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Hall of Famer Thome great influence on Sox

Chicago places 7 players in latest top 100 prospect rankings
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- There have been times over the past five years where Jim Thome walked into the White Sox clubhouse, sat down next to a random player and started talking about baseball and life.

"It's like, 'Don't you have a lot of things to do and you are talking to me?'" said a smiling Matt Davidson, the White Sox designated hitter, of Thome's influence. "It's very special and really cool to have.

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CHICAGO -- There have been times over the past five years where Jim Thome walked into the White Sox clubhouse, sat down next to a random player and started talking about baseball and life.

"It's like, 'Don't you have a lot of things to do and you are talking to me?'" said a smiling Matt Davidson, the White Sox designated hitter, of Thome's influence. "It's very special and really cool to have.

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"He makes it really easy. He talks to you like a friend. It's almost like you could forget who he is because he's so nice. He can talk to anybody."

Davidson is one of the countless players positively affected by Thome, who serves as special assistant to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. His playing days earned him a bit more notoriety, as Thome was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame Sunday afternoon along with Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell after launching 612 homers over 22 seasons. He also had 1,747 walks, 1,699 RBIs, 1,583 runs scored, 2,328 hits and a .956 OPS.

Thome was a great player. He's an even greater person, a characterization unanimous among his friends, peers and even those who only met him briefly.

"He shares a lot of great information and just talks hitting and loves the game of baseball," Davidson said. "It's a great asset that the White Sox are able to have and give to their players, especially his caliber.

"Obviously it's really cool to receive this honor for his great career and everything he's done. It really couldn't happen to a better person. It's really cool he can talk to guys who just got drafted and he's a Hall of Famer and he can talk to them like a friend."

White Sox stay strong in Top 100

The updated top 100 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, released this past week, features seven White Sox prospects topped by outfielder Eloy Jimenez at No. 3. The list also includes RHP Michael Kopech (13), OF Luis Robert (26), INF Nick Madrigal (33), RHP Dylan Cease (45), RHP Dane Dunning (66) and OF Blake Rutherford (91).

There were eight White Sox prospects in the previous top 100, with RHP Alec Hansen and C Zack Collins dropping out and Madrigal, the team's top pick and the fourth overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, coming aboard. Madrigal is hitting .389 over 10 games since joining Class A Kannapolis and has yet to strike out in 58 total plate appearances this season.

"He's acclimated himself very nicely to pro ball, and you're seeing examples with his ability to barrel up the pitches all over the zone, a lot of the attraction to that player for us," said Hahn of Madrigal. "I don't want to quite put a number grade on his hit tool, but you're starting to see in action what a plus or a plus-plus hit tool looks like."

Anderson benefits from veteran guidance

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson had a chance to work out with Toronto outfielder Curtis Granderson for about one week during this past offseason. The meeting was facilitated by White Sox pregame instructor Mike Kashirsky and took place at Curtis Granderson Field at UIC in Chicago.

It was a beneficial experience for Anderson beyond baseball knowledge gained from the 15-year veteran and native of the South Suburbs of Chicago.

"I was kind of picking his brain a little bit: Try not to ask too many questions, but still get our work in," Anderson said. "I had a great time being around him and tried to soak up as much information as I could.

"We talked about life and talked about baseball and more stuff off the field, too. Definitely, it was worth it, and it was good to hear what he had to say and learn from it."

Third to first

Outfielder Jacob May was released Saturday by the White Sox organization. May, 26, began the 2017 season as the team's starting center fielder, but he produced only two hits in 36 at-bats. He hit .255 with 15 stolen bases over 81 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox