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South Atlantic League Roundup: White Sox prospects Wheeler and Guerrero make a good tag team

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News and notes from around the South Atlantic League, with a photo gallery from Tuesday's game between Hickory and Kannapolis. White Sox prospects Andre Wheeler and Jordan Guerrero work a piggyback role with good results.

A matchup on Tuesday evening featured a pitching duel between Rangers teenage prospect Akeem Bostick and the White Sox pair of Andre Wheeler and Jordan Guerrero in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The two Kannapolis left-handers are teamed together in a piggyback role, except I was told the White Sox prefer not to call it that. Maybe we can call them a tag-team instead?

At 6-foot-4, Akeem showed a nice downward plane with an average fastball that he controlled well on the night. Both pitchers were cruising, as Bostick struck out seven in 4.2 innings while allowing just one earned run. Wheeler matched that performance with five shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out five.


White Sox prospect Andrew Wheeler on his transition as a pitcher for Kannapolis.

Wheeler was selected in the 15th round of the 2013 draft by Chicago and has leaned towards a fly ball ratio while maintaining a solid double-digit strikeout percentage of 10.4 K/9 this season after even better numbers in Bristol last year. The Texas native throws a 92-94 mph fastball which tails away from right-handed batters and mixes in a nice slider. A former outfielder in college, Wheeler didn't primarily focus on pitching until after he was drafted, so there's still room for growth.

Also chosen in the 15th round, except a year earlier, in the 2012 draft out of Moorpark High School in California, Jordan Guerrero worked two innings of scoreless relief, while striking out three batters. Guerrero had started five days prior, working four innings against Augusta while Wheeler had relieved for two.

Guerrero's repertoire was impressive, as he had the ability to change speeds with a three-pitch mix which he could locate for strikes. The 6-foot-3 lefty averaged 90-91 on his fastball with a peak of 93 and his off-speed stuff created a nice gap in velocity to throw off hitters with a changeup and curveball that averaged around 75. It will be interesting to see how the White Sox choose to handle these two pitchers going forward and how they'll respond when the training wheels are eventually taken off and start working longer outings.

Second baseman leads league in home runs

Rangers prospect Travis Demeritte has been making waves with his league leading 23 home runs. At 6-feet tall and 178 pounds, the second baseman isn't a protypical power hitter, but he put on a display in batting practice, demonstrating the ability to hit the ball out to all fields.

Selected out of high school in the first round of the 2013 draft, Demeritte is still working on his contact ability and acknowledged that fact in a recent interview with Mark Emery of MiLB.com.

"I'm happy that I have 23 down, but I want to round out my game and be more of a consistent hitter. I am proud of myself, kind of shocked myself, to have that many -- I definitely wasn't expecting it."

Strikeouts are suppressing his batting average, which currently sits at just .230, but he's showing good plate discipline as the middle-infielder is one of the better Hickory players when it comes to walk percentages. Look for the Rangers to be patient with the 19-year-old and keep him in Single-A, while his home run totals continue to stack up.

Top 10 producers in July

Batters (sorted by OPS, minimum 50 PA's)

Name Age Tm G PA Iso HR SB BA OBP SLG OPS ▴
Michael Benjamin 22.25 ASH 23 109 0.295 5 10 0.429 0.467 0.724 1.191
John Wooten 23.42 HAG 12 52 0.239 2 1 0.413 0.423 0.652 1.075
Nomar Mazara 19.17 HIC 25 112 0.330 9 0 0.287 0.402 0.617 1.019
Anthony Caronia 23.08 DEL 15 58 0.094 1 3 0.434 0.474 0.528 1.002
Brian Anderson 21.08 GBO 14 59 0.302 4 0 0.321 0.373 0.623 0.996
Ryan Cordell 22.25 HIC 15 71 0.206 3 0 0.365 0.423 0.571 0.994
JaCoby Jones 22.08 WV 28 125 0.266 8 4 0.336 0.379 0.602 0.981
Jose Briceno 21.75 ASH 18 77 0.338 7 0 0.294 0.342 0.632 0.974
Austin Dean 20.67 GBO 27 121 0.124 4 3 0.381 0.463 0.505 0.968
Raimel Tapia 20.33 ASH 23 106 0.153 2 9 0.374 0.437 0.527 0.964

Pitchers (sorted by ERA, minimum 20 innings)

Name Age Tm G BF IP GB% HR/9 BB/9 K/9 FIP SIERA ERA
Chaz Hebert 21.8 CSC 5 102 25.2 43% 0.0 3.9 8.4 2.62 3.77 0.35
Antonio Senzatela 19.4 ASH 5 108 29.0 40% 0.0 1.9 7.8 2.20 3.26 0.93
Luis Gonzalez 22.4 DEL 5 111 27.1 30% 0.0 2.3 8.6 2.07 3.31 1.65
Hector Silvestre 21.5 HAG 4 101 25.0 47% 0.4 2.5 5.8 3.40 4.33 1.80
Lucas Giolito 19.9 HAG 5 105 28.1 54% 0.3 1.6 10.5 1.86 2.12 1.91
Matt Marksberry 23.8 ROM 6 141 36.0 36% 0.5 3.3 7.3 3.48 4.04 2.00
Joan Gregorio 22.4 AUG 5 120 28.0 32% 0.0 6.4 8.7 3.31 4.71 2.25
Konner Wade 22.5 ASH 6 140 31.2 49% 0.6 2.8 8.5 3.07 3.41 2.27
Luis Ysla 22.2 AUG 5 116 27.2 48% 1.0 3.3 6.2 4.54 4.38 2.60
Robert Gsellman 20.9 SAV 5 140 30.2 48% 0.0 3.2 8.8 2.61 3.61 2.93

Top videos of the month



Delmarva's Luis Gonzalez with one of his eight strikeouts in a game for the Baltimore affiliate.


Recently promoted Nomar Mazara hits a home run for the Rangers affiliate of Hickory.

Red Sox prospect Carlos Asuaje doubles off the wall for Greenville.