Checking in on top up-and-coming White Sox

May 7th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- has a path to the Majors.

The first part of said path is to pitch well for division-leading Double-A Birmingham, just as he did over eight scoreless outings for High-A Winston-Salem to start the 2024 season before he earned a promotion to the Barons last Wednesday. He did the same with a 2.87 ERA over 28 games for the Dash and Single-A Kannapolis during the 2023 campaign.

Then, with potentially one more stop at Triple-A Charlotte, a jump to the White Sox is in Adler's sights. It’s a 2024 White Sox trip for the hard-throwing right-hander.

“I believe I can get there this year, to be totally honest,” Adler told me during a recent phone interview. “I trust my stuff to get me there.

“It’s just a matter of doing it on the field. I’m excited to put it all out there and see where it takes me.”

Adler -- who was expected to go in the first three rounds of the 2022 MLB Draft thanks to a fastball in the high 90s that once touched 100 mph during Cape Cod League competition -- was selected in the sixth round. He had control issues in ’22 during his junior season with Wake Forest, walking 25 over 21 1/3 innings, which might have made him fall in the Draft.

Now, Adler has worked as an effective closer in the White Sox system, featuring his cutter (which he is working to develop more downward movement on instead of horizontal action) alongside his fastball.

“Just trusting my stuff really,” Adler said. “Making the cutter the bread-and-butter [pitch] to where I'm getting back in the counts with it or getting to two strikes quick with it, and then using the fastball to put them away. I kind of enjoy that way of pitching a little bit. It fools hitters more than just trying to work around with the heater.”

Of course, having that high-velocity heater in his arsenal with the cutter and a curve is always a plus.

“To know that I could reach back and grab one if I need to, it definitely helps,” Adler said. “Just elevating any heaters is hard to hit, and if you add that velocity behind it, it just makes it that much harder. I would like to think that I have a riding fastball, so it kind of gets on you even more.

“I’m often described as kind of emotionless. Obviously, you want some fire coming out of your closer, but that’s just not how I operate best. I’ll get fired up for sure if the situation grants. Jumping around or whatever. Until the job is over, I try to stay as even keel as possible.”

Will Adler’s routine legitimately become part of the 2024 White Sox? The team won’t stop his progress.

“Physically, the stuff is real,” White Sox director of player development Paul Janish said recently of Adler. “The makeup -- when I say makeup, I’m talking about the in-game presentation -- he seems to be unflappable, which is super encouraging for what is probably equating to a high-leverage guy.

“We are going to push him as he shows he can do it, because it’s a little different for a short-inning pitcher type guy with real stuff. So, up to this point, really encouraged. I know he’s another pretty motivated kid. He knows where he wants to go, which is a pretty big piece.”

Triple-A Charlotte

Colson Montgomery, the White Sox No. 1 prospect and No. 8 overall per MLB Pipeline, hit his fifth home run during a 7-6 loss to Memphis on Sunday, then demolished his sixth in the first inning on Tuesday. The shortstop entered Tuesday with a .753 OPS after a slow start.

“We’ve got to remember he’s really young. He’s obviously very talented,” Janish said. “Very little concern at this point for Colson. He’s going to be just fine, and he’s doing what he needs to do.”

High-A Winston-Salem

Noah Schultz, another hard thrower in the White Sox system with great pure stuff and the team’s top pick in the 2022 Draft, has fanned 33 over 19 1/3 innings in five starts. The White Sox No. 2 prospect (No. 45 overall), has a 0.93 WHIP and a .174 average against.

Single-A Kannapolis

Seth Keener, the White Sox No. 15 prospect, ranks second on the team with 27 strikeouts in 23 innings to go with a 2.74 ERA. Aldrin Batista posted a paltry 1.33 ERA in four starts.