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Season 1 of White Sox rebuild offers hope

Young talent makes impact, with more reinforcements looming
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The focus for the 2017 White Sox was talent procurement, followed by the development of top young players. That concept started as far back as last October, when their rebuild began and Rick Renteria took over as manager by setting an immediate tone as to what was expected throughout the organization.

While the on-field results were certainly less than ideal, wins and losses weren't the measure of this campaign -- and there were some important moments to remember.

CHICAGO -- The focus for the 2017 White Sox was talent procurement, followed by the development of top young players. That concept started as far back as last October, when their rebuild began and Rick Renteria took over as manager by setting an immediate tone as to what was expected throughout the organization.

While the on-field results were certainly less than ideal, wins and losses weren't the measure of this campaign -- and there were some important moments to remember.

Here's a look at those biggest highlights:

1. Youth started to be served

The White Sox committed to a full rebuild during the offseason, and it was in evidence throughout the 2017 campaign -- as numerous pieces for the future made their White Sox debuts. That list includes second baseman Yoan Moncada, starting pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, left fielder Nicky Delmonico and left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer. Starter Carson Fulmer also returned to the Majors late in the season.

Video: KC@CWS: Moncada slams a two-run homer in 4th

Chicago's top-rated system has only started to show its elite stature, with right-handed hurlers Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and catcher Zack Collins coming on fast, to name just a few. This group is growing and developing together, with the ultimate goal of winning titles together.

"Now, the rebuild is under way. Before that, it was the gutting," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "I thought a while back that when we start bringing these guys up, it's going to be reviving [for] me. And it is. We are developing at the big league level."

2. Abreu triples his pleasure

Jose Abreu entered the eighth inning of a 13-1 victory over the Giants on Sept. 9, needing a triple to hit for the sixth cycle in franchise history. To make things more dramatic, Abreu fouled a pitch off of his left ankle in the same at-bat, but stayed in the game.

Video: SF@CWS: Abreu hits for the cycle against the Giants

He then drilled an 0-2 pitch from Roberto Gomez to right-center -- the one triple-friendly area at Guaranteed Rate Field -- and raced around to third, despite almost tripping between second and third. It was the most exciting single moment of the season, punctuating another great offensive campaign for Abreu, as he joined Jose Valentin (2000), Chris Singleton (1999), Carlton Fisk ('84), Jack Brohamer ('77) and Ray Schalk ('22) in this exclusive White Sox cycle club.

"Really, really exciting," Renteria said. "He went up there, he knew what he needed to do -- especially after fouling that pitch off of his shin. It was a great day for him."

3. Quintana traded ... to the Cubs

Jose Quintana wasn't traded during the most recent offseason. He also wasn't traded during Spring Training. After a slow start to 2017, many wondered if his value would drop.

That question was answered with a resounding, "No," when the left-handed starter was moved the day before the second half of the season began. To make matters even more interesting, Quintana was traded across town to the Cubs.

Video: White Sox acquire four prospects for Jose Quintana

In return, the White Sox picked up one of the game's top prospects in Jimenez (No. 4 overall, per MLBPipeline.com) and another strong pitching prospect in Dylan Cease (No. 59 overall). White Sox general manager Rick Hahn eventually would trade David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Melky Cabrera and Miguel Gonzalez before the end of August, while also signing then-19-year-old Luis Robert, a top international free agent from Cuba and currently the No. 22 prospect overall.

4. Avisail Garcia's breakout

Waiting was the hardest part as far as Garcia and his five-tool-talent level was concerned. The White Sox stuck with the right fielder, and that patience paid major dividends.

Video: KC@CWS: Avisail Garcia cracks a two-run homer

Garcia lost weight coming into the season, being prepared physically as well as mentally. He not only set career highs in every category on offense, but also played solid defense in right field. The White Sox have two more years of control over Garcia, so the team has to decide whether the 26-year-old is part of the rebuild or becomes another trade chip to bring in top talent.

5. Growing pains

Tim Anderson agreed to a six-year, $25 million contract extension during Spring Training -- with two team options possibly taking the deal over $50 million -- making him one of the cornerstones of the rebuild. But Anderson also dealt with personal strife, when his close friend, Branden Moss, was tragically murdered.

Anderson eventually sought out therapy and, as he processed the tragedy, began to hit with authority over the second half of the season. Carlos Rodon, another rebuild staple with big league experience, didn't make his first start until June 28, due to left biceps bursitis. He made his last start on Sept. 2, and was shut down with left shoulder inflammation after being scratched from his ensuing start. In between, Rodon flashed moments of brilliance on the mound, with 48 strikeouts in 40 innings over a six-start stretch from July 25 to Aug. 21.

Video: CWS@HOU: Anderson extends lead with a solo smash

Other young players had a chance to regularly contribute during the opening act of the rebuild. Matt Davidson set a single-season individual career high for home runs, Yolmer Sanchez played great defense at third base and flahed more power than expected, and Adam Engel proved to be a Major League center fielder defensively.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago White Sox