Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Chicago White Sox

news

White Sox Pipeline

Collins ranked MLB's No. 9 catching prospect

Former first-round Draft pick focusing on swing, defense in offseason
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Zack Collins ranks as the No. 9 catching prospect per the newest list released by MLB Pipeline on Thursday.

It shouldn't be too long before the left-handed hitter, taken in the first round of the 2016 Draft, emerges as the No. 1 catcher for the White Sox.

CHICAGO -- Zack Collins ranks as the No. 9 catching prospect per the newest list released by MLB Pipeline on Thursday.

It shouldn't be too long before the left-handed hitter, taken in the first round of the 2016 Draft, emerges as the No. 1 catcher for the White Sox.

"He just continues to work hard and find ways to get better," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. "He looks athletic, looks lean, looks strong and ready to go. He's been working really hard and fine-tuning his skillset."

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Collins, who turns 23 on Feb. 6, hit .224 overall during 2017 stops with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and 34 at-bats for Double-A Birmingham. While his average wasn't where he expected, Collins showed solid plate discipline with a .370 on-base percentage. He added 19 home runs, 20 doubles, 53 RBIs and an .816 OPS.

Posture and body position were a few of the things Collins worked on with Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger in regard to his swing during instructional league action in late September and October. It was much more of a swing refinement as opposed to an overhaul.

With an average pop time of 1.9 seconds, Collins threw out 47 baserunners during his first full season as he continues to make progress behind the plate as well.

"The biggest thing for me now is staying positive and taking in the next season and playing hard every day," said Collins during a recent interview. "And obviously working on stuff and getting better at every aspect.

"Being in Birmingham was definitely good for me, and I got to play with those guys toward the end of the season and get comfortable there. I feel good with where I'm at."

Cleveland's Francisco Mejia tops MLB Pipeline's catching prospects. He's followed by the Cardinals' Carson Kelly, Keibert Ruiz of the Dodgers, Oakland's Sean Murphy, the Tigers' Jake Rogers, the Phillies' Jorge Alfaro, Baltimore's Chance Sisco, Toronto's Danny Jansen, Collins and the Cubs' Victor Caratini.

Birmingham figures to be Collins' 2018 starting point. The White Sox brought in veteran catcher Welington Castillo via a two-year, $15 million deal with an option for 2020, and already have Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith in place, so there's plenty of time for Collins to develop as a necessity the White Sox have afforded to all of their top prospects.

Seby Zavala also has put his name in the future White Sox catching picture, after hitting 21 homers last season between Class A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem and following up that showing with an impressive offensive performance in the Arizona Fall League. But an ultra-fit Collins feels ready for the big leagues or whatever new challenge the White Sox envision.

"Physically he's in a good spot," Getz said. "He's in great shape."

"I'd like to be with them after Spring Training," Collins said. "I'm in no rush but whenever they need me up there, I'll be ready."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

With maturity comes lofty expectations for Eloy

White Sox top prospect, 21, continues to hone skills, eager to be a building block
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Eloy Jimenez was 15 years old when he made up his mind.

It was 2013, months before he would officially sign his $2.8 million deal, and not long after the top international prospect in the class had endured 13 tryouts with 13 different teams in one week.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Eloy Jimenez was 15 years old when he made up his mind.

It was 2013, months before he would officially sign his $2.8 million deal, and not long after the top international prospect in the class had endured 13 tryouts with 13 different teams in one week.

Chicago would be the city where he would play in the big leagues, the young Jimenez told himself after the 14th tryout. The teen would go on to turn down larger offers from the Rangers and the Astros to sign with the Cubs that August in part because he liked the Cubs' colors.

• Young White Sox hitters gather for mini-camp

"My favorite player was Sammy Sosa, and I liked home runs and all of that," Jimenez, 21, said in Spanish. "I was young, just a kid, but I knew I wanted to play in Chicago. As a player, you sign, and you think you will grow up with that team and make it to the big leagues with them, but God had a different plan for me. I'm still going to play in the big leagues in Chicago, so that part hasn't changed."

The triumphs and struggles the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Jimenez has experienced during his pro career have helped him mature. The club's top prospect is still growing physically, and like most players his age, is still honing his skills on offense and defense.

"These colors are good, too," Jimenez said as he tugged on a black and white White Sox T-shirt. "I really like what we are doing here. The White Sox are building something special, and they want me to be part of it, and that's a good thing."

Video: Renteria's impressions of Robert and Jimenez

This week, Jimenez joins a group of 30 players that includes Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Zack Collins, Jake Burger, Micker Adolfo, Matt Davidson and Nicky Delmonico at the club's fifth annual hitting camp at Camelback Ranch, the team's Spring Training facility. In addition to hitting on the field and in the cages, the players also meet with coaches and staff several times a day.

Jimenez was acquired as part of a five-player deal that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs.

"This is an important camp for us simply from the standpoint of getting everyone in one place and getting everyone acclimated to our way of doing things," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "A lot of what goes on here happens in the classroom in more of a chalk-talk environment. For some of these players, it's their first time at Camelback Ranch, and it gives them the opportunity to get comfortable with the surroundings and staff before Spring Training starts."

Jimenez is in Arizona to work on his swing. He hits towering home runs and puts on a show during batting practice, but there is still room for improvement.

Last season, he combined to hit .312 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs at Class A Advanced with the Cubs and White Sox and later at Double-A with the White Sox. He's also played in the last two MLB All-Star Futures Games. Jimenez was in Rookie ball in 2014 at age 17.

