White Sox

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

James Shields' strained right lat created the second hole the White Sox have to fill in their rotation this year, with the right-hander being placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday evening. But as was the case with Carlos Rodon's left biceps bursitis, Rick Hahn and the front office won't accelerate or disrupt the development of the organization's trio of highly regarded pitching Triple-A prospects to temporarily take the place of someone at the major league level. 

So instead of seeing Carson Fulmer come up, or Reynaldo Lopez or Lucas Giolito make their White Sox debuts, it'll be 33-year-old right-hander Mike Pelfrey filling Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. 

"From the start, we talked about when these guys do get to Chicago for that last stage of development that happens in the big leagues, we want them to feel comfortable they will get the ball every fifth day," Hahn said. "It's not going to be snatched away from them because someone is coming off the DL or their performance isn't up to snuff in any individual start. That's the ideal path. 

"You can't always follow through on those plans in the end, but right now, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure when any of the prospects get promoted, they will be here to stay."

Fulmer (17 IP, 4.24 ERA, 11 K, 3 BB, 3 HR), Lopez (14 1/3 IP, 5.02 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB, 4 HR) and Giolito (14 IP, 6.43 ERA, 16 K, 9 BB, 3 HR) haven't got off to particularly strong starts, though none of them could've pitched their way back into the major leagues after only three starts. The White Sox will be patient with all three right-handers to make sure that, if and when they do earn their way to 35th and Shields, they're here for good and don't have to go back to the minor leagues. 

While the White Sox did consider promoting right-hander Tyler Danish, who has a 2.00 ERA in three Triple-A starts, he threw six innings Thursday and wouldn't have been able to take Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday. Pelfrey, then, offers the smoothest transition to replacing a guy in Shields who had a 1.62 ERA in his first three starts of 2017. 

To make room for Pelfrey on the 40-man roster, outfielder Charlie Tilson will be moved to the 60-day disabled list, Hahn said. Tilson, who's been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since February, will be out of a walking boot on Monday but wouldn't be ready to re-join the White Sox for at least another month. 

The White Sox described Shields' lat strain as "mild" and expect he'll only miss two or three starts due to it. 

"There's no reason for me to believe right now that he won't be able to pick up where he left off once he comes off the DL here in a couple of weeks," Hahn said. 

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

It’s no secret that the White Sox and their fans are hoping to see both Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the big leagues in 2018. And according to one full-season projection system, it seems that the computers agree that both will be MLB contributors very soon.

FanGraphs’ Steamer600 projections forecast what MLB hitters would do over 600 plate appearances and what pitchers would do over 200 innings – and both Jimenez and Kopech are close to MLB-ready.

Jimenez, MLB.com’s 5th ranked prospect, is projected to provide a 1.9 offensive WAR and Kopech, MLB.com’s 10th ranked prospect, would account for 1.4 WAR over the course of a full season.

So what does that mean?

Here are some comparable MLB players from 2017 in offensive Wins Above Replacement for Jimenez:

Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS – 1.9 (541 PA) 

Jedd Gyorko, STL – 1.9 (481 PA)

Andrew Benintendi, BOS – 1.9 (658 PA)

Yasiel Puig, LAD – 1.9 (570 PA)

Salvador Perez, KC – 1.9 (499 PA)

Very solid company, considering those five players combined for an average OPS of .788. The Steamer600 projections peg Jimenez for a .770 OPS over 600 plate appearances.

The full forecast is as follows: a .267 batting average, an on-base percentage of .317 and a .453 slugging percentage to go along with 23 home runs.

Meanwhile, Kopech might be a bit further away from being an impact player with a projected WAR of 1.4 over 200 innings.

Here are some MLB WAR comparisons from 2017 for Kopech:

Julio Teheran, ATL – 1.6 (188.1 IP)

Lucas Giolito, CHW – 1.5 (45.1 IP)

Dellin Betances, NYY – 1.5 (59.2 IP)

Miguel Gonzalez, CHW/TEX – 1.5 (156.0 IP)

Greg Holland, COL – 1.4 (44.2 IP)

As you can see, the comparisons are not nearly as promising for Kopech as they are for Jimenez. The comparable range is mostly made up of late-inning relievers or middle-of-the-pack starting pitchers.

With a 100 mile-per-hour fastball and wipeout slider come the occasional control issues, and that is where the Steamer600 projections hurt Kopech the most, with a forecasted walk rate of 5.4 walks per 9 innings pitched.

The full forecast for Kopech includes a 4.84 ERA with 216 strikeouts over 32 starts with 32 home runs allowed. 

Whether these projections come close to reality or not, having Kopech and Jimenez on the Major League doorstep is sure to give the White Sox rebuild yet another boost in the coming season.

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

After a breakout season in 2017, don’t expect any more name changes from the man formerly known as Carlos Sanchez.

“Yolmer hit more home runs so I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer,” said Sanchez in an exclusive interview from his Arizona home. “I’m the same person, but Yolmer worked good this year, so I’ll stay with Yolmer.”

After doing away with the name Carlos, the 25-year old infielder set career-highs across the board last year, slugging 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs while posting a .732 OPS.  

He ranked third on the White Sox in Wins Above Replacement with 3.5, trailing only Jose Abreu’s 4.7 and Avisail Garcia’s 4.5. In the three seasons prior, Sanchez totaled just 0.4 WAR in 201 combined games. 

And now, 2018 provides a new opportunity. Sanchez is expected to be the everyday starting third baseman, the spot he took over following Todd Frazier’s midseason trade to the New York Yankees.

With an elevated role comes a vigorous offseason schedule. He took only 20 days off after the regular season before starting to train for the upcoming spring. 

“I don’t want to work just on one thing. I want to do everything and that’s why I start training so early,” he said. “My speed. More power. Agility. A lot of things.”

Sanchez certainly isn’t the flashiest name in a White Sox infield that includes Abreu and the middle-infield tandem of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. But he knows his role on the team – being flashy off the field and bringing energy to the clubhouse. 

“If you go with a lot of energy to the game, a lot of things change,” said Sanchez. “That makes a lot of difference in one game. And one game can make a lot of difference during the season.”

But a 70-92 record by the White Sox certainly was not due to a lack of energy as much as a general lack of talent. That should change in 2018 – when fans can expect to see Moncada, as well as other names like Nicky Delmonico, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez play a full major league season. Not to mention prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech knocking on the door to the big leagues.

And that excites Sanchez.

“We’ve got really young players but really talented [players],” said Sanchez. “We have to get better, but I think we can do a lot of good things next year.”

Are there any young players Sanchez is specifically excited to see develop? 

“They’re all going to be really good if they keep working,” he said. “Moncada could be a superstar.” 

That’s exactly what the White Sox are hoping as well.