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Madrigal set to get back in full baseball mode

White Sox No. 5 prospect ahead of curve after first pro season
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The 2018 baseball season marked a long but productive one for Nick Madrigal.

Despite fracturing a bone in his left wrist, Madrigal hit .367 with 42 runs scored, 34 RBIs, 16 combined extra-base hits, 15 stolen bases and a mere seven strikeouts over 180 at-bats in helping Oregon State to the College World Series championship. As the fourth pick overall by the White Sox in the 2018 MLB Draft, Madrigal hit .303 with 25 runs scored, 16 RBIs and five strikeouts in 155 at-bats split between three Minor League stops.

CHICAGO -- The 2018 baseball season marked a long but productive one for Nick Madrigal.

Despite fracturing a bone in his left wrist, Madrigal hit .367 with 42 runs scored, 34 RBIs, 16 combined extra-base hits, 15 stolen bases and a mere seven strikeouts over 180 at-bats in helping Oregon State to the College World Series championship. As the fourth pick overall by the White Sox in the 2018 MLB Draft, Madrigal hit .303 with 25 runs scored, 16 RBIs and five strikeouts in 155 at-bats split between three Minor League stops.

Madrigal, ranked the club's No. 5 prospect and named to the 2019 All-Defense Team by MLB Pipeline, finally got a break beginning in early October following instructional league action in Arizona, spending time with his family and taking a trip to Hawaii with his girlfriend. But with Spring Training approximately one month away, the talented middle infielder is ready for action after letting his body heal a little bit.

"Toward the end, my body was pretty beat up like everyone else," Madrigal told MLB.com before joining his friends and teammates on a White Sox Minor League trip to the Dominican Republic departing on Monday. "You go through a long season and you are going to have little kinks and stuff.

"Once I got the time off and got back in the weight room, it was nice to get back in there. I enjoy preparing for the season and taking ground balls, hitting, weight room. I love doing that stuff. Once I got the break I needed, I was ready to get back into it. I don't need any more time off."

Video: CLE@CWS: First round pick Madrigal joins Sox booth

Class A Advanced Winston-Salem became Madrigal's highest level of competition in 2018, with 98 at-bats and 26 games played. Yet there has been some mentions of Madrigal rising to the White Sox infield as quickly as later this season.

Of course, the possible free-agent signing of infielder Manny Machado immediately would change that configuration in the short term and long term. And while the White Sox appreciate the advanced status of Madrigal as a three-year college starter, there's no reason to rush him to the Majors.

"He's got a really good sense of how to play the game," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz, who also is part of the Dominican trip. "He's got a really strong feel of his skill set. Therefore, he certainly is ahead of others. With that being said, we are just getting him started.

"Last year, he was just getting a taste of professional baseball after having a long successful college season. He's just experiencing his first offseason as well and now going into his first Spring Training. There's certainly no reason to get ahead of ourselves, or he needs to get ahead of himself. It's pure preparation mode and I'm sure he's champing at the bit to get that first full pro season under his belt."

There's very little worry on Madrigal's part as to what level he will begin at in 2019 or whether he's at second or shortstop, taking ground balls at both spots as he prepares while working with his dad. He's more focused on getting back with his friends and playing White Sox baseball.

"They are the core group of players and know we are the ones who are going to change it with the people they are bringing in," Madrigal said. "Everyone knows [the White Sox] have a plan, and we are not afraid to talk about it.

"We know that something hopefully soon is coming and it's all exciting. Not one person in the organization is questioning it or what's going to happen here. It's exciting to see what happens."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Inbox: What's the latest on free-agent pursuits?

White Sox beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fans' questions
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Here's this week's White Sox inquiries.

What is the realistic possibility that the White Sox sign both Manny Machado AND Bryce Harper? What if the two premier free agents said they would sign with us only if we took them both?
-- Bryan, Big Spring, Texas

CHICAGO -- Here's this week's White Sox inquiries.

What is the realistic possibility that the White Sox sign both Manny Machado AND Bryce Harper? What if the two premier free agents said they would sign with us only if we took them both?
-- Bryan, Big Spring, Texas

I never really thought both players would end up on the same team, and this is not an NBA sort of situation where players go together to form a super team. With that said, the White Sox are positioned payroll-wise to make significant pushes for Machado and Harper, which they already have, and handle the large amount of money needed to sign both.

Merk, I'll save everyone time: When are we signing Machado? -- @MikeSox56

I know the answer, Mike, but I can't tell you. I'm kidding, of course. Most teams are reporting to camp around Feb. 13-14, so there's still some time for negotiations involving both players. But I'm going to guess Machado will pick a team prior to SoxFest from Jan. 25-27.

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

In an effort to convince Machado to sign, will the White Sox hire his dog to check the quality of the grass in center field? -- @JJHantsch

There's no confirmation the Machados even have a dog. First baseman/designated hitter Yonder Alonso (brother-in-law) and outfielder Jon Jay (friend) have received a great deal of publicity for their personal connection to Machado, but they both help the White Sox at this stage of the organization's rebuild regardless of Machado's decision.

For the outfielders not already inked into the 2020-22 lineups (presumably Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert), who is the most likely to play as a regular for the Sox: Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo, Luis Gonzalez or Steele Walker? -- @junkcycle

This isn't meant to be a cop out, but they all have chances to contribute. I believe Adolfo, at 100 percent, has a chance to be a star. I've felt that way since I first saw him playing during instructional league action a few years ago.

Does Rutherford have a shot at right field in 2019? -- @jrj360guy

Rutherford had a great season in 2018, flashing some extra-base power with 25 doubles, nine triples and seven home runs to go with 78 RBIs at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. But the White Sox have stuck fervently by the plan not to rush any prospects, including Rutherford, who I don't see being in the Majors in '19.

Have there been any rumblings in another starter? A guy like Gio Gonzalez or Brett Anderson makes a lot of sense from the outside looking in. -- @dbh1127

If his great progress continues from last year, Dylan Cease will join Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Ivan Nova and Lucas Giolito sooner than later in the 2019 rotation. Other pitchers will be added to compete with Manny Banuelos, Dylan Covey and Jordan Stephens for that fifth spot, even if it ends up coming through the non-roster variety.

Video: White Sox prospect Cease excited to attend RDCP

Would the signing of Machado be a sign that the Sox think they can be a contender in 2019 in the same way that the Bears' signing of Khalil Mack was an indicator that the Bears felt they were ready to contend this past season? -- Sol B., New York

The Bears did go from a stretch of four straight last-place finishes to winning the division, and Mack played a huge role in that transformation. So anything is possible. Let's be realistic in that the White Sox lost 100 games in 2018, so that's quite a jump, and the Twins and Indians still have solid rosters. But that goal of the White Sox being competitive put forth by general manager Rick Hahn at the end of last season receives a serious boost with the addition of Machado or Harper -- or dare I say both.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Prospect Collins: 'I'm going to try to break camp'

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Discussions concerning White Sox catching for the 2019 season understandably center upon incumbents Welington Castillo and Omar Narvaez.

But Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft and future behind the plate, intends on interjecting his name into the conversation.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Discussions concerning White Sox catching for the 2019 season understandably center upon incumbents Welington Castillo and Omar Narvaez.

But Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft and future behind the plate, intends on interjecting his name into the conversation.

"I'm going to try to break camp," Collins told MLB.com during a recent interview in Arizona. "Sometimes you can hit .500 in Spring Training and still not make the team, but I'm going to give it my all.

"Yeah, obviously there's still some development. If they didn't call up Eloy [Jimenez] last year in the last whatever, then I don't really have anything to say. The guy hit [.355] in Triple-A. So trying not to rush the process or think about that, but obviously, I'm going to try to make the team every chance I get."

Collins, 23, most likely won't start the 2019 season with the White Sox, but he made considerable strides last season within and beyond the numbers. He finished with a .234 average and 158 strikeouts over 418 at-bats for Double-A Birmingham, but the organization's No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline worked his way back from a season-opening 2-for-37 slump. Collins also posted a Southern League-best 101 walks, and his .382 on-base percentage left him tied for second overall.

Tweet from @BhamBarons: August 10: The Barons set a season-high for runs in an inning with 10 runs in the 9th inning of an 18-2 rout in Montgomery. @zackcollins0 recorded two HR and six RBI in just the 9th inning alone, including this grand slam to cap the scoring. #WhiteSox pic.twitter.com/rZZWpS3qGO

The lower average and high strikeout numbers don't worry Collins, who feels confident the in-season changes he made eventually will get him back to where he needs to be offensively. The White Sox echo a similar sentiment.

"Offensively, it's kind of what we knew: He's going to take a bunch of walks, he's going to get on base, he's going to have some power," White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler said of Collins, who added 15 home runs and 68 RBIs to his 2018 resume. "He makes contact, good hard contact, and he's a guy that I still believe from a scouting point of view, he's a guy that as he goes to a higher level when the strike zone tightens up, he's going to be better.

"You don't want a guy in the lower level that shows patience and the ability to judge the strike zone well -- you don't want him to compromise that because of umpires or bad calls at the Double-A level. As he goes through the system, I think you are going to see, as he gets to Triple-A and the Major Leagues as the strike zone shrinks, he's going to be better off offensively."

According to Hostetler, 98 percent of the scouting industry polled on Collins would have said he's going to hit. Fifty percent of the same would have said he's going to catch.

That catching part of Collins' repertoire has come a long way during parts of three years in the White Sox system. He has taken to the framing metrics, the advanced analytics and the information provided, doing an exceptional job of knowing the zone, getting pitchers ready for a game and calling the game.

"Understanding the game, learning how to catch," Hostetler said. "Some positioning stuff with his feet has really improved."

Video: Top Prospects: Zack Collins, C, White Sox

Taking nutrition to another level has put Collins in solid physical shape and primed for the next catching challenge, although a 2019 callup to the White Sox figures to feature at-bats at first base and designated hitter as well.

"When you look at it now, in our minds, we feel he's an everyday catcher in the big leagues," Hostetler said. "I think as we continue this, you might see him get some playing time at first base or at-bats at DH. But that's just to get the bat in the lineup."

Added Collins: "Defensively, I made huge strides, especially in the last couple of months when we got a couple of the big prospects up like [Dylan] Cease, [Jimmy] Lambert and [Bernardo] Flores. Working with them was awesome. Learned a lot from [Minor League quality control coach Everett] Teaford, dealing with all the TrackMan stuff and everything calling the games and scouting reports. Definitely made it a lot easier, and I'm looking forward to next year."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Zack Collins

White Sox add Cease, 3 others to 40-man

Left-hander Clarkin claimed off waivers by Cubs
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The White Sox purchased the contracts of right-hander Dylan Cease and left-hander Kodi Medeiros from Double-A Birmingham, and right-hander Jordan Stephens and catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday.

None of these four moves was unexpected, with eligible players being protected from the Rule 5 Draft to take place on the final day of the upcoming Winter Meetings in Las Vegas via their 40-man addition. Cease, 22, was a no-doubter after being named MLB Pipeline's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 with a 12-2 record and 2.40 ERA over 23 starts between Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox purchased the contracts of right-hander Dylan Cease and left-hander Kodi Medeiros from Double-A Birmingham, and right-hander Jordan Stephens and catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday.

None of these four moves was unexpected, with eligible players being protected from the Rule 5 Draft to take place on the final day of the upcoming Winter Meetings in Las Vegas via their 40-man addition. Cease, 22, was a no-doubter after being named MLB Pipeline's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 with a 12-2 record and 2.40 ERA over 23 starts between Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.

Cease, who is the No. 25 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline and No. 3 for the White Sox, fanned 160 in a career-high 124 innings pitched. He posted a 3-0 mark with a 0.94 ERA (five earned runs in 47 2/3 innings) and 71 strikeouts over his final nine starts of the season with Birmingham. The right-hander could follow a similar later season path to the Majors in 2019 as Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez before him.

Video: Cease named Pipeline Pitcher of the Year

"It was exciting, and it definitely means that you're heading in the right direction," said Cease, of his MLB Pipeline honor during a recent interview. "Just motivational for getting into the offseason and lifting and getting ready for next year.

"Honestly, it's just being more consistent with it. Continuing to figure out my process with it, taking care of my body, all the little things that go into being a professional. Because all that stuff adds up at the end of the day."

Other 2018 honors for Cease included being named as a U.S. player in the Futures Game during All-Star Week and being named to the Carolina League All-Star team with Winston-Salem. He was acquired by the White Sox from the Cubs with now-No. 1 White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez in a five-player deal on July 13, 2017, that send left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs.

"Now I know that my training in the offseason was good," Cease said. "I can keep doing that. I can add to that. Work on nutrition. This year definitely was a big confidence boost in a lot of these areas."

Medeiros, 22, was picked up from the Brewers with right-hander Wilber Perez on July 26 in a deal that sent Joakim Soria to Milwaukee. Medeiros finished 7-7 with a 3.60 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 137 2/3 innings in 27 games (22 starts) between stops at Double-A Biloxi and Birmingham in '18. He is Chicago's No. 19 prospect.