Video: Rick Hahn discusses importance of White Sox mini-camp

"Everything we heard about him was true," said Class A Advanced Winston-Salem hitting coach Charlie Poe, who worked with Jimenez last season. "The ceiling is high and the aptitude for the game is outstanding. He does not get beat on fastballs and stays on the breaking balls. He doesn't chase balls in the dirt. He has a good approach."

It's been a busy 12 months for Jimenez. He capped off 2017 with a successful stint with the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League late last year. Spring Training starts next month.

"To be honest, I think last season was my best because I faced good competition and I was able to stay calm and adjust, and that's what's going to help me get to the big leagues," Jimenez said. "I remember being in Rookie League and just getting so frustrated when I made outs. I was 17. That feels like a long time ago."

There's no doubting Jimenez's confidence, and he feels like he can play in the big leagues in 2018. The White Sox do not want to rush him. That said, his play will dictate where he starts and ends the season.

"I want them all to feel like they are all ready. We are going to have 60 guys in big league camp, and I want them all thinking they can force their way on the 25-man roster," Hahn said. "It's our job in the front office along with the coaches to try to take a little longer-term view in what we are trying to accomplish over an extended period of time and not try to rush anything to get short-term satisfaction."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

 

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez

Moncada guiding Robert during mini-camp

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Luis Robert's training begins once he steps into Yoan Moncada's rental car each morning.

The 10-minute drive from the nearby hotel to Camelback Ranch, home of the White Sox Spring Training facility and the site of this week's hitters mini-camp, is short but helpful. Robert peppers Moncada with questions about baseball and life in the United States after living in Cuba. The second baseman does his best to answer them while he maneuvers a white sedan to the complex.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Luis Robert's training begins once he steps into Yoan Moncada's rental car each morning.

The 10-minute drive from the nearby hotel to Camelback Ranch, home of the White Sox Spring Training facility and the site of this week's hitters mini-camp, is short but helpful. Robert peppers Moncada with questions about baseball and life in the United States after living in Cuba. The second baseman does his best to answer them while he maneuvers a white sedan to the complex.

"Growing up, I don't think we ever imagined we would be here," said Robert, 20, who first met Moncada as a young teen on the baseball fields in Cuba. "It's really good to have someone from Cuba to be a guide and speed up the adjustment."

Together, Moncada and Robert represent part of the future for the franchise. Separately, the young Cubans are working to solidify their place in the organization. Robert, who defected from Cuba in late 2016 and signed with the White Sox last May for a $26 million bonus, is entering his first full Minor League season in the United States. Moncada, who signed a $31.5 million deal with the Red Sox out of Cuba in 2015, will enter his first full big league season as the White Sox starting second baseman.

Video: Rick Hahn discusses importance of White Sox mini-camp

Robert and Moncada were teammates on Cuba's U-18 team in 2013.

Robert, who is ranked as the No. 23 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, admits it will take time to adjust to life in the United States. He doesn't speak English and understands there are cultural differences he will face. That's where Moncada will step in to help Robert, just like White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who is also from Cuba, helped him. Robert said an uncle from Cuba who lives in California will also help in the transition to the United States.

However, some things will remain the same. Robert's days in the Dominican Republic, where he lives, are spent working out, and he hopes to create a similar routine in the United States. He's looking forward to learning new training techniques.

Video: Luis Robert homers in his first pro at-bat in the DSL

Robert's contract gives him the type of financial freedom he could have never imagined, but he said he's still the same homebody he was before he signed the multimillion dollar deal. And yes, Robert likes video games and having fun with social media, like other people his age, but he said he left everything behind in Cuba to become a Major League player, so that's what he is focusing on.

"My life has changed in many ways, but maybe the biggest change since I signed is that I don't worry about what's next," Robert said in Spanish. "My life is tranquil. I can just concentrate on the game and my family, and not where I am going to sign."

The most significant change in Robert's life has been a personal one. His parents and sisters recently joined him in Santo Domingo.

"It's important to keep in mind this year that so much of what is going to happen with him from a developmental standpoint is going to happen off the field," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's a thrill watching him in BP and make these fields look small, and it's going to be fun to watch him in Spring Training, and ultimately, whatever affiliate he gets assigned to for the 2018 season. But no matter how he performs, a lot of what he's going to get used to is life in the States, different culture and a different type of baseball, different expectations, and different schedule and different diets."

Video: Renteria's impressions of Robert and Jimenez

Since joining the White Sox, Robert has played in the Dominican Summer League and participated in the White Sox instructional league at the club's Dominican Academy. He will be in big league camp for Spring Training next month. There's a chance he will be assigned to one of the club's Class A affiliates at Kannapolis or Winston-Salem (Advanced) for the regular season.

"I'd like to be in the big leagues like everyone else, but I don't know the plan for me right now," Robert said. "I'm just going to focus on doing my work and getting better."

As for Moncada, he finished the 2017 season with a .231 batting average, eight home runs, 22 RBIs, 31 runs scored and three stolen bases. He hit .211 in 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox in 2016, and he later was acquired by Chicago from Boston as part of the package for pitcher Chris Sale during the offseason.

Like many young players with his experience level, Moncada is a work in progress.

Video: Top Prospects: Luis Robert, OF, White Sox

"[Yoan] is extremely young with half of a year of big league play under his belt," Hahn said. "I think he is going to be a lot more comfortable and know more about how the pitchers are trying to get him out, and how he needs to adjust, and he knows he's going to be out there in the lineup every day."

