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Chicago’s Overlooked Prospect: Micker Adolfo

by Nik Gaur

In 2013, the White Sox made a splash in what appeared to be a very fertile international prospect class. With big names such as Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and Rafael Devers available, teams were lining up to make offers to the young standouts. The Chicago White Sox ended up signing Micker Adolfo Zapata, ranked #2 in the 2013 class at 16 years of age, for $1.6 million, the largest amount the Sox had ever spent on an international signing at the time. White Sox fans were instantly sold on his potential in a farm system that was remarkably barren.

When fans look back at the 2013 international prospect rankings now, they may feel shortchanged. Adolfo was ranked #2, but one may wonder what could have been if Chicago could have sought after Torres (#3) or Devers (#6) instead. While the possibilities here are intriguing, there is no reason to fret over Adolfo just yet. Let’s take a look at his performance* with the Kannapolis Intimidators.

As certain position players have been promoted within the Chicago farm systems, some fans have wondered when Adolfo will be promoted from A level Kannapolis to A+ Winston Salem. After all, Micker is having a solid campaign after what was a major disappointment in 2016. In 107 games for Kannapolis, Adolfo, now 20 years old, is slashing .273/.338/.470 with 16 home runs (3rd in South Atlantic league), 67 RBIs (5th in league), and 27 doubles (8th in league) at age 20. He has also received stellar reviews defensively, as scouts have graded his arm a 65 on the standard 80 scale.

While Adolfo’s step forward in 2017 has certainly been refreshing, there are still warning signs attached. For example, Adolfo has 139 strikeouts on the season, which means he strikes out at a 31.1% clip. This is, of course, something he will have to work on as he progresses through the farm system. Adolfo also is prone to severe hot and cold streaks; for example: this April, Adolfo slashed .233/.292/.300 with an awful 1 walk and 20 strikeouts. Then, in May and June, his OPS was .920, only for his July OPS to fall down to .696. Sox fans sure are used to players having such extreme streaks (Quentin and Viciedo instantly come to mind), but Adolfo’s consistency as a hitter is another area in which he needs improvement.

Adolfo is young and has time to make corrections. While other players from his class such as Devers or Torres may be at or near MLB level already, this is no reason to worry. Some players simply take longer to develop than others. Adolfo made giant leaps with his performance in 2017, and the leap he makes in 2018 may be just as large. With Micker most likely starting next season in Winston Salem, look out for him to skyrocket up the White Sox prospect chart during the next year, and perhaps even end the season playing for AA Birmingham. If he can continue to improve his selection at the plate, his raw power and strong arm give him the potential to be a quality, power hitting MLB corner outfielder for years to come.

*All statistics cited in this article are as of 08/17/17.

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