White Sox starting pitching could be solid for the upcoming season, but which pitchers should fans keep an eye on for 2018?
With pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch Tuesday, it is the perfect time to discuss which White Sox hurlers you should keep an eye on this spring. Given one may have a lot to prove due to inexperience, but his talent warrants your attention nonetheless. Who makes up the group as a whole? Let’s take a look!
Michael Kopech (RHP)
Currently the top pitching prospect in the Sox system (#10 overall prospect in MLB), Kopech is among the most talented farmhands around. Scouts have labeled his fastball an “80 grade” meaning it is a rare skill even for professionals at that position. Kopech’s heater can touch triple digits, accompanied by a plus slider that keeps hitters off balance.
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While it is unlikely Kopech will head north with the big club to start the season, the aforementioned paragraph should make Sox fans desire his skills on the South Side of Chicago. They may not have to wait long, as most believe Kopech will be a member of the Sox at some point in 2018.
James Shields (RHP)
His situation is the complete opposite of Kopech’s. Shields is a grizzled veteran whose career appears to be coming to a close. The question for many this Spring is simple: how much does Shields have left in the tank? If the answer to that is anything, it would be ideal for the Sox to attempt to deal him come July for future resources.
Unfortunately, the scenario just mentioned may not be the case. Shields may be done, and the Sox could be forced to play the season out with a sunken cost on their roster. On the bright side, he may have the ability to lead the younger pitchers, which makes Shields worth plenty regardless of his ERA.
Nate Jones (RHP)
The only reliever of the three, Jones has not pitched in an official game since April 28th of last season due to an elbow injury. Considering what was just mentioned, it will be critical for him to focus not only on his performance but staying on the field.
On top of that, assuming Jones does stay healthy he could be one of the Sox late-inning relievers. If that scenario plays out the way the club is hoping, it will only enhance those around him in regards to their roles in the pen. Given Jones does have a long history of injury, so no one should be surprised if he ends up spending significant time on the disabled list in 2018.
All in all, these would be the main trio of pitchers to check out over the next six weeks. While Carlos Rodon could be in this group, his status of starting the season on the D.L. is already set. Therefore we would just be talking about his rehab. Rodon is going to be an interesting case in the coming years, mostly because he cannot stay on the field.
If the Sox get the right offer, it makes sense to move him for the aforementioned reason. We don’t need to see another situation of an elite starting pitching talent wasted when a deal could have been made. Especially with the plethora of young arms, the Sox have on the way. So, head down to Glendale and watch these hurlers and more, Sox fans.