The immediate future for Moncada and Robert includes a trip to a Cuban restaurant near the hotel for a taste of the island. It's another chance for them to catch up on the past and dream about the future.

"Yoan is still very young and still establishing himself as a big leaguer," Hahn said. "The fact that he is taking such care and consideration for one of his younger teammates going through something he went through himself speaks highly about his character."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

 

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada

Kopech close to joining White Sox rotation

MLB Pipeline's No. 3 RHP prospect could get call midseason
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech probably won't break camp as part of the 2018 White Sox starting rotation.

But the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect in the game, according to a list released Tuesday by MLB Pipeline, certainly will arrive soon.

CHICAGO -- Michael Kopech probably won't break camp as part of the 2018 White Sox starting rotation.

But the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect in the game, according to a list released Tuesday by MLB Pipeline, certainly will arrive soon.

"I'm anxious for him to get there and stay there," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "I'm anxious to see the continued work we will put into Spring Training but also the continued work he will get to continue to improve, because for a lot of these guys, not only Kopech, their time is coming.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

"So what do they have to do now? They have to work on their craft and work on keeping their strong points strong ... and tighten things up basically."

Top 10 Prospects by Position

Kopech, 21, posted a 9-8 record with a 2.88 ERA over 25 starts split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2017. Only his final three starts took place with Charlotte, where Kopech will begin '18.

In 134 1/3 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander fanned 172, walked 65 and yielded a mere 92 hits and six home runs. Hitters finished with a .193 average against him, commensurate with his career .196 mark.

Shohei Ohtani of the Angels ranks No. 1 among right-handed pitchers per MLB Pipeline, followed by the Astros' Forrest Whitley, Kopech, the Rays' Brent Honeywell, the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Pirates' Mitch Keller, the Cardinals' Alex Reyes, the Reds' Hunter Greene, the Indians' Triston McKenzie and the Phillies' Sixto Sanchez.

Reynaldo Lopez reached the White Sox in 2017, making 22 starts for Charlotte and an Aug. 11 debut at Guaranteed Rate Field, a path that could be followed by Kopech this year. He will be used as a starter during Cactus League action, according to Cooper.

"I even said this to a couple of people already on the phone: 'I want you to do what I'm doing right now,' meaning I'm welcoming this opportunity," Cooper said. "I'm looking forward to this challenge of going out and being ready.

"Let's work at our craft, and that would be for everybody who comes to Chicago when we leave Spring Training, for everybody in the Minor Leagues that is close to helping us in Chicago. This is kind of how we hope the rebuild goes: Here comes the line."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech

Young White Sox hitters gather for mini-camp

No. 23 prospect Robert headlines participants at week-long event
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The White Sox present and future offensively have significant representation at their 2018 hitters' mini-camp, a week-long event beginning Monday morning at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

Thirty players in total are scheduled to be in attendance, with 13 of those players coming from the White Sox Top 30 Prospects list per MLB Pipeline.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox present and future offensively have significant representation at their 2018 hitters' mini-camp, a week-long event beginning Monday morning at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

Thirty players in total are scheduled to be in attendance, with 13 of those players coming from the White Sox Top 30 Prospects list per MLB Pipeline.

"I'm looking forward to just seeing all of these young hitters," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria, who is in attendance for the mini-camp. "Obviously … our whole hitting coordinating staff within the system is going to be there to make sure that we're all working on the same ideas, the same plan.

"How we're attacking at bats, how we're attacking situations and at the same time looking at that skillset that these kids bring to the table, albeit in BP and what have you. You still get a chance to see some of their swings and some of the eye-hand coordination aspects."

Luis Robert's on-field debut in the United States figures to draw a great deal of attention this week. The 20-year-old outfielder, who is the No. 3 White Sox prospect and No. 23 overall in baseball, received a $26 million signing bonus with the White Sox as a top international free agent from Cuba. He played his first season as part of the organization's Dominican Summer League team and then took part in the Dominican instructional league during November.

Tweet from @whitesox: Luis Robert, Eloy Jim��nez and Micker Adolfo ��� what a trio! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MSHcmFa662

Those scheduled to join Robert from the White Sox 40-man roster are Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Ryan Cordell, Matt Davidson, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Casey Gillaspie, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Omar Narvaez, Daniel Palka, Kevan Smith and Charlie Tilson. Jimenez ranks as the No. 5 prospect in the game, while Moncada, who rated as the No. 1 prospect in the game for most of the 2017 season before being called up to the White Sox on July 19, continues on as the team's starting second baseman.

Tweet from @whitesox: .@CarlosSan29 and @ymoncada19 putting in work at mini-camp. 💪 pic.twitter.com/h6vlekt2Cm

Non-40-man roster players scheduled to take part are Joel Booker, Jake Burger, Alex Call, Zack Collins, Luis Curbelo, Jameson Fisher, Ti'Quan Forbes, Luis Gonzalez, Danny Hayes, Patrick Leonard, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, Matt Skole, Gavin Sheets, Yeyson Yrrizarri and Seby Zavala. Each day features hitters meetings, cage work and batting practice. It was the 2017 mini-camp where Davidson showed off his re-tuned swing, knocking baseballs around the back fields at Camelback Ranch as a prelude to his 26-home run, 68-RBI big league performance.

