Nearly half a decade ago, White Sox prospect Juan Silverio was hyped as a future impact player, before he played a single professional game. Then, he put up some atrocious numbers in stateside ball, and everyone forgot about him. It’s starting to look like that dismissal may have been a bit premature.
Prior to the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked Silverio as Chicago’s #10 prospect at the tender age of 16, as he looked to be the Pale Hose’s shortstop of the future.
The Sox clearly had high hopes for the te eenaged infielder as well, as they sent him straight to Advanced-Rookie Bristol just two months after his seventeenth birthday.
He responded with a weak .228/.265/.321 line, with a 56/8 K/BB in 59 games.
Okay, yes, that’s poor, but this was a seventeen-year-0ld in Advanced Rookie ball. I mean, a comparable teenage Dominican phenom, Miguel Sano, split his time at age 17 between Dominican ball and the Gulf Coast League.
In any case, the concern about Silverio’s poor performance caused Baseball America to drop him off their top 30 White Sox prospects entirely following the 2008 season, and he’s never made it back on the list.
The White Sox, realizing that Silverio was over his head in the Appalachian League, sent him all the way back to Dominican ball (they’re the only organization in baseball without an AZL or GCL affiliate) in 2009. And he found his bat in his home country, hitting .321/.366/.547 that season, with 29 extra-base hits in 61 games. And he was still just 18, mind you.
Chicago then made the curious move of skipping Silverio straight from the DSL to Low-A Kannapolis to start 2010. His stint there saw even worse results than 2008, as he hit just .200/.237/.336 with a 57/6 K/BB in 63 games. Worse yet, Silverio’s thickening body had prompted the Sox to move him off shortstop and over to third base, and reports on his defense even there weren’t particularly glowing. In just two years, Silverio had gone from a potential Hanley Ramirez-esque power-hitting shortstop to a mediocre third baseman with severe contact and plate discipline issues.
Nevertheless, it’s a bit heavy-handed to complete dismiss a 19-year-old with bigtime power just for struggling in full-season ball, don’t you think? The White Sox demoted Silverio to Advanced-Rookie Great Falls of the Pioneer League late in 2010, and he responded by posting his first good batting line in the US: .294/.340/.506 in 20 games. Small sample, to be sure, but still enough to keep some hope alive that he was a legitimate prospect.
This season, the White Sox gave him another chance in Kannapolis, and Silverio responded by ripping 29 doubles in 88 games en route to a .289/.341/.459 batting line. That was good enough to make him the seventh-youngest Sally League player with an OPS of over .800 this year, since, even after all his struggles, he’s just three months past his 20th birthday. His 28 errors aren’t going to quell the talk that he’ll need to move to first base or right field someday, but Silverio’s bat is headed in the right direction. That said, the 81/18 K/BB still needs tightening up, even though it’s miles ahead of that 57/6 mark from 2010.
For his solid performance, Silverio was promoted to High-A Winston-Salem earlier this week. One might think that he’d struggle yet again with the promotion, but he’s gone 4-for-7 in his first two games. And that might be the best sign yet.