Deep Dive: White Sox rookie league second basemen

Huge jump: Kelvin Maldonado, the 11th round pick in last year’s MLB draft, improved his batting average by 103 points this year with the Great Falls Voyagers. (@KelvinJ_34)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

While there is some decent talent at Great Falls, Arizona and the Dominican, nobody is firmly established enough yet to be a surefire lock for full-season ball in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Great Falls Voyagers

Joshua Rivera
5´11´´
180 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop
Age: 21

Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, played varsity baseball with the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy. He spent his freshman year with Miami-Dade J.C. before transferring to Chipola College (Marianna, Fla.) for his sophomore campaign. This season with Chipola, he slashed .317/.410/.481 in 54 games with eight doubles, four triples, five homers, 31 RBIs, 25 walks and 48 strikeouts. The White Sox liked Rivera enough to select him in the 19th round of this year’s draft.

Rivera spent his entire professional season with Great Falls, where he slashed .221/.309/.361 in 41 games. In 122 official at-bats, he produced three doubles, four triples, two homers, 14 RBIs, 12 walks (8.6%) and 43 strikeouts (30.9%). Defensively, he played second base 71.7%, while 16% was played at third. Rivera seems to have the offensive profile of a middle infielder, particularly second base because he doesn’t have blazing speed. Like the next player on this list, it’s unclear as to whether Rivera will begin next season at Great Falls or Kannapolis.

Kelvin Maldonado
5´11´´
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Shortstop
Age: 20

Like Rivera above, Maldonado played varsity ball in his native Puerto Rico; however, Maldonado played his ball instead with the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Upon being selected in the 11th round of the 2018 draft, he had major difficulties in adjusting to professional pitching. Last year with the White Sox AZL squad, Maldonado slashed just .150/.184/.167 in 38 games with one triple, four walks (3.1%) and 31 strikeouts (24.2%).

While Maldonado hit much better in 2019 with Great Falls, he still had difficulties with drawing walks. In 58 games totaling 229 at-bats with the Voyagers, he slashed .253/.288/.310 with 11 doubles, one triple, 17 RBIs, two stolen bases, nine walks (3.7%) and 55 strikeouts (22.8%). While Maldonado runs the 60-yard-dash in 6.54 seconds according to PerfectGame, his speed hasn’t yet translated to stolen bases. Defensively, it was noted by PerfectGame that he has light feet and smooth, balanced footwork, easy athletic actions, a quick release and the ability to makes accurate throws consistently. The site likes his potential, though he tends to get too mechanical with his swing. Like Rivera above, Maldonado will be in consideration for a promotion at some point in 2020 to Kannapolis.

Tom Archer
5´9´´
175 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 23

After playing his first two years of college ball with Hofstra, Archer spent his final two years with Division II Lynn University (Boca Raton, Fla.). While his junior season was actually quite good (.326/.403/.497), he scuffled during his senior campaign. In 48 games totaling 189 at-bats for the Fighting Knights, he slashed just .233/.305/.333 with six doubles, two triples, three homers, 17 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 17 walks (8.1%) and 20 strikeouts (9.6%). Largely due to his collegiate struggles, he slipped to the White Sox in the 39th round of this year’s draft.

Based on this year’s collegiate numbers, it wasn’t totally surprising to see Archer scuffle in the White Sox system. Of course, part of his struggles may have been due to a lack of significant playing time. In a combined 18 games with the AZL squad and Great Falls, Archer combined to slash just .196/.224/.268 with two doubles, a triple, seven RBIs, two walks (3.6%) and three strikeouts (5.4%). If he returns to the Sox organization in 2020, it likely would be at Great Falls.


AZL White Sox

Samil Polanco
6´0´´
160 pounds
B/T: S/R
Other positions played: Shortstop
Age: 20

Polanco, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed with the White Sox organization just a week before the 2018 DSL season began. In the two years that he’s been in the organization, Polanco already has proven to be one of the best (and most consistent) of our young second basemen. Playing in 55 games for the DSL White Sox last year, he slashed .274/.314/.371 with six doubles, five triples, a homer, 16 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, 10 walks (7.6%) and 31 strikeouts (14.8%).