Zavala, 25, joined Welington Castillo and Omar Narvaez as catchers on the White Sox 40-man. The San Diego State product, who played for Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, hit .258 with 22 doubles, 13 home runs, 51 RBIs and 50 runs during 104 games between Birmingham and Charlotte in 2018. He combined to throw out 32.7 percent (18-for-55) of attempted basestealers and was named a Southern League midseason All-Star with the Barons. He has been mentioned with Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, as part of the team's catchers of the future.

Video: MIL@CWS: Zavala crushes a three-run homer in the 2nd

Stephens, 26, combined to go 8-10 with a 4.23 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 146 2/3 inning over 28 combined starts between Birmingham and Charlotte last season. The team's No. 20 prospect originally was selected by the White Sox in the 15th round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Rice University and provides the White Sox pitching depth.

Left-handed hurler Ian Clarkin, who was part of the seven-player deal that sent David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees and Blake Rutherford to the White Sox in 2017, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. Following the moves, the White Sox 40-man roster sits at 38.

Right-handed pitchers Spencer Adams, 22, and Zach Thompson, 25, were two of the more interesting players left exposed by Chicago to the Rule 5 Draft. Adams was the team's second-round pick in 2014 and has a 3.82 ERA over 115 games and 114 starts. Thompson, a fifth-round pick in '14, is coming off a breakout season with a 1.55 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 75 1/3 innings between Winston-Salem and Birmingham.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Dylan Cease, Ian Clarkin, Kodi Medeiros

Inbox: Any updates on Jimenez, Robert?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fans' questions
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Here are this week's White Sox inquiries. Happy Thanksgiving to all and good luck to Michigan football this weekend.

Do you see Eloy Jimenez breaking camp with the team?
-- Mike, Los Angeles, @filmreviewbyme

CHICAGO -- Here are this week's White Sox inquiries. Happy Thanksgiving to all and good luck to Michigan football this weekend.

Do you see Eloy Jimenez breaking camp with the team?
-- Mike, Los Angeles, @filmreviewbyme

Jimenez will play the majority of the 2019 season at the Major League level for the White Sox: This point, I can all but guarantee. As far as leaving with the team from Spring Training, Chicago's top prospect and No. 3 in baseball according to MLB Pipeline will need to fulfill the checklist the White Sox have to be ready for that promotion. He certainly will receive consideration.

Submit an Inbox question

Do you think the White Sox should spend big in this year's free agency or wait a year or two when the team is more ready to win?
-- Andrew, @supersoxfan79

Chicago will spend via free agency this offseason to improve the team, although I'm not sure that spending will result in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado as the fans desire. The White Sox will be in on these sorts of All-Star players even if they don't view 2019 as the beginning of their contention window.

I agree with general manager Rick Hahn in that the team must be opportunistic within this market and if the players they target as a key part of their planned championship-contending future are available now, then they need to try to make a move. Harper or Machado would greatly improve any team, but they don't absolutely guarantee Chicago taking the next step up with its talented young core. The White Sox need to find the right veteran fits, be it through trade or free agency.

With (Luis) Robert's great play in the AFL, any chance he gets a callup next year?
-- Roger, Nashville, Tenn., @Soxsupporter1

I've heard nothing but positive reports concerning Luis Robert dating back to Spring Training, describing the outfielder as a high-end albeit raw talent with five-tool capabilities shown in part during Arizona Fall League action. He just needs to stay healthy after being limited to 186 at-bats and 50 games during his first full Minor League season in 2018. The White Sox have been very consistent in not rushing prospects, despite the "hype" or good reports, and the same will hold true for Robert, their fourth-ranked prospect. But I see Robert as a fast mover through the system with a '20 arrival as a possibility.

Video: Luis Robert wins Fall League Hitter of the Week

Do you think it was the right thing extending Rick Renteria's contract? Since he's been the manager for the White Sox, it has been all losing seasons. I believe that part of a rebuilding process should also involve managers and coaches that are not doing well not just players. What do you think?
-- Ray, Chicago

Blaming Renteria and/or the coaching staff for the team's 100 losses last season means the context is being lost of the entire rebuild process. There were and are going to be multiple lean years as these players develop. No manager or staff is perfect, but players respond to Renteria and his staff, and this is a hard-working, well-prepared group. Renteria deserves a chance to win as this team matures.

With all the hype about getting Machado, where does that leave Tim Anderson since the former has indicated his preference to remain at short?
-- Joel K., Charlotte, N.C.

I've been asked numerous questions about an Anderson position switch. I've written about it as well, as I discussed in the last Inbox. But Anderson is the White Sox shortstop because he has earned that job and made himself into a solid defensive presence. He is entrenched in this organization. Let's see what offseason moves Chicago makes before any position changes are discussed.

Video: CHC@CWS: Anderson makes a smooth backhanded play

Top 10 Eagles songs: 1) Take It Easy; 2) Hotel California; 3) Victim Of Love; 4) Heartache Tonight; 5) On The Border; 6) Already Gone; 7) James Dean; 8) Life In The Fast Lane; 9) Good Day In Hell; 10) Greeks Don't Want No Freaks. Your thoughts?
-- Vinnie, Chicago, @VinnieDuber

This is the toughest question of the group because there really is no bad Eagles song. I'm going to go with my Top 5 in order: Take it Easy, Already Gone, Take it to the Limit, How Long and One of These Nights ... and anything performed by Joe Walsh is exceptional and worth the price of admission.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez

Kopech calls 2018 'an unforgettable season'

Right-hander will miss '19 after undergoing Tommy John surgery
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Ask Michael Kopech about his 2018 season, which featured his Major League debut, and the No. 2 White Sox prospect and No. 19 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline, brings up the phrase "rollercoaster of emotions."

The 22-year-old right-hander, who will be sidelined for the 2019 campaign following Tommy John surgery in September, provided an honest look into that up-and-down ride.

CHICAGO -- Ask Michael Kopech about his 2018 season, which featured his Major League debut, and the No. 2 White Sox prospect and No. 19 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline, brings up the phrase "rollercoaster of emotions."

The 22-year-old right-hander, who will be sidelined for the 2019 campaign following Tommy John surgery in September, provided an honest look into that up-and-down ride.

"I went from having the yips for a month and a half to getting my big league call to blowing out my elbow and not getting to pitch again," Kopech told MLB.com by phone from Matt Davidson's charity event in Yucaipa, Calif. "It was kind of a crash and rebuild and then crash again. But it was definitely an unforgettable season."

Kopech's ulnar collateral ligament tear was diagnosed after his fourth start for the White Sox when he allowed seven runs on nine hits, including four home runs, over 3 1/3 innings against the Tigers. It was a stark contrast to the one run allowed over Kopech's first three starts (two of which were shortened by rain), which saw him strike out nine with just one walk and no homers allowed.

