The Chicago White Sox are roughly half way through spring training 2016, as well as their Cactus League schedule with 14 games in the books. A lot has transpired through the first half of camp, let’s take a look at who’s hot, and who’s not thus far and how their performance has impacted their stock in the White Sox Opening Day plans.
Carlos Rodon wrapped up to 2015 season with a dominating performance in August, as well as September. He came into camp in February all but announced as the teams number three starting pitcher come April, and he has done nothing but prove that he belongs thus far in spring training. Rodon is 2-0 this spring, with an unscathed ERA of 0.00 in 7.0 innings pitched. Rodon has struck out five over that span, and has a WHIP of 0.57 this spring.
Sanchez came into spring, having lost his starting job by default to newly acquired second basemen Brett Lawrie, and looked to be the odd man out on the White Sox 25 man roster once they signed veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins to at the minimum share time at shortstop with Tyler Saladino. Sanchez has a .320 batting average (8/25) this spring to go along with .393 OBP. Sanchez also has an RBI, and seven runs scored this spring. Sanchez now looks to have edged Tyler Saladino out of the utility infielder role heading into the regular season.
The slugging Cuban first-baseman has been red hot this spring with a .464 batting average, and a .483 OBP to this point. Abreu has went deep twice, both being solo home runs to account for his 2 RBI this spring. Abreu didn’t have much to prove this spring after posting back to back 30+ HR / 100+ RBI seasons in his first two years with the White Sox, but it never hurts to see the teams best offensive player start off the season hitting well.
Avisail Garcia came into camp with an enigma surrounding him that he was not capable of elevating his offensive game beyond what we had already seen, and was rumored to be the odd man out of the White Sox outfield if they acquired another outfielder before Opening Day, which they did when they signed Austin Jackson to a one year deal in early March. But Garcia, and his newly acquired batting stance has been nothing short of convincing that he can in fact produce at the major league level. Garcia his hitting .435 (10/23) in Cactus League play, with 2 HR, 11 RBI, and six runs scored. Garcia has made turned heads, and forced his way into the White Sox plans as an everyday player whether it be in right field, the designated hitters role, or a combination of both.
Matt Davidson a one time valued prospect in the White Sox system, took a significant tumble in the prospect rankings this winter after another season of showing an inability to hit for average. In his last two seasons with Triple-A Charlotte Davidson has kept his power stroke, but had low batting averages in both years, mostly attributed to a high number of strike outs. Davidson is hitting .455 (10/22) in Cactus League play this spring with a team high four home runs, and seven runs driven in, as well as seven runs scored. With the abrupt retirement of Adam LaRoche leaving a hole in the designated hitters role, as well as the role of backup first-baseman, Davidson’s spring performance might just force the White Sox to give him a look for both of those roles. Sharing some time at DH with Avisail Garcia, and spelling Jose Abreu at first base would be an excellent internal option heading into Opening Day if Davidson can continue to hit for average, and limit the strike outs.
The teams “penciled in” fifth starter heading into the 2016 season, his last remaining year on his contract, is having an awful Cactus League campaign to date. Danks is 1-2 in three games this spring with an ERA of 12.10 over 9.2 innings pitched. The White Sox executives have stated this spring that the amount of money a player makes will not impact their decision on where they play come Opening Day, we can only hope that stands true with Danks, problem is that Jacob Turner, and Erik Johnson have had poor showings as well this spring. While Carson Fulmer has looked solid in his first taste of action against major league hitters, it’s unlikely that he breaks camp with the big league club at this point.
Saladino was thought to be the teams starting shortstop in 2016 heading into camp, then they signed Jimmy Rollins. After the Rollins signing it was thought that they would platoon at shortstop, and then Rollins decided to have a rejuvenated spring, turning many heads in Glendale causing him to be all but announced as the teams new starting shortstop in 2016. Saladino’s batting average sits at a lowly .188 in Cactus League play, hitting safely just three times in 16 at-bats this spring. Granted, two of those three hits were long balls, that’s just simply not good enough for a young player that came into camp with looming question marks about his ability to hit major league pitching. Saladino, if he stays this course is likely to find himself going from the possible starting shortstop in February, to not even breaking camp with the White Sox.
Melky Cabrera was acquired last winter to be the teams everyday left-fielder, and the teams second hitter. He struggled out of the gates in 2015, and continued that for most of the year. Cabrera told reporters at the beginning of camp that his goal was to start 2016 on a productive note, and thus far it’s been more of the same. Cabrera is hitting just .130 (3/23) with an OBP of .200 to date in Cactus League play. As a result, it’s likely that second baseman Brett Lawrie will start the season in the number two hole in between Adam Eaton, and Jose Abreu while Cabrera will find himself somewhere behind third-baseman Todd Frazier in the White Sox order.
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The newley acquired catcher Alex Avila has had a spring to forget thus far, and likely will take a back seat to Dioner Navarro come Opening Day. Avila is 0-9 in Cactus League play thus far with a few walks. Avila is a veteran, and a good defensive catcher, so it’s likely that they still platoon the two (Avila/Navarro), but expect to see Navarro who has had a strong spring showing to get more at-bats early on this year.
Jacob Turner was looked at as a possible option for the end of the rotation, if John Danks struggled early on when he reported to White Sox camp in February. Turner is 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in three starts this spring. Turner has been highly ineffective in his 7.2 innings pitched, and now looks destined to be a long reliever in the White Sox bullpen come Opening Day, if even that much.