White Sox have a bevy of young arms in camp. Which young hurler has caught the attention of the front office?
Ken Williams has sat at the top of the Chicago White Sox food chain for 16 seasons. 12 of those (2000-2012) as the General Manager and the past 4 (2013-2017) as the senior Vice President. Williams brought a World Series ring to the southside of Chicago in 2005 and has helped put together 3 playoff teams (2000, 2005, 2008) in his 16 year tenure.
Unfortunately, Williams along with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and General Manager Rick Hahn have failed to reach the postseason since 2008. Which is currently the second longest postseason drought in baseball. Obviously, it was time for changes to be made.
After back to back disappointing campaigns where the Sox were anticipated by many to make the playoffs, the 2017 White Sox will have a brand new look featured by a lot of younger and unfamiliar faces. Former ace Chris Sale and lead off hitter Adam Eaton were both dealt this offseason. The beginning of what appears to be a full pledge rebuild.
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The Sox acquired high end talent in the form of seven prospects from the Sale/Eaton trades. Five of those seven prospects are in the form of pitching prospects. Most notably, formerly ranked no. 1 pitching prospect Lucas Giolito and fireballer Michael Kopech. Along with Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning and Victor Diaz. Giolito, Kopech and Lopez were all given invitationals to spring training this season, but all three will most likely start in the minors at the beginning of the 2017 season.
With spring training already a week in at Camelback Ranch, many of the White Sox front office and coaching staff are starting to take notice of certain players at camp. According to White Sox beat writer Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald, VP Ken Williams has said that Reynaldo Lopez is the most impressive young arm he has seen through the first week of camp.
The aforementioned Lopez is quite the impressive talent. He defected from the Dominican Republic back in 2012 by the Nationals and has made incredible progress since. Lopez, 23, was the no. 3 ranked pitcher in the Nationals system last season. He appeared in 11 games for the Nationals, starting six of them. Lopez finished the 2016 season with an unsightly 4.91 ERA, but that did not bewilder the Nationals enough to keep him off their postseason roster. Lopez went on to turn in 2 solid innings of work in the NLDS.
Williams has every right to be impressed by this 23-year-old phenom. With the current Sox roster flooded with great young talent, Williams must see something special in Lopez to separate him from the rest of the pack this early on. The higher the appraisals for younger guys like Lopez should allow them to ease into a future role with the White Sox.
Although the Sox are just one spring training week into their rebuilding process, this small glimpse might be a sign for a very bright future to come.