What impact will prospects make during Spring Training for the White Sox? Can the South Siders field a competitive team this upcoming season?
Pitchers and catchers have finally made their way to Arizona for 2017 Spring Training. It’s been a hectic offseason for the Chicago White Sox that began in early October. It actually turned into one of the wildest winters in recent memory.
From the emergence of the division-rival Cleveland Indians as American League Champions to the crowning of the crosstown-rival Chicago Cubs as World Series Champions, the Sox front office saw that it was time for a change.
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The restructuring process that took place this offseason is very old news by now. With the impending futile season that awaits the Sox however, there’s a surprising optimism as the team arrives in Arizona for the preseason.
General Manager Rick Hahn said a few days ago the White Sox are not expecting to make any further deals this offseason, but are not ruling out the possibility of more acquisitions. With that report, it seems that the White Sox front office is content going into Spring Training with the roster as-is. Now, the work for manager Rick Renteria and his coaching staff begins.
There is a lot of work to do with the roster that has not changed much over the winter. After all, the White Sox only lost two of their starting players. However, Renteria has more to do than fill those two spots left by Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. Luckily for Renteria and his staff, Spring Training is the perfect laboratory to experiment with his players, especially the new kids on the block.
The talk of the town and of the offseason are the newly acquired prospects. That should not change throughout this upcoming season. But keeping an eye on the prospects in the short term, this is what Sox fans should look out this Spring.
Rookie in the Rotation
Now that staff ace Chris Sale is gone, the newly acquired pitching prospects of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Carson Fulmer are a few of the front-runners for a potential spot in the starting rotation.
Chicago White Sox Projected Starting Rotation
Shields had an abysmal campaign last season that panned out to the worst year of his veteran career. Quintana may get dealt at the deadline or sooner if the right offer is made to the front office. The White Sox had 11 total starting pitchers last season with both Rodon and Gonzalez missing some time with injury and both Mat Latos and John Danks not making through the month of May as starting pitchers. Now that their best starter out of the mix, the need for the fifth and possibly sixth man in the rotation is definitely there and that spot should belong to a prospect.
The competition for the next spot in the starting rotation will be heated but it’ll be earned. Kopech and Fulmer show a lot of potential, while Giolito and Lopez have had very successful and promising starts in the MLB already. It’s safe to say Renteria, pitching coach Don Cooper and the rest of the staff will have their work cut out for them to pick the next man up.
Positions to Fill
Similar to the starting rotation, there are spots to fill on the diamond. While the White Sox have kept a majority of their defensive depth chart intact, there are a few empty spaces that prospects especially are ready to fill.
In center field, look out for Charlie Tilson, who is one of the team’s highly rated prospects. At catcher, the spot that is seemingly never filled, will have competition that’s headlined by Omar Narvaez, Kevan Smith and youngster Zack Collins. At third base, while slugger Todd Frazier has signed a one-year deal with the Sox, he finds himself in the same situation as the new-ace Jose Quintana. If Frazier gets dealt at the deadline or prior to the deadline, fans could see a variety of different players fill his spot, including the seasoned Tyler Saladino, Yoan Moncada and the highly-rated Matt Davidson. Davidson is coming back from an injury that cut his MLB-playing days short in 2016.
Jump on the Moncada Hype Train
The biggest prospect the White Sox received this offseason came via the Chris Sale trade. Moncada was a part of a three-man prospect package return for the Sox. The 21-year-old infielder arrived in Chicago with great potential and a lot of excitement. Moncada was no. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect list when the Sox acquired him. He currently sits at No. 2 on said list and if he can play up to his potential that scouts are crazy about, he is going to be ‘must-see TV.’
Moncada has been compared to slugging second baseman Robinson Cano, with ridiculous power but in addition, has great defensive skills and speed. He’s one of the best rising talents in baseball and he’s actually going to play for the White Sox.
The White Sox are not usually in this position, to have one of the top three prospects in baseball. In addition to Moncada; Giolito, Lopez, Kopech, Fulmer, Tilson and Tim Anderson are all 24 years old or younger. The team has not had this many talented prospects at a young age in several years, and that’s a great reason not only to be excited about the team the White Sox are going to become, but about a talent like Moncada wearing the black and white. Look out for his performance and progression this Spring, you could be watching the next superstar.