White Sox

Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

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Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

Friday night's White Sox game featured a somber Hawk Harrelson spouting off Chris Sale's fastball speeds as if they were losing lottery numbers. Why? Because they were more reminiscent of the glory years of the Oakland A's' Bash Brothers (88-90) than Chicago summer temperatures (95-97). In addition, our elongated lefty had been relying more on his off-speed stuff more than usual, and he'd had similar problems the previous Saturday in Detroit.

South Side fandom had been holding its collective breath all season long as our phenom racked up innings in numbers his left arm had never seen. Cries of "dead arm" were almost immediate. Let's take a look at the numbers.

For a frame of reference, and for consistency's sake, let's look at Sale's two-seam fastballs over his past four starts (Pitch fx numbers courtesy of the wonderful brooksbaseball.net):

GameAvg. Velocity
Max Velocity
727 @TEX
90.2292.40721 @DET
91.4094.00715 @KC
92.2695.8073 vs. TEX
92.2896.30

That's four straight starts with a dip in both average and max velocity. The Twitterverse is concerned. But is Sale concerned? Not according to his postgame comments: "No, everything is fine. It's getting late in the year, that might be a little bit of it, but that's something I'm not paying attention to. I honestly couldn't care less how hard I'm throwing."

Make no mistake about it, Sale's poise was impressive Friday night in Arlington; he maintained his focus after a rough 28-pitch first inning in which he allowed four Rangers runs. The next three innings were highly economical; 31 pitches, 27 strikes, with just two harmless singles allowed. In the fifth, he rebounded from first and second, nobody out situation with three straight punchouts.

A rocky outing by Nate Jones is what ultimately allowed the fifth run to score, as his HBP and walk which loaded the bases, allowing Josh Hamilton to drive in Sale's runner with a groundout. But despite Sale garnering his 12th win of the season, it was the loss in velocity that was the story.

And the story continues; Jake Peavy will be starting in place of Sale on Wednesday, affording him an extra day of rest. Here's what Sale had to say on the extra rest:

"Nothing terrible, nothing anyone else doesn't go through...We all feel this is something that's going to benefit us and benefit myself, a few extra days off, so the next couple months we can make a push and get after it."

The learning curve will continue through the rest of the season for both Sale himself and for the White Sox coaching staff. It has certainly been a long time since Chicago's American Leaguers have brought along a power arm at such a young age. It has been and will continue to be an important storyline throughout the remainder of the season.

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Thyago Vieira

Vieira, the 24-year-old right-handed hurler, has just one inning of big league ball under his belt.

A native of Brazil, Vieira made his major league debut last season for the Seattle Mariners, pitching one scorless inning — and striking out one batter — in an Aug. 14 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He's since joined the White Sox rebuild, acquired in a November trade that sent international bonus slot money back to the Pacific Northwest.

In the minors last season, Vieira split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma, combining for a 4.00 ERA in 54 innings of 41 appearances. He struck out 46 hitters and walked 22. In previous minor league seasons, he showed a good ability to strike out opposing hitters, posting a 10.8 K/9 with Class A Bakersfield in 2016.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Vieira rated as the No. 20 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Vieira in the video above.

How Baseball America envisions the White Sox starting lineup of the future

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USA TODAY

How Baseball America envisions the White Sox starting lineup of the future

The White Sox rebuild is going just swimmingly, according to the fine folks at Baseball America.

The publication does its own rankings of each organization's top prospects every offseason, and their top 10 rankings of the players in the White Sox farm system is unexpectedly impressive, what with how general manager Rick Hahn has acquired so much minor league talent over the past year-plus.

But one of the fun things Baseball America also does is project a starting lineup for a few years down the road. That's been a favorite pastime of South Side baseball fans ever since Hahn kicked off the rebuild with those trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton more than a year ago. Now you can see how your fantasy future White Sox lineup matches up with Baseball America's.

They flash forward all the way to 2021, a year past when most White Sox fans have been dreaming about as the apex of the rebuild and when the South Siders start becoming perennial contenders. Notably, Baseball America also expects the White Sox to give long-term deals to Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia — not bad moves by any stretch — who are both currently under team control only through the end of the 2019 season.

Here's how Baseball America sees Rick Renteria's starting nine in 2021:

Of course, Baseball America goes a little more in depth than that, ranking the top 10 prospects in each farm system and laying out their picks for which players have the best tools in each organization.

Here are those respective lists for the White Sox:

Get ready, White Sox fans. The future's coming.