KANSAS CITY -- Dylan Axelrod found himself in a familiar place when he entered Friday nightSaturday mornings marathon White Sox game.A little more than five years ago, Axelrod, then a pitcher at UC Irvine, was the only pitcher available for the Anteaters, who played Cal State-Fullerton.Just like the June 18, 2007 contest, Axelrod emerged victorious early Saturday after he delivered two scoreless innings in a 9-8 White Sox victory over the Kansas City Royals. Alexrod pitched 4 13 scoreless innings for Irvine in 2007,who prevailed in 5 hours, 40 minutes. The White Sox beat the Royals in a tidy 5:23.It was the same situation, Axelrod said. I pitched four innings and finished the game and I was like the last guy with no one else left.Axelrod threw 31 pitches in the White Sox second-half opener, which leaves his status for Tuesday in Boston up in the air. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Saturday hes not certain whether the team will start Axelrod of flip-flop him with Philip Humber, who is set to come off the disabled list and start on Wednesday.Its subject to change, but its pretty much the same right now, Ventura said. Especially with Axe going last night, seeing how hes feeling. (Swapping the pitchers is)possible right now. Again, were just going by how theyre feeling and setting them up.Axelrod said he had a strange feel in the seventh inning of Fridays game that he might be needed. After Hector Santiago recorded the final out of the 11th inning, Axelrod received approval from pitching coach Don Cooper to prepare, just in case.We had used quite a few guys already, Axelrod said. Just like weird thoughts started entering my mind, like it might happen. And then once Hector went in, I asked Coop, Should I go down there? You think you guys are going to need me? There were several times Ventura was certain the White Sox wouldnt be around long enough to need Axelrod. The White Sox had the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning but only forged a tie against Royals closer Jonathan Broxton.And White Sox relievers got out of several tricky situations, including Santiago retiring Mike Moustakas on a slow grounder in the 11 th inning with the bases loaded.I know we found ourselves defensively in situations where we didnt like the situation we were in, and somehow we got out of it, Ventura said. Thats part of the game I think is fun. Even though it doesnt look good. You can get out of it. Theres no clock for them to run it out.
27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.
The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.
In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.
When I ranked baseball's top farm systems for @MLBNetwork for use during our last two @MLBazFallLeague broadcasts, I had the @Braves at No. 1. With Atlanta losing Kevin Maitan & Co., I would drop them to No. 2 behind the @whitesox.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) November 21, 2017
Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.
Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.
But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.
While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:
4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen