Showing posts with label Lucas Giolito. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lucas Giolito. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2017

It could have been worse: White Sox finish 2017 with 67-95 record

Jose Abreu
Here's a sentence that I might not type again for the rest of my life: The 2017 White Sox exceeded expectations by finishing 67-95.

Through 118 games, the Sox were 45-73 and appeared to be on their way to 100 losses. And nobody would have been shocked or unhappy if they had lost 100. Established veterans such as Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera were traded in July. Competent bullpen arms such as Tommy Kahnle, Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak also were shown the door.

After all that, I never would have guessed the Sox would have a winning September -- they went 15-14 -- nor would I have believed they would go 22-22 in their last 44 games. But that's exactly what they did, and you have to give manager Rick Renteria and his staff some credit. He had guys playing hard and playing the right way all the way up to the very end, and the Sox were able to crawl out of last place while the Detroit Tigers (64-98) tanked and finished with the worst record in the league.

The Sox will draft No. 4 overall in the 2018 entry draft, instead of first, as many had hoped. I can live with that, because their late-season competency wasn't led by a group of mediocre veterans. The younger players who are supposed to be a part of the future -- Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer -- all had some positive moments that contributed to winning. You want to see that progress and that development. It's the most important thing for a team that is in the Sox's position.

However, in recent weeks, I have heard some Sox fans getting a little too exuberant about the team's hopes for 2018. It has been pointed out that the Minnesota Twins, who were 59-103 at this time a year ago, rebounded to 85-77 and won the second wild card in the American League. That's led some to ask the question, "Why can't the Sox author a similar turnaround next year?"

That's a noble thought, but it's just not likely. Despite some of the positives we've seen as of late, the Sox have very little talent in their bullpen. In order to contend next season, they would have to buy at least three and maybe four relief arms in free agency, and I don't see that being a prudent course of action at this stage. They've committed to the rebuild, so stay the course.

Looking ahead to 2018, here's my best guess at how things might break down at each position:

Catcher: There's a pretty good chance both Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez are back next year. Smith hit .283, Narvaez hit .277. We haven't seen that sort of offensive competency from Sox catchers since A.J. Pierzynski left, and neither Smith nor Narvaez embarrassed themselves defensively. Both are probably better options at the position than dumpster diving in free agency.

First base: Jose Abreu enjoyed one of his finest seasons in 2017. He hit .304 with 33 home runs and 102 RBIs. He had 343 total bases and posted a .906 OPS. I've often heard people say the Sox should keep Abreu around to be "a mentor and leader" for young Latino players. It is true that Abreu can be that guy, but keeping him on the club just for that reason sells him short. This guy has had 100 or more RBIs for four straight seasons with not a lot of help. Perhaps the Sox should keep him because he's one of the best in the game at his position.

Second base: Moncada's .231 average reflects the struggles he had when he was first called up to the majors. I said we needed to see a hot streak from this guy before the year ended, and sure enough, we saw one. He hit .276 with an .818 OPS and five home runs after Sept. 1. Something to build on for a player who needs to be a core piece in order for the Sox's rebuild to work.

Shortstop: Anderson's second-half OPS (.732) was a full 100 points higher than his first-half OPS (.632), and he hit .327 in September to raise his season batting average to .257. Eight of his 17 home runs and nine of his 15 stolen bases came after Aug. 1. Signs of progress. Next year is a big year for Anderson. He had a good rookie season. He struggled much of his second year before finishing strong. Consider 2018 the tiebreaker season to give us a read on what type of player Anderson truly is.

Third base: As it stands right now, I think Yolmer Sanchez is the guy. He's the best defensive infielder the Sox have, and he hit .267/.319/.413 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs. That was more production that I ever expected from Sanchez, and he outplayed both Matt Davidson and Tyler Saladino by a wide margin. Sure, Davidson hit 26 home runs, but that's all he does. The .220 batting average and .260 on-base percentage are not impressive, and Davidson doesn't give you much with the glove. Back problems seem to be ruining Saladino's career, as he hit .178 with no home runs in 79 games this year. After a promising 2016, Saladino is perhaps on his way out the door. That's a cautionary tale not to get too excited about Sanchez, I suppose. Long-term, though, I see Sanchez as a valuable bench player on a contender. I think he still can start on next year's Sox team.

Outfield: I'll go on the record: Keep Avisail Garcia. I know some Sox fans want to "sell high," but they are assuming that clubs out there will want to "buy high." I don't know if there will be any takers at a high price. As Sox fans, we don't necessarily believe Garcia can hit .330 again next year. If we don't believe it, why would rival GMs? I'm in favor of putting Garcia in right field for 2018. He won't hit .330, but I'll settle for .280 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. I think he can do that, and while the Sox have outfield prospects in the system, none will be ready for the start of next season. Adam Engel and Leury Garcia will probably vie for playing time in center field. Engel is good with the glove, but can't hit at all, and Leury Garcia keeps getting hurt. They are stopgap solutions, but that's good enough for now. I wouldn't mind seeing the Sox add a stopgap corner outfield veteran to play left field in case Nick Delmonico's surprising late-season performance with the bat is a mirage. Not to mention, Delmonico is subpar with the glove, so I don't know that I want to give him 140 games in left field.

Designated hitter: Would a platoon of Davidson and Delmonico be reasonable to start 2018?