Video: Kopech, Hahn discuss Kopech's UCL injury

A noticeably stunned White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made the announcement about Kopech's injury two days after that game against Detroit. Kopech is now two months removed from surgery and no longer wearing the brace he had for the first month during his rehab in Culver City, Calif.

Having the injury set in and getting into the nuts and bolts of the work -- Kopech has mobility and his arm feels good enough to throw although he understands he's not ready -- doesn't necessarily make a positive Kopech feel any better.

"Honestly, it makes you feel worse and worse as the days go on," Kopech said. "It's going to be a mental struggle for me. I know that. I'm ready for it. I'm just going to do what I can to get better mentally in the time being.

"It's depressing. There's no way around it. As someone who deals with anxiety and depression, it's a situation where I have to be aware of myself. I have to know what's going on and I have to be willing to say, 'OK, I'm not going to play next year. Let's get better this year meanwhile and get ready for 2020.' It has to be something where I come to realistic thoughts with myself. I'm in the process of doing that but it is going to be difficult."

Video: CWS@CLE: Injury update on Kopech's Tommy John surgery

Daily meditation helps Kopech, who said he's become a "little guru about meditation," and he's making sure his mind is as clear as it can be all the time. That concept returns us to the yips plaguing Kopech during his stint with Triple-A Charlotte.

From April 9-July 5, Kopech walked 56 batters over 82 1/3 innings. But the problem manifested itself in more than finding the strike zone.

"I was having trouble figuring out how to throw a baseball," Kopech said. "I felt like I had never done it before, and I was having to figure some things out. It depended on the first pitch of the game for me. If the first pitch of the game for me was a strike, then most likely the next pitch was going to be a strike and most likely I would be able to get through that start.

"If the first pitch was a ball, then it was going to escalate. There was a point where I walked eight or nine in 2 1/3 innings or something like that (eight walks in three innings on June 14) and I just had no idea where the ball was going. It was my own mental struggles.

"That didn't have anything to do with my arm or mechanics or anything like that. I was seeking for answers the wrong way. It's really hard to put into words how I felt physically. I mean, I couldn't feel my legs. My arm felt like it wasn't attached to my body. It was a really tough time for me physically, but more so mentally than anything."

Video: MIN@CWS: Kopech K's 4 in MLB debut

When Kopech eventually figured out important mental cues, he felt better than ever and posted a 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his final seven Triple-A starts. It's a learning experience he can use when he returns in 2020.

"Mentally, I felt like a completely different guy and that's what earned me my callup," Kopech said. "It was absolutely something I needed to have happen before I got to the big leagues. I know that sounds silly to say I needed to get the yips. That experience made me grow as a pitcher so I'm glad it happened."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech

Robert, Thompson discuss AFL fine-tuning

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Luis Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, entered Tuesday's Arizona Fall League action with a .356 average, one home run and eight RBIs for Glendale.

Right-handed pitcher Zach Thompson has fanned 12 over 8 2/3 innings for the Desert Dogs.

CHICAGO -- Luis Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, entered Tuesday's Arizona Fall League action with a .356 average, one home run and eight RBIs for Glendale.

Right-handed pitcher Zach Thompson has fanned 12 over 8 2/3 innings for the Desert Dogs.

But it's the experience gained against this higher level of competition truly benefiting these two young White Sox players.

"Pitchers here in the Fall League are better probably. More quality," said Robert through interpreter Billy Russo during a Tuesday conference call. "I say that because during the season the starters you face, the relievers aren't as good as the starters. But here, every pitcher you face is good. Every pitcher has good stuff and it's tough to figure it out. It's a challenge."

"It allowed me to not have a break," said Thompson, as part of the same call. "It sounds kind of weird, but having all that success in season and then coming here, it allowed me to iron out some things."

These players are benefiting behind different causes for their AFL inclusion.

Due to a pair of ligament strains in his left thumb, Robert's first year of professional baseball in the United States was limited to 50 games and 186 at-bats. So, the 21-year-old Cuban, who hit .269 with no homers and 17 RBIs between 2018 in-season stops for the White Sox Arizona Rookie League squad, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, is picking up valuable at-bats.

"I've been working on my swing, trying to barrel the ball and cover the strike zone better," Robert said. "Any time you miss time on the field it will delay your process, especially for a young player as I am.

"On the other side, all that time I was off the field has helped me adjust to this process in this new country. That's something I feel good about. Even though I need the time on the field for development, the adjustment process has been good."

Thompson, a fifth-round selection by the White Sox in the 2014 Draft, is coming off a breakout season where he produced a 1.55 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings over 43 games between Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. His action with Glendale has allowed Thompson to fine-tune his fastball, cutter and curve, while tinkering with a changeup.

But pitch sequencing has been Thompson's focus while working with Glendale pitching coaches Rigo Beltran and Gerardo Casadiego.

"Even if I make a mistake and miss a spot, it's what the hitter is thinking about; that miss and where I can attack the hitter next," Thompson said. "Then just not falling into a trap of allowing the hitter to have the advantage and throwing in a certain spot with certain pitches and be able to attack both sides of the plate.

"I wouldn't have gone over pitch sequencing if I wasn't here. It allowed me to keep the feel of all my pitches and not lose any touch. Some guys can go two or three months and they kind of lose the feel of the pitch and it takes a while to get it back. I'm able to maintain it and even after this is done, I'll be able to keep maintaining the feel of my pitches going into Spring Training."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Burdi enters offseason pain-free after AFL stint

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Zack Burdi departed Glendale, Ariz., for Louisville, Ky., with a positive mindset in his ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery, despite being shut down in the Arizona Fall League due to arm fatigue.

"What I've expressed, and what the Sox have expressed back to me, is that this was a long process -- 15 months -- and my arm was getting tired. It was time to just relax," Burdi told MLB.com by phone from Phoenix on Friday afternoon. "We worked 15 months and there's got to be a little down time during the offseason in order for it to work and in order for it to bounce back.

CHICAGO -- Zack Burdi departed Glendale, Ariz., for Louisville, Ky., with a positive mindset in his ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery, despite being shut down in the Arizona Fall League due to arm fatigue.

"What I've expressed, and what the Sox have expressed back to me, is that this was a long process -- 15 months -- and my arm was getting tired. It was time to just relax," Burdi told MLB.com by phone from Phoenix on Friday afternoon. "We worked 15 months and there's got to be a little down time during the offseason in order for it to work and in order for it to bounce back.

"Take these next six weeks and allow that to happen, and really focus on nutrition and physical therapy and offseason training that I really haven't been able to do the last year. It's going to be a good six weeks to mold myself back into what I believe gives me the best shot at what I'm trying to reach and get into a throwing program and getting ready for spring."

Burdi, the No. 17 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, had his surgery on July 27, 2017. The 23-year-old right-hander was back in action on Aug. 4 of this past season pitching for the organization's Arizona Rookie League team and allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings in seven games with seven strikeouts and four walks.

His last AFL outing for Glendale came on Oct. 23, leaving Burdi with no earned runs given up over five appearances which totaled 4 2/3 innings. Burdi has seen pain-free progress in every one of those 12 outings since early August, pointing to the renewal of his slider, the changeup emerging as his best pitch and the consistency of his fastball as things instilling more confidence.

Tweet from @scottmerkin: Zack Burdi from a distance pic.twitter.com/6pPW8FK0NG

"It kind of showed me I'm on the right track," Burdi said. "Everything is good, trusting the process. ... I was really excited with the Fall League and my five outings.

"I faced a lot of guys that were big name dudes in their respective organizations and had really competitive at-bats. There's a lot of positives to take away. At the end of the day, the whole point was to end the recovery healthy, and we did that. It was time to shut it down after a long 15 months of rehab and throwing. Definitely happy that I'm healthy going into the offseason."

As for fastball velocity, with Burdi being previously known to hit 100 mph, he's not worried about readings at this point. Burdi quipped a "good group of guys" on Twitter "tend to Tweet at me upset about where my velocity is at."

"They have given a good reading on me," Burdi said. "I hit a (95) and showed some (96) and (97), which apparently doesn't sit well with some people, but it's Tommy John. It's something you have to work for. It's a tough recovery.

"My freshman year of college I was 89-to-91 and worked my tail off to get to where I was at the end of my junior year. I wasn't blessed with a great arm. It's something I had to work for, for a good amount of time. I'm aware I have to go back to that process and put myself through that, day in and day out workouts and preparation, in order to get back to that point.

"I'm ready to do that. I haven't really been too focused on it and not too concerned where my velocity is at. I'm more concerned about being able to throw strikes and compete in at-bats. I was able to do that with what I had in me. That's great. That's a positive, and it's something that I should hang my hat on."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

What White Sox prospects said about Instructs

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox Instructional League action ended on Wednesday, a stretch beginning on Sept. 20 and featuring a four-day mini-camp at Camelback Ranch that included some of the system's top prospects.

Here are some of the key sentiments from players, coaches and front-office personnel involved as told to MLB.com.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox Instructional League action ended on Wednesday, a stretch beginning on Sept. 20 and featuring a four-day mini-camp at Camelback Ranch that included some of the system's top prospects.

Here are some of the key sentiments from players, coaches and front-office personnel involved as told to MLB.com.

"In Spring Training, he noticed I wasn't throwing my curveball consistently. One of the big things he said was, 'Land before you throw it,' and that's one of the cues I've stuck with now. So he definitely helped me."
-- Dylan Cease, MLB Pipeline's Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the No. 3 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, on help from James Shields

"We've had some really tough conversations. He's been frustrated. But he's in a really good place right now. He's walking around without a boot. We are slowly working into baseball activity, and with it starting to get a little bit more smiles out of Jake. He kind of sees the light at the end of the tunnel, which at the end of the day makes us all happy."
-- White Sox director of player development Chris Getz on third baseman Jake Burger, the No. 13 White Sox prospect who is working his way back from two ruptured Achilles

"None, no pressure. Kind of old hat now. I'm hoping this is the last time I have to talk about that and worry about picking that high."
-- White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler on picking third overall in the 2019 Draft

"Come Spring Training '19, I'm going to put myself in position where I feel confident and comfortable and can have fun and compete for a job."
-- Right-hander Zack Burdi, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery as part of Glendale's roster in the Arizona Fall League

"We've got players who haven't played with each other, with different backgrounds and cultures. The more times we get these guys together, the more comfortable they will be playing together in the future, but certainly come Spring Training."
-- Getz on the idea behind the four-day mini-camp

"[Cease] was lights-out any time I saw him. He was always throwing well, has a good clean delivery, the ball comes out of his hand really well. He's very talented. Like I said, the ball jumps out of his hand real quick, and he's got off-speed and command. People with those kinds of tools and stuff like that are definitely people who stay in the big leagues."
-- Right-hander Dane Dunning, the No. 6 White Sox prospect, on Cease

"A lot of us didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time together during the season. I've even got to know some of these guys better the last couple days than I have in the two years I've known them since we've been drafted, because we were at different levels. It's definitely beneficial for sure."
-- Right-hander Jimmy Lambert, the No. 21 White Sox prospect

"He's got a drive to be good in all facets of the game. Obviously in the box it comes very natural to him. He's a good-sized kid, which obviously benefits him very well in the box. It's something he needs to stay on top of defensively. He can be a solid outfielder, he can be a good baserunner, but it comes with the daily discipline of doing the things you need to do to become those things. He made great strides toward the end of this season."
-- Getz on Eloy Jimenez, who was not in Arizona but ranks as the No. 1 White Sox prospect

"He never could quite kick it in to two or three outings in a row. Even in his really rough ones, there were flashes of his old self. I don't want to use the term mulligan. He lost a year, but I also think he's talented enough that if he gets it going at the beginning again next year, I certainly anticipate he'll get back to where he was a year ago."
-- White Sox Minor League pitching coordinator Kirk Champion on Alec Hansen's rough 2018 season

"I've played shortstop my whole life. I feel comfortable at the position. Even last year, during the offseason before I went to a college season when I was going to play second base, I've always worked shortstop. Throughout the season, I bounced back and forth to shortstop and second base during BP. I've always continued to get my reps at shortstop."
-- Nick Madrigal, the White Sox top pick in the 2018 Draft, on working at shortstop during Instructs after playing second in-season.

"The learning never stops. The coaching staff, the guys who are heading these things, are spot on with what they say. Spot on with their vision for this core group of guys, so it's been really good."
-- Steele Walker, the White Sox second round pick in the 2018 Draft

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Prospect Hamilton learning from tough games

Yielding grand slam to Kipnis a valuable teaching experience
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- White Sox No. 16 prospect Ian Hamilton notched his first career Major League strikeout in his second big league appearance on Sept. 3 against the Tigers' Victor Reyes.

Hamilton's first career victory came on Sept. 25 at home against the Indians after Daniel Palka's walk-off single followed exactly one pitch thrown by the 23-year-old right-hander.

CHICAGO -- White Sox No. 16 prospect Ian Hamilton notched his first career Major League strikeout in his second big league appearance on Sept. 3 against the Tigers' Victor Reyes.

Hamilton's first career victory came on Sept. 25 at home against the Indians after Daniel Palka's walk-off single followed exactly one pitch thrown by the 23-year-old right-hander.

But the biggest moment of Hamilton's debut season came on Sept. 19 at Progressive Field, when Jason Kipnis hit a walk-off grand slam and erased a 1-0 White Sox lead during Hamilton's first save opportunity. Rather, it might have been the greatest teaching experience.

Video: Must C Clutch: Kipnis gets hit 1,000 on walk-off slam

"That's what I'll probably remember until next season," said Hamilton with a wry smile during a recent interview.

"I definitely learned, 'Don't just throw a changeup right down the middle of the plate, especially to a veteran hitter,'" Hamilton continued. "But I've learned that you don't want to feel like that again. Kind of looking back on that, if I had to redo it again, I would probably step off, take an extra second and go back into it. I'm not mad about any of that. Just kind of a learning experience."

Over 10 appearances during the 2018 campaign, Hamilton posted a 4.50 ERA with five strikeouts and two walks in eight innings. The 11th-round pick out of Washington State in the 2016 Draft gained valuable high-leverage experience beyond Kipnis' infamous connection.

Some in the organization have talked about Hamilton as a late-inning hurler, if not a closer, of the future. And pitching with the game on the line is the only thing Hamilton has dreamed about since he picked up a baseball.

Video: BOS@CWS: Hamilton pitches scoreless inning in debut

"Oh, yeah. I love that," said Hamilton of closing. "That's one of the best positions in baseball. Almost in play pretty much every day.

"It's like being in that situation, it's a different feel, going into the game like that, knowing it's one to three runs compared to just coming in in the middle of the game. You still get an adrenaline rush, but it's a way different feel."

Hamilton's jump to the Majors on Aug. 31 completed his single-season rise from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, where he recorded a combined 22 saves, a 1.74 ERA and 62 strikeouts against 16 walks in 51 2/3 innings. Hamilton figures to break camp with the White Sox in 2019 and be part of the immediate late-innings mix.

If Hamilton lands in the closer's role he craves, the right-hander will have that Kipnis walk-off grand slam stored away as part of his development process.

"I've learned you have to make pitches and you have to really be locked in, like every single day you come in," Hamilton said. "Your number can get called pretty much any day, any time. So just being like more prepared for the game, pretty much.

"Being young, you want to see how you handle anything. I'd love to come out on top of that, but at the same time it's like, now I know what that feels like, being the lowest part of that and if I get in that situation again, I kind of have that insight, kind of now I know what I should do."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Ian Hamilton

Madrigal getting reps at shortstop at instructs

No. 4 overall pick among prospects impressing in Arizona
MLB.com

When the White Sox selected Nick Madrigal with the No. 4 overall pick in June, they had every intention of giving the Oregon State second baseman every chance to show that he could play shortstop. They still do. But that opportunity never materialized during his pro debut, when he played 39 games at second base and just one at short.

Instructional league is a perfect setting for giving players exposure to multiple positions, and Madrigal concentrated on playing shortstop in Chicago's program, which opened Sept. 20 and will run through Oct. 17 at its training base in Glendale, Ariz. The White Sox sent Madrigal home 10 days early -- by design, because he had a grueling year that included a broken left wrist and a College World Series championship with the Beavers -- and farm director Chris Getz said the organization was pleased with what it saw.

When the White Sox selected Nick Madrigal with the No. 4 overall pick in June, they had every intention of giving the Oregon State second baseman every chance to show that he could play shortstop. They still do. But that opportunity never materialized during his pro debut, when he played 39 games at second base and just one at short.

Instructional league is a perfect setting for giving players exposure to multiple positions, and Madrigal concentrated on playing shortstop in Chicago's program, which opened Sept. 20 and will run through Oct. 17 at its training base in Glendale, Ariz. The White Sox sent Madrigal home 10 days early -- by design, because he had a grueling year that included a broken left wrist and a College World Series championship with the Beavers -- and farm director Chris Getz said the organization was pleased with what it saw.

"We got a lengthier look at him at shortstop, and he was impressive," Getz said. "He'll play some more shortstop next year. He's a pure plus defender at second base. He can be a Gold Glover there. Now we know he can play shortstop based on what we saw during instructional league, and that makes him even more valuable.

"He has good hands, he has good feet, and he has enough arm. He can be at least an average shortstop, maybe a little better than that."

Madrigal played some shortstop early in his career at Oregon State before settling at second base in deference to Cadyn Grenier, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the 2018 college class and a supplemental first-round choice by the Orioles. Getz said that because Madrigal had such a draining final college season, the White Sox decided not to have him worry about trying a new position while also acclimating to pro ball and getting pushed to Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

Video: CLE@CWS: First round pick Madrigal joins Sox booth

Regardless of where he winds up defensively, there's little question that Madrigal will hit. The consensus best pure hitter in the 2018 Draft class, he repeatedly barrels the ball from the right side of the plate. After batting .361 with a minuscule 5 percent strikeout rate in three years with the Beavers, he hit .303 with a 3 percent whiff rate in his pro debut.

Madrigal also offers plus speed and good instincts on the bases. He makes contact so easily that he'll have to develop more patience to draw a healthy amount of walks, though the main concern about him offensively is how much pop he'll generate. He won't be a slugger at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, but he has a quick bat and gap power that didn't translate in his debut, during which he slugged .348.

Besides Madrigal, the White Sox also landed two other college players who entered 2018 with first-round aspirations. Oklahoma outfielder Steele Walker, who signed for a well over-slot $2 million in the second round, might have been the second-best pure hitter in college baseball behind Madrigal. Konnor Pilkington, who became the system's best lefty pitching prospect when he turned pro as a third-rounder, has the makings of a solid three-pitch repertoire and a durable frame.

While neither Walker (.209/.271/.342 in 44 games) nor Pilkington (7.07 ERA in 14 innings) had a banner pro debut, Chicago doesn't think any radical changes are in order. The White Sox love Walker's left-handed swing, approach and makeup, and he has spent instructional league trying to regain his rhythm at the plate. Pilkington, who already has an advanced changeup, has focused on adding life to his low-90s fastball and sharpening his curveball.

A couple of later-round selections have stood out in Glendale. Outfielder Cabera Weaver, a seventh-rounder from South Gwinnett High School in Georgia, has impressed with his quick-twitch athleticism, speed and strength. Michigan prep third baseman Bryce Bush, who turned down a Vanderbilt scholarship to sign for an above-slot $290,000 in the 33rd round, has continued to rake after hitting .309/.396/.453 in his debut.

"Bush definitely has strength, and he has a good approach for a young kid," Getz said. "He's been working on playing third base, with his footwork and the accuracy of his throws to first base. He has looked good."

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Pipeline names White Sox Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the amazing results produced by right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease and outfielder Eloy Jimenez during the 2018 season, they really deserve their own separate stories to extol their virtues and list all their accolades.

But much like their situation soon to play out in Chicago, Cease and Jimenez share the spotlight in this instance as the MLB Pipeline Pitching and Hitting Prospects of the Year within the White Sox organization. It doesn't make the individual praise any less.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the amazing results produced by right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease and outfielder Eloy Jimenez during the 2018 season, they really deserve their own separate stories to extol their virtues and list all their accolades.

But much like their situation soon to play out in Chicago, Cease and Jimenez share the spotlight in this instance as the MLB Pipeline Pitching and Hitting Prospects of the Year within the White Sox organization. It doesn't make the individual praise any less.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

"He definitely has big league stuff," said catcher Zack Collins of Cease, with the two working together at Double-A Birmingham in '18. "I don't care who is up at the plate. I don't care if it's Mike Trout. Just what he was showing was incredible. He's pumping 98 in there and then throwing 86-mph changeups 3-2. It was like, it was just incredible."

"I would say if there's one player who took the greatest strides, it would be Dylan Cease," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Numerous candidates for these awards stood out for the White Sox during Year 2 of their much-ballyhooed rebuild. But Cease and Jimenez emerged as the clear-cut choices.

Cease, the No. 25 prospect overall and No. 3 for the White Sox, was named MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year overall. He finished 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA over 23 starts combined for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, striking out 160 over a career-high 124 innings pitched with an opponents' average of .189. In 10 starts for the Barons, Cease posted a 3-0 record with a 1.72 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings.

Video: Cease named Pipeline Pitcher of the Year

Jimenez, the top White Sox prospect and No. 3 prospect in the game, featured a combined .337 average with 22 home runs, 28 doubles, 75 RBIs and a .961 OPS during stops at Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. His Charlotte numbers were off the charts, with a .355 average, .996 OPS, 12 homers and 33 RBIs.

Jimenez didn't get a Major League callup in September, with the White Sox wanting him to continue focusing on defense and fine-tuning his complete and immense skillset.

"His motivation to be great is going to make him great," said White Sox outfield/baserunning coordinator Aaron Rowand of Jimenez. "Obviously, the talent level is through the roof. But there's been a lot of guys who have a ton of talent but don't have the drive to be great.

"A lot of them make it and play in the big leagues and whatnot, but you look at them and go like, 'There could have been a lot more there.' I don't think that's going to be the case with Eloy. Eloy is driven. He wants to be great in all aspects of his game. I know he's going to go home and get his offseason program and workouts and stuff in and come back with the mission of making that team."

Video: Eloy Jimenez is ranked the No. 3 prospect by MLB.com

Yoan Moncada and Alec Hansen won these individual White Sox awards for the 2017 season. Cease and Jimenez can revel in their past season's accomplishments while looking toward a Major League arrival.

"It's nice to dream about and definitely through the grind you need something to keep you a little motivated and going," said Cease, concerning the Major Leagues after taking part in the White Sox's four-day mini-camp at Camelback Ranch this week. "I'll think about it. I'll prepare for it, but at the end of the day it's not my main focus. I've got to control what I can control.

"I try not to have huge expectations. It's more of I'm trying to figure out what to do in this moment to be the best pitcher I can be. I know that I have a lot of ability and potential, so for me it was just about what I can do to enhance that and see where it takes me."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Dylan Cease, Eloy Jimenez

Robert, No. 4 prospect, looking forward to 2019

Outfielder putting injury-plagued '18 in rearview
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If Luis Robert had his druthers, his final 2018 statistics would have been slightly better than a .269 average, 17 RBIs, 11 doubles, 15 stolen bases, a .694 OPS and no home runs across Minor League stops with the White Sox Arizona Rookie-level squad, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

The 21-year-old would have simply liked to have had a healthy season, but a pair of ligament strains in his left thumb limited him to 50 games and 186 at-bats. But in his first year of professional baseball in the United States, adjusting to everyday life became every bit as important for the Cuba native, MLB Pipeline's No. 44 prospect overall and No. 4 in the White Sox system, as adjusting to Minor League pitching.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If Luis Robert had his druthers, his final 2018 statistics would have been slightly better than a .269 average, 17 RBIs, 11 doubles, 15 stolen bases, a .694 OPS and no home runs across Minor League stops with the White Sox Arizona Rookie-level squad, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

The 21-year-old would have simply liked to have had a healthy season, but a pair of ligament strains in his left thumb limited him to 50 games and 186 at-bats. But in his first year of professional baseball in the United States, adjusting to everyday life became every bit as important for the Cuba native, MLB Pipeline's No. 44 prospect overall and No. 4 in the White Sox system, as adjusting to Minor League pitching.

"Talking about off the field stuff, I don't think it was a bad season for me," said Robert, through interpreter Anthony Santiago, speaking outside the White Sox clubhouse during mini-camp action at Camelback Ranch. "I learned a lot. I've adapted to a lot of things on and off the field.

"Obviously numbers-wise, it wasn't as good, and it didn't go the way I wanted because of the injuries. But overall it was a good season for me."

In-season off-field adjustments for Robert may seem second nature to most players. They included having to play the same day as or the day after long bus trips, as well as adjusting to different food and a new culture.

From the baseball side, Robert will pick up important extra at-bats as part of the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League beginning Tuesday. His raw skills should impress those fans who haven't seen the center fielder previously.

"Obviously his skill set is through the roof," said White Sox Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator Aaron Rowand. "He just moves at a different pace.

"Whether it be fielding a ground ball or running down balls, he has the ability to move very quickly but under control. His feet are always underneath him. That's something you can't teach. When he fields a ground ball to throw somebody out, he's not out of control but he's moving at a faster pace than most.

"That's just talent. That's God [saying], 'Here ya go.' He has a cannon for an arm. He works as hard or harder than anyone out here. His footwork is really good. His instincts are very good on the bases. He's really good at reading balls in the dirt. For a young guy he's a very, very polished player and is going to do nothing but get better with experience."

Robert's power numbers were hampered by soreness in his wrist while compensating for the thumb issues, making it tough to extend on his swing and making him roll over a few too many pitches. But he's without pain now and figures the full game quickly will come back.

Those around Robert seem to think it's a matter of when, not if, he starts to tap into that seemingly limitless talent potential.

