With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.GLENDALE, Ariz. -- All offseason, the focus on the White Sox has been about the plethora of prospects acquired by general
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- All offseason, the focus on the White Sox has been about the plethora of prospects acquired by general manager Rick Hahn. On Tuesday, we'll get our first look at them. New prospects, new manager, new plan, new season.
"We are kind of in the rebuilding stage, I guess you could say," said catcher Zack Collins, who is the White Sox No. 6 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com and No. 81 overall. "It worked for the Cubs, getting a lot of big prospects and building.
"I feel like it's what we needed to do. I mean, it's always good to have Chris Sale starting, but I don't know, it's just trying to do something different now. I feel like baseball is kind of evolving to start getting younger guys and stuff like that."
:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::
Whereas the focus of recent White Sox Spring Trainings was Sale, one of the game's best pitchers, or what veteran additions they hoped would push them into contention, youth will be the watchword this year. Youth, and the trade rumors surrounding Jose Quintana.
Every move made by infielder Yoan Moncada or right-handed-hurler Michael Kopech, acquired from Boston as part of the Sale deal, as well as right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, picked up from Washington in the Adam Eaton deal, will be studied carefully. Similar attention will be paid to Collins, Carson Fulmer and Zack Burdi, to name a few homegrown elite prospects. It's a change in times for the White Sox.
"Hopefully it works," Collins said. "We have a lot of great guys now in the Minor Leagues and a lot of big prospects."
This year's Spring Training work and daily routine for White Sox players won't change much from years past. New manager Rick Renteria wants things done the right way and with fun and energy, just as his predecessors believed. But there's a decided difference within this year's camp.
"If you look at the progression of the clubs that have in the last five or six years been able to impact their existence into the postseason and then deep into postseason, most of those organizations have kind of gone the route we are starting to go at this particular time," Renteria said. "It's probably the best opportunity we've had to be able to move in this actual direction."
Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday
Position players report: Saturday
First Cactus League game: Away vs. the Dodgers at 2:05 p.m. CT on Feb. 25
Prospects to watch: Moncada, who is built like a linebacker, will get a chance to show his power and speed, while Kopech, who readily talks about his respect for and comparison to the Mets' Noah Syndergaard, can flash his 100-mph fastball. Everyone mentions these two along with Giolito, Burdi, Lopez, Collins and Fulmer, but let's not forget Spencer Adams, Courtney Hawkins, Jacob May, Charlie Tilson, Tyler Danish and Adam Engel, all of whom will be working hard in big league camp.
New faces: Take away the top prospects acquired in the two trades and there really aren't that many new players dotting this opening rebuilding phase. Free agent Derek Holland was signed to a one-year deal worth $6 million, and many believe the left-hander will fit well with pitching coach Don Cooper in getting the southpaw back to his standout form shown with Texas from 2011-13. Holland could be dealt at the non-waiver Trade Deadline or become a steadying force in the rotation.
Right-hander Dylan Covey is an interesting addition via the Rule 5 Draft, while outfielder Rymer Liriano enters camp having missed all of last season with the Brewers after being hit in the face with a pitch during Spring Training. Catcher Geovany Soto and outfielder Peter Bourjos are non-roster invitees who have strong chances of breaking camp with the team.
Interesting non-roster invitees: Soto, who played the 2015 season with the White Sox, sits as the early favorite to split time behind the plate with Omar Narvaez. Bourjos could do the same with Tilson in center, while Everth Cabrera and Cody Asche should battle for the final position player spot. The same holds true for Cory Luebke and Anthony Swarzak for the final two bullpen spots. The problem for these non-roster invitees is that the White Sox 40-man presently sits at 39, so there's not a great deal of room to maneuver.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.