Starting pitching: I think I know three of the five coming into next season: Giolito, Lopez and James Shields. Giolito was better than expected in seven late-season starts, going 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA. The Sox hope he is part of their present and future, so let him pitch. Ditto with Lopez, whose performance (3-3, 4.72 ERA in eight starts) was more uneven than Giolito's, but promising at times. Shields is a veteran with a bad contract, and veterans with bad contracts tend to stay right where they are. Fulmer had a rough season at Triple-A Charlotte, then surprised by going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven late-season appearances (five starts). I think Fulmer competes for a rotation spot in the spring, but he didn't show enough over the course of the year for me to be confident that he's one of the five for 2018. Carlos Rodon was limited to 12 starts this season because of shoulder problems. Now, he's out six to eight months after shoulder surgery. I never felt the Sox were being truthful about the extent of Rodon's injury. Maybe we'll see him in May or June of next year, or maybe not. You can't count on him, and I think the Sox need to sign two stopgap veterans on short-term deals to fill out the rotation. I've heard Sox fans call for the team to sign a "Derek Holland type." Frankly, I'd prefer a "Miguel Gonzalez type," since Gonzalez did that job for the Sox in 2017, while Holland failed miserably after a respectable first two months.

Relief pitching: Who do you keep from this morass? You can't sign a whole new bullpen, so you gotta keep somebody. I'll keep Juan Minaya, Aaron Bummer and Greg Infante. I'm not overly impressed with any of them, but they are the best of a bad lot. Nate Jones has a contract for next season, and he's coming off a second elbow surgery. Fingers crossed that he can provide some veteran stability, but you can't count on that. Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam are always injured. It's time to move on from them. Beyond that, who knows? Is stinks that Zack Burdi is going to miss 2018 after elbow surgery. He would have been in the major league bullpen, and that would have been one more young guy to watch.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

White Sox damage Kansas City's wild card hopes

The 2012 White Sox lost the AL Central by three games. And from Aug. 7 until the end of that season, the Sox lost nine out of 11 games to the Kansas City Royals.

The 2012 Royals were a 90-loss team, but the Sox couldn't do anything against them coming down the stretch, and I've long felt the inability to beat Kansas City was the reason the South Siders missed the playoffs that year.

The Sox haven't played meaningful September games in the five years since, while the Royals have won two American League pennants and the 2015 World Series. Kansas City has tortured the Sox for most of this decade, and frankly, I will probably carry the scars from this 2016 loss for the rest of my life. It is the worst loss I've ever endured as a Sox fan.

So, given all that history, it is with great joy that I report that the last-place Sox (58-87) damaged Kansas City's 2017 playoff hopes this week by taking two out of three at Kauffman Stadium.

This was a series the Royals (72-73) needed to win. They didn't win it, and now they are four games out of the second wild card with three teams to pass as they embark on an 11-game road trip that starts in Cleveland against an Indians club that has won 21 games in a row.

Good luck, Royals. There isn't a Sox fan alive that has any sympathy for you.

Here's a look back at this week's series:

Monday, Sept. 11
White Sox 11, Royals 3: Jose Abreu almost hit for the cycle for the second time in three days. He came to the plate in the top of the ninth inning needing a home run, but he ended up drawing a walk from Kansas City reliever Trevor Cahill.

The Sox's first baseman went 4 for 5 to lead a 17-hit attack. Adam Engel and Yoan Moncada added three hits each, with Engel capping off a six-run sixth inning with a three-run home run.

The offensive outburst allowed right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (1-3) to pick up his first victory with the Sox. Lopez allowed three runs in the fifth inning, but he got through six, allowing eight hits. The Sox are hopeful it will be the first of many wins for the hard-throwing 23-year-old.

Tuesday, Sept. 12
Royals 4, White Sox 3: Dylan Covey had a miserable first inning. He walked the bases loaded and gave up a grand slam to Brandon Moss to put the Sox in an early 4-0 hole.

But Covey (0-5) settled down and retired 14 out of 15 hitters at one point, and the Sox had their chances to come back and win the game. They outhit the Royals, 13-4, but left 10 runners stranded.

The Sox had runners at first and third with nobody out in the top of the ninth inning, but could not get the tying run home against Kansas City reliever Scott Alexander.

Moncada struck out, Abreu popped out and Matt Davidson grounded out, ending an unsatisfying offensive day for the Sox.

Wednesday, Sept. 13
White Sox 5, Royals 3: The Sox solved Alexander in the rubber match of the series with two runs in the top of the ninth inning that broke a 3-3 tie.

Tim Anderson singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third as Moncada walked. That put runners on first and third with one out for Abreu, who delivered a sacrifice fly for his 93rd RBI of the season and 4-3 lead. Avisail Garcia's two-out RBI single plated Moncada and capped the scoring.

Juan Minaya (3-2) sealed the win with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth. It's too bad Lucas Giolito didn't get the win after he pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball. Alas, Danny Farquhar allowed two runs in the eighth to give up the lead, and the Sox starter got a no-decision.

But Giolito can take the positives out of the start. He allowed only four hits despite not having his best stuff. His ERA is down to 2.56 in five starts, and he's positioning himself for a job in the 2018 Sox rotation.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

White Sox release pitcher Derek Holland; Yoan Moncada coming off the disabled list

Derek Holland
Derek Holland's services as a veteran placeholder are no longer needed.

The White Sox on Tuesday requested waivers on the left-handed pitcher for purposes of granting him his unconditional release.

The Sox have purchased the contract of left-hander Jace Fry from Double-A Birmingham, and he will be called up to the majors to take Holland's spot on the roster.

Holland appeared in 29 games (26 starts) for the Sox this season and finished 7-14 with a 6.20 ERA. Would you believe it if I told you that Holland's ERA on June 1 was 2.37?

He was perhaps the Sox's best starter the first two months of the season. Regression was inevitable, but there's regression, and then there's falling off a cliff. This was falling off a cliff.

Since June 1, Holland was 3-10 with a 9.32 ERA. These were three of the sorriest months I've ever seen put together by a Sox starting pitcher.

The Sox tried to throw Holland a lifeline by giving him an opportunity to work as a situational left-hander out of the bullpen. Holland entered Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the eighth with the Sox leading, 6-1, and he promptly walked .194-hitting Brad Miller leading off the inning.


Naturally, that walk came around to score, although Greg Infante successfully minimized the damage, and Lucas Giolito picked up his second career win in a 6-2 Sox victory.

But that outing showed that Holland can't be trusted to do the job even when he's being given a favorable matchup against a light-hitting left-hander. When you reach that point, it's time to hit the bricks.

As for Fry, he's made it back from Tommy John surgery after missing the entire 2016 season. He pitched 33 games out of the Birmingham bullpen this year and went 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA and three saves.

Why not give him a taste of the majors and see what he can do as a situational left-hander? His odds are better than Holland's at this point, I would say.

And, oh, I buried the lead again. Second baseman Yoan Moncada is coming off the disabled list after missing time with a shin bruise. So, let the prospect hype continue!

Monday, August 28, 2017

White Sox take two out of three from Detroit Tigers

Yolmer Sanchez
This weekend represented a rarity for the White Sox this season: They went into a three-game series in which the pitching matchups seemed to present them with an outstanding chance of winning at least two out of three.

The Sox did, in fact, take two out of three games from the Detroit Tigers, although the order in which they won this series was a little different than I anticipated. Let's look back on the weekend that was:

Aug. 25
White Sox 3, Tigers 2: This was the one game in the series where I felt the Tigers had the edge with their ace, Justin Verlander, going against Sox right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.

Perhaps I should have known better, because Gonzalez has had a strong second half. He's racked up seven quality starts in his past eight outings and lowered his season ERA from 5.15 to 4.30 in the process. And he more than matched Verlander in this game:

Gonzalez: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 Ks, 0 BBs
Verlander: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8Ks, 2 BBs

This one ended up being decided by bullpens, and while neither club has a good one, it was Detroit's relief corps that broke first.

With the score tied at 2, Tim Anderson led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double off Joe Jimenez (0-2). Yolmer Sanchez followed a game-ending RBI single.

That made a winner of Sox reliever Juan Minaya (2-1), who worked 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Aug. 26
Tigers 6, White Sox 3: I thought this would be the most favorable matchup for the Sox this weekend, so, of course, they lost.

Carlos Rodon (2-5) had allowed two runs or less and worked six innings or more in five straight starts coming into Saturday, but his hot streak ended against the Tigers.

The left-hander lasted only five innings and gave up five runs. Sanchez staked him to an early 2-0 lead with a home run, but Rodon handed it right back by giving up back-to-back home runs to Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera in the top of the third inning. Cabrera's homer gave Detroit a 3-2 lead, and the Tigers led the rest of the way.

Detroit starter Buck Farmer (3-1) has a 6.17 ERA this season, but two of his three wins have come against the Sox. Farmer was nothing special in this game, allowing three earned runs over 5.2 innings, but he was better than Rodon. That was disappointing.

Aug. 27
White Sox 7, Tigers 1: Not so disappointing was the performance of rookie right-hander Lucas Giolito (1-1), who fired seven shutout innings to pick up his first major-league victory in the rubber match of the series.

Unlike his first start, Giolito had his four-pitch mix working. He was consistently ahead in counts and allowed only two hits through his first six innings. He struck out four and threw 72 of his 104 pitches for strikes.

His seventh and final inning was a tough one, but he managed to get out of a two-out jam that saw the Tigers load the bases. Jose Iglesias hit a ball down the left-field line that was initially ruled a grand slam. Replays showed the ball was clearly foul, and the call was reversed. After the loud strike one, Giolito induced Iglesias to ground out to shortstop, and that completed his seven-inning day.

The Sox have had a lot of success against Detroit lefty Matt Boyd (He's 0-4 vs. Chicago in his career), and they scored five runs off him in the bottom of the third inning Sunday. Matt Davidson's two-out, two-strike three-run homer turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 lead, and the Sox remained in control the rest of the way.

Sanchez went 3 for 4 and finished the series 6 for 12 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and four RBIs. 

The win finished up a 5-3 homestand for the South Siders. The Sox are 9-5 in their past 14 home games, so at least they are playing better before their fans at Guaranteed Rate Field. Their 2-8 road record this month stinks, but being able to compete and win at home is a step forward over what we were seeing for most of June and July.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lucas Giolito's first outing not 'excellent,' but respectable

Manager Rick Renteria overstated it when he called Lucas Giolito's first start with the White Sox "excellent." Nevertheless, there were several positives to take from the outing, even though Giolito and the Sox lost, 4-1, to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

Here is Giolito's final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 Ks, 0 BBs, 3 HRs

Notice that I bolded the no walks. The quickest way to endear yourself to me as a pitcher is to throw strikes and get after people. I was satisfied that Giolito did that. He threw 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes, which is a ratio that is above league average. The Minnesota hitters might have beaten him, sure, but he didn't give anything away.

The other thing that stood out about Giolito is that he managed to survive six innings without anything resembling his best stuff. When he's right, the curveball is an out pitch for him. Based on my observations, and the postgame comments I've read, Giolito's curveball was nearly useless in this game. He had to rely almost exclusively on a fastball-changeup combination.

Of his 99 pitches, he threw 69 fastballs, 16 changeups, 12 curves and two sliders. He could not grab any strikes with his breaking ball, so he was relying mostly on fastball command.

And, for the most part, Giolito's fastball command was good. Unfortunately, he did make a few mistakes, and he gave up three home runs, all to left-handed hitters -- Jorge Polanco, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario. Those homers accounted for all four runs allowed.

That's the thing about pitching in the big leagues: You gotta have something to get hitters off your fastball. It doesn't matter how good the fastball is, if they know it's coming, you better have precise location or you're going to get hit. On those three occasions, Giolito didn't have precise location, and he got hit.

In each case, he appeared to be trying to come inside and missed out over the plate. That's a teachable moment for pitching coach Don Cooper. He can show Giolito that and say, "If you're going to miss, miss in."

Hopefully, Giolito will be able to throw his curve for strikes next time he takes the mound. If he can, he might get away with a mistake or two with the fastball, because a few curves for strikes force the opponent to honor the breaking pitch. Last night, I think the Minnesota hitters just subtracted the breaking ball from their thinking and sat on Giolito's heater, which is good (91-93 mph) but not overpowering.

Despite the loss, Giolito showed plenty to earn himself another start, and it was nice to see, especially coming on the heels of Carson Fulmer's discouraging outing Monday night.

As Sox fans, we all want to see these touted prospects jump up and earn their place on the roster. Ideally, Giolito will show well enough to be in the big-league rotation in 2018. Even if the outing Tuesday was not "excellent," let's call it a good first step.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Most doubleheaders are split, including the one Monday night

Carlos Rodon
It was just last week that we suggested the White Sox try Juan Minaya as closer. He's got the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher in the Sox bullpen, and hey, what else is there to lose?

Apparently, manager Rick Renteria thought the same thing. Minaya has closed out three Sox victories since Friday -- two over the weekend against the Texas Rangers, and one against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

The Sox took the opener of Monday's doubleheader with the Twins, 7-6, before Minnesota cruised to a 10-2 victory in Game 2.

It was nice to see Minaya come through with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve a win for starter Carlos Rodon (2-4), who has racked up five strong starts in a row.

This time, Rodon went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out nine and walked three. At one point in time, he retired 10 out of 11 hitters. Most importantly, he minimized the damage in a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth inning. He allowed only a sacrifice fly, and he walked off the mound with one out in the seventh with his team leading 7-2.

Alas, the bullpen follies continued for the Sox. The Twins nicked Danny Farquhar for a run in that seventh inning, and then Derek Holland surrendered a three-run homer to the great Jorge Polanco in the top of the eighth.

I don't know what the Sox are going to do with Holland, who got shelled in his most recent start in Texas. In this relief appearance, he faced four batters and retired only one. If there were more options available, I'd call for the Sox to designate Holland for assignment. Alas, there aren't many pitchers left in the high minors whom the Sox could call up.

Fortunately, Minaya shut it down in the ninth. He didn't allow the ball to leave the infield in recording his third save.

The Sox's No. 3 through No. 6 hitters combined to go 6 for 13 with six runs scored and all seven RBIs. Jose Abreu hit his team-best 25th home run of the season. Avisail Garcia had three hits, and Yolmer Sanchez tied a career high with four RBIs, those coming on a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly.

Game 2 saw Carson Fulmer make his 2017 Sox debut, and as feared, it was a clunker. He had a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Charlotte this year, so I was expecting much. But this start was painful to watch even with low expectations.

Fulmer worked a 1-2-3 first inning on seven pitches, but his fortunes turned quickly in the second inning. He threw 41 pitches and recorded only one out. Worse, he gave up a pair of three-run homers, one to the aforementioned Polanco and one to Brian Dozier. He exited with the Sox trailing 6-0.

His final line: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 0 Ks

Fulmer's command was terrible. Not only was he wild with walks, he was wild in the zone. He missed locations by feet, not inches, with his fastball. His breaking ball was elevated and hanging. The Twins tagged him, and such a poor outing is only going to increase questions about whether Fulmer should make the move to the bullpen.

I always say a young pitcher is a starter until he shows me he is not, and I'm getting pretty close to saying Fulmer is not a starting pitcher.

The Sox had no prayer in this second game. They managed only three hits, although two of them were solo home runs. Nick Delmonico connected for his sixth of the season, and Adam Engel hit his fourth.

After the game, Fulmer was mercifully sent back to Charlotte. Brad Goldberg also was optioned back to Charlotte, clearing a roster spot for Lucas Giolito, who will make his Sox debut in Wednesday's game against the Twins.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Baseball America updates list of top White Sox prospects

With the Jose Quintana trade in the past and the White Sox getting swept at home by the Seattle Mariners over the weekend, the 2017 season is starting to feel even more rebuild-y.

I'm not one to get overly enthusiastic about prospects, but if you're so inclined, Baseball America has updated its list of top-10 Sox prospects:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF
3. Michael Kopech, RHP
4. Luis Robert, OF
5. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
6. Lucas Giolito, RHP
7. Dylan Cease, RHP
8. Jake Burger, 3B
9. Dane Dunning, RHP
10. Alec Hansen, RHP

Of note, only Hansen was a member of the Sox organization before last December. Moncada and Kopech were acquired in the Chris Sale deal. Jimenez and Cease were acquired in the Quintana deal. Robert was an international free agent signing earlier this spring. Lopez, Giolito and Dunning all were acquired in the Adam Eaton deal. Burger was the Sox's No. 1 pick in the June draft.

There have been some changes since December. Here's how the list looked then:

1. Moncada, 2B/3B
2. Giolito, RHP
3. Lopez, RHP
4. Zack Collins, C
5. Kopech, RHP
6. Zack Burdi, RHP
7. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
8. Carson Fulmer, RHP
9. Spencer Adams, RHP
10. Dunning, RHP

Burdi fell off the list because he had Tommy John surgery and is out until 2019. Collins has seen his stock fall with the .216/.366/.414 slash line he's posted at Class-A Winston-Salem this season.

Fulmer has had a bad season, too. The former first-round draft pick is 1-5 with a 7.90 ERA over the past two months at Triple-A Charlotte. He was 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in April, but not much has gone right since. It might be time to abandon the "Fulmer is a starter" experiment and move him to the role a lot of people believe is his future: high-leverage reliever.

Adams and Basabe dropped off the list, as well, but I don't know that I ever saw them as anything more than midlevel prospects anyway. It stands to reason they would drop on these lists with the Sox adding Jimenez, Robert and Burger in recent months.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

I didn't have time Monday to break down the White Sox's three losses to the Detroit Tigers over the weekend. And really, what is there to say? They got outscored, 32-10, in the series, and got beaten in embarrassing fashion.

So, let's move on to other things that stink, such Yoan Moncada's 5-for-40 tailspin since coming off the disabled list May 26. The Sox's top prospect is 2 for 22 in June with seven strikeouts.

The combination of the injury and this slump has slowed down the drumbeat for him to be called up to the majors. That's for sure.

Since the last time we did that exercise, I've determined that none of the hitters at Birmingham are worth following. Trey Michalczewski was demoted to Class-A Winston-Salem, and Courtney Hawkins doesn't qualify as a prospect for me anymore.

I've also knocked Alex Call off the Winston-Salem list, since he is hurt and hasn't played since April.

All statistics are through games of June 5:

Charlotte Knights (26-30, 3rd place in International League South)

Moncada, 2B: .285/.366/.436, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs, 57 Ks, 24 BBs, 12 SBs, 179 ABs
Jacob May, OF:.290/.362/.427, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, 32 Ks, 12 BBs, 4 SBs, 124 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .282/.362/.491, 9 HRs, 32 RBIs, 40 Ks, 25 BBs, 2 SBs, 216 ABs
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 5-2, 3.81 ERA, 59 IP, 52 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 60 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.34 WHIP
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 5-3, 4.63 ERA, 58.1 IP, 55 H, 36 R, 30 ER, 44 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.41 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 2-5, 4.95 ERA, 56.1 IP 55 H , 33 ER, 31 ER, 57 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.46 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP:  0-4, 4.64 ERA, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 32 Ks, 10 BBs, 1.45 WHIP, 5 saves

Birmingham Barons (19-36, 4th place in Southern League North)

Michael Kopech, RHP: 4-3, 2.93 ERA, 58.1 IP, 33 H, 22 R, 19 ER, 80 Ks, 36 BBs, 1.18 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 3-6, 3.93 ERA, 66.1 IP, 77 H, 32 R, 29 ER, 50 Ks, 7 BBs, 1.27 WHIP
Jordan Stephens, RHP: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 0.33 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (19-38, 4th place in Carolina League South)

Michalczewski, 3B: .311.343/607, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs, 16 Ks, 4 BBs, 1 SB, 61 ABs
Zack Collins, C: ..230/.392/.455, 8 HRs, 26 RBIs, 56 Ks, 43 BBs, 0 SBs, 165 ABS
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF:.224/.322/317, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 54 Ks, 23 BBs, 10 SBs, 182 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 2-0, 4.79 ERA, 20.2 IP, 20 H, 12 R, 11 ERs, 22 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.50 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (30-25, 4th place in South Atlantic League North)

Jameson Fisher, OF: .290/.376/.455, 2 HRs, 29 RBIs, 49 Ks, 22 BBs, 2 SBs, 176 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF:.277/.332/.434, 3 HRs, 23 RBIs, 54 Ks, 6 BBs, 0 SBs, 173 ABs
Mitch Roman, 2B: .267/.323/.320, 1 HR, 23 RBIs, 43 Ks, 14 BBs, 2 SBs, 206 ABs
Alec Hansen, RHP: 5-3, 2.82 ERA, 60.2 IP, 50 H, 26 R, 19 ERs, 74 Ks, 21 BBs, 1.17 WHIP

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lucas Giolito throws seven-inning no-hitter; Tyler Danish recalled

Tyler Danish
It's been hard to find positives in Lucas Giolito's body of work this season. The right-hander at one point was the No. 1-ranked pitching prospect in all of baseball, and he was the biggest name acquired by the White Sox in the deal that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, it's been so far, so bad for Giolito since he joined the Sox organization. Entering his start Thursday for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, Giolito had compiled a 1-5 record with an ugly 6.41 ERA in eight games.