This year with the AZL squad, Polanco slashed .290/.313/.369 in 40 games as he produced seven doubles, two triples, a homer, 12 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, five walks (2.7%) and 35 strikeouts (19.1%). He hit well from both sides of the plate, .311 against southpaws and .282 versus righties. Defensively, Polanco spent 61% of his time at second with the remainder at shortstop. After committing 17 errors last year in the Dominican League, he reduced that total to seven this year. If Polanco can coax a few more walks here and there, he could starting moving up the prospect rankings. As it is, expect to see him in Great Falls for 2020.

Harold Diaz
5´10´´
170 pounds
B/T: R/R
Age: 20

Diaz, a native of Havana, received a $300,000 signing bonus from the White Sox during last year’s International Signing Day. Unlike most prospects who sign on that date, however, Diaz opted to play immediately and actually did quite well. Last year for the DSL squad in 18 games, he slashed .290/.388/.406 with four doubles, two triples, seven RBIs, six stolen bases, seven walks (8.8%) and nine strikeouts (11.3%).

This year, however, Diaz struggled with his transition Stateside. In 19 games for the AZL White Sox spanning 65 at-bats, he slashed just .215/.278/.338 with three doubles, a triple, a homer, six RBIs, one stolen base, four walks (5.6%) and 17 strikeouts (23.6%). As opposed to last year, when he split much of his time also at shortstop and the hot corner, Diaz spent this year exclusively at second base and did relatively well. However, with his struggles offensively this year, expect to see him return to the AZL for 2020.


DSL White Sox

Anthony Espinoza
5´10´´
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop
Age: 18

Like Diaz, Espinoza also signed with the White Sox on International Signing Day last year. Unlike Diaz, however, Espinoza is a native Venezuelan and began professional ball this year instead. While his numbers weren’t terrific this year, they were actually better than the next two guys on this list, who have much higher pedigrees. In 55 games totaling 190 at-bats for the DSL squad, Espinoza slashed .263/.347/.332 with six doubles, two triples, one homer, 32 RBIs, seven stolen bases, 20 walks (9.0%) and 25 strikeouts (11.2%). Espinoza spent 46% of his time at second this year, while also spending a decent amount of time at third (33.6%) and short (20.4%). He will likely be promoted to the AZL squad for 2020, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Espinoza play more shortstop there.

Cesar Jiménez
5´10´´
160 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Third base
Age: 19

Cesar (the player formerly known as Enoy) Jiménez signed with the White Sox last October with significant fanfare as a result of his being the brother of Sox outfielder Eloy. Cesar, who is obviously much smaller than his big brother, spent the vast majority of his time defensively this year (91.8%) at second base and did a respectable job there. However, concerns abound regarding his hitting skills. In his first professional year with the DSL Sox, the Dominican native slashed just .208/.282/.247 in 29 games with three doubles, six RBIs, four stolen bases, eight walks and 15 strikeouts. A return to the DSL for 2020 seems likely for the young man.

Elijah Tatís
5´11´´
155 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: Shortstop
Age: 18

Probably the biggest name on this list, Elijah is the son of former major leaguer Fernando Tatis and the brother of former Sox farmhand Fernando Tatís Jr. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, “Tatís possesses a strong and accurate arm and has impressed scouts with the way the ball jumps off his bat, as well as his ability to square up fastballs.” With that kind of ability, the White Sox were happy to sign him with a $500,000 bonus on this year’s International Signing Day.

Tatís struggled out of the gate for the DSL White Sox this year, however, and only managed to slash .187/.300/.213 in 25 games with two doubles, 10 RBIs, five stolen bases, 13 walks (14.4%) and 16 strikeouts (17.8%). Largely because defensive wizard Yolbert Sánchez played shortstop for the DSL squad, Tatís actually played a bit more at second base this year than would’ve been expected. Eventually, as he gets older and bulks up, Tatís is expected to eventually have the power to be an everyday third baseman. Despite him actually having a lower OPS this year than the aforementioned Cesar Jiménez, expect Tatís to be promoted to the AZL squad for 2020 due to his much higher ceiling.


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