"You also get a chance to talk to them a little bit and see where they're at," Renteria said. "The truth is until they get to playing games and things of that nature, you can't really evaluate completely until they're actually trying to perform and trying to deal with those things and those situations that we're going to hopefully address in this hitters' camp."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Happy, healthy Adolfo talks breakout season

Powerful prospect takes part in MLB's Rookie Career Development Program after hitting 16 homers in Class A
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Micker Adolfo selected jersey No. 27 to honor his favorite player, Vladimir Guerrero.

As Guerrero awaits the results of Baseball's Hall of Fame voting, Adolfo -- the White Sox No. 14 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- is reveling in a breakout 2017 season, his most successful with the White Sox. The 21-year-old discussed his breakthrough while taking part in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program.

CHICAGO -- Micker Adolfo selected jersey No. 27 to honor his favorite player, Vladimir Guerrero.

As Guerrero awaits the results of Baseball's Hall of Fame voting, Adolfo -- the White Sox No. 14 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- is reveling in a breakout 2017 season, his most successful with the White Sox. The 21-year-old discussed his breakthrough while taking part in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program.

"Being able to stay healthy this year helped me a lot [with] progressing and moving forward," Adolfo said. "I can't help but thank all the coaches in the White Sox organization, all the conditioning and strength coaches for helping me set up a nice program to keep me on the field and do my job day by day."

Rated as the White Sox top international amateur signing until the Luis Robert move this past season, Adolfo joined the team with a $1.6 million bonus on July 2, 2013, two months shy of his 17th birthday. Since then, the right-handed outfielder has transformed from a shy, skinny kid learning into a gregarious, powerfully built prospect.

Taking part in the Career Development Program will help Adolfo's growth, too.

"I heard about it from a couple of guys that I played with before," Adolfo said. "They told me it was a really good program. When the White Sox selected me to come here, I was very honored. I'm learning a lot of things that will come in handy in the future."

In 424 at-bats across 112 games, Adolfo hit .264 with 16 homers, 28 doubles and 68 RBIs for Class A Kannapolis in 2017, notching career highs in average, homers and RBIs. During the Instructional League in Arizona, Adolfo rehabbed a fractured knuckle on his left pinky -- the result of a freak accident -- that ended his season early on Aug. 22.

Video: Adolfo on progress in Kannapolis

There also was a trip to the Dominican Instructional League in November, where Adolfo got an extremely positive first impression of Robert, the No. 23 prospect in baseball.

"His first at-bat in Dominican instructs was a home run, first pitch he saw. He cleared the trees. It was probably 430 feet," Adolfo said. "But the guy is a specimen.

Video: Luis Robert homers in his first pro at-bat in the DSL

"He can field, hit, run, throw and everything. He plays hard. He's a really good fit for the White Sox and I would love to be playing next to him some day in Chicago."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox, Micker Adolfo

Burger showing progress as power threat

White Sox top Draft pick working on elevating batted balls to unlock potential
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Jake Burger possesses an intangible "it" factor, a fact that is readily apparent to anyone who watches the White Sox top pick in the 2017 Draft (11th selection overall) interact with teammates or peeks at his conversations on Twitter.

But the White Sox need Burger, their No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to have a major hit factor, as well, if he's to become the third baseman of the future. The 21-year-old product of Missouri State produced a .263 average with five home runs, 10 doubles, a .749 OPS and 29 RBIs over stops with the White Sox Arizona Rookie League team and Class A Kannapolis during his debut campaign. He then worked with Minor League hitting instructor Mike Gellinger in the instructional league on elevating more batted balls to take advantage of his power.

CHICAGO -- Jake Burger possesses an intangible "it" factor, a fact that is readily apparent to anyone who watches the White Sox top pick in the 2017 Draft (11th selection overall) interact with teammates or peeks at his conversations on Twitter.

But the White Sox need Burger, their No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to have a major hit factor, as well, if he's to become the third baseman of the future. The 21-year-old product of Missouri State produced a .263 average with five home runs, 10 doubles, a .749 OPS and 29 RBIs over stops with the White Sox Arizona Rookie League team and Class A Kannapolis during his debut campaign. He then worked with Minor League hitting instructor Mike Gellinger in the instructional league on elevating more batted balls to take advantage of his power.

• White Sox Top 30 prospects

"It's a couple of tweaks in my swing that ultimately will produce more of the fly balls that we want," said the upbeat Burger, who moved full-time to Arizona during the offseason to continue working with Gellinger and the organization's strength and conditioning staff.

"Just kind of focus on a couple of things with your hands. It's nothing too crazy. It's just knowing where the hands should slot and then where they should explode from. It's been good."

Gellinger liked what he saw from Burger, pointing out how he got a few sinkers in from right-handed hurlers and put them in the air during games.

"Guys throw sinkers, right-handers to a right-handed hitter, they throw sinkers because they want you to hit it on the ground," Gellinger said. "He got inside those balls and hit line drives. It wasn't popups or flares or anything. It was line drives that he got to. It was really good to see."

Gavin Sheets, the 21-year-old, second-round pick in the '17 Draft, followed a similar instructional league path as Burger did. The left-handed-hitting first baseman's quest to unlock his power included adding a leg lift in his swing, after hitting .279 with four home runs, 12 doubles, a .762 OPS and 28 RBIs during stints with Arizona and Kannapolis.

Video: 2017 Draft: White Sox draft 1B Gavin Sheets No. 49

"Getting a little bit of a leg lift and just working on some things to get more power to all fields," said Sheets. "That was something I came in wanting to work on and they jumped on it right away."

