Over the next few weeks, BP South Side will be reviewing the performance of all 51 players who suited up for the 2017 White Sox. Players whose seasons were particularly noteworthy will get their own standalone article, while smaller contributors or those who were traded/cut will be grouped together. We’ll do our best to summarize and analyze what each player brought to this year’s club, what we learned, didn’t learn, and what it all means for his future with the team.
It’s a shame that the most memorable moment of Willy Garcia’s season (aside from being part of the All-Garcia outfield) was his terrifying collision with Yoan Moncada during a July 31 game against the Blue Jays, because while the 25-year-old outfielder played in only four more games after suffering a broken jaw on the play, his abbreviated debut season featured enough enticing skills to dream on.
There’s a reason, of course, that Garcia was available to the White Sox in the first place. Seven years after the Pirates signed him as a 17 year old out of the Dominican Republic, Garcia had stalled out at Triple-A in an organization that wasn’t exactly lacking in outfielder depth. The book appeared to be out on him, as noted in the 2017 BP Annual:
Garcia is a 24-year-old who’s yet to reach the majors, yet in many ways the book is already out on him: great arm, good raw pop and no semblance of plate discipline. Not every prospect needs to project as a future superstar to be worth our time, and there’s a potential role player in here somewhere. Still, Garcia needs to sock more dingers or strike out less (or both) if he wants to hold our attention.
A year after putting up a miserable .245/.293/.366 line at Triple-A Indianapolis, Garcia competed for a roster spot with the White Sox out of Spring Training, tore up Triple-A Charlotte for a month, and found himself with the major league team for about a quarter of the season in total.
What we saw during that small sample size was an incomplete player with signs of competence. As mentioned above, Garcia’s track to regular major league playing time is tapping into his power and improving his plate discipline. His strikeout rate was about normal for him at 26 percent, but he walked in 9 percent of his plate appearances, up 3 percent from his prior season. The power numbers weren’t overly impressive, but 10 of Garcia’s 25 hits at the major league level went for extra bases.
The small sample gives up little to draw conclusions from, but incremental improvement from a player who didn’t turn 25 until September gives hope that Garcia can turn into the type of player worth rostering when the White Sox are closer to contending. If nothing else, he’s become a player worth tracking.
As far as major league debuts go, things couldn’t have been much worse for Brad Goldberg. The former 10th round pick was once expected to be a low ceiling but quickly ascending bullpen arm, but didn’t reach Triple-A until he was 26 and at the age of 27, tossed 12 major league innings, walking 14 and striking out just two.
Goldberg has excellent velocity with a fastball that easily touches 97, but it simply doesn’t miss bats. He’ll be 28 at the start of the 2018 season, and the chances of him being a viable major league reliever are all but gone.
TL;DR version of Goldberg’s 2017 season:
Alen Hanson was teammates with Garcia at a few different minor league stops during their time together in the Pirates organization, but was always more highly regarded for a number of reasons. After fizzling out as a top prospect, he became yet another post-hype former prospect the White Sox took a flier on after he was designated for assignment by the Pirates.
Hanson has essentially been the same player for a number of years now, a light hitting utility player capable of handling a number of positions and filling in as an injury replacement. That versatility is valuable, but Hanson has become, more or less, the “R” in WARP.
The problem for Hanson’s ability to stick around, particularly with the White Sox, is that there are a few guys like him who’ve shown more signs of competence. Still, there’s a non-zero chance of him figuring it out as he’s still just 24 with 267 major league plate appearances under his belt. And if nothing else, he’s the type of player worth keeping around as minor league depth.
Lead Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports