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In White Sox system, pitching turning heads

Kopech makes case for promotion; Dunning, Cease impress at Winston-Salem
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The White Sox got in just one of their four games in Minnesota this weekend thanks to heavy snow. But their Minor League affiliates, all of whom play their games in warmer climates, have been rolling along. And several White Sox prospects have gotten off to a fast start.

The pitching trio of Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease, each having made two turns through the rotation, has combined for a 1.13 ERA in 32 innings. Opposing pitchers can't get Micker Adolfo out at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. And Joel Booker provided for two exciting walk-off wins.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox got in just one of their four games in Minnesota this weekend thanks to heavy snow. But their Minor League affiliates, all of whom play their games in warmer climates, have been rolling along. And several White Sox prospects have gotten off to a fast start.

The pitching trio of Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease, each having made two turns through the rotation, has combined for a 1.13 ERA in 32 innings. Opposing pitchers can't get Micker Adolfo out at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. And Joel Booker provided for two exciting walk-off wins.

Here is a rundown of the White Sox standout Minor Leaguers:

Michael Kopech, P, Triple-A Charlotte
Acquired with Yoan Moncada as part of the Chris Sale trade, the White Sox No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline comes with high expectations. The flame-throwing righty started at Triple-A Charlotte this season after spending most of 2017 with Double-A Birmingham, and he's already impressing.

In 10 innings over two starts, Kopech has given up just one run on seven hits while striking out 11 against four walks, good for a 0.90 ERA. Kopech racked up eight of the strikeouts in his first outing, but only went four innings due to a high pitch count -- 77. He was much more economical in his second start, needing 88 pitches over six frames.

Most project Kopech to arrive in the Majors sometime this season, barring injury. If he continues at a similar clip, he could force his way up sooner rather than later.

Dane Dunning, P, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem
Dunning was part of the prospect package in the Adam Eaton trade that also netted Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez -- two-fifths of the White Sox current rotation. He's not ready to join his fellow ex-Nationals, but he's still finding success in the Carolina League.

Through Dunning's first two starts (11 1/3 innings), opponents have a mere five hits and one run. Dunning twirled a gem his last time out vs. the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, giving up two hits, striking out eight and walking none in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. That's good for a game score of 77, quite high for a Class A Advanced hurler.

Video: Top Prospects: Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox

Dylan Cease, P, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem
Cease has been nearly as effective as Dunning, his rotation mate. Acquired last summer with Eloy Jimenez as part of the Jose Quintana deal, Cease has held opponents to four hits and two earned runs in 10 2/3 innings. Cease, like Dunning, turned in a two-hit performance in his last outing against the Carolina Mudcats, tossing six scoreless frames.

Micker Adolfo, OF, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem
One of the White Sox few top prospects not acquired via trade, Adolfo is tearing up the Carolina League through the opening weeks. He owns an eight-game hit streak and has reached base safely in all 11 games. As a result, the team's No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, has a .395/.435/.651 slash line with two home runs and 10 RBIs, which is good for a 1.086 OPS.

Joel Booker, OF, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem
Perhaps the most exciting plays of the opening week came from the largely under-the-radar Booker, a 22nd-round Draft pick out of Iowa in 2016.

Tweet from @WSDashBaseball: What a way to kick off the 2018 home slate!@whitesox prospect Joel Booker steals home in the 10th to lift the Dash to a walk-off win against the Carolina Mudcats. @SportsCenter #SCTop10📹: Matt Cassidy/@FutureSox pic.twitter.com/8Y95YLxaEj

Booker keyed two walk-off wins for Winston-Salem in the span of three days. Last Thursday, in the bottom of the 10th against the Mudcats, Booker enacted a straight steal of home to put the Dash on top, 3-2. Then, again in the 10th on Saturday, he successfully pulled off a suicide squeeze as Winston-Salem completed a five-run comeback to win, 6-5.

Booker also hit a home run earlier in the game, and is hitting .400/.471/.633 thus far.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox