2018-19 International Reviews: Chicago White Sox
This is part of Ben Badler's 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 26
When the White Sox signed Luis Robert at the end of the 2016-17 signing period, they smashed through their international bonus pool, which means they couldn't sign anyone for more than $300,000 in 2017-18 or last year in 2018-19.
Three of their top signings in 2018-19 were Cuban players, including Harold Diaz, a 19-year-old shortstop who got $300,000 on July 2. Diaz was one of the top players in Cuba's 15U national league in 2015, when he batted .377/.443/.562 with 16 walks and six strikeouts in 151 plate appearances, ranking among the top 10 in the league in batting average and slugging percentage. After signing with the White Sox, Diaz hit .290/.388/.406 with seven walks and nine strikeouts in 80 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League. Diaz is a righthanded hitter who has shown good bat control, albeit without much power from his 5-foot-10 frame. He stood out more for his glove, fielding his position well with an average arm. He's an average runner and an aggressive but smart baserunner.
Bryan Ramos, who turned 17 this week, is a Cuban third baseman the White Sox signed for $300,000 last year on July 2. Like Diaz, Ramos played for La Habana in Cuba's junior leagues, though Ramos is a few years younger so they didn't play together. Ramos played in the 15U league in 2016, batting .315/.420/.468 with 13 walks and 17 strikeouts in 131 plate appearances, then again in 2017, when he hit .339/.438/.500 with 12 walks and four strikeouts in 80 PAs. He has a strong, physical build (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) and impressed the White Sox with his righthanded power. Several scouts thought Ramos would end up in the outfield, though he has a strong arm and the White Sox have been pleased with his defensive progress since signing.
A third Cuban player the White Sox gave a six-figure deal to last year, 16-year-old Alberto Bernal, got $250,000 on July 2. Bernal was teammates with Ramos on La Habana's 15U team in 2017. He didn't play much, but he did hit .370/.528/.593 in 36 trips to the plate. Bernal has some catching experience, but the White Sox signed him as a first baseman. He's 6-foot-1, 215 pounds and drew the White Sox attention for his combination of hitting ability and righthanded power, which he showed after signing with a couple of home runs in games during Dominican instructional league.
In Venezuela, the White Sox signed catcher Luis Pineda on July 2. He has a strong, compact frame (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) with impressive power for a 16-year-old catcher. He can dip his back shoulder and get too uphill trying to get into that power, but his hands stay short to the ball and he has the strength to drive pitches with impact when he centers the baseball. Pineda will have to stay on top of his conditioning and agility behind the plate, but he has an above-average arm. He's represented by Wilfredo Polidor.
Shortstop Anthony Espinoza was another July 2 signing for the White Sox last year out of Venezuela. He's 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and isn't a burner, but he is a quick-twitch athlete with average speed and arm strength, moving around well at shortstop with a good glove and high all-around baseball instincts. He's a 17-year-old righthanded hitter with solid bat control of a slasher swing and doubles power. Espinoza trained with El Maggy.
One intriguing, lower-dollar signing the White Sox added last year was Ronaldo Guzman, a lefthander from the Dominican Republic who got $75,000 in October after training with Franklin Ferreras. He turned 16 on Aug. 23, so he's one of the younger players in the class. He's grown to 6-foot-1, throwing a fastball up to 89 mph with easy arm action and an athletic delivery that he repeats well to throw strikes with an advanced changeup for his age.
Ahead Of Schedule: White Sox Rebuild Strikes Balance Between Talent, Culture
The White Sox layered shrewd veteran acquisitions around a brimming young talent base. The result? Playoff payoff.
See also: 2017-18 White Sox International Review
See also: 2016-17 White Sox International Review (Notable prospect Luis Robert)
See also: 2015-16 White Sox International Review (Notable prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.)
See also: 2014-15 White Sox International Review
See also: 2013-14 White Sox International Review (Notable prospect Micker Adolfo)
See also: 2012-13 White Sox International Review
See also: 2010-11 AL Central International Review