"He was still able to get some at-bats, but we want to continue what we've been working on here in the Fall League," White Sox director of player development Chris Getz said. "Then we can start more of an evaluation and get bet a better idea of what he will bring to the team in '19 and beyond."

"Definitely the things I did well I think were running the bases and my defense," Robert said. "But I learned a lot of stuff that ... will help me in the future."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Dunning encouraged by bullpen session

Right-handed White Sox prospect making strides in rehab from strain
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The bullpen session thrown by Dane Dunning on Monday at Camelback Ranch consisted of 25 pitches, all fastballs.

That's not exactly a groundbreaking accomplishment for the game's No. 61 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, but it's a big step for the right-hander, who exited a Birmingham start on June 23 with elbow pain. After preparing for the worst, Dunning was diagnosed with a moderate elbow strain, and his bullpen session Monday is a glimmer of light in his rehab process.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The bullpen session thrown by Dane Dunning on Monday at Camelback Ranch consisted of 25 pitches, all fastballs.

That's not exactly a groundbreaking accomplishment for the game's No. 61 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, but it's a big step for the right-hander, who exited a Birmingham start on June 23 with elbow pain. After preparing for the worst, Dunning was diagnosed with a moderate elbow strain, and his bullpen session Monday is a glimmer of light in his rehab process.

"It's nice that I'm finally able to get off a mound and get back to doing what I love," said Dunning during a break in his workout Tuesday at Camelback Ranch. "It was the very first 'pen I've thrown, and it was a little sporadic with the location. But I'm just happy that it came out well and felt good out of the hand."

"We are going to build off of that," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. "But he's bouncing around with a lot of energy and optimistic that things are moving in the right direction, which they are. It's very encouraging for everyone."

Dunning, who turns 24 on Dec. 20, was acquired with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito from the Nationals as part of the Adam Eaton trade. He posted a 2.71 ERA with 100 strikeouts over 86 1/3 innings between 2018 stops at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.

Dunning's quick road to the Majors appeared to get derailed after he was unable to continue in the fourth inning of the aforementioned start at Montgomery and called for the trainer.

A couple of outings before that, Dunning threw one curveball in the bullpen and felt discomfort. Having never experienced arm pain previously, Dunning didn't think much of it, because the pain went away after that pitch. That feeling changed on his final pitch of the '18 season.

"That was one of the toughest situations of my career, so far, just having to pull myself out of a game," Dunning said. "I know I'm hurt and all that, but I kind of felt like I let the team down a little bit.

"I was just kind of praying for the best. I wasn't thinking it was surgery, but I put myself in that mind frame that it might be a tear. It might be something along the lines of where I need surgery. Like I said, it was a big relief once I found out it was just a sprain and I could just take half a season off and work through it."

The hope is to have Dunning throw in a couple of instructional league games to get the arm battle-tested before he's shut down for the offseason to let it heal more. The specter of surgery still hovers out there for Dunning, but it hasn't deterred his effort to get back to action.

"We've taken a good step forward where we don't need [surgery], but if it's going to go, it's going to go," Dunning said. "I can do all the preventative stuff, but if it's going to tear, it's going to tear.

"There's no stopping that. If that happens, it happens. It would suck, but everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for all of us. I just take it one day at a time and try to keep a smile on my face."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Dane Dunning

Madrigal, White Sox know power will come

No. 4 prospect aiming to gain strength in offseason, maintain same approach
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The debut season for Nick Madrigal came to an end with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem's elimination from the 2018 Carolina League playoffs.

His numbers were impressive over stops with the Dash, Class A Kannapolis and the White Sox Arizona Rookie League team, featuring a .303 average with eight stolen bases and a mere five strikeouts in 155 at-bats. Madrigal, who was the team's top Draft pick in 2018 and fourth selection overall, also finished without a home run and seven extra-base hits.

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- The debut season for Nick Madrigal came to an end with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem's elimination from the 2018 Carolina League playoffs.

His numbers were impressive over stops with the Dash, Class A Kannapolis and the White Sox Arizona Rookie League team, featuring a .303 average with eight stolen bases and a mere five strikeouts in 155 at-bats. Madrigal, who was the team's top Draft pick in 2018 and fourth selection overall, also finished without a home run and seven extra-base hits.

View Full Game Coverage

Featuring a top-of-the-order profile as a hitter, the 5-foot-7, 165-pound middle infielder doesn't have to be a prodigious slugger. But as his career develops, Madrigal and the White Sox believe so will his power.

"I know these next couple of offseasons are going to be big in the weight room. I know I'm going to continue to get stronger," Madrigal told MLB.com during a recent interview. "I do see that being a part of my game."

"There's power in there. We've seen it with our own eyes," White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler said. "We know that once he comes back next year that there will be some home runs he's going to hit. But ultimately, the main thing is to jump in that lineup, put the bat on the ball and keep moving."

And there lies the crux of this power discussion. Madrigal, Chicago's No. 4 overall prospect and No. 32 in baseball, should become more of an extra-base hitter with full health, a little rest following this long season and more experience, but neither the player nor the White Sox want it to come at the expense of a change of approach from what made him quite possibly the most elite hit tool in this past Draft class.

With Oregon State, for example, Madrigal hit eight home runs over three seasons with a single-season high of four. He knocked out 40 doubles, but more importantly, batted .361 with a .422 career on-base percentage. Let's not forget his 37 strikeouts over 612 at-bats.

"I'm not going to change my game at all," Madrigal said. "I know that [power] is going to come as time goes on, but I'm focused on more of the line-drive kind of approach rather than hit the ball in the air. I've always kind of known that's my job in the lineup. That's my game, put the ball in play, no matter if it's early in the count or later in the count. My dad has always told me if you put that ball in play, something could happen.

"A player could make an error, it could squeak through the infield. The White Sox drafted me for a reason, for the style of player I am. There are things I can definitely improve as time goes on. Those things I'll be open to, but I'm not going to change my style at all."

Madrigal played almost exclusively at second base during his first season, but he's currently working at shortstop with Omar Vizquel during instructional league action in Arizona. The 21-year-old took a break from that work to visit Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday along with his dad, Mike, his mom, Angie, and one of his brothers, Zack.

Manager Rick Renteria and players such as James Shields and Tim Anderson represented a few of the people Madrigal met Monday. In his chat with the media, Madrigal spoke on everything ranging from developing a first-year work routine to the disappointment of the Dash's playoff elimination.

"I've won at every level I've been at so far, going back to Little League, high school and college," said Madrigal from the White Sox dugout Monday. "That's something I want to continue doing. And it seems like this organization is the perfect fit for me."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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