White Sox: Things to Watch for The Rest of Spring Training
White Sox spring training coming to an end soon. What are some things for fans to look out for just before the start of regular season?
It’s just seven days until the new MLB season is here. The wait and lead up to this season has felt like a lifetime compared to most. Many White Sox fans can hardly wait to see the ‘NextSox’ this season but unfortunately, there won’t be many new faces on Opening Day.
The White Sox finally sent Michael Kopech to minor league camp, and expectedly so. Kopech was slated to join the club later this year and was a long shot to be on the Opening Day roster.
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However, Kopech was the last of the top prospects to make the move down to the minors. He joined the rest of the exciting, top guys like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Dylan Cease.
Kopech showed off his power arm this Spring during his incredibly exciting outings. And aside from Lucas Giolito, who was phenomenal this Spring, Cease was an absolute joy to watch. While Jimenez and Robert were mashing big home runs on offense.
But now that they’ve all been shipped off and the most exciting aspect of White Sox spring training is over, what is left to watch for in the last week of camp?
Fringe players going for a starting spot
At the moment, nothing is set in stone as far as the starting lineup goes. There are still open spots in center field, left field, third base and at designated hitter. This next week could mean everything for players who are not in the fold for the future or even for the rest of this season.
While it hasn’t been confirmed just yet, Matt Davidson should be definitely receiving an opening day spot. He’s been the best player this Spring (min. 10 games) and he can either get a spot at third or at DH.
Players to keep an eye are Adam Engel, who has played himself into the starting center fielder frontrunner, Leury Garcia, Tyler Saladino, and Yolmer “Don’t Call Me Carlos” Sanchez.
Moncada, Davidson, Cordell
The main reason to tune into the last week of spring training was probably going to be because of the prospects and they absolutely should be. The future of the team is getting ready to enter a very important year where inexperience will quickly become an excuse of the past.
Yoan Moncada hasn’t been amazing this spring training but getting the reps and getting more at-bats is great for him and great for us to study and watch. How he performs, produces, and approaches different counts – especially two-strike counts – is something to keep an eye on.
Davidson, as mentioned before, has been simply fantastic. He’s earned a starting spot after a strong rookie season and an even better Spring. He’s got the most at-bats, hits, home runs, twice as many as RBI as the next player, and has an OPS of 1.065.
The other prospect to watch is Ryan Cordell who is making a strong case for either center field or left field. Cordell hasn’t played a professional game for the White Sox organization just yet due to a season-ending injury he sustained last season. But that hasn’t slowed him down one bit this March. He’s got a .317 batting average, six of his 13 total hits were extra base hits, and his OPS is a strong .929. He’s definitely a player to watch throughout the week mainly to see if he can get a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Giolito, Lopez, Fulmer
Continuing the trend of prospects, watching Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer get their last bit of spring training work cannot be missed. All three have been named to the starting rotation and all three have hit all the sides of the spectrum.
Giolito has been fantastic, Lopez has been decent, and Fulmer has been less than amazing to put it nicely. Giolito has only allowed four earned in 17.2 innings and has struck out 17 batters. He’s struck out more than 30 percent of the batters he’s faced this Spring.
Lopez hasn’t been awful but he’s hasn’t been stellar on the mound. He’s allowed 11 walks, eight earned runs, 18 hits in 18.2 innings pitched. One last strong Spring outing can hopefully give him confidence moving forward.
Fulmer being given a starting rotation spot might just be the team giving him their last benefit of the last doubt and one last shot at being a starter because he did not have a great Spring.
In four starts, he allowed 18 hits, 14 earned runs, seven home runs, and walked 13 in only 6.2 innings pitched. In his last start, however, he was not totally abysmal. He didn’t allow a run or hit in four innings pitched and struck out four batters. If Fulmer’s season goes like it did in the first four Spring starts, he’ll either be pitching out of the bullpen or in Charlotte come May or June. But everyone’s hoping he’ll look more like he did towards the end of last season and this past Monday.
State of the team moving into the season
The last thing to watch for over the last week of spring training is how the team is looking going into an important season for the rebuild. Many of the important rebuilding prospects are going into their second year while the other prospects are set to join them soon.
But this last week of spring training offers the chance to see how the rest of the team is doing overall. Winning and contending is not only done with prospects. The veterans will have to play a major role when the time comes.
Take the time to watch how Jose Abreu looks with his bothersome hamstring or how Avisail Garcia is doing after the incredible season he had in 2017. Also, take a look how the new additions of Wellington Castillo, (sorta new) Hector Santiago and Chris Volstad are playing and meshing with younger and older group of players.
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Essentially, pay attention to how the team looks now because this is most likely how the team will look only a few days from now when the 2018 season finally dawn on all of us.