Infield and Outfield, Starting Pitching and Relief, a future team straw man is coming into sight. 2019 is going to be a key year in the rebuild for the White Sox.
It was just an off-hand comment Phil Sullivan of the Chicago made in his March 8th article addressing the White Sox outfield: “Jimenez (Eloy), Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are the outfield of the future, with fellow prospect Blake Rutherford also in the mix. But it could be a couple of years before we see them all together.”
That’s a vision and a pretty pleasing one at that. Assuming they all continue developing the raw skills we’ve seen to date, that is a whopper of an outfield. The vision helps calm fears and uncertainty of a legitimate talent framework that could contribute at the highest levels, something most fans consider an essential tenant of a contending team – not to mention a championship-caliber one. What the vision delivers is clarity, albeit with assumptions and questions set aside for now.
Let’s expand the vision to the infield. One can reasonably assume Tim Anderson will continue raking, Yoan Moncada ideally will settle into third base and continue developing at the plate, and Nick Madrigal will step into second base with what looks to be his near Major League ready bat, glove and attitude.
Who’s on first is an unresolved question, but it would be minimal stretches to imagine either Jose Abreu in extension or Gavin Sheets, Jake Burger or even Zack Collins as prospects taking over the position two years from now. Who knows, maybe Nicky Delmonico’s bat will give the Sox a reason to install him at the position. Extending the view to catcher one sees Collins and Seby Zavala, and perhaps Palkamania becomes a Southside institution at designated hitter.
Pitching equally isn’t a tremendous stretch to visualize. A starting rotation composed of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease presents a formidable group. The bullpen looks a bit more fluid at this point, but one could reasonably expect Ian Hamilton, Jace Fry, Caleb Frare, Zach Thompson, Thyago Vieira, Aaron Bummer to be in consideration.
Carson Fulmer has repeatedly stated his desire to be a starter, but watching mow down the Brewers this past week presents an interesting option for the club as a swingman who could excel in multiple roles as a starter, middle reliever, closer, and even opener should the club experiment more with that model. Championship teams have killer relievers who combine versatility with the ability to specialize.
Within the theme of versatility, it’s hard to imagine the team letting go of Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia as insurance across nearly every infield and outfield position, and one might throw Delmonico in the mix to include coverage at DH, first base and outfield.
Like most visions, you need to squint your eyes slightly to see the image as it typically blurs around the edges. And two years is a long time from now in baseball terms. Many things could happen from now until then. But overall, the image is pleasing and suggests good things are to come on the South side of Chicago.
The big questions will be answered over time, such as what in the world do the Sox do with Abreu, extend him or trade him? The market may answer that question rather than Sox management having a strong point of view. Abreu himself will have a say in the matter. A strong start and repeat All-Star presence will certainly help his cause. A poor first half and look for more time at first base from Delmonico to prepare for the post-Abreu era.