"Results have not shown up in instructional league, but I believe that he will by the time the next season turns around," said Gellinger of Sheets, the White Sox No. 15 prospect. "A little more of a leg kick actually means he's trying to get more ground on his stride. He's trying to get a little bit wider, land a little bit wider, gain a little bit more ground. Put his body in a stronger position."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Many factors will influence Sox rebuild in '18

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The White Sox rebuild is ahead of schedule entering 2018, which general manager Rick Hahn confirmed at this year's Winter Meetings.

"With that said, we have a lot more to do," Hahn said. "We've got an important Draft coming in June.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox rebuild is ahead of schedule entering 2018, which general manager Rick Hahn confirmed at this year's Winter Meetings.

"With that said, we have a lot more to do," Hahn said. "We've got an important Draft coming in June.

"There are going to be other important trades. There will be free-agent signings that take place to facilitate this, and obviously at this point in particular, a huge amount of player development has to go right."

• White Sox Top 30 Prospects

Talent procurement emerged as the main theme during Year 1 of the White Sox rebuild. The additions will continue, but patience while the talent develops at this stage becomes crucial. Even with the early success and satisfaction for this process, questions loom as the 2018 season approaches.

Here's a handful of those questions to be examined.

Video: Must C Clutch: Moncada ties it in 9th, wins it in 11

1. Who are the "Next Sox" to arrive?

Second baseman Yoan Moncada, right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer and outfielder/designated hitter Nicky Delmonico represented the "Next Sox" first wave of top prospects to arrive in Chicago in 2017. So who's on tap for 2018?

Video: Hahn impressed with top prospect Kopech's progress

Michael Kopech, the game's top pitching prospect per MLBPipeline.com -- excluding Angels two-way rookie Shohei Ohtani -- figures to follow a path similar to Lopez's 2017 arrival. Eloy Jimenez, rated No. 5 in the game and No. 1 for the White Sox, has 73 plate appearances with Double-A Birmingham standing as his highest level of Minor League competition, but his on-field excellence might force the White Sox to promote him this season.

Video: Must C Cycle: Abreu legs out triple to complete cycle

2. What's the future of Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia?

Should they stay or should they go?

That question appears to be front and center for two important veteran presences both on and off the field. Abreu, who will turn 31 on Jan. 29, ranks as an elite middle-of-the-order lineup presence while serving as a mentor for the emerging prospects and the voice of the clubhouse. Garcia, 26, reached the potential projected of him by the White Sox with his 2017 All-Star campaign.

Video: Must C Combo: Garcia collects five hits, seven RBIs

Each player has two years of contractual control, so the decision doesn't need to be made quickly on either one. The White Sox need to determine whether this duo or one of the two fits into the big picture when the team is primed to contend for a World Series title, or if the club would benefit most from a trade that can bring back players to add to the young core.

3. When will Carlos Rodon return?

The third overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft made 12 starts and threw 69 1/3 innings during the 2017 season due to biceps bursitis at the outset and then September arthroscopic shoulder surgery, which cut short his season. Rodon's timetable for a return stood at six to eight months from when the surgery was announced, a time when Hahn also definitively stated that nothing would be known about Rodon's recovery time until he arrived at Spring Training and really started throwing.

Video: Rodon looks to be ready for 2018 after surgery

Hahn has held firm to that sentiment during the three or four times he's been asked about Rodon in the offseason. All boxes seem to be getting checked off during Rodon's present rehab, but with the White Sox not expected to contend in 2018, there's no reason to rush what has been described as one of their key rotation pieces in their rebuild and beyond.

4. How do the White Sox spell relief?

Through trades, injuries and non-tenders of Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka and Al Alburquerque, the White Sox relief crew needs a little help by Hahn's admission. Hahn talked about pitching additions, including a potential starter, during the Winter Meetings, but with the market still a little slow to develop, Hahn admitted that such moves might run into January before being completed.

5. What does a full year look like for the club's top prospects?

Observers often analyzed success and failure for impressive young players such as Moncada, Giolito and Lopez from at-bat to at-bat in Moncada's case or start-to-start in the case of Giolito and Lopez. But a better picture should develop in 2018, in terms of what these players begin to truly offer when they get a full season of work at the big league level.

Video: Callis analyzes Moncada, Giolito after 'graduation'

Moncada showed a solid plate approach during his White Sox debut and hit .276 with five home runs in September. Giolito seemed to find his confidence on the mound again.

Bonus: How will the White Sox define being opportunistic?

As has been written many times previously, the White Sox will spend when the time is right to complete their rebuild. That time could begin next offseason, but Hahn has talked about being opportunistic or taking calculated risks in the present.

Video: Merkin analyzes Castillo signing with White Sox

Catcher Welington Castillo came aboard via a two-year deal with an option for 2020, and the White Sox made an offer to trade for third baseman Manny Machado despite not confirming, denying or acknowledging those talks. More moves of that ilk could arise next offseason or even in-season.

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Prospect Abbott taking lessons from pool to field

8th-round pick split time between water polo, baseball in high school
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Sam Abbott carried many athletic plaudits from high school upon his arrival to the White Sox in the eighth round of the 2017 Draft.

Strangely enough, many of those accomplishments were in the pool as a swimmer or water polo player as opposed to on the baseball diamond. But the Washington state native seems as excited about this new professional challenge and singular career focus as the White Sox are to have him.

CHICAGO -- Sam Abbott carried many athletic plaudits from high school upon his arrival to the White Sox in the eighth round of the 2017 Draft.

