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2022 Minor League Season Review: International Signings

by Michael Suareo

While things didn’t go according to plan at the major league level for the White Sox this season, there have been plenty of positive developments down on the farm. Among them is the work they have done scouting and developing their international free agents over the past few years. This season might be their most successful one yet in that department, as several recently signed international prospects had exciting debut seasons that blew away many talent evaluators’ expectations.

Here are some of the highlights from the organization’s most recent international signing class.

Oscar Colas

Oscar Colas came in with extremely high expectations as a highly touted international prospect whose signing had been anticipated for several years. After his first full season playing baseball stateside, it is safe to say he has lived up to those expectations and then some. While those who were expecting him to live up to the “Cuban Ohtani” nickname were disappointed that he didn’t continue as a two-way player, his abilities both at the plate and defensively in the outfield were more than enough to get talent evaluators excited about his potential at the major league level.

In his stateside debut, Colas began in High-A Winston Salem and was able to move all the way up to Triple-A Charlotte due to his productivity at the plate. While he wasn’t producing the power numbers people expected early on due to a nagging wrist injury, he eventually healed up and began to punish the ball on a consistent basis. He ended the year with 23 home runs and an .895 OPS across the three levels, and his numbers amazingly got better after every promotion. He has very little left to prove in the minors, and it will be difficult for the Sox to leave him off the Opening Day roster based on his talent, production, and fit with the current roster as a left-handed-hitting outfielder.

Erick Hernandez

Erick Hernandez was the second biggest international signing this past January, signing for a $1 million bonus after impressing teams at showcases and receiving comparisons to Juan Soto. Unfortunately, his debut season, while not a disaster, was a bit underwhelming. He ended the season in the DSL with only a .227 batting average and failed to hit a home run.

With that being said, there is still plenty to build off of with Hernandez. His approach at the plate, with a 10.4 BB%, was encouraging, and he limited his strikeouts to only a 22.4% rate. He still has all the capabilities to develop into an impactful hitter and should see more success as he develops. He will likely make his stateside debut in the coming season.

Ryan Burrowes

Ryan Burrowes could end up being the steal of the 2022 international signing period. Signed for only $70,000 out of Panama, Burrowes immediately made his presence felt in the Dominican Sumer League. While he ended the season in a bit of a slump, his numbers overall were still rock solid for a player making his organizational debut. He ended the season with a .266/.393/.392 slash line, and ended up ranked 20th in MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects for the White Sox.

Burrowes still has a lot of projection in his game. He is a 6’2 170 LB shortstop who should grow into his frame and add power as he develops. His approach at the plate is advanced for his age, as his 12.8 BB% and 17.3 K % are both impressive. The White Sox seem to think he has a chance to stick at shortstop, only adding to the value he already brings. Look for him to also make his stateside debut this coming season.

Loidel Chapelli

It was very clear all season that Loidel Chapelli was much too advanced for the DSL, however, rules regarding his signing bonus kept him there all season. The 20-year-old 2B raked against the younger competition, as he finished the season with a .344/.448/.636 slash line with eight home runs and 10 stolen bases.

Chapelli was primarily an outfielder befog signing with the White Sox, so his efficiency this early into his transition to a middle infielder is impressive. His approach at the plate was stellar all season, as he walked more often than he struck out. While it remains to be seen how he will fare next season when he makes his stateside debut and competes against pitchers his age, he has set the bar high for himself and should move through the organization quicker than many prospects.

Arnold Prado

Arnold Prado is probably the player on this list who has received the least amount of recognition this season. Despite this, he put together a phenomenal professional debut in the DSL. Prado ended his 2022 season through 105 plate appearances with a .345/.457/.460 slash line with a home run and two stolen bases. He is another one who showcased an advanced approach at the plate, as he drew walks in 15.2% of his plate appearances and held only a 21.9 K%.

Prado played mostly in the corner outfield this season, and that is likely where he projects long-term. Because of this, his bat will have to carry him through his development. That doesn’t seem to be a problem early, and with his 6’3 200 lb frame, it is easy to dream about the power potential he brings to the table. He was an under-the-radar singing out of Venezuela and looks to be another steal of a find from Marco Paddy and the rest of the White Sox scouting department.

Jose Mendoza

While technically a member of the 2021 international free agent class, Jose Mendoza didn’t make his professional debut until this year. The wait seems to be worth it, as the 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic carried a 3.72 ERA with 47 strikeouts through 38.2 IP in his professional debut season. He holds a bit of an inflated WHIP of 1.53 due to the 22 walks he allowed, but he carries an intriguing ability to miss bats and has a chance to develop into a useful pitcher.

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Featured Image: @laurawolffphoto / Twitter

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