Spring Training is well underway in (usually) sunny Arizona. We gave you a guide for what to look for at Camelback in regards to prospects in our preview around mid-February. Cactus League games are underway and the auditions for major league jobs are as well, though a cloud of injury concerns has hung over the camp.
We will have two writers providing in-person reports in March. Kim Contreras has already been tweeting out updates on some Sox games and taking photos and video. Julie Brady will be in camp the week of June 10-17, spending some time checking out the minor and major leaguers. Content on the site will come soon.
Let's get you up to date...
Plague of injuries
A number of key prospects in the White Sox system have been bitten by the injury bug already, to varying degrees of severity:
- Third baseman and 2017 1st round pick Jake Burger ruptured his achilles tendon while trying to beat out a ground ball in Cactus League action. He had surgery for the injury on March 1st, and is likely to miss the entirety of the 2018 season. The club says he should be 100% in time for Spring Training, 2019.
- Outfielder and 10th-ranked prospect Micker Adolfo has a "pinhole" tear in his UCL. The team is planning to use Adolfo exclusively in a DH role in 2018 in order for his hitting development to continue, as he is unable to make throws from the outfield. Surgery is still possible later in the year, but they are hoping it can be avoided for now and it may even heal up on its own.
- Top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez has missed a few days' worth of games due to Patellar Tendonitis. It is thought to be a minor issue and that he will be back to action very soon.
- Prized outfield prospect Luis Robert had a bit of a scare in a B-game a few days ago when he got his "bell rung" while stealing second base. He left the game as a precautionary measure, passed all the concussion tests and is now back to action.
- On the rehabiliation and recovery side, Zack Burdi (TJS) is in camp getting work in, and it appears he is on track to return sometime this summer. Corey Zangari (TJS) and Luis Curbelo (knee surgery) are both at 100% health now, from the last reports we received.
Prospect performance highlights
Spring Training stats should be taken with a heaping pile of salt anyway, and it being early March that truth has even more carry. But it's still fun to check in on some standout performances anyway, so let's look at some of those for prospects that have at least 10 PA for hitters and 3 IP for pitchers...
- Casey Gillaspie is looking to prove that 2017's struggles were more blip than red flag, and he is making his case effectively so far. In 19 plate appearances, the first baseman has slashed .333/.333/.611 with three doubles and a triple. Something to keep an eye on, Gillaspie worked hard in the off-season to potentially play a corner outfield spot.
- Actual outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe is also looking to bounce back from struggles last season, though the 21-year-old is not here to make the majors in 2018. Still, he's hit an oppo home run and a double in 13 at-bats and made a couple impressive throws, reminding people of the raw talent he possesses.
- Ryan Cordell is an outfielder too, and has been playing some center field to boot while making a case to head north on the active roster when camp closes. So far he's posted a .364/.462/.545 line and has yet to strike out in 15 PA.
- Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech has made the best of his two starts thus far: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 UER, 1 BB, 6 K. He's also been sitting mid to upper 90's and hit 99. He's not breaking camp with the big league club, but the confidence booster is nice.
- Less-heralded but intriguing righty Jordan Stephens has sliced through lineups so far: in five innings he's allowed just just a single hit (and it was more of a dropped pop-up), walked one and struck out five. He could be in Chicago this year.
- Lefty reliever Aaron Bummer has struck out six batters in three innings, allowing a run on two hits but perhaps most importantly, not walking anyone. He's got a good chance to open 2018 with the White Sox.
- INF Jake Elmore (with a ST invite)
- LHP Hector Santiago, Robbie Ross (both got ST invites to big league camp)
- INF (UTIL) Diego Goris
- RHP Dylan Covey sent to AAA Charlotte outright, removed from 40-man roster
- LHP Andre Wheeler (made it up to AA in 5 years in the system)
- 1B K.J. Woods (did not play in 2017, last with Kannapolis in 2016)
When the minor league seasons begin, this section of the weekly News and Notes will cover how the teams have performed in the past week and overall. For now, we'll just post this: the White Sox are an even 5-5 thus far in Cactus League play. Nothing is at stake.
News and Links, to get you caught up...
- The White Sox added coaching legend Dave Duncan as an advisor to Pitching Coach Don Cooper, giving the team two of the greatest pitching whisperer minds in baseball. Duncan will reportedly be reviewing video and doing some analysis and side work.
- Long-time Birmingham Barons radio man Curt Bloom is set to be inducted into the Southern League Hall of Fame. A well-deserved honor for the mainstay on the affiliate broadcasting scene.
- Outfielders Jacob May and Luis Robert had a pretty ugly collision in a game recently, as you can see in this video from Kim Contreras. May had a scary collision with Tim Anderson in 2016 that resulted in a concussion and some lost playing time for May that year, which added to the fear factor with this incident. Fortunately it ended up being a non-issue this time.
- How about a fun thought exercise: Who will have the better major league career - Yoan Moncada or Eloy Jimenez? Five of our writers explored that in a roundtable discussion.
- Our James Fox wrote in depth about a less-discussed but important strength in the organization - relief pitching prospects. There were so many to write about, he had to split it into two posts. Here is Part One, and here is Part Two.
- Baseball America is connecting the White Sox with Venezuelan prospect Anthony Espinoza for the upcoming J2 signing period. The Sox are still limited to a max of 300k for any one player in the 2018-2019 period.
- Loop Sports published a good article about what it means to have a "critical mass" of prospects in a rebuild, and why that is important.
- Ti'quan Forbes has been playing some second base this spring. This is notable because he's never played there in his pro career.
- We would like to introduce Clinton Cole as our newest writer. He will be our correspondant in Winston-Salem, providing in-person reporting from the Dash (and possibly other affiliates in North Carolina) during the 2018 season. He's been a broadcaster with IMG and worked PA/Radio in independent ball. Give him a follow on Twitter!
- Clint will also be leading the resurrection of the FutureSox podcast, which is looking to make it's triumphant return in the coming weeks.
- The sister of Mikey Duarte (the team's 23rd round pick last June) was tragically killed in the Las Vegas shooting massacre last year. He arrived early in camp this year in part to tell his story to members of the media, in order to draw more attention to the issue. Here is one of the articles detailing his gut-wrenching path since that fateful day.
- On a similarly somber note, fellow Sox prospect Louis Silverio was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting there in February went down. The graduate of MSD was just arriving at the school as people were fleeing the scene. His experience is detailed here.
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