Tag Archives: Michael Kopech

Upates from Glendale: Burger undergoes surgery, Giolito and Jimenez start hot

By Cat Garcia

It’s been anything but dull for the first few weeks of White Sox training camp in Glendale, Arizona. Sox fans have been able to catch a glimpse not only of live action baseball, but of their stars of the future.

With that being said, it certainly hasn’t been a Spring Training for the faint of heart. Multiple injuries have mounted on the field, Miguel Gonzalez struggled in his first outing back in a White Sox uniform, and folks caught a glimpse of the less refined version of their future superstar pitcher Michael Kopech.

From Jake Burger to Nicky Delmonico, let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from camp so far.

Jake Burger Out For 2018

White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger ruptured his Achilles during a sprint to first base during a game against the Athletics on February 27th. Burger underwent successful surgery on his Achilles on March 1st in Chicago and is expected to miss the entire 2018 season. Despite the shocking turn of events, Burger has a positive outlook on the situation. “I can focus on nutrition, focus on my diet, focus on my body,” Burger told the media in Glendale after the injury occurred. “I actually texted my academic guy back at Missouri State, and I’m going to go back for an intersession course, get three hours in.” Burger said he spoke with newly appointed White Sox ambassador and former starter Jose Contreras, who suffered the same injury in 2008. “He was like, ‘Look, man, it’s a tough recovery, but you’ll get back,’” Burger said of Contreras. “He said he lost 30 pounds while going through it. I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to being back with my family for a couple of weeks.”

Lucas Giolito Impresses

The future is bright for young White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who showed flashes of brilliance in his short debut with the big league club at the end of 2017. But in training camp, Giolito seems to be picking up where he left off. Giolito has started two games and pitched a total of six innings, while accumulating nine strikeouts, and eight of those nine punchouts came on Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. Giolito walked two on the afternoon and pitched four solid innings. “I was just trying to mix my it up a lot,” Giolito told the media after his outing on Saturday. “I was throwing the slider pretty much for strikes and was throwing the curveball a bit sharper, which is what I have been working on. With two strikes, I was able to get guys out with it. Overall my breaking stuff was working pretty well.” Giolito allowed just one earned run on Saturday, a homer off Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini.

Nicky Delmonico and Tyler Saladino Suffer Outfield Collision

As if the White Sox stockpile of injuries could mount any higher — two most players were added to the heap on Sunday. Outfielder Nicky Delmonico and shortstop Tyler Saladino collided trying to catch a pop-up in the seventh inning, and the collision prompted manager Rick Renteria to remove Saladino from the game and place him on the 7-day concussion list, while Delmonico has suffered a separated shoulder. “Just extended it,” Renteria said of the Delmonico injury. “Didn’t pop it. Didn’t do anything. Just got extended and jammed it a little bit.” With just two weeks until Opening Day, it is possible that for precautionary reasons, Delmonico will open the season on the disabled list. Delmonico was slated to be the White Sox starting left fielder, which now leaves the club ready to test the waters with Ryan Cordell, Leury Garcia and other options to fill that role.

Eloy Jimenez Returns

Not all of camp has been exceptionally gloomy in the way of injuries for the White Sox this spring. After being sidelined for two weeks with left knee tendinitis, the infamous Eloy Jimenez played his first full game of the spring on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. Jimenez first stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in Saturday’s game, only to hit a go-ahead home run that tied the game 4-4. Sunday, Jimenez continued his success, hitting another home run in his first at-bat off Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin. Jimenez went on to hit a triple on a line drive to centerfield and walked in his final plate appearance of the day. Despite the success, Jimenez has only played a handful of games above Class A and will begin the season in Double A Birmingham, even if the stay there is short before he ventures up to Charlotte. The show will go on for Jimenez, just not with the big league club for right now.

Rick Hahn cautions “There’s a fair amount of work ahead”

The theme of the weekend at Sox Fest 2018 was slightly different than it has been the last few seasons—stay patient and trust the process. Instead of hype over plug-and-play types acquired in a string of deals that have “won the offseason” in the past, the mantra here is about building from the ground up for a strong foundation for the future.

Patience can be hard to preach to a fanbase that’s been hungry for a championship; an ideal that’s fallen through the cracks year after year leading to a jaded and disheartened fanbase. But, in this instance, the journey could be as rewarding as the destination itself.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in the last year-plus,” White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn said to the media Friday afternoon at SoxFest. “We feel we’re much closer than we were when we started this process to being able to field a team that can contend for championships on an annual basis, but we also know there’s a fair amount of work ahead of us,” Hahn continued. In a way, that is almost a refreshing sentiment to hear, simply because of it’s candor.

“I think when we preach patience at this point, to an extent we’re saying it to ourselves,” Hahn said of the team’s rebuilding efforts. “There’s going to be a temptation. All of you that are going to be in Glendale for the first few weeks of Spring Training are going to see players that are going to get you excited, and people are going to want to see them at the big league level, just like a year ago when they wanted to see Moncada start at the big league level, and Giolito and Lopez. But we have to be patient with their development.”

Much of the core the White Sox are moving forward with are extremely young and, as Hahn said, the pure excitement that’s left behind by small triumphs often leads to a strong dose of temptation. Temptation for call ups, for promotions and to make 2018 “the year.” That stems not just from what is seen in the results put forward at Spring Training or in the minor leagues or even the flashes of success the White Sox saw last year, but from the players themselves — who tend to be an enthusiastic and vocal bunch.

“I like when I read quotes from player X saying ‘I feel like I’m ready for the big leagues’, that’s awesome,” Hahn said. “I want that, I want guys regardless of where they are to be enthused and competitive and hungry and almost have a little chip on their shoulder like, ‘I’ll show you I’m ready.’ From our standpoint, whether it was a year ago with Moncada or Giolito or Lopez, you try to articulate the specific reasons why they’re not necessarily in the big leagues, what you’re looking for from them, where they need to show improvement and give them an expectation of generally how you think that’s going to unfold.”

Sometimes we lose sight of what it was like to be in the mindset of someone as young and driven as the faces of this groups are. Tunnel vision can become a powerful driver when paired with motivation and keeping these players on a steady path to sustained major league success is vital not only to the future of this organization, but in each player’s individual careers.

“I think although they might at times be slightly disappointed,” Hahn said. “You know, why wasn’t I the one who got the call up on this day or why didn’t I break with the club, they get it,

“They see enough of it around them and now they can look at examples with Giolito, Lopez and Moncada and see okay we spoke the truth to them and gave them their opportunity when the time was right and mine will come. Again, it’s an odd balance because there is this wonderful level of excitement and people are really diligently following our minor leagues and they’re tracking our guys performance and buying into it, getting excited for it. At the same time we need to be realistic. Michael Kopech is 21 years-old and has thrown fifteen innings at Triple-A. Does he have the ability to contend for Cy Young awards in the future? Absolutely. Is that going to start in 2018? Probably not, given what he’s done.”

That’s high praise for someone who has the small track record Hahn noted, but isn’t an extremely unrealistic expectation of a young hurler such as Kopech. The foundation is being properly built here, which leads to a clearer and more reliable vision of the future. Each of these players has their own “it” factor. These players are not accompanied by blind hopes for success or leaps of faith. They’re accompanied by patience in development and a strong set of tools that simply need to be properly honed. That’s a very different vision for this club than fans saw just a few phases ago.

“There have been past offseasons where we have been excited, we’ve ‘won the winter’ a few times, so to speak,” Hahn said. “We had authentic enthusiasm as we went to camp, that this was a team that had the ability to contend. I think we knew that certain things from a health standpoint or from a performance risk standpoint had to go out way for it to work, which makes you uneasy, where as with this even though we are by no means where we want to be yet, you can see the necessary depth coming together, that will be able to withstand whatever cruelties lay ahead when it’s time to win.”

For a team that is not slated to be taking home a division title and may even find Wild Card hopes a bit of a pipedream in 2018, a sold out SoxFest filled with fans praising Hahn for giving them hope again seems to lend itself to the idea that this team is on the road to something quite big, and that the fun can certainly start even before the celebrating does. All it takes is a little patience.

