135,000
9 287 Cody Scroggins 22 P Arkansas  $      100,000
17 527 Alex Erro 21 SS Northwestern  $      125,000
18 557 Jacob Herbert 18 C George Jenkins HS  $      125,000
20 617 Reed Harrington 20 P Spokane  $      125,000
23 707 Leon Paulino 18 CF Florida Virtual School  $      125,000

Cameron Cannon (5'10" 196 lbs DOB 10-16-97 2B/SS RR ) a bat first middle infielder that had a huge Junior season at Arizona but struggled to hit at Lowell in the NY Penn.  Most realistically a 2nd basemen long term.

Ryan Zeferjahn (6'5" 225 lbs DOB 2-28-98 RHP)  A huge hard throwing throwing righthander that walked about a batter every other inning both in college and as a pro. Zeferjahn may take awhile to develop or move to the bullpen.

Chris Murphy (6'1" 175 lbs DOB 6-5-98 LHP) Much more polished than Zeferjahn, the crafty Murphy does not have the same physical tools but has shown the ability to miss bats (267 strikeouts in 214 innings in college).  

Murphy struggled with his control in 2019 in college (43 walks in 64 innings in 2019) but exhibited excellent control as a pro (7 walks in 33 innings).

Jaxx Groshans (6'0" 209 lbs DOB 7-20-98 C RR ) his brother Jordan was a 2018 1st round draft pick of the Blue Jays and Groshans was a college teammate of Ryan Zeferjahn at Kansas.  

Groshans was a very productive hitter in college especially as a Junior ( 12 homers 1.079 OPS).  There are questions regarding whether he can stick at catcher.

Wil Dalton (6'0" 190 lbs DOB 8-27-97 OF RR) played at Florida where he tied for 2nd in the SEC with 19 homers as a Sophomore with Kole Cottam, who is also in the Red Sox organization.  Dalton only hit eight homers as a Junior and was drafted later than expected. Dalton struggled more than you expect at Lowell in the NY Penn League for an advanced college player and struck out 43 times in 37 games.

Dalton will look to rebound from a difficult 2019 season. 

One Down The Road to Monitor

The Red Sox have not had an elite international free signing in a few signing cycles and seemingly gone for more of a quantity approach late.  They appear to have hit on Gilberto Jimenez, who was an inexpensive 2017 signing.

Some prospects in the Red Sox organization that are unlikely to make it to Salem in 2020 include Brainer Bonaci (17 year old SS), Antoni Flores (19 year SS), Chih-Jung Liu (20 year RHP), Eduardo Lopez (17 year old CF), Lyonell James (17 year old 3B), Juan Chacon (17 year old CF), Bryan Gonzalez (18 year old RF), Ceddanne Rafaela (19 year old INF), Wilkelman Gonzalez (18 year old RHP), Eduardo Vaughan(18 year old RF), Jorge Rodriguz (19 year old LHP), Kelvin Diaz (17 year old OF), Albert Feliz (17 year old LF), Luis Perales (16 year old RHP), Naysbel Marcano (17 year old C), and Juan Chacon (17 year old CF).

However, the one down the road to watch is the Red Sox recent 2nd round draft pick from Puerto Rico.

Matthew Lugo ( 6'1" 185 lbs DOB 5-9-01 SS RR 2nd round pick in 2019) a nephew of Carlos Beltran who graduated from his baseball academy and the Red Sox selected Lugo with the 69th overall pick.  Lugo should stick at shortstop and has good speed and has some power projection.

Lugo held his own in the GCL hitting .257 / .342 / .673 in 39 games as one of the younger players in the league.  It will be interesting to see if Lugo is assigned to Greenville or Lowell in 2020.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

2020 Winston Salem Dash Prospect Preview

The White Sox had a very clear transition this off season going from a rebuilding team to a team that is planning to compete. They were one of the most aggressive teams in baseball in pursuing free agent and signed Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnacion. In 2019, top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease graduated to the majors and several other young players, Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson took huge steps forward. 

In 2020, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal are top prospects that are certain to be in the big leagues. Robert, of course dominated the first part of the 2019 Carolina League season with a.453 bating average and eight homers and eight steals in 19 games. 

Once Robert, Kopech and Madrigal lose their prospect status, the White Sox farm system will become one of the leanest in baseball.  Most of the remaining prospects have already passed the Carolina League although Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert will be returning from Tommy John surgery and could spend time on the Dash while rehabbing.  

Of the ten organizations with teams in the Carolina League, The White Sox have the least number of interesting prospects with a realistic chance to play in the Carolina League in 2020 by a wide margin. 

Best Guess on Assignments

Position  Prospect  Assignment
RF Alex Destino Winston Salem
RHP Andrew Dalquist Kannapolis is most likely with an outside chance to reach Winston Salem if things go well.
1B Andrew Vaughn Likely starts in Winston Salem and gets promoted to Birmingham early in the year.
OF Benjamin Bailey Will be stateside.  Likely starting in the AZL with a chance to be promoted to Great Falls
OF Bryce Bush Start in Kannapolis with a chance to get promoted to Winston Salem based on performance.
3B Jake Burger Just getting on the field and proving he is healthy is important.  Once healthy he could move quickly.
RHP Jonathan Stiever Birmingham
RHP Kade McClure Either Winston Salem or Birmingham.  Should be on the Barons most of the year.
LHP Konnor Pilkington Likely starts in Winston Salem with a chance to get promoted to Birminham later in the year.
SS Lenyn Sosa Either Kannapolis or Winston Salem.  Should be on the Dash for at least the 2nd half of the year.
RHP Matthew Thompson Kannapolis is most likely with an outside chance to reach Winston Salem if things go well.
LHP Taylor Varnell Likely starts in Winston Salem with a chance to get promoted to Birminham later in the year.
SS Yolbert Sanchez Given his age and signing bonus, full season is likely, probably Kannapolis. 

Returning Dash Prospects

Andrew Vaughn (6'0" 214 lbs DOB 4-3-98 1B RR 1st round in 2019) the hitting skills have to be exceptional to be limited to first base at only six feet tall and be the third overall pick in the draft.  Vaughn was very good as a Freshman and dominant his last two years in the PAC 12 at Cal.  

Vaughn  played 29 games for the Dash in 2019 and was solid but did not dominate (.278 / .349 / .760 with 36 strikeouts to 30 walks).  He will likely begin in Winston Salem and should be promoted to AA Birmingham in one to two months.

Taylor Varnell (6'1" 190 lbs DOB 5-5-95 LHP 29th round in 2018) has been impressive since the White Sox took him as a late rounder.  Varnell was a four year college player that had a disappointing senior year at Oral Roberts although he had his best game of the year against a talented Wichita State team that featured Alec Bohm.  In his first full season as a pro in 2019, Varnell had twenty starts for Kannapolis in the Sally league and finished with four starts for Winston Salem.   Overall he pitched 127.1 innings allowing 106 hits and 44 walks while striking out 136.

Varnell is one of those southpaws with good movement on his fastball which reaches the low nineties.  He has a slow curveball which is especially tough on a lefthanded hitters and a change up which has been a successful pitch for him at the Sally and Carolina League levels.  Varnell is likely to began 2020 with the Dash since he only threw 21.1 innings in the Carolina League in 2019 but could be promoted to Birmingham quickly if he gets off to a good start given his age and his success in 2019.

Konnor Pilkington (6'3" 225 lbs DOB 9-12-97 LHP 3rd round on 2018) has followed a remarkably similar career path to the Orioles prospect, Blaine Knight. Both were successful SEC pitchers selected in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft who were dominant to begin 2019 in the Sally League and disappointing in the Carolina League.   In six starts to begin the year for Kannapolis, Pilkington threw 33.1 innings allowing only 15 hits and 11 walks while striking out 42.  Pilkington was promoted to Winston Salem on May 11th.  In 95.2 innings for the Dash, Pilkington allowed 99 hits and 44 walks while striking out 96. 

Early in 2019, Pilkington was far more successful that Jonathan Stiever who the White Sox selected a couple rounds after Pilkington in the 2018 draft.  Yet by the end of the year, Stiever was a hot prospect and Pilkington fell off the radar.   

After Pilkington's sophomore year at Mississippi State, he was expected to be a very high draft pick, but his fastball has gone from a mid nineties pitch to a low nineties pitch.  Both the curveball and change up have the potential to be plus pitches but they have been hit or miss.  When Pilkington is pitching well, his command is strong, but it has been inconsistent the last couple of years.  Pilkington was young for a college draft pick, he will be twenty two for the whole 2020 season so there is time to rebound.  

Winston Salem or Birmingham  

Kade McClure (6'7" 230 lbs DOB 2-12-96 RHP 6th round in 2017) was a very good college pitcher at Louisville where he went 12-0 as a Sophomore.  McClure missed most of 2018 with a leg injury but rebounded with a solid season in 2019 making ten starts for Kanapolis before being promoted to Winston Salem where he made twelve starts.

