South Side Hit Pen Top Prospect 52: Taylor Varnell

Roster addition: Rylee and Taylor Varnell (middle) shared the gender reveal of their daughter with the rest of the Intimidators last May. (Tiffany Wintz/South Side Hit Pen)



Taylor Varnell
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
6´1´´
190 pounds
Age: 24
SSHP rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 5
2019 SSS Top Prospect Rank: 67

Taylor Varnell pitched one year for Western Oklahoma C.C. before transferring to Oral Roberts. While his first two seasons for the Golden Eagles were quite good, Varnell’s senior season was a bit of a disappointment as he produced a 5.95 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 16 outings (11 starts) spanning 59 innings. In those innings, Varnell relinquished 58 hits and 30 walks while striking out 62. His stock fell as a result of his struggles, but the White Sox selected him in the 29th round of the 2018 draft.

Varnell pitched exclusively for the AZL White Sox in 2018, and put up superb numbers. In 10 starts spanning 45 ⅔  innings, he compiled a microscopic 1.97 ERA and 0.88 WHIP as he allowed 30 hits (.175 OBA) and 10 walks (5.7%) while fanning 61 (35.1%). In 2019, Varnell pitched the vast majority of the season for Kannapolis and acquitted himself nicely, with a 3.23 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 106 innings and just 86 hits (.221 OBA) and 34 walks (7.8%) while striking out 115 (26.3%). After a surprisingly late promotion, Varnell did nicely for the Winston-Salem Dash in four starts with a 3.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 21 ⅓ innings, as he ceded 20 hits (.263 OBA) and 10 walks (11.1%) while striking out 21 (23.3%).

Varnell’s fastball typically runs upper-80s to low-90s, but has run as high as 94 mph according to Baseball America. Other pitches in his arsenal include an above-average changeup and an outstanding Barry Zito-esque 12-6 curveball. Varnell’s fourth pitch is a slider, which is especially effective against lefties.

He’s a little long in the tooth for someone in High-A ball, so if Varnell gets off to a good start with Winston-Salem next year, he should be earning a promotion to Birmingham by midseason.

 

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Despite my entire family being Cub fans, I grew up listening to Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall on the radio as I listened to the entire season of the South Side Hit Men of '77. While it's true I have a myriad of other interests (American history, classic literature, classic rock, classic country, blues, jazz, gardening, family,etc.--not all in that order), few things aside from family surpass my interest in all things baseball--especially the White Sox.

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