White Sox

Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura

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Different home opener experiences for Jones, Konerko, Ventura

Nate Jones received polite applause when he was announced during player introductions at U.S. Cellular Field Friday. Nobody went wild for the 26-year-old who hadn't pitched above Double-A before last weekend. He's the last pitcher out of the White Sox bullpen, someone who has an impressive fastball but has yet to make his mark in the majors.

Robin Ventura was introduced shortly thereafter to loud cheers. And about a minute after that, Paul Konerko was greeted with the loudest applause of any player introduced during the pageantry of the home opener -- like it'd be any other way.

Those three White Sox each had a different outlook on the day. Jones has never experienced a major-league home opener before. Ventura has, but never as a manager. And Konerko realizes he may not have many of these days left.

"Maybe you think about it a little bit more because you can always remember every opening day whether it's at home or on the road," Konerko explained. "So you kind of know you only have a handful left in you maybe so you pay a little more attention, but not too much."

At 36, Konerko has seen every White Sox home opener since 1999. But his contract with the White Sox only runs through 2013, and he realizes retirement may be right around the corner.

Ventura's seen plenty of home openers on the South Side. Although he hadn't heard his name introduced over the U.S. Cellular Field loudspeaker preceded by "manager" before.

"It's exciting," Ventura said. "I feel like I grew up here, so in a lot of ways it's a coming home of sorts."

But for Jones, along with fellow rookies Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Eduardo Escobar, the day has added excitement.

"The Chicago fans are great and there's going to be a lot of them here," Jones said, trying to downplay his excitement. "There's going to be a lot of energy in the stadium for sure."

So while Jones may not admit he's enjoying this, Ventura knows the significance of the day is for the White Sox rookies.

"You see a kid like Nate Jones and Hector Santiago, guys that it's their first time for an opening day here. That's the special part that you get to enjoy."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

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.

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

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USA TODAY

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

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.

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