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White Sox youth look to get taste of Majors

Jimenez, Robert could see action in Cactus League opener
MLB.com @RichardJustice

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here's the White Sox youth movement by the numbers: 19 players made their Major League debuts the past two seasons, and six current prospects are on the 2018 MLB Pipeline Top 100 list.

Two of the most watched youngsters in camp are young outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Both likely will be thrown into the mix at some point on Friday as the White Sox open the Cactus League season at 2:05 p.m. CT against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on MLB.TV.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here's the White Sox youth movement by the numbers: 19 players made their Major League debuts the past two seasons, and six current prospects are on the 2018 MLB Pipeline Top 100 list.

Two of the most watched youngsters in camp are young outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Both likely will be thrown into the mix at some point on Friday as the White Sox open the Cactus League season at 2:05 p.m. CT against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on MLB.TV.

White Sox Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

The White Sox have so many prospects on a fast track to the Majors that 67 players are in camp instead of the usual 55-59. That's to allow the kids to get a taste of the Major Leagues.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"We'll see a few of those guys," manager Rick Renteria said. "One of my goals is to make these guys as comfortable as possible and let them experience being at the Major League level and playing. It doesn't do me any good to bring someone to camp and not use them."

Covey ready to compete
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper has given right-hander Dylan Covey one extremely simple, occasionally hard to master message this spring: "Trust your stuff."

In other words, throw strikes.

"Sounds simple, doesn't it?" Covey said. "Basically, he said, 'Throw it over the plate, and things will work out for you.'"

That's the message Covey will take to the mound when he starts against the Dodgers on Friday.

Video: Covey discusses wanting to go after hitters in 2018

"It's just another opportunity to go out and compete and have fun," Covey said. "I'm always thankful for any opportunity that I get."

That Covey would get a start five days after being designated for assignment would seem like an odd sequence of events. On the other hand, his baseball career has been that way the past two years, from the moment the White Sox took him in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft.

That one vaulted him right to the Major Leagues, skipping over even a cup of coffee at Triple-A. (Rule 5 selections can't be sent back to the Minor Leagues without being offered back to their original teams, in this case, the A's.)

Covey got a trial by fire, starting 12 games and relieving in six. In a grand learning experiment, he struggled with the strike zone at times (4.4 walks per nine innings) and was 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA.

But he's still just 26 years old and very much on the club's pitching depth chart.

"I did this a little bit backwards," he said. "I went from Double-A to the big leagues. I'm thankful. Maybe I missed a step developmentally, but I think the year was a tremendous learning experience. I learned more last year than I ever had in four years of pro ball before that. I think that year is going to go a long way to helping me in the rest of my career.

"I think they know I have the stuff. I know I have the stuff. I just need to trust it a little bit more and not pick corners so much. A lot of my struggles came from falling behind in counts or walks or getting into predictable pitch situations where they can kind of gear up for a fastball."

Renteria said the starting assignment was based, in part, on the work Covey did in 2017.

"I think Coop felt that it would be a good thing to do, to allow him an opportunity," Renteria said. "To give him that nod."

Video: Giolito and Fulmer on the youth of the White Sox

Starters get extra rest
As for the projected 2018 rotation of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer and Miguel Gonzalez, they may not get into a game for a few more days.

"They're going to continue to work through getting themselves ready," Renteria said. "And then as we continue to move along, we'll establish and start to set a timetable in terms of when we see them. We'll see how everything works out."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Chicago White Sox, Dylan Covey, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert