GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox did not think they would make this much progress this quickly. That's the first thing they will tell you.OK, that's actually the second thing. The first thing is that, despite all the young talent -- and it's possible no organization has more --
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox did not think they would make this much progress this quickly. That's the first thing they will tell you.
OK, that's actually the second thing. The first thing is that, despite all the young talent -- and it's possible no organization has more -- and all the optimism, there are still miles to go.
"We know the baseball gods can be cruel," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said.
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He means that all these prospects will not be stars, some of them will get hurt and the adjustment period to the Major Leagues is a huge step.
"Remember that Michael Trout got sent back down after he was called up," Hahn said.
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Now about that first thing.
"Our goal is to contend for multiple championships over an extended period of time," Hahn said. "As to the exact date on which that starts, we're not prepared to put the specific target out there because, in all candor, I would have given you a farther out date a year ago at this time.
"When we started this process, we talked about how traditionally these things around the league take five years or so. I think we've already adjusted that timeline, for the better."
This White Sox rebuild is less than two years old, and in that time, Hahn has dramatically reshaped the entire organization -- and the outlook -- by trading veterans for prospects in addition to drafting smartly and working the international market aggressively.
On Opening Day, the White Sox will have highly regarded youngsters dotted up and down his lineup, especially in the middle of the infield, where shortstop Tim Anderson -- who homered Friday against the Dodgers in the White Sox spring opener -- and second baseman Yoan Moncada have the look of future stars.
Chicago also has six of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, including No. 4 (outfielder Eloy Jimenez) and No. 10 (right-hander Michael Kopech). All in all, the White Sox appear to be in about the same spot the Royals, Cubs and Astros were in before they turned a corner.
"I'll tell you what, Chicago White Sox fans are going to be very, very happy over the next few years," veteran right-hander James Shields said. "They should feel very proud of what they're looking forward to and who'll they be cheering on. These young guys have a lot of talent, and there's a lot more coming. Rick and Kenny [Williams, executive vice president] have done a great job bringing these young guys in and developing them. I'm excited to be part of that."
Hahn brought 67 players to camp instead of the usual 55-57 to allow his top prospects, including Jimenez and Kopech, to get a taste of the Major Leagues and to play in some games. Beyond that, he wants them to understand what manager Rick Renteria and his staff expect in terms of work ethic and preparation.
"It's been a fun spring so far because you walk around, and regardless of which field you go to or which pack of mounds, you see multiple guys you could randomly project having a role on a championship club," Hahn said. "It is exciting. At the same time, we know where we're at. We've been doing this for a little over a year.
"These rebuilds take longer than that. Even the most successful ones around the league have taken multiple years. It's important for us to know what we have in these guys at the end of the season, to have a better understanding about who potentially can play a role on a championship club."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.