White Sox

First Sox drops include a surprise in Leesman

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First Sox drops include a surprise in Leesman

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted: 12:05 p.m. Updated: 3:50 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Chicago White Sox announced their first seven roster cuts of the spring, headlined by aspiring spot starters Lucas Harrell and Charlie Leesman.

Harrell and pitcher Jhonny Nunez were sent to AAA Charlotte, while Leesman, outfielder Brandon Short, catchers Josh Phegley and Jared Price, and pitcher Kyle Bellamy were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Harrell, coming into camp considered the front-runner for the No. 5 spot in the rotation had Jake Peavy proven unable to break camp with the big club, had a mostly disastrous spring. His first appearance was a scoreless inning of relief, during which he made a diving, linebacker assist of a spinning tapper toward first, but his Cactus League was disappointing from there. His spring numbers included a team-worst 20.25 ERA (six earned runs in 2 23 innings), nine hits, and two home runs.

He should be disappointed in himself, Guillen said. We gave him the opportunity. We gave him everything. The first meeting I had, I told him wed give him a chance. What we saw is not what were looking for. Youve got to go out there and throw strikes.

Bellamy was also among the springs biggest disappointments, recording a 9.00 ERA in two games, with two strikeoutstwo walks and a wild pitch.

The remaining cuts saw little action this spring. Nunez pitched to just one batter, striking him out (he did allow two hits and punched out three batters in two innings of B-Game action vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 3). Phegley was 0-4 with two Ks, Price was 1-2 in two games, and Short was 2-6 with three Ks in five games. He made his Cactus League debut in fine fashion, with a diving catch in left field late in the opener vs. the Dodgers.

Leesman also saw little action this Cactus League, pitching just two innings, allowing one hit and three walks against two Ks. The young lefty notched a 0.00 ERA but also had a wild pitch. White Sox brass shine sunny on Leesman, but his struggle with breaking-pitch command was made evident in a number of bullpen sessions prior to game action.

White Sox manager on Monday had implied the window was wide open for any player fighting for a roster spot, as no one had distinguished themselves in battles for the teams 12th pitcher spot and final bench seat.

I dont see anybody stepping up into last bullpen or bench spots, Guillen said. Thats not too bright. Were going to give guys a chance to make the team. At the end of the day, they will make the team for you or they will cut their own throats.

Guillen, known as ruthlessly efficient when it comes to his spring work, said on Wednesday that he wasnt in the business of sending out false signals or hopes to young players.

Nobody will be sent down, at least if youre a kid, until we have to send you down, he said. Were going to give you a shot. Were not going to send you down just because. I dont think we should waste anybodys time here. I dont think we should go home and make this guy hope for an opportunity: Oh, Im in the mix. The way were going to do it this year, the way GM Kenny Williams wants to do it is move quicker and try to put this roster together as quick as we can.

Chicago is now down to 46 players in camp, including 24 pitchers, four catchers, 11 infielders and seven outfielders.

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

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."