White Sox

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
8:09 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO There were many factors in the Chicago White Sox turnaround, most significantly the teams resurgent starting pitching.

But one player who spurred the White Sox offensively and hasnt seemed to slack even as the starters have sputtered is leadoff man Juan Pierre, who Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen took time out to herald before their final game of the season at Minnesotas Target Field on Thursday.

I dont know how he does it, Guillen said. From the first day of spring training, he never changed. Hes played his best when we need him, but hes been the same guy when he struggled and when he was hitting.

Pierres first-inning single extended his hitting streak to eight games, right on the heels of a 16-game streak. The left-fielder, customarily adorned in his baggy pants and high socks, took a 16-inch softball slap at a Carl Pavano offering and deposited it oppositely, in left field, coming around to score on Alex Rios groundout to third. In the second, Pierre singled again, then stole second. Despite getting spiked by shortstop J.J. Hardy on the attempt, and with blood trickling down his arm broke for third on a steal attempt on the very next pitch.

Its not amazingits just the way he plays the game, Guillen said. We need a guy like that to make us go, and hes been doing it. Thats the reason we got him.

Pierre has upped his on-base percentage in every month this season, topping out at .405 heading into action tonight, with an OPS of .828.

To his credit, Pierre has simply kept digging all through the season, seemingly indefatigable. Hes on pace for his biggest base-stealing month yet this season, with nine already in August putting him just two short of his seasons best.

I hope top Chicago outfield prospect Jared Mitchell next year runs to Juan and learn to play baseball, how to go about his business, to prepare for the game every day, to not take anything for granted, Guillen said. Juan went from very good to oh-my-God not playinghe went through every scenario in baseball to do what hes doing. When you have the type of game like Juan does, even your teammates know hes a great pro and very into his game, takes a lot of pride in his game, always talking baseball. And thats something you appreciate as a manager and a coach, people like him.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

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