Blake Battenfield

Blake Battenfield is another name for White Sox fans to keep on their rebuild radars


Blake Battenfield is another name for White Sox fans to keep on their rebuild radars

White Sox fans are well aware of the lengthy list of pitching prospects battling for the five spots in the team’s rotation of the future.

Michael Kopech is one of the top 10 prospects in baseball. Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease are also top-100 guys. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already pitching at the major league level. And Carlos Rodon is nearing his return to the big league mound.

A name that fans might want to add to their rebuild radars: Blake Battenfield.

Yes, despite terrific May performances from Dunning, Cease and other more advanced prospects like Jordan Stephens, it was Battenfield, a 17th-round pick in last year’s draft, who earned the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month honors. And he was definitely deserving. In six May starts with Class A Kannapolis, Battenfield posted a 1.25 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 36 innings of work.

A 17th-rounder doesn’t get the kind of attention — or inclusion in a team’s long-term plans — that some of the top 100 prospects in baseball do. But rebuilds are so often full of surprises, and if he can keep throwing like this, there’s no telling what Battenfield could do for his future prospects within the organization.

“There’s a bunch of really talented pitchers in this organization. I’m just glad that I could be recognized for what I did this past month,” Battenfield said on a Sunday conference call. “Hopefully I can continue to produce.

“When I first got to Great Falls last year after I got drafted, I was mainly sinker, slider, just really two pitches. And I learned really quickly that that wasn’t really going to fly, it really didn’t work for me. Since then, I worked a lot with (pitching coach) John Ely in developing my changeup and getting a more consistent pitch with that. Adding a curveball and staying more primarily with a four-seam fastball, letting it ride.

“So really the four-pitch mix has been a big reason why I’ve had success here lately, and I’m hoping to continue to develop the curveball and the changeup, always keep fastball command good because it always starts with the fastball.”

Battenfield’s season numbers are just as good as his May-exclusive ones. On the campaign, he’s got a 1.57 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.2 innings.

There are plenty of pitchers at the lower levels of the system who warrant attention, guys like Kade McClure and Lincoln Henzman and others who aren’t receiving the same hype as the guys who could be starring on the South Side within the next couple seasons. It speaks to the White Sox goal of building depth and using this rebuilding process as a bridge to perennial contention rather than just a year or two of success.

In other words, the battle for those future spots in the White Sox big league rotation, it’s a lot more crowded than you might realize.

“We’ve got a really good, talented group of guys down here,” Battenfield said. “And we all work our butts off every day trying to get better, and we just want to produce in the field. Sometimes you get the results. Right now, I’ve got a really good streak, and I hope to keep it going. But there’s a lot of guys in here. Our entire pitching staff is putting up good numbers.

“There’s a lot of talent in the organization. … There’s definitely things I’ll take from guys that I watch, especially big leaguers. It’s a weird feeling knowing 'OK, I want guys especially on the Intimidators right now because I’m really good friends with all of them, I want them to do well. But you are still competing for the same job.'

“But it’s always good to see you and your teammates do well. It’s always good to pick their brains. The farther I go up hopefully I’ll be able to learn from guys. Even in spring training, I was able to pick the brains of guys in Double-A and Triple-A. They have a lot of good information and stuff they’ve been through, I’m starting to go through or haven’t gone through that yet. It’s always good to have a talent pool to pull from and get some knowledge.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech roughed up in shortest outing this season


Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech roughed up in shortest outing this season

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Triple-A Charlotte

Michael Kopech was torched for seven runs in just two innings in this one, a 9-2 loss. He gave up five hits and walked four in his shortest outing of the season. The White Sox top-ranked pitching prospect has a 4.89 ERA with Charlotte on the campaign.

Double-A Birmingham

Seby Zavala hit his 11th home run of the season in a 7-5 loss. Zavala had two hits, scored a pair of runs and drove in two runs, while Eloy Jimenez had a hit, a walk and two runs scored.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash grabbed two wins in a doubleheader: one by an 11-3 score, the other by a 2-1 score. Blake Rutherford had two hits on the day, including a double. Joel Booker had three hits.

Class A Kannapolis

The White Sox minor league pitcher of the month for May, Blake Battenfield, allowed just one earned run in five innings and lowered his season ERA to 1.59 in this 3-2 loss. Evan Skoug had two hits, and Luis Gonzalez had one.

MLB Draft Tracker: White Sox stockpile farm system on Day 3

MLB Draft Tracker: White Sox stockpile farm system on Day 3

The White Sox went with a heavy dose of productive college players on the first two days of the 2017 MLB Draft.