Strangely enough, many of those accomplishments were in the pool as a swimmer or water polo player as opposed to on the baseball diamond. But the Washington state native seems as excited about this new professional challenge and singular career focus as the White Sox are to have him.

"It's everything that I've always wanted it to be. It's a dream come true," Abbott said during a recent interview. "I love every minute of it, playing baseball every single day. It's what I wanted ever since I was 2 years old. I'm just grateful I'm in this position and grateful for the White Sox to pick me."

White Sox top 30 prospects

Abbott's name doesn't get mentioned as part of the rebuild's critical mass of talent because he is a work in progress. The 18-year-old, who hit .225 over 102 at-bats and 31 games with the organization's Arizona Rookie League team after being selected, previously played summer and high school baseball.

Abbott's time was really split between water polo and baseball, meaning he wasn't beaten down within either sport.

"So there was room to grow any sport I wanted," Abbott said. "That really helps me with baseball, and I can take lessons I learned from the pool and apply them here."

Mental toughness stands as one trait from swimming Abbott spoke of transferring over to baseball. Of course, the on-field skills ultimately will dictate how far Abbott goes, but striving to learn and improve certainly won't be the shortcoming for this powerful left-handed-hitting first baseman.

After going to Arizona for White Sox instructional league during parts of September and October, Abbott chose to join Micker Adolfo and Luis Robert for the team's instructional league at its Dominican Academy in November. This interesting career path really began when Abbott attended a pre-Draft tryout at Guaranteed Rate Field in June and his swing and power caught the attention of executive vice president Ken Williams and future Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who serves as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.

"The thing for us with this kid is the fact that he hasn't played a lot, but because the power jumps out at you, which it did in his workout, for me, that's where this could get really intriguing," Thome said. "The little bit of time that we've actually spoken you can tell he comes from a really good family, and the fact that he just looks like he's got the true package of a gentleman but also an athlete. That stands out."

When Abbott met Thome, he admitted to trembling a little bit when shaking hands. Now, they are working together to help Abbott fulfill his dream.

"Baseball is the hardest sport in the world," Abbott said. "It's a process day in and day out. It's month after month and game after game and season to season. It's the work you put in now, and then next year, and the year after that will pay dividends later on in my career.

"I'm just doing the best I can every single day and whatever happens, it happens. I control what I can control."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Danish grateful for 'second chance at life'

White Sox prospect survived car accident at end of 2017 season
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The holiday season has not been the easiest time for White Sox prospect Tyler Danish and Charlotte, his mother and guiding force.

Not since Danish's father and longtime coach, Michael, passed away from colon cancer at the age of 50, two days after Christmas seven years ago. He was incarcerated for fraud at the time of his passing.

CHICAGO -- The holiday season has not been the easiest time for White Sox prospect Tyler Danish and Charlotte, his mother and guiding force.

Not since Danish's father and longtime coach, Michael, passed away from colon cancer at the age of 50, two days after Christmas seven years ago. He was incarcerated for fraud at the time of his passing.

But this year has a different feel for the Danishes.

Charlotte remarried on Dec. 20, and despite being outrighted off the 40-man roster during this offseason, the 23-year-old Tyler simply feels lucky to be alive. He survived a multi-car auto accident at the end of the season, dislocating his left shoulder.

"Yeah, I mean, I'm not supposed to be here," said Danish, a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft. "Not many people get a second chance at life, and I did."

Danish was driving home after the completion of the 2017 Minor League campaign, which the right-hander finished 4-14 with a 5.47 ERA over 25 starts and one relief appearance for Triple-A Charlotte. His mother was about a half-mile back in her car on I-95 South in Jacksonville, Fla., when traffic stopped because of a car accident.

Danish heard a bang as his car was struck, and he ended up in a ditch 90 feet from where he started after being knocked across the highway. Luckily for Danish, he saw the accident coming and was able to turn his wheels to avoid getting slammed into the car in front.

"If I don't turn my wheels, I don't know if I'm standing here today," said Danish, whose uninjured mother ran up the interstate to check on him. "I'll never be able to forget it and it was just a night that will never, ever leave my memory. It is who I am now.

"Like I said, it happened, the same as the situation with the 40-man. I can't do anything about it, but I can learn from it and grow and be a better person."

In the midst of the White Sox rebuild, with seven of their Top 10 prospects acquired in the past year, a player such as Danish has moved somewhat into the background. He has gone through two brief stints with the White Sox, making three relief appearances in 2016 and winning his lone start with the team in '17.

Getting moved off the 40-man served as a shock to the system. The new attitude for Danish still leaves him excited for Spring Training competition as a non-roster invitee.

"Tyler's a bulldog. We've all known that since the day we got him," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "He's going to do everything in his power to maximize his ability. What that leads to him ultimately being, we'll find out together at the big league level. But he's still 23 years old and fights like a warrior. So he's a good guy to have on your side."

"Slowing down isn't a bad thing for Tyler," White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler said. "He has a great family, his mom is a terrific person. Tyler is going to come back with a renewed -- and I say renewed, it's not that he ever lost it -- but Tyler will have a different gear further than where he was at this year."

Hahn personally called Danish to tell him the roster news, a connection meaning a great deal to the right-hander and showing he's still in the White Sox picture. Danish took care of some "little minor things" with his injured left shoulder and went through physical therapy, but now feels fantastic.

An upbeat and grateful Danish also has worked his way under 200 pounds for the first time since he graduated high school.

"My whole mindset is different. I try to take advantage of every single day," said Danish, who intends to stress the importance of wearing seatbelts to every kid he encounters this season. "I'm trying to give my best to every single person I come across, being a positive man.

