SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Since switching to rebuild mode, the Chicago White Sox have built one of the best, if not the best, farm system in all of baseball. Some of the top prospects, like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, moved up to the big leagues and graduated off of prospect
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Since switching to rebuild mode, the Chicago White Sox have built one of the best, if not the best, farm system in all of baseball. Some of the top prospects, like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, moved up to the big leagues and graduated off of prospect lists.
The group the White Sox sent to the Arizona Fall League this year does not include any of their upper-echelon prospects, but those who are here are trying to elbow their way onto the now-crowded radar in the organization. A pair of those Minor Leaguers, catcher Seby Zavala and outfielder Tito Polo, certainly opened some eyes with their performances on Friday in Glendale's 7-6 win in Surprise.
Zavala went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs while Polo did his job as the Desert Dogs' leadoff man with two hits, two stolen bases, two runs scored and an RBI of his own to help Glendale improve to 3-1 on the season.
The way the game started, it looked like it was going to be a rout, with the Desert Dogs putting up four runs in the top of the first inning against Surprise starter Burch Smith of the Rays. Polo served as the catalyst with an infield single and eventually stole second and third. He scored on Indians No. 3 prospect Bobby Bradley's RBI single. After a walk to Phillies No. 12 prospect Cornelius Randolph, Zavala's first double, a line drive to left, scored both Bradley and Randolph. Zavala scored on a single by the Phillies' Edgar Cabral to finish off the opening frame scoring.
"I swung at two curveballs early in the count," Zavala said. "He was kind of wild with his other pitches, his fastball and his changeup.
"3-2, I was sitting offspeed. He threw me a curveball, I was able to get it down the line and keep it fair."
Zavala faced Twins No. 8 prospect Tyler Jay to lead off the fourth after the Saguaros had gotten on the board with Royals outfielder Eliezer Hernandez's solo home run on the bottom of the second. This time, the catcher didn't waste any time, taking the Twins' former first-rounder's first pitch and doubling down the right-field line. He went to third when Hernandez had trouble fielding the extra-base hit in right field, though he was cut off at the plate when the Phillies' Edgar Cabral hit a ground ball to third baseman Edmundo Sosa (Cardinals' No. 12), who came home with the throw.
"He threw me a two-seamer and kind of got it in on my hands, but I was able to let get deep enough so I was able to push it down the line," Zavala said. "I definitely want to work line-to-line. If they throw me on the corners, I want to be able to spread the ball. If they throw it over the middle, I want to work the middle of the field."
The Desert Dogs added a pair of runs in the top of the fifth off of Cardinals No. 14 prospect Jordan Hicks. Again, it was Polo who got things going with a leadoff single, moving to third on Pirates infielder Mitchell Tolman's double and scoring on fellow Pirate Logan Hill's sacrifice fly. Bradley's single plated Tolman to give Glendale a 6-2 lead.
That extra run off of Bradley's bat came in handy as the Saguaros rallied late. Rangers No. 15 prospect Josh Morgan and Sosa singled in runs in the sixth, while Twins first baseman Chris Paul doubled in a run in the seventh and scored on an error to bring Surprise within a run, 6-5.
Polo's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth made it 7-5, a crucial run because Rangers outfielder Michael O'Neill hit a solo shot in the bottom of the frame to make it a one-run game again. The Saguaros loaded the bases with two outs, but Phillies No. 30 prospect J.D. Hammer came in to get Morgan to ground out to short for his first AFL save.
Polo is now 4-for-12 with three runs scored and three steals in three games. Zavala has played in two of Glendale's four contests and has come out swinging a hot stick, going 4-for-7 in the process. In many ways, he is just picking up where he left off from a breakout season that saw him hit .282/.353/.499 with 21 home runs across two levels of A ball.
"I was working on some stuff early on, in Spring Training and early on in the season and it finally clicked for me," said Zavala, a San Diego State product who was part of Tony Gwynn's final Draft class at the school in 2015. "I was able to play consistently with my power and my average. I had a couple of weeks off and I've been lucky enough to see the ball real well right now. Hopefully I can continue that."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.