Here are some brief news and notes regarding White Sox prospect performances in the month of May:
White Sox win bidding war for Luis Robert
The biggest White Sox prospect news in May was that the team was able to land Luis Robert in the current international signing period. Robert (pronounced like “robber”, according to the White Sox) is a 19 year-old, five-tool, Cuban outfield prospect. Robert’s stats at the highest level of Cuban baseball match up well with other top Cuban hitting prospects who successfully made the leap to MLB (Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig). Scouting reports have put Robert’s tools nearly on par with the tools of current White Sox top prospect and fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada. While some observers (notably Keith Law), aren’t super impressed with the signing, I’m of the opinion that Robert would have commanded a top-5 pick in this year’s MLB draft had he been eligible.
I was surprised that the White Sox paid what they did to land Robert. The deal isn’t official, but the signing bonus that the team paid to land the young Cuban is rumored to be in the $25 million range. The ChiSox will also have to pay a corresponding penalty for exceeding the international bonus limit, meaning the team will likely pay in the neighborhood of $45-$50 million to acquire this prospect.
Money wasn’t everything, however. I’ve seen it reported that the Sox were actually outbid by the St. Louis Cardinals. Apparently, what turned the table was a Spanish language video presentation produced by the White Sox that featured fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada, as well as current manager Rick Renteria. Great win for the front office.
Robert will start in extended spring training at the team’s Camelback Ranch training facility in Glendale, Arizona. His initial placement will likely be with either Low-A Kannapolis or High-A Winston-Salem. Stay tuned for updates.
Dylan Covey injury opens door for call-up?
Dylan Covey (White Sox #38 prospect) exited his start on Tuesday night vs. the Diamondbacks with some sort of oblique injury. Covey, who came over to the White Sox this offseason as a Rule 5 addition from Oakland, has had a brutal season, going 0-4 with an 8.12 ERA and 1.81 WHIP. Maybe he has been nursing an injury the whole time?
At any rate, oblique injuries can linger. Sometimes, starters can bounce back quickly, sometimes they are indicative of another underlying problem. Covey’s next scheduled start is going to be picked up by erstwhile prospect Tyler Danish, who is 1-3 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.27 WHIP for AAA Charlotte this season.
Lots of ChiSox fans have been calling for the team to bring up a top prospect such as Carson Fulmer or Reynaldo Lopez in light of Covey’s poor performance this season, and now his injury. Fulmer (P1500 overall #81, White Sox #6) has had a decent season starting at AAA Charlotte this year, putting up a 5-3 record. His peripheral numbers tanked with his last outing, where he gave up 4 HR, and his FIP is currently a brutal 5.61. Lopez (P1500 overall #43, White Sox #3) has posted a 5-1 record and 2.94 ERA for AAA Charlotte. However, his peripheral numbers aren’t as strong; concerning to me are his 4.06 FIP, 4.22 BB/9 rate, and 30.8% GB rate.
In short, I don’t see the need to push either of these guys up to the South Side at this point. And Rick Hahn has said all along that top prospects won’t get called up to the big club during the rebuild unless they are getting called up for good. Sorry White Sox fans and prospects buffs, we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer on these two.
Dane Dunning promoted to High-A Winston-Salem
Dane Dunning (White Sox #9) was the less heralded pitching prospect in the Adam Eaton trade (Lucas Giolito being the primary piece), but he’s impressed thus far. Dunning went 2-0 in 4 starts for Low-A Kannapolis, flashing an 11.42 K/9, 0.69 BB/9, and an outstanding 63.2% GB rate. The White Sox quickly moved him up the ladder to High-A Winston-Salem. Dunning has had a few eventful outings in the Carolina League, including getting tossed for throwing behind the head of a batter who had hit a home run off him in the first inning.
Dunning has posted a 5.79 ERA so far for Winston-Salem. His 6.43 BB/9 rate is partially to blame. Make no mistake, Dunning is going to take his lumps. He hasn’t even thrown 100 professional innings yet in his young career. However, I’m loving his 12.86 K/9 rate in High-A thus far. Dunning is definitely one to watch.
Defensive improvement by Zack Collins
Zack Collins (P1500 overall #64, White Sox #4), last summer’s top draft pick, has impressed me by the defensive leap he’s made behind the plate this season. Collins has been playing primarily as a Catcher for the High-A Winston-Salem Dash this season. Collins has caught 24-of-51 would be base stealers this season, a respectable 47% caught-stealing rate. This is huge for both the White Sox and fantasy owners, because obviously if Collins can stick behind the plate he is a more valuable prospect
I think Collins is going to pan out as a hitter regardless. He’s got a nice power and patience plate approach, posting a 21% walk-rate to go with a .201 ISO. MLB hitters with a similar power and patience profile (>15% BB-rate and >.200 ISO) this season include Matt Carpenter, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Miguel Sano, and Brandon Belt…
Kopech earns P1500’s ‘Prospect of the Week’ honors
Congratulations to Michael Kopech (P1500 overall #22, White Sox #5) on being named our AA pitcher Prospect of the Week last week. Kopech has looked good for AA Birmingham, stretching out to go at least 5.0 innings in his last 6 consecutive starts. Kopech is now 3-2 in 9 starts for the Barons this season, posting a 2.66 ERA and a K-rate over 12.0 per 9. Kopech is currently tied with fellow Baron Jordan Guerrero for the Southern League lead with 65 strikeouts on the season.
Giolito pitches 7-inning no-hitter
SP prospect Lucas Giolito (P1500 overall #10, White Sox #2) pitched a 7-inning no-hitter against his former team, the Syracuse Chiefs, this week. This is great news for Giolito, who has struggled for AAA Charlotte so far this season (2-5 record, 5.44 ERA). Giolito’s fastball control looked much improved in the start, and he was able to use his slider to generate swings-and-misses.
Article feature image of Dane Dunning (Kannapolis Intimidators) – courtesy csnchicago.com