What's in store for this White Sox prospect?

June 18th, 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 -- was set to go grocery shopping with his roommates on June 2 in Arizona.

Instead, the Minor League outfielder was promoted to the White Sox Single-A affiliate in Kannapolis, N.C., before he could load a loaf of bread into his cart.

“I was kind of running low on stuff,” Wolkow told MLB.com with a laugh regarding the news of his promotion from the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. “I was about to get in the car, and I told my roommate, 'One second.' I was going to go inside and change into a shirt, because I was wearing a hoodie.

“As I went inside, I got a call from our manager. He kind of explained it all to me and told me the news, and so I was lucky he caught me before I went out and bought groceries for the week.”

The left-handed-hitting Wolkow, who’s ranked as the club's No. 14 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has been an interesting story since Chicago took him in the seventh round (No. 209 overall) of the 2023 MLB Draft and signed him to an above-slot bonus. He stands 6-foot-7 and draws early comparisons to Aaron Judge for his sturdy build and raw power, which is an All-Star reference Wolkow embraces without hesitation.

But after turning 18 on Jan. 11, Wolkow remains a good distance from the Major Leagues. He slashed .333/.433/.561 with two home runs, seven doubles and four RBIs over 15 games this season with the team’s Arizona affiliate, but Wolkow has fanned 24 times over 39 at-bats in 10 games with the Cannon Ballers.

Those struggles won’t be dismissed by Wolkow via the easy youth excuse. Nor will they cause worries for the charismatic and confident talent.

“I’m one to typically be pretty hard on myself,” Wolkow said. “I wouldn’t say I’ve been playing my best baseball, but it’s part of the process in coming up here. I’m not going to be batting .500 right out of the gates and playing amazing. I don’t think that’s what was expected of me.

“It's sticking to that process. There will be some ups and downs. Some really good moments and some pretty tough moments. But it’s the name of the game, especially being young. Continue to keep my head down, continue to work, and know that in two or three years, the process that I’m going through now is going to pay off.”

One of those good moments came on June 6, when Wolkow connected for a 457-foot homer during his third game with Kannapolis. Wolkow was part of the development list with Kannapolis for two weeks at the end of the ’23 campaign, but he currently gets to play with the Carolina League South first-half champions as well as with players he got to know in the fall and this past Spring Training.

“There are a lot of good baseball players, but overall, really good people,” Wolkow said. “Just to have that chance to come up here and have some fun and win some games, it was almost as exciting as getting to move up the level on the baseball side.”

If Wolkow hadn’t reclassified to the 2023 Draft after graduating early from Downers Grove (Ill.) North High School, located about 20 miles west of Guaranteed Rate Field, he had first-round selection written all over him this year. The ’24 Draft’s loss is the White Sox gain.

Wolkow still went with roommates Christian Oppor and Zachary Hammer to Costco after getting the promotion, although he was on the phone with his mom sharing the exciting news. His focus quickly shifted to the next level of competition.

“At the end of the day, I hope I can make it to the big leagues really young,” Wolkow said. “It’s going out there and being just like every guy next to me, trying to be the best possible baseball player I can. Find things to get better at and trying to work my way up.”

Elsewhere on the farm ...

Triple-A Charlotte: Seven pitchers combined on a no-hitter for the Knights on Sunday, but shortstop Colson Montgomery also went deep in the victory. The White Sox No. 1 prospect and No. 10 overall, per MLB Pipeline, has nine homers and 30 RBIs in 61 games.

Double-A Birmingham: Noah Schultz, the White Sox No. 2 prospect and No. 39 overall, has 101 strikeouts and a mere 13 walks over 70 career innings since Chicago took him No. 26 overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. He has 21 strikeouts without a walk since being moved up to the Barons on May 25.

High-A Winston-Salem: Right-handed reliever Billy Seidl earned a jump to the Dash on Thursday after posting a 2.63 ERA with 33 strikeouts over 24 innings for Single-A Kannapolis.