"This year is a big year for me, no matter what happens. When I come to Spring Training, everyone that sees me is going to understand and see the difference in body type and my attitude and just how I carry myself. It was a blessing come true to be here, so I'm going to live through that every single day."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox, Tyler Danish

White Sox trade Rule 5 pick Tocci to Texas

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The White Sox selected outfielder Carlos Tocci from the Philadelphia system with the fourth pick of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings. They then traded Tocci to the Rangers for cash considerations.

General manager Rick Hahn mentioned two Rule 5 targets for the White Sox. One of those unnamed targets was taken prior to the White Sox pick, meaning either outfielder Victor Reyes or righties Julian Fernandez and Nick Burdi, The other White Sox target needs to undergo surgery in the coming days according to a standard e-mail disclosure Major League Baseball sent to all the clubs Wednesday evening.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The White Sox selected outfielder Carlos Tocci from the Philadelphia system with the fourth pick of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings. They then traded Tocci to the Rangers for cash considerations.

General manager Rick Hahn mentioned two Rule 5 targets for the White Sox. One of those unnamed targets was taken prior to the White Sox pick, meaning either outfielder Victor Reyes or righties Julian Fernandez and Nick Burdi, The other White Sox target needs to undergo surgery in the coming days according to a standard e-mail disclosure Major League Baseball sent to all the clubs Wednesday evening.

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

"As a result we wound up trading the pick since both of the guys we targeted were not going to be available to us," Hahn said.

None of the players Chicago left unprotected off its 40-man roster were selected by other teams. The White Sox 40-man remains at 36.

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Renteria full of praise for Sox prospect Robert

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rick Renteria referred to outfielder Luis Robert as "a pretty impressive specimen" after watching him for four games during the Dominican Instructional League at the White Sox Academy in November.

That comment represented only beginning praise from the White Sox manager for the center fielder currently ranked as the White Sox No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall by MLBPipeline.com.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rick Renteria referred to outfielder Luis Robert as "a pretty impressive specimen" after watching him for four games during the Dominican Instructional League at the White Sox Academy in November.

That comment represented only beginning praise from the White Sox manager for the center fielder currently ranked as the White Sox No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall by MLBPipeline.com.

"This kid can fly," said Renteria, speaking Tuesday from the Winter Meetings. "I saw him run down to first. I think it was like 3.56 [seconds] after a full swing on a ground ball.

"He ran down a ball in center, right-center field effortlessly. He hit a ball against the wind and a gust in the center, left-center field that I thought had no chance and it ended up going over the trees. We have a lot of young men in the organization right now that are starting to grow up and come into their own both physically and emotionally. We're moving in the right direction."

More will be known about Robert, 20, when he plays for Class A Kannapolis or Winston-Salem in the United States in 2018. But the Cuban native who received a $26 million signing bonus when joining the White Sox on May 27 already has exhibited maturity beyond his years during his '17 White Sox debut.

Video: Luis Robert homers in his first pro at-bat in the DSL

"From what I can gather, he's quiet and very attentive to everything that you're conversing about. Has a way of being a part of the rest of the group that were there," Renteria said. "Right now it's just a matter of getting himself to the States, starting to play against other competition, starting to get a feel for what's going on here, the level of play that he's going to be hopefully participating in this coming summer, and see where he can chip away at what he needs to improve upon.

"He's still a very young player. I'm sure there are a lot of aspects of his game that he's going to have to improve upon. So once he gets here we'll see and decipher, and I'm sure we'll have a plan as to how we want to check off certain boxes for him and what he needs to do to continue to move forward."

Hahn talks Winter Meetings talks

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn spoked of interesting ideas bandied about with other teams Tuesday and stressed how the team doesn't want to discourage any conversation on that front.

"We don't want to cut off anything because you never know where it might lead," Hahn said. "It can lead to a quick, 'No, that doesn't make sense,' or it may lead to, 'Well, look, if you're looking for this type of player, what about this other type of player instead.' We encourage conversation and sometimes when you do that some pretty wacky or unexpected ideas get thrown at you. Certainly this week has been no exception."

As for the possibility of a key clubhouse and on-field figure such as Jose Abreu being traded, Renteria was not in a speculating mood.

"[Abreu] is a White Sox until otherwise stated," Renteria said. "[Abreu] is our first baseman."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

White Sox out of chase for phenom Ohtani

Two-way star narrows list to 7 teams; Chicago front office proud of presentation
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The White Sox long-shot pursuit of international free agent Shohei Ohtani ended Sunday, as the South Siders were not included among the finalists for the elite two-way talent.

"Our guys put together a great initial presentation," White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams told MLB.com of his team's pitch on Monday. "I was a little surprised we weren't afforded the opportunity to sit down with him because I felt when we get in front of people, there's a second presentation and there's an opportunity to express the genuineness in dealings with our players throughout the years and the consistency as far as that's concerned.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox long-shot pursuit of international free agent Shohei Ohtani ended Sunday, as the South Siders were not included among the finalists for the elite two-way talent.

"Our guys put together a great initial presentation," White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams told MLB.com of his team's pitch on Monday. "I was a little surprised we weren't afforded the opportunity to sit down with him because I felt when we get in front of people, there's a second presentation and there's an opportunity to express the genuineness in dealings with our players throughout the years and the consistency as far as that's concerned.