But finally, something clicked Thursday night against the Syracuse Chiefs. Giolito threw a seven-inning no-hitter in a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader. He struck out only three, and he walked three, but he also needed only 87 pitches to record the 21 outs. Fifty of those 87 pitches were strikes, and the win lowered his ERA to a somewhat less unsightly 5.44.

The no-hitter is the first in the history of BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, which is a notorious hitters' park. It's the first no-hitter for the Knights since Andre Rienzo tossed a seven-inning gem in 2013.

The Sox have to hope this is a confidence boost and a turning point for Giolito.

Roster moves

The White Sox on Friday placed starting pitcher Dylan Covey on the 10-day disabled list with oblique soreness. In some ways, the time off might be merciful for Covey, who is 0-4 with an 8.12 ERA in eight starts.

Reliever Juan Minaya takes his place on the roster. The right-hander has a 1.23 ERA in 10 appearances and 14.2 innings at Charlotte since coming off the disabled list (abdominal strain). The addition of Minaya means the Sox are carrying nine relief pitchers for Friday's doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

They might need the help, since the Sox's two scheduled starting pitchers are Mike Pelfrey and Tyler Danish. If the Sox get five decent innings out of both men, that would be considered a success.

Danish was recalled Friday to be the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader. The 22-year-old right-hander made three relief appearances for the Sox last year, but this will be his first start in the major leagues.

He was 1-3 with a 3.15 ERA in eight starts and 45.2 innings for the Knights.

If you're going out to the ol' ballpark for the doubleheader Friday, you might see some offense. Detroit is basically doing the same thing the Sox are: starting one struggling pitcher (Matt Boyd) and one minor-league call-up (Buck Farmer). Top-of-the-rotation starters are nowhere to be found in these matchups.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

Since we last took at look at the numbers for notable White Sox prospects, there was one promotion of significance made.

Right-hander Dane Dunning, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, was promoted from Low-A Kannapolis to High-A Winston-Salem. He went 2-0 with a 0.35 ERA in four starts at Kannapolis, so now we'll see if he can carry that success over to Winston-Salem.

These numbers are through games of May 8.

Charlotte Knights (14-15, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .345/.419/.549, 6 HRs, 11 RBIs, 8 SBs, 34 Ks, 15 BBs, 113 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .295/.378/.446, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 1 SB, 16 Ks, 14 BBs, 112 ABs
Jacob May, OF: .227/.261/.273, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, 1 SB, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 22 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .213/.304/.427, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1 SB, 26 Ks, 11 BBs, 89 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 4-1, 2.88 ERA, 34.1 IP, 28 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 25 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.136 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 3-1, 3.94 ERA, 32 IP, 25 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 35 Ks, 19 BBs, 1.375 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-5, 7.31 ERA, 28.1 IP, 32 H, 25 R, 23 ER, 31 Ks, 18 BBs, 1.765 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1, 2.31 ERA, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 19 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.029 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (11-20, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .200/.314/.280, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 SBs, 35 Ks, 15 BBs, 100 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .127/.146/.291, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 47 Ks, 2 BBs, 79 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-2, 3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 36Ks, 16 BBs, 1.208 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 1-5, 3.65 ERA, 37 IP, 43 H, 18 R, 15 ERs, 31 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.270 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (11-20, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .233/.393/.384 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, 0 SBs, 27 Ks, 23 BBs, 86 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .242/337/363, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 SBs, 25 Ks, 13 BBs, 91 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs
Dunning, RHP: 1-0, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 11 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.565 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (15-15, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Mitch Roman, 2B: .343/.408/.389, 0 HRs, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 108 ABs
Jameson Fisher, OF: .248/.345/.347, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 2 SBs, 30 Ks, 14 BBs, 101 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .310/.375/.437, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 0 SB, 24 Ks, 3 BBs, 87 ABs
Alec Hansen, RHP:1-3, 3.56 ERA, 30.1 IP, 27 H, 18 R, 12 ER, 31 Ks, 12 BBs, 1.286 WHIP

Friday, April 28, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

As we come to the end of April, let's take a look at how some notable White Sox prospects have started the season. All statistics are through games of April 27.

Charlotte Knights (9-10, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .297/.373./.500, 4 HRs, 5 RBIs, 5 SBs, 27 Ks, 9 BBs, 74 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .320/.386/.453, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 SBs, 12 Ks, 7 BBs, 75 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .143/.234/.214, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 SB, 19 Ks, 7 BBs, 56 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 2-1, 3.52 ERA, 23 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 19 Ks, 5 BBs, 1.22 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 1-1, 4.87 ERA, 20.1 IP, 20 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 22 Ks, 13 BBs, 1.62 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-3, 6.63 ERA, 19 IP, 18 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 23 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.53 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1 with 2 SVs, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 13 Ks, 3 BB, 1.30 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (8-13, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .222/.309/.333, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 SB, 21 Ks, 9 BBs, 72 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .143/.167/.333, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 35 Ks, 2 BBs, 63 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-1, 2.50 ERA, 18 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 28 Ks, 14 BBs, 1.28 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 0-4, 3.65 ERA, 24.2 IP, 26 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 20Ks, 3 BBs, 1.18 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (7-14, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .172/.372/.293, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 SBs, 22 Ks, 19 BBs, 58 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .245/.333/.377, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 SBs, 14Ks, 7 BBs, 53 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs

Kannapolis Intimidators (10-10, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Jameson Fisher, OF: .261/.329/.362, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 18 Ks, 6 BBs, 69 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .234/.308/.277, 0 HRs, 1 RBI, 0 SBs, 16 Ks, 1 BB, 47 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 2-0, 0.35 ERA, 26 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 33 Ks, 2 BBs, 0.58 WHIP
Alec Hansen, RHP: 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 18.1 IP, 21 H, 14 R, 9 ER, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 1.69 WHIP

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lucas Giolito reminds us why he needs more time in Triple-A

Many White Sox fans were excited about the first three starts pitching prospect Lucas Giolito made in the Cactus League, and who can blame them? Giolito allowed only two solo home runs in nine innings across those three outings, and each performance was better than the one preceding it.

Until Tuesday.

In his fourth spring start, Giolito didn't make it out of the first inning in a 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners. He recorded only two outs, while allowing four runs on four hits. He had two walks, one that loaded the bases and another on four pitches that forced in a run. His fastball command was terrible, and he did not produce a single swing-and-miss among the 30 pitches he threw. His velocity was down, and he couldn't throw his curve ball for a strike either.

"It’s hard to pinpoint one issue," Giolito told CSNChicago.com. "I didn’t really execute anything I was trying to do today. As a starting pitcher, you want to work efficiently, you want to throw low pitch count innings, work through a game and I threw, what, 30 pitches. Didn’t get out of the first inning. Just didn’t do my job."

The poor outing has caused some to wonder whether Giolito has hit the inevitable dead-arm period that all pitchers experience during spring ball. Possibly, but the more likely scenario is the fact that Giolito is a 22-year-old kid still struggling to find consistency. As much as we'd all like him to be ready for the big leagues, he is not. If you watched the outing Tuesday -- and I did -- it was a prime example of why this prospect needs more time pitching in the minor leagues.

Giolito will be in Triple-A Charlotte when the season begins, and rightfully so.

This is why I get a little confused when my fellow Sox fans tell me they are "excited to watch the kids" this season. Well, if all goes well, maybe a few of these guys will be called up for the second half of the season, or in September when the rosters expand.

But for the most part, if you want to "watch the kids" the Sox have acquired, I'd suggest spending your summer in Charlotte or Birmingham. The Sox would be doing these prospects a disservice if they didn't send them down to the minor leagues.

Patience is required, from the organization and fans alike.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The White Sox's big pitching prospects have all made their first spring starts ...

As of Wednesday morning, the White Sox have played five spring training games. They've gone 2-2-1, and each of the four big pitching prospects in the organization has made one start.

Here are the results for each man:

Carson Fulmer: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K 
Lucas Giolito: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR 
Reynaldo Lopez: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR 
Michael Kopech: 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

Isn't it interesting that the guy who is ranked the lowest on the prospect lists and is getting the least amount of hype did the best?

Fulmer started Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and struck three consecutive batters out swinging in his two scoreless innings.

It's foolish to draw any sort of conclusion on anybody from one spring start, but Fulmer's performance was at least enough to remind people that, hey, he's still around. And he might be closer to making the major leagues than the three newcomers to the organization that were acquired this offseason.

Giolito faced the Cubs and gave up a solo home run to Addison Russell on a four-seam fastball that wasn't very well located. He was somewhat fortunate to escape damage in the first inning, when a diving stop by second baseman Yoan Moncada produced a 4-6-3 double play that helped Giolito work out of a first-and-second, no-outs jam. The Cubs had seven of their nine regulars in the lineup, and Giolito was able to avoid getting lit up and post a respectable line -- so at least there's that.

Kopech and Lopez did get lit up, which stinks, but isn't necessarily a sign of bad things to come. Kopech was on the verge of getting out of the first inning with only one run allowed, but he made a bad mistake on an 0-2 pitch, giving up a 3-run homer to Seattle's Mitch Haniger. Tough start. We'll see how the 20-year-old responds next time out.

Lopez? Well, now we know he's a true White Sox. He gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Raburn in his outing against the Cincinnati Reds. As we've noted before, Raburn has basically built a career out of beating up on Sox pitching. I'll probably throw a party the day Raburn retires.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Baseball Prospectus releases Top 101 prospects list; six White Sox included

As White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Arizona, today, any optimism surrounding the team has to do with the future and the Sox's much-improved farm system.

Baseball Prospectus on Monday released its list of Top 101 prospects, and the Sox have six players listed. That's significant, because I can't remember the Sox ever having more than two or three players named.

Here's how BP lines 'em up:

5. Yoan Moncada, INF
10. Lucas Giolito, RHP
30. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
36. Michael Kopech, RHP
89. Zack Collins, C
97. Alec Hansen, RHP

In case you're interested but too lazy to click the link, the four guys ranked ahead of Moncada are St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes, Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Philadelphia Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford.

Moncada ranked second (behind Benintendi) in Baseball America's Top 100, which was released Friday. BA was not as high on Giolito, however, ranking him 25th. The publication liked Collins better, ranking him 56th. Lopez (31st) and Kopech (32nd) were in similar territory on BA's list, which did not include Hansen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baseball America's revised list of top 10 White Sox prospects

The White Sox's recent trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton netted them seven new players -- all of whom are minor-league prospects. So, it stands to reason the organization's list of top 10 prospects looks far different now than it did at this time last month.

Here's the latest look from Baseball America:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP
3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
4. Zack Collins, C
5. Michael Kopech, RHP
6. Zack Burdi, RHP
7. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
8. Carson Fulmer, RHP
9. Spencer Adams, RHP
10. Dane Dunning, RHP

Moncada, Kopech and Basabe all were acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Sale trade. Giolito, Lopez and Dunning all were acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Eaton trade. Collins and Burdi were 2016 Sox draft picks.

That means eight of these 10 players have joined the Sox organization within the past six months. I'm sure this will do a lot for the Sox in terms of where their farm system ranks, although each of the next two seasons likely will feature 90-plus losses on the South Side of Chicago.

It will be interesting to come back to this list in 2019 and see how many of these players panned out.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

White Sox sign pitcher Derek Holland to one-year contract

Derek  Holland
Somebody has to pitch for the 2017 White Sox, right?

One of those somebodies will be veteran left-hander Derek Holland, who agreed Wednesday to a one-year, $6 million contract with the Sox.

Holland, 30, has been plagued by knee and shoulder injuries that have limited him to 38 starts over the past three seasons combined. He went 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA in 22 starts for the Texas Rangers in 2016. He spent July and most of August on the disabled list with shoulder problems, and suffered from reduced fastball velocity when he did pitch. The Rangers declined their $11 million team option on him at the end of the season.

The left-hander's best season came for a pennant-winning Texas team in 2011, when Holland led the league in shutouts with four and went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA. His last good season was his last healthy one -- 2013 -- when he tossed a career-high 213 innings and went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts.

Holland is looking for a bounce-back year that will rebuild his value when he goes back on the open market next offseason. The Sox might be a good fit for him, because there will be an opportunity to pitch, and there is an opportunity to work with pitching coach Don Cooper, who has had some success in the past with reclamation projects.

For the club, Holland is a good fit because the Sox need veteran stopgaps until some of the younger pitchers in the system -- Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Spencer Adams, etc. -- are ready for a full-time shot in the rotation.

If Holland gets hurt again, or is a bust, oh well, it's only a one-year commitment for the club. If Holland pitches well, contending teams could come calling and the Sox could flip him for younger players at the July trade deadline.

To make room for Holland on the 40-man roster, the Sox designated left-handed reliever Matt Purke for assignment.

I guess that means we won't be hearing this song at the ballpark next season:




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

White Sox trade outfielder Adam Eaton to Nationals for 3 pitching prospects

Jason Bauman (left) and Adam Eaton at SoxFest 2016.
A day after the White Sox traded their ace pitcher, they dealt the guy who was their best position player in 2016 for three pitching prospects.

Adam Eaton is now the center fielder for the Washington Nationals. In exchange, the Sox have acquired right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

It's no secret that I did not care for the Chris Sale trade that was made Tuesday, but now that the Sox have committed to a rebuild, they have to go all in on it. You can't just trade Sale and keep the rest of the band together, because that is a path to certain failure. So, against that backdrop, it makes sense to deal Eaton, although it's difficult to see him leave after the fine 2016 season he produced.

Eaton hit .284/.362/.428 in 2016, with 29 doubles, nine triples, 14 home runs, 14 stolen bases, 91 runs scored and 18 outfield assists in 157 games. He was a American League Gold Glove finalist in right field, even though deficiencies with the Sox roster forced him to play 48 games in center field.

There's no question Eaton is a good fit for the Nationals. He's an established leadoff hitter. His presence in center field will allow Washington to move Trea Turner back to his natural position at shortstop, and he helps balance out the lineup. The Nationals have two elite left-handed hitters in Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. While Eaton is not at the level of those two, he's another quality lefty bat.

Not to mention, Eaton has a team-friendly contract -- five years remaining at the bargain rate of $38 million over the life of the deal. Maybe that's why the Sox were able to get Washington's top three pitching prospects in this trade.

Giolito, 22, is the top-ranked pitching prospect in the game, and the No. 3-rated prospect overall. The former first-round draft pick pitched at three levels in the minors last year, recording 116 strikeouts in 115.1 innings to go along with a 2.97 ERA. He received a late-season promotion to Washington, where he appeared in six games (four starts). He went 0-1 with 6.75 ERA in 21.1 innings.

Lopez, 22, is the No. 38-ranked prospect in baseball, and the No. 3-rated prospect in the Nationals' system. He worked in 11 games (six starts) for Washington last season, going 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA. He was good enough to make the Nationals' postseason roster, and from a White Sox perspective, hey, he's probably already better than James Shields.

Dunning, 21, is a little bit more of a project. He was the Nationals' first-round draft pick and No. 29 overall in 2016. He was the No. 6-rated prospect in the Washington system. He got seven starts in at Low-A Auburn and went 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA.

I never get excited about trading established players for prospects because prospect rankings are just that -- rankings. They mean nothing on the field, and we don't know what these guys are going to do until they get an opportunity.

That said, I somehow feel as if the Sox got a better deal for Eaton than they got for Sale. Maybe it's just because I'm looking at Giolito and Lopez and seeing two guys who could potentially contribute from Day 1 in 2017, whereas the four guys in the Sale deal all look as if they are going to need some more minor-league time.

I doubt Rick Hahn is done dealing yet. There are rumors that Jose Quintana and Todd Frazier could be on the move soon, too. We shall see ...