Taking a Flyer

As the Hot Stove season officially kicked off this week with the annual GM Meetings in Orlando, the rumors are starting to form.

One of the biggest areas of need for the White Sox going into the 2018 season is the presence of solid, likely veteran pitching to fill in the gaps that have been left by the departed Derek Holland and Miguel Gonzalez.

Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech is certainly a candidate to fill out the rotation in 2018, however, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has clearly stated that he does not intend to rush Kopech to the big leagues and therefore he’s unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. That leaves the White Sox with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and James Shields in their rotation with Carlos Rodon’s Opening Day return still in question after a September shoulder procedure.

This year’s free agent market is simply saturated with the type of cost-controlled, inning-eating veterans the White Sox will likely be looking to employ. So, let’s take a look at which arms on the market could be a strong fit for the coming season.


Chris Tillman

With Tillman hitting free agency this offseason, it’s no secret that 2017 was the worst year for Tillman to spot an unsightly 7.84 ERA followed by major issues with controlling his pitches. Tillman was sidelined until May and never quite regained the status he once held as one of the Orioles top of the rotation starters once he returned. Tillman consistently gave the Orioles innings throughout his career, pitching over 200 in 2013 and 2014. He also logged 173 innings as recently as 2016. Tillman’s shoulder injury hindered him from participating in his offseason training program, left the Baltimore organization concerned for his health during spring training, and then eventually sidelined him for the first month of the season — all indications that perhaps the biggest issue for Tillman in 2017 was the inability to really regain his consistency on the mound. Perhaps Tillman needs to learn to make adjustments post-injury, and a union with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper would help yet another Orioles pitcher regain their dominance with a new team. A one-year deal to help Tillman reestablish his value and fill a void for the White Sox could make this a perfect match for 2018.


Hector Santiago

Perhaps a reunion could be on the horizon for Santiago and the White Sox–the organization that drafted him in 2006. Like Tillman, Santiago is approaching his age 30 season in 2018 and suffered a major setback in 2017 before hitting free agency, making him yet another potentially advantageous get for the White Sox. Santiago was sidelined in July with a back injury and only pitched 70 innings in Minnesota to the tune of a 5.63 ERA. Santiago has never been much of an inning eater, with his career high innings pitched totalling at just 182. However, that was as recently as 2016. Perhaps Santiago’s return to the South Side could yield another win-win situation.


Scott Feldman

Feldman is perhaps one of the most intriguing of candidates. Feldman doesn’t give you a ton of longevity but was delivering an average of 5.2 innings per start in Cincinnati last season. With career numbers that are solid, if not spectacular, perhaps Feldman can bridge the gap that will need to be filled by a reliable, healthy starter in the coming season on the South Side. Another plus is that Feldman may come at a bargain, considering he only made $2.3 million in 2017 — a quite affordable salary for a pitcher of Feldman’s caliber. The one downside is that Feldman may be seeking a loftier, multi-year contract the White Sox may not be interested in. However if it’s cost-effective and Feldman continues to make solid contributions he could potentially become a trade candidate down the road.


Miguel Gonzalez

This reunion would have a certain symmetry to it. Gonzalez had an exceptional end to his season on the South Side; one that merited him trade value and returned the White Sox 21 year-old 3B/SS prospect Ti’Quan Forbes — a highly projectable Low-A player. It wouldn’t be the first time the White Sox have brought back a former player and, surely, Gonzalez would be open to the idea of returning to the club which he spoke so fondly of, a club that helped him return to the strong and reliable middle rotation starter he was. However, with Gonzalez’s ERA dipping as low as 2.33 and 3.53 in July and August, respectively, perhaps the market for Gonzalez, in terms of years and price, may be a bit steeper than the White Sox would like to partake in.


