Is this our Elite Eight?

When a professional sports team is rebuilding, the general managers often refer to their ‘core’ and structuring a team around it.  For the Chicago Bulls it’s Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zack Lavine.  For the Chicago Bears it’s Mitch Trubisky, Jordan HowardLeonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, and Roquan Smith.  For the Chicago Cubs it’s Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, and Kyle Hendricks.

Who is it for our Sox?

This is a list of the obvious candidates and a couple sleepers.  The question is, is this the core of a future championship team? While the majority of the contributors for the next contending White Sox team are probably still in their minor league system, we have to hope at least half of this octet plays a role on the 2022 American League championship club. 

Why do I continually find myself pushing that date back?  Nevermind.

I have prioritized this list.  The higher on the list, the more important it is that player is a significant part of the next winning Sox team.

  1. Yoan Moncada .224/.292/.400, 10 home runs, 34 runs batted in. Acquired with Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz from the Red Sox for Chris Sale.

Good:  He is a fantastic athlete-strong, fast, and agile. 

Bad:  He leads all MLB second basemen with 13 errors, and he leads the major leagues in strikeouts with 116.  Plus, it’s hard to throw the ‘young’ label on him now, with the Braves’ second baseman Ozzie Albies and the Yankees’ second baseman Gleyber Torres both significantly outplaying him. Moncada is 23 years old.  Albies and Torres are both 21. 

  1. Carlos Rodon 1-3, 4.55 earned run average, 29.2 innings pitched, 26 hits allowed, 22 strikeouts, 9 walks. White Sox first round draft pick. 

Good:  He is the only pedigreed left-handed pitcher in the Sox system.  Mark Buehrle, Chris SaleJose Quintana, John Danks before the injury; the Sox had a formidable lefty in the rotation for years prior to the last one, Quintana, being moved. 

Bad:  He can’t stay healthy, and in his fourth year on the White Sox, he has been incredibly inconsistent.  Rodon was the third player taken in the 2014 MLB draft.  St. Louis Cardinal starter Jack Flaherty was taken 34thoverall in 2014.  His line:  3-3, 2.92 earned run average, 61.2 innings pitched, 48 hits allowed, 73 strikeouts, 18 walks. 

  1. Tim Anderson .248/.311/.430, 13 home runs, 33 runs batted in. White Sox first round draft pick.

Good:  He is a fantastic athlete-strong, fast, and agile.  I’ve read this description before. 

Bad:  He continues to look out of place at shortstop.  Whether it’s throwing off balance, footwork, or moving backwards to let a hop play him, rather than moving in to play a hop, Anderson looks no more comfortable at short than he did when he debuted with the Sox in 2016.

  1. Reynaldo Lopez 3-5, 3.73 earned run average, 94 innings pitched, 81 hits allowed, 67 strikeouts, 39 walks. Acquired with Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning from the Nationals for Adam Eaton (thanks to the Nationals, again).

Good:  He has been, by far, the most consistent major piece of the rebuilding puzzle. 

Bad:  The walks are high, but he’ll fix that.  There isn’t much bad to say about Lopez.

  1. Lucas Giolito 5-7, 6.59 earned run average, 84.2 innings pitched, 83 hits allowed, 51 strikeouts, 51 walks. Acquired with Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning from the Nationals for Adam Eaton (thanks one more time to the Nationals for getting this deal done).

Good:  Giolito has been pitching better of late after a very rough start.  With all the young arms in the White Sox system, if Giolito can be a number 4 starter on a winning club, that’ll work.  Not exactly what the Sox had in mind when they traded for the #3 ranked prospect in all of baseball, but let’s go glass half full here and say he stays in the rotation when the Sox contend.

Bad:  He leads the majors in walks, earned runs allowed, and pegged batters.

  1. Dylan Covey 3-3, 4.82 earned run average, 46.2 innings pitched, 51 hits allowed, 36 strikeouts, 23 walks. Acquired via the Rule 5 draft from the A’s.

Good:  After a horrendous 2017, Covey pitched like the former first round pick that he is upon being promoted to the big club in May.  Through his first four starts this season with the White Sox, his earned run average hovered under 3.00.

Bad:  He has looked more like the 2017 version of himself in his last two starts.  He allowed 8 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his last start against the Rangers.

  1. Jace Fry 0-1, 1.82 earned run average, 24.2 innings pitched, 12 hits allowed, 32 strikeouts, 10 walks. White Sox third round draft pick. 

Good:  Everything. Fry has been fantastic out of the bullpen for the Sox, only outpitched, arguably, by a resurgent Joakim Soria.

Bad:  Not much. A lefty that can get righties and lefties out, miss bats, and perhaps go two innings in relief is a coveted commodity.

  1. Carson Fulmer 2-4, 8.07 earned run average, 32.1 innings pitched, 37 hits allowed, 29 strikeouts, 24 walks. White Sox first round pick. 

Good:  His line is slightly better at Triple A, where he currently resides.  3-4, 4.46 earned run average, 38.1 innings pitched, 36 strikeouts, 28 walks.

Bad:  Every White Sox fan knows he will not contribute to the team when they are a contender. 

The next wave of prospects will start with outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Kopech.  We can only hope, selfishly and perhaps unrealistically, that they are ready to contribute from day one of their arrival.  Otherwise, the contending date could continue to creep past 2022.

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