White Sox

Avisail Garcia's three-run homer helps White Sox snap Yankees' eight-game win streak

Avisail Garcia's three-run homer helps White Sox snap Yankees' eight-game win streak

NEW YORK — Avisail Garcia had seen so many sliders from Luis Severino in their previous encounter the White Sox outfielder looked for it exclusively in a hitter's count the next time up.

When Severino acquiesced and left his 2-0 slider in the zone, Garcia pounced on it. The outfielder's three-run home run to left in the seventh inning made all the difference as the White Sox snapped the New York Yankees' winning streak at eight with a 4-1 victory in front of 30,075 at Yankee Stadium. The blast made a winner of Miguel Gonzalez, who dominated into the ninth inning and combined on a four-hitter with David Robertson. Leury Garcia also homered for the White Sox, who clinched a winning road trip. 

"I haven't seen (Garcia) like this," infielder Tyler Saladino said. "This is pretty impressive. Really impressive. Every single at-bat he's had a really good at-bat. Without talking to him or asking him what he's doing, because you let him keep going, it just seems like he's seeing the ball really well and he's on what they're throwing."

"I'm sure he's seeing the ball really well, but also locked in on what they're trying to do to him and taking advantage."

So far Garcia has made the most of what could be his last chance with the White Sox. He entered Tuesday with an American League-leading .447 average while also leading the AL in hits (21), OPS (1.128) and batting average on balls in play (.543). 

Among the tear has been several big moments, including Sunday's go-ahead homer that clinched a 10-inning victory over Minnesota. 

Garcia added another one to the highlight reel with the White Sox leading 1-0 against Severino, who to that point had been extremely sharp. Tim Anderson singled to start the seventh — only the second White Sox hit of the night. Yankees shortstop Pete Kozma then committed an error on Melky Cabrera's potential double play ball. 

After Jose Abreu popped out bunting on his own, Garcia took two fastballs and got ahead 2-0 in the count. He suspected Severino might throw next him a slider after their fifth-inning showdown. In that at-bat, Severino threw five sliders among eight pitches. 

What he found was a fat pitch high and inside and Garcia turned on it, driving it an estimated 429 feet to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

"He throws really, really, really hard," Garcia said. "He throws everything for a strike so you've got to be careful and don't try and do too much with that guy. My second at-bat he threw me a lot of sliders. My third at-bat he threw a couple of fastballs and I was looking for what he threw me a lot.

"Was looking for the slider he threw me and I put a good swing on it."

Garcia's homer was his third, which ties him with Matt Davidson for the team lead. Garcia also leads the White Sox with 13 runs driven in.

"He's been good for a while now, but I think he's still just trying to make good contact," manager Rick Renteria said. "Now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, which is good to see. But he's a strong young man that if he puts the bat on the ball and he does it well, he's got a chance to drive the ball."

Gonzalez was sharp with four pitches and New York took an aggressive approach. That led to a number of quick outs, a bunch of weak contact and few Yankees hits. Gonzalez retired the first 12 hitters he faced. Starlin Castro was the first to reach against Gonzalez on an infield single but was immediately erased on a double play. Gonzalez needed only three pitches to get through the seventh and headed into the ninth having thrown 72.

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

The Yankees got another infield single — their fourth off Gonzalez — as Chase Headley opened the ninth with a pinch-hit. Gonzalez, who allowed a run and four hits in 8 1/3 innings, was removed after four-pitch walk off Brett Gardner with one out. Robertson took over and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve the win for Gonzalez.

Afterward, Gonzalez was far more eager to talk about Garcia than his own success — the win was the right-hander's first on the road since July 5, 2015 at the White Sox.

"We understand last year (Garcia) was struggling a little bit," Gonzalez said. "This year he is just trying to stay inside the ball. He has power. He doesn't have to try to hit the ball out every time. He's been doing a really good job staying inside the ball and taking it the other way. Today that slider he hit was up, and his approach is definitely showing."

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

capture.png

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

thyago_vieira_white_sox_trade_slide.jpg
USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."