White Sox growing together, developing kinship

January 31st, 2018

CHICAGO -- White Sox players asked at SoxFest for their thoughts about the 2018 season focused their replies on surprising people as a group and individually getting better in all phases.

But even the youngest top prospects among the system, with seven in the Top 100 per MLB Pipeline, understand the big picture rebuild view. It might be status quo or a little below in 2018 in order to build toward a sustained championship run beginning in '19 or '20.

"We've had that conversation," White Sox center fielder said. "We are trying to win games, and through that, we are kind of learning what that looks like at the big league level. We are figuring out what exactly we have to do night in and night out. We definitely have a grasp of that from last year's experience and then going into this year, it's a consistency thing as much of this game is."

Added White Sox shortstop : "It's one of those things we have to be patient with it. They are going in the right direction with it, and I'm just blessed to be a part of it, and especially to be with such a great group of guys. Just go out and have fun."

Having fun shouldn't be a problem for this group.

Small pockets of prospects have played together from the Majors down to the Rookie League squad. But they already seem to be forging a bond attached more to groups who have played as a unit for four or five years.

A number of players and their significant others went to the Blackhawks game the Wednesday prior to SoxFest, watching Nicky Delmonico connect on one of his three shots during the shoot-the-puck promotion in between periods. They dined together during SoxFest, often interact via social media and put on quite a show during SoxFest seminars.

"Even at the big league level, there are a lot of young guys, too," third-base prospect Jake Burger said. "It's not like we played at different generations of baseball. We all came up in the same game and with the same ideas. It has been awesome. Everybody understands what it's going to take."

"This started in Spring Training right when I showed up," White Sox starting pitcher said. "[Manager] Ricky [Renteria] gave a little team meeting and talked about how we are going to be close and push each other to improve. We are all going to come together and hopefully start winning some games here pretty soon."

General manager Rick Hahn, the architect of the rebuild, certainly won't disrupt this process. He's not looking to add anyone to the 2018 roster who would block valuable at-bats or appearances for any key players of the future or simply push the team into potential '18 Wild Card contention.

The team that loses together also grows together and then eventually wins together. See the Royals, Cubs and Astros as previous examples.

"What makes you a championship club is consistently doing what you have to do to win," Engel said. "That's what we are working toward. Again, we've had that conversation, so that's the goal."

Added Delmonico: "We love hanging out outside the field, and I think that's what's great about our organization. We talk all the time, and we do stuff. I think it's going to show up on the baseball field, too."