GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a move that appears to be exercising caution, the White Sox on Friday re-assigned No. 4 prospectAlec Hansen to Minor League camp as part of a series of roster moves. The right-hander was scratched from a Cactus League start on Tuesday after revealing to the club that he had felt soreness in his forearm after a bullpen session. An MRI revealed no damage.
The club also optioned left-handed pitcher Jace Fry to Triple-A Charlotte, released outfielder Willy Garcia and re-assigned right-handers Jordan Stephens and Tyler Danish and left-handers Brian Clark and TJ House to Minor League camp with Hansen.
The former second-round pick out of Oklahoma in '16, Hansen, 23, is coming off a monster 2017 in which he led the Minors with 191 strikeouts over 141 1/3 innings, posting an 11-8 record with a 2.80 ERA over stints at three Minor League levels. As of this week, he was expected to break camp with Double-A Birmingham. He's boasted lights-out velocity that sits in the mid-90s and touches triple digits, though his velocity reportedly topped at 93 mph in his first Spring Training appearance on Sunday.
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The White Sox enter '17 well into a rebuild with a loaded farm system that was just ranked No. 3 in the Majors by MLB Pipeline, in large part due to their crop of promising young pitchers. Half of the club's Top 30 prospects are pitchers, including Hansen. The club is also high on Michael Kopech (No. 2 White Sox prospect), Dylan Cease (No. 5), Dane Dunning (No. 6), Carson Fulmer (No. 10), Zack Burdi (No. 13), Spencer Adams (No. 15), Ian Clarkin (No. 17), Stephens (No. 22), A.J. Puckett (No. 26), Tyler Johnson (No. 27) and more.
Ross makes team debut
Left-handed reliever Robbie Ross Jr., who signed a Minor League deal with the White Sox this past Sunday, made his White Sox debut Friday against the Padres at Peoria Sports Complex, facing the minimum and recording a pair of strikeouts -- both swinging -- and working around a Chase Headley double in a scoreless sixth.
Ross, who dealt with elbow inflammation and herniated discs in his back that required surgery last season, showed progress in his recovery after tossing 10 bullpen sessions on his own in the offseason and throwing live batting practice shortly after arriving at camp.
The 28-year-old, limited to just eight appearances with Boston last season, is expected to add depth and potentially vie for a lefty reliever role in the White Sox bullpen.
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"He's a veteran guy who's had some success," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "You can never have too much pitching depth, and Robbie is a guy from the left side who might give us some options whether it's at the start of the year or once the season is underway. We know in the end it's going to take more than 12 or 13 guys to get through a season, and the more quality options we have available to us in the system, the better."
MLB Pipeline's No. 4 prospect and White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez could see a return to action and make his first start of Spring Training on Sunday against Arizona, manager Rick Renteria said. Jimenez had been dealing with left knee tendinitis, and went through a full workout Friday at Camelback Ranch.
"Eloy worked pretty hard [Friday], and I'll be honest he was gassed after the last session of [batting practice]," Renteria said. "We'll let him go through the same routine tomorrow, let him recover, and I'm hoping to be able to have him in there against Arizona."
Luis Robert, the White Sox No. 3 prospect, didn't participate in baseball activities Friday while dealing with inflammation in his left thumb, Renteria said. Robert apparently suffered the injury sliding into second base during Thursday's game, but wound up staying in and launching a grand slam in the eighth inning.
"We kept Luis from the field because he's got some inflammation in that thumb," Renteria said. "We're going to continue to evaluate it and make a determination on where he's at. Right now, we're limiting his activity. [Thursday], he was sore during BP. ... We didn't know about it, he didn't say anything in the dugout. There was no indication for us that anything was wrong, but he felt it a little bit when he was taking BP yesterday."
White Sox right-hander Gregory Infante, limited with right shoulder inflammation throughout the spring that has kept him out of game action, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday at Camelback Ranch.
White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito will look to continue a solid start to his spring and build his case to crack the club's starting rotation against the Cubs at Sloan Park on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on MLB.TV or heard on Gameday Audio.