To quote Europe, “It’s the final countdown, the final countdown. Oh...”
The minor league season is but days away, set to open this Thursday. The rosters are taking final shape and should be finalized Wednesday, and before you know it, the White Sox affiliates will charge the field for the 2018 season. There will be winning streaks, losing streaks and the occasional sensational performance, all while the White Sox of the future rise through the ranks.
And what a ranks it is. The rebuild has stocked the farm, ascending it to among the top in baseball. The 2018 season should be among the most exciting, as the second round of prospects ascend to the main roster. Here’s to a season of seeing plenty of Jimenez bombs, Kopech Ks and, hopefully, lots of a healthy Luis Robert.
With that, here’s what you need to know about the past couple weeks...
Prospect performance highlights
After a questionable spring, Carson Fulmer made the Sox’s starting rotation and he’ll have every chance to prove he belongs there.
C Kevan Smith suffered a sprained left ankle March 20 and started the season on the 10-day DL.
OF Eloy Jimenez suffered a mild pectoral strain of his left arm, the Sun Times reported March 31. He’ll have a mandatory week of rest, and will report to extended spring training before beginning his year at Birmingham.
P Alec Hansen is starting a throwing program. He’ll be joining Jimenez in Birmingham to start the year.
OF Luis Robert will rehab in Winston-Salem, then go to extended spring training before rejoining Winston-Salem, once deemed healthy.
- The team acquired RHP Ricardo Pinto from the Philadelphia Phillies for international signing bonus pool money on March 28. He’ll begin the year in Winston-Salem. Our own James Fox broke down everything you need to know about him here.
- The Sox also made their first-ever signing from Aruba, 17-year-old Jerrick Francees. Read all about him here.
Note: Officials rosters are expected to be finalized around Wednesday.
- Charlotte: OF Ryan Cordell
- Birmingham: C Seby Zavala; OF Eloy Jimenez (after returning from injury); P Alec Hansen (after returning from injury); P's Jordan Stephens, AJ Puckett, Spencer Adams, Ian Clarkin, Jordan Guerrero.
- Winston-Salem: INF Gavin Sheets; OF Luis Robert (after returning from injury), Blake Rutherford; P's Ricardo Pinto, Dane Dunning
- RHPs Brannon Easterling, Lane Hobbs, Bryan Saucedo, Mick VanVossen, Salvador Villarreal
- LHPs Louie Lechich, Ryan Riga, Ryan Boelter
- OF Jeff Gelalich
This section of the weekly News and Notes will cover how the affiliate teams have performed. The undefeated Chicago White Sox play tonight, looking to make it 3-0. The dream of an undefeated season remains alive.
News and Links
- Knights manager Mark Grudzielanek spoke with ESPN Charlotte on his expectations for the coming season.
- Grudz later commented to the Carolina Sports Network on Michael Kopech’s upside referring to it simply as, “ridiculous.”
- Barons’ manager Julio Vinas will be away from the team indefinitely, because of personal reasons. Ryan Newman will manage the team to begin the year.
- Kevin Powell of WGN Radio said Sox Manager Rick Renteria had high praise for Dylan Cease, saying, “The kid has probably as high an upside as any pitcher in our system. And I include Kopech in that.”
- Director of Player Development Chris Getz spoke highly of Eloy, saying in a conference call with media that, “If Eloy keeps hitting the way he has, the sky is the limit.” He added, “Birmingham is a key level for him. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a step forward to another level at some point this season.”
- The Congressional budget included a resolution related to minor league baseball, according to the Washington Post. Under the provision, minor league ball players will be exempt to overtime pay, receiving 40-hours a week of minimum wage. (Although no owner wants to take from their comically large pile of money or break the so-called “brotherhood,” I can’t help but imagine a team paying their minor league players a livable wage would serve as a major competitive advantage. A point similar to that made by our own Matt Cassidy).
- Ken Sawilchik wrote a piece for FutureSox on what could go wrong with the Sox’s top five prospects. He’s also covering the new pace of play rules, which is expected to publish sometime this week.
- Barons’ Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Powell authored, “The Keys to the Batter’s Box.” Available here.
- Baseball America broke down the minor leagues of every team, compiling a list of pitching prospects who have touched 100. There are a delightful number of White Sox on it.
- The Intimidators and the Dash are both participating in MiLB’s Copa De La Diversión initiative and rebranding as the Rapidos De Kannapolis and the Winston-Salem Rayados for five Sunday home games. The Knights will be returning the Caballeros moniker and wearing the specialty uniforms for three home games.
- The Athletic continues to provide more content then I can list on a weekly basis. So I’ll pick one piece. James Fegan profiled the White Sox’s minor league prospects. One scout loved it so much, he texted Fegan the following, “You dumbass.” The piece is great, however, and that unidentified scout should be dutifully ignored.
Birmingham will celebrate the 55th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail with a specialty jersey on April 16.
Winston-Salem will give fans free hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers at eight Tuesday home games this year.
Kannapolis will feature local favorite What-A-Burger at the park starting April 5.
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Filed under: News and notes
Tags: A.J. Puckett, Alec Hansen, Blake Rutherford, Brannon Easterling, Bryan Saucedo, dane dunning, Diego Goris, Eloy Jimenez, Gavin Sheets, Ian Clarkin, Jeff Gelalich, Jordan Guerrero, Jordan Stephens, Kevan Smith, Lane Hobbs, Louie Lechich, Luis Robert, Mick VanVossen, Robinson Leyer, ryan boelter, Ryan Cordell, Ryan Riga, Salvador Villarreal, Seby Zavala, Spencer Adams