CHICAGO -- September 1 is an opportunity for most clubs to add some young talent to the roster for the season’s final month. But with Triple-A Charlotte still squarely in the playoff hunt, holding a one-game lead over Durham with just two games left, the White Sox additions were only minor.
Fulmer has been out since Aug. 3 with a strained right hamstring. Once among the White Sox top prospects, Fulmer has struggled to put things together at the Major League level, posting a 6.38 ERA over four seasons including a 5.30 ERA in 14 appearances this season. In two rehab outings, Fulmer pitched two innings, allowing two runs while striking out two and walking three.
Banuelos also was a touted prospect, but he’s struggled with injuries over the course of his professional career including his most recent bout with left shoulder inflammation. Banuelos has pitched in just 20 Major League games since debuting in 2015. He holds a career 6.25 ERA, including a 6.90 ERA in 13 appearances with Chicago this season. In five Minor League starts during his rehab, Banuelos posted a 6.87 ERA over 18 1/3 innings.
“I think for him it’s important to try to get through the rest of the season going into the rest of the offseason healthy,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Both players serve as much-needed bolstering of the White Sox bullpen that has had to pitch a high volume of innings lately after Ivan Nova went only four innings on Friday and Reynaldo Lopez lasted just 2/3 innings on Saturday.
“We’ve used all our relief a lot lately so having them available to us today is actually a pretty good thing for us,” Renteria said. “Hopefully we don’t need it. We would rather have not had to use as many arms as we have over the last three or four days.”
While these may be the only two players called up until Charlotte’s season is finished, there are certainly still some names worth keeping an eye on over the next couple weeks.
“I’m sure that we’ll take an approach of trying to get some of these guys some more experience getting into the game,” Renteria said. “You can’t replicate playing in the big leagues anywhere else, you’ve got to be here and face all of the talent that’s here.”
As rosters expand, here's a look at the prospects likely to make the biggest impact, this year and beyond:
Arrival: Dylan Cease
The right-hander joined the White Sox rotation on July 3, and on the basis of sheer statistics, he has struggled a bit. He has worked at least five innings in all but one of his 10 starts but has allowed at least one home run in every trip to the mound. The stuff certainly is there for Cease, who topped 100 mph with his fastball in his last start against the Twins. But it’s more about command, execution and experience gained during the 2019 season. It should help him become a rotation staple when the team is ready to contend.
Breakout: Codi Heuer
The right-handed reliever, ranked as the club's No. 24 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, pitched well for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem this season and was even better after being promoted to Double-A Birmingham, posting a 1.84 ERA and nine saves in 22 games for the Barons. The team’s sixth-round pick in the 2018 Draft, who made 14 starts with Rookie League Great Falls in ‘18, should be able to help the White Sox bullpen in ‘20.
Something to prove: Jake Burger
It’s not that the White Sox top pick in the 2017 Draft had a bad season. For a second straight season, due to injuries, Burger, Chicago's No. 17 prospect, did not face live pitching in a professional game. The third baseman has dealt with a pair of ruptured left Achilles, and after a promising Spring Training pointing to a June or July return in ‘19, he was sidelined by a bruised left heel. The goal now is to get Burger into instructional league action, with general manager Rick Hahn believing this two-year absence won’t be a long-term hindrance to Burger’s strong offensive skill-set.
Name to watch: Luis Robert
A few White Sox fans might have heard of the No. 5 prospect overall in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. The five-tool outfielder is putting together an historic Minor League season and probably should be up in the Majors already. Hahn said recently the team had not made a final decision on the 22-year-old getting a fourth level promotion in 2019, but if Robert doesn’t get the call when Triple-A Charlotte’s season officially ends, look for him to play a prominent role with the White Sox in ‘20 and as this rebuild progresses into planned contention.