Though Tommy John surgery brought an early end to Jace Fry's freshman season at Oregon State and cost him most of his sophomore year, he bounced back in 2014 to toss a no-hitter and win Pacific-12 Conference pitcher of the year honors. After drafting him in the third round that
Though Tommy John surgery brought an early end to Jace Fry's freshman season at Oregon State and cost him most of his sophomore year, he bounced back in 2014 to toss a no-hitter and win Pacific-12 Conference pitcher of the year honors. After drafting him in the third round that June, the White Sox counted on him moving swiftly through their farm system.
Fry did exactly that, reaching Chicago after just 107 innings in the Minors. But neither the 24-year-old left-hander nor the White Sox would have expected that his path to Guaranteed Rate Field would include a second elbow reconstruction and a switch from starter to reliever.
Even when he blew out his elbow for a second time just two months into his first full pro season, Fry said he never doubted that he'd be able to come back.
"It was just something that I had to do because I love playing baseball, I love being out here," said Fry, who's getting extra work with the Arizona Fall League's Glendale Desert Dogs. "So the rehab and everything, even the second time around, wasn't too painful for me mentally or anything. Because I knew if I worked hard and got back out there, I'd have another opportunity to play."
• Arizona Fall League roster & stats
Fry missed the entire 2016 season during his second rehab, then strained an oblique three weeks into his return this year at Double-A Birmingham. Once fully healthy, he recorded a 2.78 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings and a 2.16 groundout/airout ratio -- numbers that earned him a September callup.
Big league hitters treated him more rudely, batting .387 against him and tagging him with a 10.80 ERA in six appearances. They reinforced what he'll need to do to stick in the Majors, giving him his to-do list for an AFL assignment he was happy to get.
"I'm still working on command, consistency, all the things I've been working on the whole time," Fry said. "I feel like I needed it, especially missing a month during the season. It's been a good opportunity to come out here and keep throwing."
As a starter, Fry was a typical finesse left-hander whose solid control was his best attribute. When he became a reliever, he added 3 mph to his fastball (which now sits at 92-94) as well as power to his secondary pitches, but he also saw his walk rate jump from 2.9 per nine innings in 2014-15 to 5.0 in 2017. If he can do a better job of locating his improved stuff, he should have little trouble claiming a role in a White Sox bullpen short on southpaws.
White Sox hitters in the Fall League
Danny Mendick, INF -- A 22nd-round pick from Massachusetts-Lowell in 2015, Mendick has decent tools across the board and fits the utility profile. He batted .256/.340/.405 with 10 homers and 12 steals in 125 games between high Class A and Double-A this season.
Tito Polo, OF -- Originally signed out of Colombia by the Pirates in 2012, Polo went to the Yankees in August 2016 as part of a trade for Ivan Nova and to the White Sox this July in a seven-player deal that sent Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and Player Page for David Robertson to New York. His plus speed is his best tool, and he showed it off by stealing 34 bases while hitting .301/.363/.452 in 95 games between high Class A and Double-A.
Seby Zavala, C -- An offensive-minded catcher, Zavala slammed 21 homers and batted .282/.353/.499 in 107 games at two Class A stops. He turned pro as a 12th-rounder out of San Diego State in 2015.
White Sox pitchers in the Fall League
Dylan Covey, RHP -- The winner of the AFL's 2016 championship game as an Athletics farmhand, Covey joined the White Sox as a Rule 5 pick in December. A first-round choice out of high school who signed as a fourth-rounder from San Diego in 2013, he has a low-90s fastball and his best pitch is a changeup with splitter action. He went 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA in 18 games (12 starts) for Chicago and missed nearly three months with an oblique injury.
Matt Foster, RHP -- A 20th-rounder from Alabama in 2016, Foster had a 1.30 ERA and seven saves with a 33/5 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings for two Class A clubs. He pitches primarily with a 90-95 mph fastball and a slider.
Connor Walsh, RHP -- Riding his mid-90s fastball and his curveball, Walsh has advanced to Triple-A since signing as a 12th-rounder from Cincinnati in 2014. He recorded a 3.36 ERA, three saves and 63 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.