Home » News » White Sox sign reliever Kenyan Middleton to a minor-league deal

White Sox sign reliever Kenyan Middleton to a minor-league deal

by Jordan Lazowski

The White Sox have continued to add to their more advanced levels of minor-league depth.

According to MiLB-Transactions on Twitter, the White Sox have signed RHP Kenyan Middleton to a minor-league deal. The tweet makes no mention of an invite to Spring Training; however, given Middleton’s major league experience, it is likely that Sox fans should expect to see him get some innings as the team puts together their bullpen in Spring Training.

Middleton, 29, has pitched for the Angels, Mariners, and Diamondbacks over the course of his six-year career. However, a mix of injuries and ineffectiveness have limited him to just 143.2 innings pitched over the course of those six seasons, never accumulating more than 58.1 innings in any season. Last year with the Diamondbacks, Middleton went 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings at the major league level and threw another 17 innings in the minor leagues, going 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA. He missed some time last season with a sprained left toe, and throughout his career, has undergone Tommy John Surgery and suffered a right biceps strain, right elbow inflammation, and a right ankle sprain – the latter three all occurring since 2021.

Middleton featured a three-pitch mix – fastball, slider, and changeup – with both his fastball and changeup sitting above 2300 RPMs. His fastball is a pitch with plenty of room for improvement, as just a 90% spin efficiency means he isn’t getting as much life on it as he could be. This is further evidenced by hitters’ .824 SLG against Middleton’s fastball, in 2022. However, with 74th-percentile fastball velocity and 80th-percentile fastball spin, there is plenty in his arsenal for the White Sox to work with. His changeup tunnels very well with his fastball and has consistently gotten the highest whiff rates of any of his pitches – as high as 46.4% last season.

Middleton, however, doesn’t come without some controversy. Back in 2020, he was critical of Angels fans who were being critical of both his performance and the overall team’s performance in that shortened season. It appears he has since deleted his Twitter account if you’re looking for a positive learning step from this story.

What the White Sox likely see in Middleton is some depth to a bullpen that has taken a bit of a hit with the news of Liam Hendriks’ battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. While Middleton isn’t the sort of back-end arm that can go about replacing some of Hendriks’ innings until his return, he may end up being someone who just cracks the bullpen and provides the team with some middle-relief innings if he is able to improve his fastball a bit in terms of effectiveness. Look for the White Sox to continue to make moves like these to either help out their major-league bullpen or find ways to ensure the Charlotte Knights have enough pitching to make it through the season.

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Featured Image: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

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