The White Sox sent a very talented group of prospects to participate in the Arizona Fall League. While Luis Robert was undoubtedly the headliner, it’s Laz Rivera who has looked like the most impressive one out of the entire group. It’s been over a week since Robert has played (due to hamstring tightness), however, Rivera was shining before Robert’s absence, and has continued to shine during his absence.
First, let’s take a look at how Laz Rivera has made it to this point in his career:
For those who might not know, Laz Rivera was a 28th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft after playing college ball at the University of Miami, Chipola College, and most recently, the University of Tampa. It was an unorthodox collegiate career for Laz Rivera, but that didn’t stop him from reaching his goal of making it to the majors. Currently, Rivera is a 24-year-old prospect that hasn’t been able to advance past Hi-A, despite being successful at that level. Because of this, the White Sox sent him to the Arizona Fall League to have him face tougher pitching, and to see if he can continue swinging a hot bat that would earn him a promotion sooner rather than later. After two weeks of Arizona Fall League play, Laz Rivera has put himself in a great position to take the next step in his development.
At the plate, Laz Rivera got off to a hot start in the Arizona Fall League as he picked up two hits in his first game. One of them was a double that was just a few inches from being a home run. Rivera has seen action in five games so far, and has reached base in four of those games. He currently has a .222 AVG (4 hits in 18 at-bats), which isn’t eye popping, however, he’s done a lot that doesn’t show up on the box score.
— Sean Williams (@TLS_Sean) October 9, 2018
The most impressive part of Laz Rivera‘s performance in the Arizona Fall League has been his patience at the plate. He’s been very selective of what he’s swinging at, and because of this, he’s only struck out twice so far. Also, he’s had two at-bats where he saw more than 10 pitches. One of those at-bats ended in a single and the other ended in a walk. The patience he’s shown is definitely a positive development. Rivera had 92 strikeouts and just 13 walks combined between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem during the 2018 season. He’s been known to be an aggressive hitter, however, he’s taken a completely different approach in the Arizona Fall League and it’s paying off. If this patience continues into next season, he should see his strikeouts drop and his walks increase. Teaching someone to swing less can be difficult, but Laz Rivera is handling the task well.
— Sean Williams (@TLS_Sean) October 11, 2018
Defensively, Laz Rivera has looked incredible at second-base and shortstop. On Friday, he was a human highlight reel at short. He took away a pair of hits with two diving stops. One of them he turned into a double play and the other he turned into a ground out. On top of that, he made a leaping grab on a ball that was headed for left field, taking away another hit in the same game. His instincts and range at shortstop have been impressive, and he looks much more comfortable there in comparison to second-base. However, he’s held his ground at second-base too, even though he hasn’t had many balls hit his way while playing in that spot.
Next week will mark the halfway point of the 2018 Arizona Fall League season. If Laz Rivera continues this strong play for the duration of the league, he’s going to make it hard on the White Sox to keep him in Hi-A moving into next season. Out of all the White Sox position players in the Arizona Fall League, Laz Rivera is less of a household name than the others. However, he’s already making a name for himself and is becoming more and more of an intriguing prospect with each game he plays in.
Follow Sean on Twitter-Feature Photo Credit: Sean Williams/The Loop Sports