Wily Peralta

When the Brewers cut ties with 28-year old Peralta, it was due to the fact that he was struggling in the rotation and became a liability for a team that was in the midst of a dramatic pennant race. However, the Brewers didn’t see it fit to keep Peralta confined to the bullpen, so when he was sent to the minors he elected for minor league free agency. Peralta has averaged an ERA in the 3 and 4 area over his career in Milwaukee, but has always been able to deliver consistent innings — something the White Sox are certainly looking for. Peralta threw a career high of 198 innings in 2013, with his lowest total coming in 2015 when he only pitched 108 innings over 23 starts. Peralta may be a long shot given his solid track record and age, but perhaps he could be another pitcher looking to rediscover themselves in Chicago under the tutelage of Don Cooper.

Rodon Has Surgery, Opening Day ’18 In Question

White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters at Guaranteed Rate Field today that left hander Carlos Rodon underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix a “significant case of bursitis” in his left shoulder. The procedure was preformed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal El Attrache  and Rodon’s tentative timeline for return is in six to eight months. That timeline, obviously, puts his Opening Day status in question. The diagnoses for Rodon, who started the year on the disabled list with bursitis, is about as good as the White Sox could hope for, Hahn said. Rodon’s biceps and labrum were fine and the injury was limited to the bursitis in his shoulder.

In total, Rodon started 12 games for the White Sox in 2017. His season debut didn’t arrive until June 28th as he rehabbed his ailing shoulder in Arizona to start the year. Although his ERA was 4.15 over the 69.1 innings he threw, Rodon was able to lock things in and give White Sox fans a glimpse of his potential for a stretch of six starts from late July into August. Over those six, Rodon went 40 innings with a 2.93 ERA and struck out 48 hitters while walking only 12.

It’s not the first injury for Rodon. He sprained his wrist in the 2016 season, which interrupted a comeback-type second half, and injuries have kept sightings of that type of performances to just a glimpse.

Rodon will turn 25 before the end of the year and, even at such a young age, could very well be the “elder statesman” in the White Sox rotation. Only James Shields, who has one year left on his deal, is older and Rodon, should he make the full recovery that he and the White Sox hope for, has plenty of potential to keep White Sox fans dreaming about his return all winter.

While Rodon heals, the White Sox rebuild rolls on. There are a number of young, talented arms in the minors (Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, and Dane Dunning to name a few) that could push for starts late in the 2018 campaign. How Rodon fits back in will largely be a question of health.

White Sox Weekly – 9/23/17 – Hour 2

In this week’s second hour Connor speaks with author Bill Kashatus, whose new book “Dick Allen, the Life and Times of a Baseball Immortal” explores Dick Allen’s career in baseball and asks the question: why isn’t he in the MLB Hall of Fame? Then Connor speaks with future White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech about his time in the majors so far.

Michael Kopech Day at Guaranteed Rate Field

“I don’t want to smile too big right now because I might knock the lights out of this place, but we’re very excited,” Manager Rick Renteria said to the media on Wednesday, the day that Michael Kopech made his visit to Guaranteed Rate Field.

“This is the first time I actually got to see the stadium,” Kopech said as he sat in the dugout and gazed upon his future playing field. “So, for me, this was the coolest part [of Chicago]. It’s what I really wanted to see.”

Kopech, standing at 6’3” with a sturdy frame, signature golden blonde locks and piercing blue eyes, brought with him the confidence of someone who had set foot in a major league dugout plenty of times before.

“He’s a very even-keeled young man,” Renteria said of Kopech. “He’s very mature. I think he’s growing in confidence. Obviously anybody we’ve spoken to about him shares that he is a confident man who trusts in the stuff that he has and that continues to grow. And not in an arrogant way but in a quiet, confident type of approach which we love.”

Kopech discussed many topics but the central focus was certainly around how satisfied he was with the successful season he had in Birmingham while completing a full workload for the first time in his career—something he’ll need to be prepared for come next season.

“To me, I think it was such a big goal because, it wasn’t only a goal for me it felt like a group goal,” Kopech told White Sox Weekly about completing 134 innings of work this season. “It felt like an organization goal. Everybody wanted to see me get that full innings load and I finally got it—finished healthy. I didn’t finish with much fatigue. Just the fact that I was able to reach that milestone and get ready for next year, I think coming from the organization [it’s] a very important part and for me a very important part considering I threw more this year than I did the last two seasons combined.”

Kopech had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of in his short time as part of the White Sox organization so far, including his well-warranted promotion to Triple-A Charlotte.

“Especially with the couple months that I had done well in Birmingham, I don’t want to say I felt like I deserved [the promotion] but at the same time,” Kopech said, “to see that the organization was just as excited about what I was doing as I was, it meant a lot to me.”

Kopech admits that it hasn’t been an easy journey to become the pitcher he is today; one who finished the season as the White Sox’s minor-league pitcher of the month for September with 172 strikeouts in 134 innings. He was quick to point out his struggles in June—a month in which he had a 6.95 ERA.

“June was a rough time for me,” Kopech said. “I still got invited to an All-Star game, shortly after that to the Futures Game. I think it was throwing more strikes early in counts [was key]. It really helped me get deeper in games. It helped me get ahead of guys early and helped me create outs earlier in counts. That really helped me move along in games.”

“In Birmingham I got into a rhythm, a groove almost to where I felt like I was almost unhittable,” Kopech continued. “And it wasn’t anything special, I wasn’t doing anything different, I was just throwing more strikes. I realized that as simple as it sounds, filling up a zone is going to put the pressure on the hitter versus the pitcher and when I was able to do that, it felt like I was in control of the whole game.”

As a high-velocity pitcher, something the White Sox have experience working with during the Chris Sale years, Renteria isn’t concerned about tweaking anything Kopech does right now. That comes with time. “I think with experience, I think when you have the kind of stuff that he has, he does have swing and miss stuff and we all know that guys that have swing and miss stuff many times end up driving their pitch counts up and you let them get a foul ball here and there, but I think experience will start to show them what they need to know in terms of what kind of mix they need to present in that particular at bat,” Renteria said. “I think you allow a stallion to run and then you make adjustments.”

As far as that stallion being let loose on the playing field, Kopech is ready. “I brought my glove if they need me,” Kopech said. But patience is a virtue that Kopech had to learn. “I would talk to the other guys on our staff down there, we were going through the same thing,” he said.

“We’re thinking about a promotion, we’re thinking about the next start, you’re trying to balance out what’s most important to focus on at the time and it almost got to the point where I had to forget about being promoted at all. I had to think that this is where I’m going to finish the year, this is what I’m going to do. All I’m going to do is go out there and compete my best my next start. So when I got into that mindset to just go start by start I really think that was what kind of locked me in for the rest of the year.”

Kopech has had an interesting path to the majors, but his makeup, and extremely underrated yet vital aspect of joining a major league club with success, was on display for all to see on Wednesday. For the White Sox, their future is on the horizon, and the picture is coming together rapidly. And it certainly is a pretty one.

Kopech, Jimenez to Visit Future Work Place

Over the next week, top White Sox prospects Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez will visit Guaranteed Rate Field. They’re not being put on the roster, mind you. It’s just a meet and greet for two bright young prospects who may hold the fate of the franchise in their talented hands.

No biggie.

Kopech, who tore through his aggressive AA assignment this season and finished the year with three starts at AAA Charlotte, may be the best pitching prospect in all of baseball. He’ll certainly be in the discussion when the Sox start camp in Glendale in 2018. In fact, White Sox Scouting Director Nick Hosteler has mentioned that Kopech could compete for a job in the Big League rotation while in camp next year.

More likely, because of service time and time tables, Kopech starts the year in Charlotte and gets a full dose of seasoning at the penultimate minor league level. It’s entirely possible he pitches himself into the White Sox rotation come August.

Eloy Jimenez, who handled a late promotion to AA with aplomb, torched minor league pitching this year. He is, now that Yoan Moncada is a major-league regular, the top positional prospect in the White Sox organization. Jimenez was praised by Sox manager Ricky Renteria for putting in a significant amount of work into learning English, and maintaining a positive attitude that permeates through his team. Though, it’s hard to imagine not being positive after slashing .312/.378/.570 across two levels this year.

