While most White Sox fans that are honest with themselves aren’t expecting the team to be contenders this year, there are quite a few positive things to look forward to this season. Here are a few dates and names Sox fans should be looking forward to as the season progresses:
March 29: Opening Day. A new White Sox baseball season arrives and the thoughts of warm summer days and nights filled with baseball are upon us.
April 5: It’s the Sox home opener and Lucas Giolito gets the starting nod. Home openers are always special and this year the Sox will run out one of their new young studs to start the home schedule. Giolito had a very good spring and is primed to become the ace of the staff in the not too distance future. That is, if Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen or Renaldo Lopez don’t take it from him.
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April 20-22: The defending champion Houston Astros come to town early in the season this year for their only visit to the southside. It’ll be a good chance for fans to see how our young guns stack up against the best. It’s also a hopeful glimpse into the Sox future as the Astros took a similar path through the draft in rebuilding their championship squad.
April 11: This is the earliest date the Sox could call up either Michael Kopech or Eloy Jimenez and not lose a year of control. By waiting until this date the Sox would have team control over both until the end of the 2024 season, gaining an extra year by waiting 14 days into the season. The chances either are called up this early seems remote but it’s a date worth looking at to see where the Sox feel their two prized prospects are at in their development
June 4: The MLB amateur draft begins on this day where the Sox will select fourth overall. Two prep shortstops are near the top of the list in Nander de Sedas and Brice Turang. Both project to have above average bats while adding solid defense. De Sedas is a switch hitter while Turang swings from the left side. Nick Madrigal, a second baseman/ shortstop out of Oregon State has been rated as possibly the best and safest bat in the college ranks.
While only 5′ 7″, he can hit and has plus speed. Perhaps in the mold of Jose Altuve but maybe not as much power. Should the Sox go with pitching, Florida right-hander Jackson Kowar or prep right-hander Ethan Hankins are rated at the top of the list as well. Third baseman Nolan Gorman has the most power in the draft, bats left-handed and has the tools to stay at the hot corner, should the Sox not feel comfortable with Jake Burger‘s injury and rehab.
July 17: The annual All-Star game is played in Washington this year. Will Avsail Garcia back up his All-Star season with another stellar year? Will a slimmer Jose Abreu make a return trip to the mid-summer classic? Does Yoan Moncada have the breakout year all Sox fans are hoping for and land a spot in the All-Star game? Do pitchers Lucas Giolito and/or Reynaldo Lopez make the transition from top prospect to All-Star? If the Sox have two or more representatives at the game, the season has probably gone pretty well for them.
July 31: This is the non-waiver trade deadline. It will be interesting to see who, of the veterans on the team, are still with the Sox after this date. Should Joakim Soria return to his past closer form, he will definitely be a hot item on the trading block. If Garcia can duplicate his numbers from last season, it’ll be curious to see if the Sox feel he’s part of the future or a piece to trade for the future.
Abreu will draw some interest and phone calls to Rick Hahn from fellow general managers if he has his usual 30 home run and 100 RBI type of year. The question here is if the Sox feel he is too valuable as a mentor to the young guys from his home country and how it may affect them? If Matt Davidson has a monster first half, he could also spur some interest.
Even James Shields, if he returns to form somewhat from his Kansas City days, he could draw interest. While it’s doubtful the Sox will be buyers at this point, they could be on the lookout for a guy who still has years of team control left for the right price.
Sept.1: Rosters expand. Should Kopech and Jimenez not have already been called up they most certainly will arrive on this date. Other names to look for as possible additions to the club if they haven’t yet been called up are pitchers Thyago Vieira, Bruce Rondon, Tyler Danish, Xavier Cedeno, Zack Burdi, Spencer Adams, Ian Clarkin, Hansen and Dylan Cease.
Position players that may be ready for a call could include catchers Seby Zavala, Zack Collins and Kevin Smith, first basemen Danny Hayes and Casey Gillaspie, third baseman Trey Michalczewski, and outfielders Jacob May, Courtney Hawkins, Daniel Palka and Charlie Tilson.
There is a lot to look forward to on the southside this year as well as all over the minor league system. While probably not quite ready to contend this year, there seems to be an overwhelming anticipation among Sox fans as to what the future brings.