"It kind of resonates with people. I'm a little disappointed, but at the same time, as [White Sox general manager] Rick [Hahn] stated [Friday], we knew that it was a long shot because of the economics involved, and it may be from what I understand a logistical issue as well."

:: Shohei Ohtani coverage ::

Ohtani reportedly narrowed the list of possible destinations to seven finalists, featuring a strong West Coast flavor in the Dodgers, Mariners, Angels, Padres, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. The accomplished hitter and starting pitcher in Japan has the potential to star on both sides of the ball in Major League Baseball during the 2018 season and beyond, a rarity in the game.

Williams strongly believes this combination can be accomplished.

"This goes back years and years. As our people can tell you in our private meetings, I personally think that throughout the years there have been a number of people who could have done both," Williams said. "And I don't know why we pigeonhole players and we put limitations on players who have never put limitations on themselves.

"Let them do it and if it proves out that they can't, then you have to sit down with the player and make a decision together. I've always found that the best decisions come from more communication and openness.

"Then you've got the other party in this case, a player, all on board with doing one over the other," Williams said. "I've always said if we are in that fortunate position to where we got one of those type of players, I'd let him go ahead and do both until he shows he can't."

Hot Stove Tracker

Brooks Kieschnick pitched and hit for Triple-A Charlotte in 2002, working 25 games out of the bullpen for the Knights. Williams believes there's a current National League player, whom he chose not to name, who is capable of pitching and being a pretty effective designated hitter.

Playing the outfield or first base most likely would take a greater toll on Ohtani's arm and legs while being part of a rotation then serving as a DH, although Williams said a player such as Ohtani certainly could play the outfield two or three times per week. It's a rare sort of talent the rebuilding White Sox had to pursue.

"We have a responsibility to do everything we can and leave no stone unturned in terms of finding any avenue to put ourselves in the best position going forward for the long term," said Hahn on Friday. "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. That's our approach on this one. Give it our best shot."

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.

 

Chicago White Sox

Inbox: When will Kopech, Jimenez arrive?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fans' questions
MLB.com

You see any chance Michael Kopech or Eloy Jimenez make it to the big club before September callups in 2018?
-- Tom, Homewood, Ill., @tomaustin011

Assuming Kopech pitches as he did in 2017 (2.88 ERA), I would be surprised if he doesn't see the Majors before September. Think Reynaldo Lopez's '17 path as an example. Jimenez is a little further away, but to paraphrase the White Sox, elite talent has a way of forcing the issue. So, yes, I could see Jimenez in Chicago later in 2018 but before September.

You see any chance Michael Kopech or Eloy Jimenez make it to the big club before September callups in 2018?
-- Tom, Homewood, Ill., @tomaustin011

Assuming Kopech pitches as he did in 2017 (2.88 ERA), I would be surprised if he doesn't see the Majors before September. Think Reynaldo Lopez's '17 path as an example. Jimenez is a little further away, but to paraphrase the White Sox, elite talent has a way of forcing the issue. So, yes, I could see Jimenez in Chicago later in 2018 but before September.

:: Submit a question to the White Sox Inbox ::

Do you think the White Sox will pursue a big-time free agent like Manny Machado during next year's free agency period?
-- Henry, Lockport, Ill., @henryfcichowski

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has said money will be there for the team to spend when the time is right. That time probably begins next offseason when the White Sox have a little better idea of specific needs as their young talent develops.

Hahn certainly has not specified what sort of player they will pursue. As the Royals, Cubs and Astros have shown, it's not always the big names but the right fits that bring a team across that final threshold from rebuild to championship. The White Sox will certainly finish this rebuild and understand it will probably take more than their plethora of prospects to do so.

Video: Merkin on White Sox rebuilding in 2018

Does Avisail Garcia get traded? If so, where and for what?
-- Mark, Des Plaines, Ill., @MarkRubes

Neither Garcia nor Jose Abreu are likely to go anywhere, although that concept can change quickly. The White Sox have done an exceptional job of maximizing return for high-end players moved, players like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, whom they had to get a haul in return to advance the rebuild.

Garcia and Abreu each have two years of control remaining, and once again the value of return has to match the high value the White Sox place upon them. There's also no rush to get a deal done in the next few months before Spring Training begins.

Video: White Sox plan for Abreu and Avisail during rebuild

Do you think the Sox will look to add a veteran catcher this winter?
-- Steve, @chisox2727

The team was happy with the work from Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez in 2017. The White Sox have Zack Collins, their top catching prospect, moving closer, and Seby Zavala coming off of a strong Arizona Fall League showing. But look for a veteran catcher to be added to the mix, possibly as a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Video: KC@CWS: Smith launches a solo homer to left field

Any chance Adam Engel is the starting CF next year? Love his defense, speed and heart. If he could only hit .240, that'd be appreciated. Thanks.
-- Mike, Chicago's Southwest Side, @mikewalsh4609

Engel appears to be the clubhouse leader in center. His defense certainly was outstanding, but Engel -- as much as anybody else -- understands his offense has to move up a couple of notches to work every day or even as a fourth outfielder.

Video: LAA@CWS: Engel makes a nice running grab in the 6th

Will the White Sox spend big dollars on veterans for their bullpen or work on developing young arms instead?
-- Charles, 'Ewa Beach, Hawaii, @alabamachuck

They will add a veteran arm or two after the bullpen was seriously altered by trade and injury last season. It doesn't necessarily have to be a veteran to flip. It could be someone the White Sox bring in short term but then extend. There are also young arms in the system -- some working as starters, who could fit in relief.

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.

 

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech