White Sox: Can Young Pitchers Improve During Spring Training?

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Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; West pitcher Michael Kopech of the Boston Red Sox during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; West pitcher Michael Kopech of the Boston Red Sox during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox young pitchers need to take next step in their development during Spring Training. South Siders have a lot of talented young pitchers.

The Chicago White Sox boast a talented crop of young pitchers at the big league level and in the minors. With Spring Training underway, now is the time for these young hurlers to the take the next step in their development.

With the Sox not expected to contend this season, they will have more time to develop their talented young pitchers. The Sox have six young pitchers that still need to develop their craft in order to realize their true potential. Carlos Rodon, Carson Fulmer, Zack Burdi, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all in camp this spring, and will need to take the next step in their developments.

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The Sox already have Rodon in its starting rotation and the 2014 first round draft pick will be entering his third season with the team. Rodon is 18-16 with a 3.90 ERA in his career. However, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft has had trouble with consistency over a season. While he has shown flashes of brilliance at times, Rodon has also had some forgettable starts for the Sox.

Rodon will enter this season as possibly the number two starter in the pitching rotation. Although the Sox aren’t contending, Rodon’s development will be crucial for this season. The Sox will need a new ace after trading Chris Sale and the possible future trade of Jose Quintana. If Rodon can step up this season, he could very well put himself in the position of being the future ace of the Sox.

Another young pitcher that needs to continue developing is Carson Fulmer. The 2015 first round draft pick for the Sox (8th overall) had a shaky stint in the big leagues last season. Despite this, Fulmer ended his season strongly with Triple A Charlotte Knights. Fulmer believes he can eventually become a major league starting pitcher, and he will need to showcase his belief with a solid Spring Training.

Burdi, the Sox first round draft pick from last year (26th overall) was fast-tracked through the team’s farm system. The former Louisville Cardinal had brief stints with Single A Winston-Salem Dash, Double A Birmingham Barons and the Knights. Burdi could find himself as a member of the Sox bullpen if he has a strong spring.

Kopech, Giolito and Lopez were all acquired in trades this past offseason. Kopech was acquired as part of the Sale trade to the Boston Red Sox. Giolito and Lopez were included in a return for Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals. Each pitcher most likely will start the season in the minors. However, this spring will be a very important step in their development. Kopech, the Sox third ranked prospect according to mlbpipeline.com was 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts for Single A Salem Red Sox last season.If Kopech can have similar success this spring, he could start the season in Birmingham or Charlotte.

Giolito, the Sox second ranked prospect didn’t have a successful MLB stint for the Nationals last season. In six appearances (four starts), Giolito compiled a 0-1 record with a 6.75 ERA. Giolito needs a strong spring to restore confidence in the former number one MLB prospect. While Giolito struggled in his brief MLB stint, Lopez had a slightly better experience but still needs to improve. Lopez, the Sox fourth ranked prospect went 5-3 in 11 appearances (5 starts) with a 4.91 ERA for the Nationals last season. He will need to continue improving this spring in order to become a important member of the Sox bullpen in the future.

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The Sox have a lot of talented young pitchers, and it could bode well for the team’s future. However, each pitcher still has a lot of room for growth. If each pitcher can develop effectively this spring, the Sox could have one of the better pitching staffs and bullpen in baseball in the immediate future.

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