For this top prospect, confidence and trust reign supreme

February 26th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- , who makes his first Cactus League start for the White Sox against the defending World Series champion Rangers on Monday at Camelback Ranch, looks at confidence and trust in his repertoire as the biggest development over the past two years.

“It’s really just being able to throw all my pitches in every single count,” Nastrini said. “That’s something our coach really touched on in college [at UCLA].

“It was not something I was really able to do. It was something I really wanted to establish, especially last year being able to throw behind-in-the-count changeups, breaking balls, and execute breaking balls back to back.”

The only way to find this particular improvement is to practice what you preach in actual game situations, according to Chicago's No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline. That practice also could mean giving up a few hits while refining the process.

“It takes walking some guys, too,” Nastrini said. “You are going to go up there and throw a 2-1 changeup and yank it and go 3-1, so it’s being able to do that over and over again, having that confidence.

“You can throw any pitch in the bullpen because you can attach a count to a pitch during a bullpen, but there’s no repercussion if you don’t execute it. Being able to do that in the game is something you have to be able to do. It’s for sure a confidence thing.”

Nastrini, 24, came to the White Sox with fellow right-hander Jordan Leasure and outfielder Trayce Thompson from the Dodgers in exchange for Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly at last season’s Trade Deadline. He probably won’t break camp with the team but would be on the short list at Triple-A Charlotte if -- and when -- the White Sox need a starter.

“You just have to pick up right where you left off,” said Nastrini of being traded. “The guys in the clubhouse when I got to [Double-A Birmingham] were really receptive. I was really thankful for that. You have to keep going.

“Catch your stride in a different place. There’s going to be differences going from any organization. There’s going to be differences in the way the coaches work and the way they communicate, but there weren’t really that many crazy differences. It was a pretty seamless transition.”

Cannon on the mound

Jonathan Cannon, the White Sox No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, threw two hitless innings in his Cactus League starting debut during a 5-0 loss to Arizona Sunday, striking out two.

“This spring is really just kind of been making sure the fastball shape is good,” said Cannon, who threw 15 of his 25 pitches for strikes. “Pretty much was exclusively sinker/cutter. That’s been a big focus for me in throwing that sinker glove side, which I did a lot today to lefties.

“So, that really has been the biggest focus is working on that sinker glove side. Making sure the cutter is good, changeup. I didn’t throw any breaking balls today, but that’s been a big focus as well.”

Pitching at the big league level, albeit during Cactus League action, was a different feel for Cannon -- at least, at first.

“I was actually talking about it in the dugout,” Cannon said. “Once you get on the mound, it’s just baseball. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. The anticipation is a lot worse than actually going out there and playing the game. So it was all good.”

Near no-hitter ... or was it?

The White Sox appeared to be two outs away from being no-hit on Sunday when Oscar Colas singled to left off reliever Francisco Morales. But they actually were credited with two hits in the loss.

Bryan Ramos’ hard-hit grounder to third baseman Andrés Chaparro was originally ruled an error in the eighth inning, bringing applause from the Diamondbacks’ supporters, but at the end of the game the official scorer changed the error to an infield single after a review.