Sam Abbot, a first baseman out of Curtis High School, is the only preps player the White Sox have selected during the first 10 rounds of the draft.

With final day of the draft underway, is tracking all the players the White Sox add to their farm system Wednesday afternoon:

Round 11: Will Kincanon (RHP), Indiana State

The Chicagoland native went 5-5 with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP with 93 strikeouts in 14 starts with the Sycamores this season.

Round 12: Justin Yurchak (3B), SUNY-Binghampton

After transferring from Wake Forest, Yurchak had a slash line  of .320/.474/.442 with a 41/12 K/BB ratio in 2017.

Round 13: Tate Blackman (2B), Ole Miss

In his junior season at Ole Miss, Blackman had nine homers and 30 RBI. He also added nine stolen bases.

Round 14: Alex Destino (OF), South Carolina

Destino belted 26 homers with 135 RBI during his three years with the Gamecocks.

Round 15: Tyler Frost (CF), Gonzaga

Frost had a .284/.372/.442 slash line with nine homers and 39 RBI in 2017.

Round 16: Logan Taylor (CF), Louisville

Taylor becomes the third player the White Sox have selected out of Louisville in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Round 17: Blake Battenfield (RHP), Oklahoma State

The 6-foot-3 right-hander made 22 appearances for the Cowboys in 2017 and had a 5-4 record with a 4.91 ERA.

Round 18: Hunter Kiel (RHP), LSU

No relation to former Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel or D2: The Mighty Ducks star Gunnar Stahl.

Round 19: Anthony Herron (RHP), Missouri State

Before transferring to Missouri State, Herron had a 15-4 record with a 2.41 ERA and 219 strikeouts at Jefferson College.

Round 20: David Cronin (2B), UIC

The Sandburg High School graduate batted .313 and had six home runs and 32 RBI for the Flames.

Round 21: John Parke (LHP), South Carolna

The 6-foot-3 left-hander had an 8.53 ERA in 14 appearances with the Gamecocks this season.

Round 22: Joseph Benitez (LHP), South Carolina Aiken

Benitez was named PBC Pitcher of the Year and was a first-team all-league selection in 2017.

Round 23: Mikey Duarte (SS), UC Irvine

Duarte had a .320/.395/.448 slash line with a 19/19 K/BB ratio in 2017.

Round 24: Vince Arobio (RHP), Pacific

In 24 appearances, Arobio had a 3.86 ERA with 44 strikeouts.

Round 25: Jose Garcia (OF), Texas Rio Grande Valley

Garcia led the Vaqueros with seven homers and was third on the club with 33 RBI.

Round 26: Michael Staudinger (OF), Azusa Pacific

Staudinger batted .359 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI.

Round 27: JJ Muno (SS), UC Santa Barbara

Muno had 31 stolen bases in his three years with the Gauchos.

Round 28: Laz Rivera (IF), Tampa

After transferring from Chipola College, Rivera had four home runs and 32 RBI in his first season with the Spartans.

Round 29: Joe Mockbee (LHP), Michigan State

The Ohio native made 28 appearances out of the Spartans bullpen had a 5.15 ERA in 2017.

Round 30: Ryan Erickson (LHP), Iowa

Erickson started 12 games for the Hawkeyes in 2017 and had a 3.00 ERA in 75 innings.

Round 31: Parker Rigler (LHP), Kansas State

Parker made Wildcats history this season when he tossed the program's first no-hitter since 1991 in a 14-0 victory over Eastern Illinois in March.

Round 32: Greg Minier (LHP), Washington

Minier had a 3.53 ERA with 41 strikouts out of the Huskies bullpen

Round 33: Kevin George (LHP) Menlo College

Can't confirm, but there's a chance he could be a distant relative of Curious George.

Round 34: Michael McCormick (RHP), Eastern Illinois

McCormick had a 1-6 record with a 7.45 ERA in 12 starts last season.

Round 35: Riley Crean (RHP), Bloomington High School

Riley Crean is the son of former Indiana basketball head coach Tom Crean.

Round 36: Alex Widmer (RHP), Norwayne High School

The right-handed pitcher is committed to play baseball at Malone University. 

Round 37: Ted Andrews (RHP), Tulane

Andrews had a 6.06 ERA in 15 appearances for the Green Wave in 2017.

Round 38: Dylan Horvitz (C), New Trier

Horvitz helped the Trevians to a 4th place finish in Illinois.

Round 39: Chance King (RHP), IMG Academy

Chance King is the son of television personality Larry King (from his eighth marriage).

Round 40: Angelo Smith (LHP), Richards

Smith was on the pitching staff at Richards High School in the Chicagoland area.