Big Day for News with Young Sox Pitchers

Sunday was a day full of news for three young pitchers in White Sox camp. The oldest of the news-making trio, Carlos Rodon, threw his second bullpen session. He threw 35 pitches (and felt, presumably, much better than while throwing his first bullpen of the year) and seemed to focus on the changeup. Rodon will throw his first live batting practice on Wednesday and could make his Cactus League debut as soon as March 13th against the Indians. The White Sox maintain that the schedule for Rodon has him on track to make a start in the first time through the rotation.

The youngest of the three pitchers, Michael Kopech, was slated to work against the Diamondbacks on Sunday but had his work rescheduled for Tuesday. Kopech, who gave up four earned in one inning of work in his first start, will throw 3 innings in a simulated game. The idea is to control the conditions of Kopech’s outing and allow him to work on specific pitches in addition to getting stretched out more. The move doesn’t shift the high expectations the Sox have for Kopech as he’s still one of the brightest stars in the system. Still, the plan was always for him to start in the minors–perhaps AA or even high A.

The middle child, Reynaldo Lopez, debut his electric stuff and improving command in three innings of one run ball against he Diamondbacks Sunday. Lopez was a bit wild in the first inning and gave up two doubles and a run but finished the day throwing more strikes with the fastball in the second and third innings. He also struck out Paul Goldschmidt, one of the of the best hitters in the game, twice–one looking, one swinging.

All in all, good news for the young White Sox pitchers as the young Spring gets just a little older.

Plenty of PT for White Sox Prospects

White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada makes his second start of the spring today against the Mariners. From the start of camp Manager Ricky Renteria has put Moncada and the rest of the high-end prospects in the White Sox newly loaded farm system front and center.

Moncada has five plate appearances, despite just the one start, catcher Zach Collins has five as well–with no starts yet. Adam Engel (who won the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2015 and someone White Sox fans should keep an eye out for) has had five trips to the plate as well. Engel also made one of the better plays in the outfield for the Sox so far this spring. Michael Kopech will start today’s game against the Mariners. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start in the other game (the Sox are using split squads today). Lucas Giolito made his debut against the World Series Champion Cubs on Monday. Zach Burdi was called on in the 9th inning of Sunday’s game to nail down the Sox first win.

There’s a lot of young talent and they’re getting run early.

While the playing time is plentiful for the youngins early on, it may not portend breaking camp with the team–or even an early call-up. The World Baseball Classic is making spring extra-long this year. The Sox also have a few injuries to projected regulars (Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Charlie Tilson) which gives more opportunities. Further, forty percent of the White Sox rotation will work in the WBC–Jose Quintana will pitch for Columbia, Miguel Gonzalez for Mexico–while Nate Jones and David Robertson will both pitch for Team USA. Those pitchers are on a different schedule, altogether. Finally, Carlos Rodon has been backed up in an effort to keep him strong through the season.

Still, “Get ‘Em In Early” works pretty well as a motto for a team hungry to see what all the new (and existing) young talent is able to do. Perhaps the toughest task facing the kids, however, could be keeping things in stride. Knowing that their time in Big League Camp could be limited, it’s got to be tough to no try and hit three home runs in one swing or throw a fastball through the catcher. So far, the kids have impressed and that’ perhaps the most important part of the White Sox spring.

Ricky Renteria, Todd Frazier and the latest from White Sox Spring Training

White Sox manager Ricky Renteria got the press up to speed on how his camp is going and the status of third baseman Todd Frazier. While a strained said doesn’t seem to be a cause for alarm, Renteria stressed slowing Frazier down some and erring on the side of caution.

Frazier said his injury is in the oblique area and something he’s felt before. While he’s not too worried at present, he knows oblique strains can cost a significant amount of time. If you’re going to get hurt, do it early in Spring–there’s plenty of time to rest up.

So, while Frazier rests up and is day to day, the every day of Spring Training marches on. The White Sox haven’t yet announced their starting pitcher for the Cactus League Opener on February 25th against the Dodgers but, with Jose Quintana working to throw in the World Baseball Classic and Carlos Rodon on a very different spring diet than the rest of the starters, a good guess would be one of the younger guys with just a bit of big league experience. Carson Fulmer threw a live BP on Monday so perhaps the schedule works out that he takes the ball to open Spring for the White Sox.

Just a guess.

Saturday’s White Sox Weekly will be jam packed with interviews from Michael Kopech, Zach Putnam and GM Rick Hahn so make sure to tune in.

Sox Fest ’17 Brings Promise

The landscape has changed quite a bit for the White Sox since the final out of 2016 was recorded. We need not relive the ups and downs of the 2016 season but, clearly, the 2017 White Sox are set out on a much different path than just a year ago. With a new manager in Rick Renteria and a new direction after the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the White Sox have gotten younger, deeper and, hopefully, better in the long run.

For the media, Sox Fest starts with a press conference held by GM Rick Hahn. After the dozens of questions about the future of starter Jose Quintana, third baseman Todd Frazier, left fielder Melky Cabrera, closer David Robertson and anyone else not named Tim Anderson or Carlos Rodon, we’ll get to the business of getting to know the new comers.

Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito or Michael Kopech will be wanted men at Sox Fest 2017–and for good reason. Giolito and Moncada (along with Reynaldo Lopez) are likely to make their White Sox debut at some point in the 2017 season. Moncada could even break camp as the starting second baseman.

There’s a different flavor about the White Sox rebuild. It’s may not have to be the Astros-type where hope is invisible for years. It may not be the Cubs-type where players acquired were, for the most part, years away from MLB-ready. It could be that the track the White Sox are on is very much their own.

Still, the first questions asked to Hahn at the press conference–the ones about how much further the rebuild will go–will likely establish a tone for the rest of the weekend. There will be anxiety about whether prospects become players. There will be sadness in the departure of Sale. The plan, though, is a smarter and deeper system than the organization has had in some time. There is strength in numbers and in acquiring the the talent they have this winter, Sox fans can diversify their hope as they wait for a winner on the Southside.

Get more information about SoxFest 2017 here.

Chris Sale Heads to Boston, White Sox Get Haul

The day after the 2016 season had ended, the White Sox called a press conference to announce Ricky Renteria as their new field manager. General Manager Rick Hahn was there to introduce Renteria and, in so doing, spelled out a few things about the coming off season and what it would bring for the organization. You’d be able to tell, he said, the direction of the club by the first big move they make.

Chris Sale is headed to Boston and a massive prospect haul is headed back to the White Sox.

The direction, it seems, is getting younger, deeper and better. Questions remain, of course, as to just how deep and thorough the seeming rebuild will be. As for the Red Sox, they’re getting one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his seven years with the White Sox, Sale both made the All Star team and finished in the top six of the Cy Young voting each year he was a member of the White Sox rotation. A voracious competitor, Sale wasn’t without incident with the Sox. Still, in the end, his focus was on winning games. Unfortunately, that’s something the club wasn’t able do enough of and in moving Sale, they hope to deepen a young talent base that will mature into contenders.

As for the return on Sale, it’s huge. Yoan Moncada is rated by many as the top prospect in baseball. Though his first eight games at the big league level were a struggle, he was promoted to the Bigs straight from AA. It’s not unthinkable that the White Sox would keep Moncada in the minor leagues to start the 2017 season. He’ll turn 22 in May 27th so some seasoning could be worthwhile. Regardless, Sox fans should be able to dream of a stellar double play combo in Tim Anderson and Moncada and witness it in just a short time.

Michael Kopech is the the second best prospect in the deal and was the third ranked player in Boston’s treasure chest. Kopech, though it may be a bit apocryphal, reportedly hit 105 mph during a minor league outing last year. At 20 years old with flowing blond locks and a huge frame, the comparisons to Mets Ace Noah Syndergaard are many. Kopech’s arrival to the majors may be a bit farther away as he’s only thrown at the high A level. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, ranked 8th in the Red Sox system, and right hander Victor Diaz complete the haul.

While the return on Sale has plenty of value, questions remain about how much more the White Sox intend to do this winter. It’s conceivable that with their number one starter traded, they see what kind of impact their still talented core could make come April. Equally understandable would be the idea of trading off key members of that core. Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier would all bring back quality returns. Like the Yankees at last summer’s trade deadline, the White Sox could be have a rebuild well underway and have talent ready for competing at the majors in short order.

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