Chicago White Sox: 5 players out of MiLB options

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Maikel Cleto – RHP (reliever)

Mar 28, 2014; Birmingham, Al, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Maikel Cleto (39) pitches to the Birmingham Barons at Regions Field. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Thus far this spring, Maikel Cleto has pitched 5.1 innings in four games, and in that time frame, the right-handed hurler has built an ERA of 3.38 where he’s allowed two earned runs off six hits and two walks.

Cleto had walked two, but also with his hard pitching has struck out eight batters. With that type of strikeout ability, maybe Cleto is one of the White Sox pitchers who could take possession of the set-up reliever role ahead closer David Robertson.

The RHP is in an aforementioned battle for a roster spot in the bullpen with Guerra, and I like how they are in direct competition with each other, because the White Sox really need the players in that bullpen to compete with one another after what I describe as the disaster of the ’14 bullpen where they blew 20-plus saves last season.

With all the positives I see from Cleto, his regular-season stats with the White Sox last season leave me wanting more. In ’14, in 29.1 innings, Cleto had a 4.60 ERA, with the opposing team having a .214 batting average against him.

The average part doesn’t really bother me, but the 15 earned runs allowed in the 29.1 innings (28 appearances) is basically allowing one run in every other outing, and that for a reliever isn’t something that can continue to happen with a team that wants to “win now.”

I’m rooting for Cleto to just become more consistent, because if he does, the White Sox could have a diamond in the rough in their bullpen who could be a very good eighth- and ninth-inning teammate of Robertson for the 2015 season.

Next: A new left-handed reliever