Notes: Kelley's first action; Cooper dances

August 23rd, 2020

CHICAGO -- pitched in his first professional game last Wednesday.

It wasn’t quite what the hard-throwing right-hander might have envisioned when mapping out this moment years ago, as he tossed one inning during an intrasquad game at the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill. But the team’s second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft felt good and enjoyed his 15-pitch effort, nonetheless.

“Right now, I’m loving it,” said Kelley during an interview with “It’s better than being at home, I know that’s for sure. I’m glad I’m getting out and competing against some tough guys and finally just playing baseball again.”

Kelley, 18, agreed to a $3 million bonus when signing a Minor League contract after going to the White Sox at No. 47 overall. MLB Pipeline had the Texas native with the 98 mph fastball projected as the No. 12 Draft prospect entering the two-day event. He debuted at No. 6 on the White Sox Top 30 Prospects list.

With the Minor League season canceled as part of the COVID-19 situation, Kelley finds himself one step away from the Majors, although clearly behind other pitchers with more experience. He is with Matthew Thompson, a fellow Texas native selected out of high school in the second round of the 2019 Draft, and Andrew Dalquist, taken out of high school in the third round in 2019.

Thursday also marked the first time Kelley threw in game action since March for Refugio High School, where Kelley posted a 32-3 record, 0.43 ERA and 23 no-hit pitching appearances in his career. He faced Nicky Delmonico, Yermín Mercedes and Jake Burger, who was recently added to the White Sox player pool, as Kelley tries to soak up as much information as possible.

“I’m trying to just learn new things every single day,” said Kelley, who arrived in Schaumburg on July 26. “Talking to different guys that have been to the big leagues and they have pitched in the big leagues. Talking to them about what they do and what’s their approach and their routines and things like that.

“It’s not pitching scared and knowing just to keep on doing what I do. It’s just pitching. I pitched my entire life, so it’s nothing new. It was just me not trying to do too much and stay true to myself and go out there and compete.”

Cooper makes special appearance
The Dancing for Dubs postgame video celebration, run by catcher Zack Collins and infielder Danny Mendick, took on viral status Saturday night when pitching coach Don Cooper joined after a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. Cooper briefly reenacted the John Travolta/Uma Thurman dance from Pulp Fiction.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria gave Coop a “10” for his moves, but the skipper quickly added he didn’t plan to join in any time soon.

“Ricky said no?” Collins said. “We clinch playoffs, and he’s dancing.”

“We are trying to get everybody,” Mendick said. “It depends on if people are feeling it after a win. Try to get the player of the game or try to get a coach or something like that involved. Everyone is kind of starting to buy into it and get out of their shell a little bit. That’s what we are trying to do.”

Collins shared the ultimate guest for the ultimate celebration during a Sunday Zoom.

“I’m not trying to speak too far in advance,” Collins said. “But if we win the World Series, [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] has got to dance, right?”

Abreu’s hot streak
If there was a driving force behind the White Sox seven-game winning streak entering Sunday, it would be , who hit three homers on Saturday after hitting two homers on Friday.

Abreu has a .533/.563/1.333 slash line during that stretch, with seven homers, 15 RBIs and nine runs scored in 30 at-bats while hitting cleanup three times and hitting third in four games. Entering Sunday, Abreu was tied for the American League lead in homers (10) and RBIs (27), ranked fifth in average (.322), ranked sixth in slugging (.652) and seventh in OPS (1.013). And he seems to be enjoying every minute.

“I was a little emotional [Saturday] because to hear people say a lot of things about you, people who have doubt about you or maybe don’t believe in you, I’m just proving them wrong,” said Abreu, through interpreter Billy Russo, after Saturday’s three-homer effort. “Sometimes it gets to you. [Saturday] was one of those moments.

“I’m just enjoying the moment and trying to understand this is a great moment for this organization and this team. We just need to keep pushing forward.”

He said it
“I'm sure everybody's happy about that. I know I am. I won't have to hear about it anymore, and I know he's really happy about it. He's been a tremendously good sport.” -- Renteria, on , who picked up his first White Sox win Saturday after being drafted by the team back in 2004, traded twice and acquired once in a trade