White Sox

With family members in its path, many White Sox players keep close eye on Hurricane Irma

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USA TODAY

With family members in its path, many White Sox players keep close eye on Hurricane Irma

Many eyes in the White Sox clubhouse will be focused on Hurricane Irma the next few days as several players’ family members are in the direct path of the record-breaking storm.

While his wife and children are in Chicago, the rest of catcher Geovany Soto’s family was already feeling the impact of the Category 5 storm by Wednesday afternoon in Puerto Rico. Manager Rick Renteria said some of his in-laws also reside in Puerto Rico. Reliever Juan Minaya’s family also is in the projected path of the storm, which is expected to reach the Dominican Republic sometime Thursday. Renteria said the White Sox will monitor the situation for now and act if necessary.

“We're all cognizant of the realities of life and the things that are really important,” Renteria said. “There are going to be a lot of people keeping track.

“I'm sure that anybody who has family anywhere that's being stricken by something that could be devastating, you'd want to be with them. There are certain logistics that probably won't allow that. I'm sure they're in motion, that their minds and their hearts are with their families. They wouldn't be human if they weren't feeling those things. I think we all deal with it in our own way and if there's a situation that occurs here we'll deal with it when we have to.”

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Soto spoke to his family several times throughout the day, most recently at 2 p.m. (CST). Soto said his parents, uncles, sisters, nieces and nephews hadn’t had power since 9 a.m. and had begun to see wind damage as early as 11 a.m. even though the storm hadn’t made landfall.

Soto was 6 when Hurricane Hugo slammed Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean in 1989. He knows Puerto Rico has been mostly lucky over the years and just hopes for the best possible outcome.

“It’s something that you really can’t control,” Soto said. “We want to believe that it’s out of our reach and just pray for safety and minimum damage.

“Keep praying for my family back at home.”

The White Sox have a number of players who reside in the Dominican Republic, but Minaya’s northern town of Puerta Plata is most directly in the hurricane’s path. The reliever said he lives about a 20-minute walk from the ocean and even closer to a river. His parents, brother, two sisters and nephews have decided to ride out the storm because they’re worried about looters.

Minaya said his family plans to stay together in a concrete house and expects to lose power at any point.

“The communication is going to be bad,” Minaya said. “If the hurricane goes like we’re seeing now, terrible.

“I’m very worried because my family is there.”

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

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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

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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."