White Sox began the year sluggish but a few young players are starting to showcase their true potential as the team looks to take another step forward.
We are currently two weeks into the White Sox 2019 campaign. The team has shown promise but still has a less than flattering 7-9 record to start the year, along with the 13th-ranked team ERA in the entire American League. With all that being said, why does this year feel like the White Sox have taken a large step in the tail end of the rebuild?
It all starts with the growth of the position players whose names have been the forefront to the path of consistency for this franchise. One name that i’m sure we all could have guessed is Tim Anderson. Anderson is playing at a level that is almost completely unprecedented at the dish. Anderson is still currently leading the league in batting average at .421, with the next highest average at .415.
Anderson is also currently top four in the AL in OPS, with a .632 slugging percentage, complemented by a .463 OBP. This being his fourth year in the league, and the front offices’ inability to sign SS/3B Manny Machado, an excessive amount of eyebrows were raised at Anderson to see what he could contribute this season, and he has taken that attention in stride. Despite it is still extremely early in the season, Anderson seems to be on a warpath to land himself in his first career All-Star game this season.
When talking about “Pressure”, and “improvement”, no name came up more frequently than Yoan Moncada‘s. The 23-year old third-baseman has had more spotlights on him than most players have had their entire career. From being one of the most sought after international signings, to the number one prospect in all of baseball, to then being traded for one of the best left handed pitchers in the game in order to become the face of a rebuilding franchise. That all has so much pressure attached to it I cant even fathom the extra baggage you carry around with you 24/7.
As we all know, Moncada struggled in his first ever full season. Now, do we know for certain it was the pressure that made him the major league leader in strikeouts? Absolutely not. But to say it wasn’t even a factor is just being ignorant.
To look at Moncada now, to where he was even last April, they appear to be two completely different players. In only 16 games this April, he was already surpassed his RBI total in the month of April last year, while also on pace to surpass almost every offensive stat that month, with his strikeout rate dropping almost 50 percent. His game has completely changed, and it shows with him being more aggressive early on in counts. After Monday’s nights game, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon referred to him as a”Superstar in the making” and I quite honestly could not agree more.
And then theres the $43 million, Eloy Jimenez. If theres one thing that Jimenez has shown through his first few weeks in the majors, it’s his baseball IQ. We’ve all heard of Jimenez’s work ethic, his mindset of wanting to be the best, etc., but I think him mentioning that in order for him to obtain his outstanding power at the Major League level, he must first have a contact first approach. Despite his slash line of .267/.323/.383 being not exactly eye popping, it shows how mature of an athlete he is for a 23 year old. For a 23 year old rookie to have that approach, it really reflects how bad he wants to be the best.
Although we haven’t seen an extraordinary amount of slugging from him yet, he’s already had six multi hit performances in his first 12 games this year. No White Sox rookie has done in 20 years, going back to Craig Wilson in 1998.
Although they’re are not yet major league ready, the way Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, and Nick Madrigal are performing in the White Sox farm system should get everyone just as juiced as I am for the future of this team.
The closest one ready to the Majors and possibly someone we could see on the roster this season is right-hander Cease. Cease’s stock has only gone up since the White Sox obtained him from the Chicago Cubs and that stock has continued to go up through his first two Triple-A starts, going 2-0 with an ERA of 0.00, while consistently hitting upwards of 99 MPH on the radar gun, and changing speeds with his 12-6 curve.
Robert and Madrigal have also been all but quiet in their red hot start down in Winston Salem. 2018 first-round draft pick Madrigal is hitting .341 while Robert has been performing other worldly. Through 11 games, Robert has an OPS of 1.496, a .489 average, and five home runs. As you could predict, Robert was named baseball americas number one hottest prospect to start the season.
So there you have it. Call it a silver lining, call it me being optimistic, either way, these prospects and current major leaguers are the bulk of the White Sox rebuild and as of right now they could not be performing at a more reassuring rate.