Despite his size, McClure is more of a command and control pitcher than a power arm.  As a pro McClure is averaging 2.46 walks per nine innings.  McClure throws in low nineties and with his height he gets good extension.  He mixes the fastball with a decent slider and change up.  McClure has the potential to be a back of the rotation innings eater.

McClure's childhood buddy was Mitch Trubisky, the Chicago Bears quarterback.

Likely To Be Promoted from Winston Salem to Birmingham

Jonathan Stiever (RHP)- it is extremely unusual for a pitcher to improve during the season like Stiever did in 2019.  Stiever always had strong command but both in college at Indiana University and as a pro through the first part of 2019, he was not dominant.  The White Sox say that Stiever had some bad luck at Kannapolis and his BABIP was .361.  However, at Kannapolis, Stiever pitched 74 innings allowing 88 hits and 14 walks while striking out 77.

After Stiever was promoted to Winston Salem on June 20th he worked closely with Dash's pitching coach, Matt Zaleski.  Stiever had been throwing in the low to mid nineties but was now in the mid to upper nineties.  In addition, Stiever became more consistent with his slider.  He also throw a curveball and change up which he is still refining.  In 71 innings for Winston Salem, Stiever only allowed 56 hits and 13 walks while striking out 77.  

New Dash Prospects

Lenyn Sosa (6'0" 180 lbs DOB 1-25-00 SS RR 2016 IFA signing) has the potential to be an elite defensive shortstop.  Sosa's glove is ahead of his bat, but 35 doubles as a nineteen year old in the Sally league is impressive. In Prospect Live's fly distance data, Sosa's fly ball distance of 287.4 was 31st out of 100 players in A ball.  Sosa was signed out of Venezuela for $325,000 and held his own as a seventeen year old in the AZL before spending 2018 with Great Falls in the Pioneer League.  

Sosa does need to improve his patience (5% walk rate) but he has always been one of the youngest players in the league.  Sosa is one young White Sox prospect that has progressed nicely and there is a lot to like.  Sosa looks very underrated.

Bryce  Bush (6'0" 200 lbs DOB 12-14-99 OF RR 33rd round in 2018) the White Sox took a late round flyer on Bush who was expected to attend Mississippi State.  It was a surprise that they signed him for a way over slot $290,000 signing bonus.  Bush was a cold weather high school player from Michigan.  He was assigned to the AZL, where in twelve games he hit .442 / .538 / 1.143 earning a promotion to Great Falls in the Pioneer League.  Bush held his own in twenty four games for Great Falls hitting .250 / .327 / .713 and was assigned to Kannapolis to begin 2020.

The Sally League as a nineteen year was a big challenge for Bush who only hit .201 / .285 / .631 in sixty seven games for Kannapolis.  Bush started to swing the bat better when he began wearing glasses.  He made nine errors in ten games at third base and was converted to a corner outfielder.  Bush also got  bronchitis and did not play for Kannapolis after July 13th.

It will be a fresh start for Bush in 2020 at Kannapolis and there is  the potential for a very different outcome now that he is a year older, does not have to worry about playing third base, no longer has vision issues and the bronchitis is behind him.  

Jake Burger (6'2" 210 lbs DOB 4-10-96 3B RR 1st round  in 2017) when the White Sox selected Burger as the eleventh overall pick three years ago they likely envisioned Burger being on the cusp of the majors heading into 2020.   Unfortunately Burger has missed the last two years due to tearing his achilles tendon twice and a slow recovery.  Burger was a tremendous hitter at Missouri State where he hit 43 homers with OPS around 1.100 his last two years in college which was in a total of 119 games.   

Burger was expected to return in June of 2019 but a severely bruised heel delayed that and now the White Sox are talking about a June 2020 return.  Burger is a stocky guy and it was always questionable if he was going to stick at third base.  The injuries certainly make it more likely that he is limited to designated hitter when he does come back. 

Alex  Destino (6'2" 215 lbs DOB 10-24-95 RF LL 14th round in 2017) as an advanced college hitter with 605 at bats for University of South Carolina in the SEC, it was disappointing that Destino's 2018 statistics in the hitter friendly Pioneer League were mediocre (.250 / .296 / .711).  However, Destino rebounded with a strong year for Kannapolis in 2019.  He hit .298 / .376 / .852 with 17 homers.

Destino is considered an above average rightfielder with a strong arm.  I came across this play he made in college in 2016.

Destino should be the Dash starting rightfielder to begin 2020. He did play four games for Winston Salem as a fill in in early 2019 but we will consider him a new prospect here.  Given his age, Destino will look to get promoted to Birmingham for the second half of 2020.

