While the MLBPA and MLB continue negotiations to resolve the current lockout situation, minor league baseball is continuing uninterrupted. That includes minor league mini-camp, which started today in Glendale, Arizona.
While White Sox fans will obviously have their eyes on the major league roster this season, any “sustained success” that Rick Hahn and the White Sox organization is looking for starts with re-stockpiling talents in the minors. This minicamp is an opportunity to minor league players to get professional development time with the major league staff. In addition, for those players on the roster bubble, it’s an opportunity to prove themselves and their worth to the organization.
Here are some of the main pieces of information that came out of day 1 of minicamp.
Oscar Colas Expected Stateside Soon
After the White Sox officially signed Oscar Colas back in January, the natural question was whether or not he’d get to play stateside in his first season with the team. The rumor was that Colas would be playing stateside in 2022, and today, Chris Getz officially announced Colas would be in the United States next week after training with the organization in the Dominican Republic.
Colas is expected to start his stateside journey in High-A, and it will be interesting to get to watch his development over the course of Spring training and the regular season. He is not expected in the major leagues for at least two seasons, given the fact that he is starting in High-A. In four seasons of baseball overseas as a 17-20-year-old, Colas hit .282/.343/.483 with 28 homers. However, he has not played professionally since 2019, which helps to explain the fact that he will start in High-A at 23.
Getz Impressed with Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath
With so many players who graduated from the White Sox system over the past few years, it should be no surprise that Keith Law recently ranked the White Sox farm system dead last in all of baseball. So, it will be up to players like Colson Montgomery, Wes Kath, Yoequis Cespedes, Norge Vera, and Oscar Colas, among others, to lead the White Sox into their next phase. The good news is that, so far, many of these names have already impressed Chris Getz – especially Colson Montgomery.
With Vera, Montgomery, and Kath all getting their first full seasons in the minor leagues in 2022, expect all eyes to be on both of these players as they begin their journey, likely in Low-A Kannapolis. In Rookie Ball in 2021, Montgomery hit .287/.396/.362 with no homers and seven doubles, while Kath hit .212/.287/.337 with three homers and 15 RBI in 28 games.
As for Cespedes, the White Sox mentioned his discipline as something to monitor. Cespedes posted a 27% strikeout rate and 3% walk rate in AA last season, so it certainly should be a concern for the 24-year-old. Look for him to hopefully show some growth over the course of the 2022 season as the White Sox evaluate the future of their outfield situation beyond Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.
Norge Vera and Jared Kelley Projected for 70-85 IP in 2022
The White Sox have not had many homegrown starting pitchers develop in their system in recent memory. Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, and Dane Dunning were all parts of trades from other organizations, while players such as Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist haven’t yet made the next step in their development. Naturally, all eyes have now turned to both Jared Kelley and Norge Vera, two of the youngest of the crop of starting pitchers that the White Sox are placing part of their future hopes in.
As Getz mentions, the White Sox will be concerned about monitoring workloads for these two teenagers but will allow them to continue to take the next step in their development. Vera has not pitched stateside, while Jared Kelley posted a 19.6% walk rate in just 21 minor league innings in 2022 while battling injuries. While both these players, as well as Thompson and Dalquist, are plenty young and have plenty of time to develop, some substantial progress will be something the White Sox are no doubt looking for in their 2022 seasons.
In their first full seasons with the organization, Thompson posted a 5.99 ERA in 73.2 IP at Low-A Kannapolis, while Dalquist had a 4.99 ERA in 83 IP. However, both did struggle with command throughout the season.
While minor league baseball won’t be as appealing to White Sox fans as it was during the rebuild, the organization has plenty of interesting names to keep your eyes on throughout 2022. While Montgomery, Kath, Cespedes, Vera, Thompson, Dalquist, and Kelley might be the focal point, the most interesting part of watching minor leaguers develop is finding those diamonds in the rough who come out of nowhere.
Until the lockout ends, look for minicamp coverage to continue – with the hope of a bright future ahead for the South Siders.
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