Sheets celebrates W, 'special' MLB debut

No. 9 prospect logs first pair of hits, RBIs as Sox improve to 6-1 vs. Twins

June 30th, 2021

CHICAGO -- did everything but sell tickets during his Major League debut on Tuesday night as part of a 7-6 White Sox victory over the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The win improved the White Sox to 6-1 vs. Minnesota this season and raised their lead in the American League Central to 2 1/2 games over the Indians.

Sheets, 25, singled, doubled, drove in two runs and even caught three balls in right field for good measure. The club’s No. 9 prospect, as ranked by MLB Pipeline, was selected in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft as a first baseman, but he has added the corner outfield spots to his resume.

“It was awesome, the whole night,” Sheets said. “Obviously to get the first hit out of the way early was awesome, and got a lot of action in right field. It was a fantastic night. And to get the W in the end, a close game, was awesome.”

“He did so many good things, but I love his aggressiveness to make things happen,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He wasn’t tentative. To see the smile on his face and joy he brought to his teammates, it was a special day.”

The first career hit for Sheets came leading off the second inning, lining a 1-0 splitter from Twins starter Kenta Maeda to left for a single. The left-handed hitter drove in a run via a fielder's choice, two-strike groundout in the third, on which he hustled to prevent an inning-ending double play. That hustle allowed Leury García to single home the go-ahead run.

And it was an RBI situation during a four-run fifth, when Sheets blooped a double over the head of third baseman Josh Donaldson. All and all, a very complete evening of work.

“Hey this is what I do. I love to hit with runners in scoring position, a big situation in the game,” Sheets said. “It kind of took my mind away from, this is your debut. Being thrown into those situations was great.

“Walking up to the plate, I could hardly feel my feet,” Sheets added of his first big league hit. “The fan response was tremendous. It meant so much to me to hear their noise tonight and every time I came to the plate. The first pitch kind of settled me in. I got a splitter that was up in the zone and I was able to hit it to left field. Rounding first base was an awesome feeling and getting to see D-Bo [first-base coach Daryl Boston] with a big smile on his face topped it off.”

This support came against Maeda, who walked five and gave up seven runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in the series opener, which featured a 10-minute rain delay in the third. It worked in favor of White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who yielded Luis Arraez’s single and Donaldson’s home run within the first five pitches of the night and nothing more until the seventh. Giolito only struck out one in six-plus innings.

Andrew Vaughn added two hits and García drove in two runs, as the White Sox won their second straight and will look to secure a series win on Wednesday. They improved to 46-32 and raised their lead to 12 1/2 games over the Twins (33-44), allowing Sheets to celebrate his contributions to an injury-riddled outfield with friends and family after the win.

“My uncle, cousin, one of my cousin's buddies, my girlfriend and a really close family friend of mine who was all here,” Sheets said of his celebratory crew. “It was special. It was really special. To see them and to see their emotions and how excited they were for me, that was really cool. My immediate family wasn’t here, but I know they’re supporting me.

“I’ve already had phone calls and everything from them and I know they wish they could have been here. But to have them here and see the excitement on their face, that was really special.”