Yolbert Sanchez  (5'11" 176 lbs DOB 3-3-97 SS RR 2019 IFA signing) the White Sox signed Sanchez on July 2, 2019 for a 2.5 million dollar signing bonus.  Sanchez is from Cuba and is considered a defensive first shortstop.  He was ranked by MLB Pipeline in 2018 international free agents higher than prospects such as Misael Urbina, Orelvis Martinez, Francisco Alvarez and Noelvi Marte.

Sanchez played twenty nine games in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .297 / .386 / .827.  Given his age, Sanchez should start 2020 in full season ball. It will be interesting to see if the White Sox have both Sanchez and Sosa at Kannapolis to begin the season and how they handle who plays shortstop.  

2019 Notable White Sox Draft Picks

Round  Pick Player Age Position School Bonus
1 3 Andrew Vaughn 21 1B California $7,221,200
2 45 Matthew Thompson 18 P Cypress Ranch HS $2,100,000
3 81 Andrew Dalquist 18 P Redondo Union HS $2,000,000
4 110 James Beard 18 CF Loyd Star HS $350,000
11 320 Victor Torres 18 C International Baseball Academy $175,000
12 350 Misael Gonzalez Acosta 18 CF Leadership Christian Academy $185,000
13 380 Cooper Bradford 21 P Florida Southern $125,000
14 410 McKinley Moore 20 P Arkansas-Little Rock $100,000
17 500 Jeremiah Burke 21 P Georgetown $125,000
19 560 Joshua Rivera 20 SS Chipola JC (FL) $125,000
21 620 Chase Solesky 21 P Tulane $125,000
22 650 Logan Glass 18 CF Mustang HS $170,000
34 1010 Chase Krogman 18 OF Liberty Senior HS $190,000

The White Sox had a very top heavy draft.  Andrew Vaughn wass the only 2019 draft pick for any team that made it to the Carolina League in 2019 and certainly was one of the more advanced players from the draft.  As a result Vaughn is listed in the returning player section.  After Vaughn, the White Sox took two overslot high upside high school pitchers which left only $10,000 bonuses each for their picks from round five through ten. 

It is entirely possible that Vaughn whose stay in the Carolina League is likely to be short, is the only player from the 2019 draft class to play for Winston Salem in 2020.  

Matthew Thompson ( 6'3" 195 DOB 8-11-00 RHP) has a great pitchers body with an exceptional curve and throws a low to mid 90s fastball.  Thompson has all the skills but was somewhat inconsistent in high school where he played with JJ Goss, who was picked by the Tampa Bays Rays at pick 36. 

Thompson is more likely to reach Winston Salem in 2021.

Andrew Dalquist (6'1" 175 lbs DOB 11-13-00 RHP) another very projectable high school arm. Dalquist perhaps is a bit more advanced than Matthew Thompson now, but Thompson may have a bit more upside.  The White Sox paid almost three times the slot value to sign Dalquist.

The White Sox would have to be aggressive and everything would have to go perfect for Dalquist to reach Winston Salem in 2020.

One Down the Road to Monitor

The White Sox have a trio of prospects in short season ball that could make it to Kannapolis by the end of the season and be ready for Winston Salem in 2021.  This group includes James Beard (19 year old CF), Bryan Ramos (18 year old 3B), and Luis Mieses (19 year old OF).  

Manuel Veloz (19 year old RHP) had a nice year in DSL and will be stateside in 2020.   

There are a trio of 2019 / 2020 J2 signings to watch that will likely be in the DSL in 2020 including two from famous baseball families.  This group includes Cristian Mena (17 year old RHP), Elijah Tatis (18 year old shortstop) and Randel Mondesi (17 year old OF).

The White Sox reportedly have an agreement in place to sign Cuban right handed pitcher Norge Carlos Vera on July 2nd for a 1.5 million dolar signing bonus.  The White Sox will also have the eleventh pick in the 2020 draft.

However, the White Sox prospect to watch that is a few years away from Winston Salem was a late unheralded signing from the 2018 / 2019 international class.

Benyamin Bailey (6'4" 215 lbs DOB 9-18-01 OF RR 2019 IFA signing) signed out of Panama for only a $35,000 signing bonus.  Bailey impressed with his size and hit .324 / .477 / .931 in the DSL.  Bailey had a walk percentage of 21.4% versus a strikeout percentage of 16.5%.  Bailey had ten stolen bases and two homers in 55 games.  Obviously given his size there is hope that his power develops. 

Bailey will likely start out in the AZL in 2020 and looks like a potential steal for the White Sox.