White Sox

Jordan Danks finally gets his shot

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Jordan Danks finally gets his shot

Jordan Danks totaled 406 hits over five minor-league seasons. But he always thought about that first hit in the majors, and how it would happen.

On Friday, it happened.

Danks replaced Dayan Viciedo in the top of the sixth, as the White Sox starting left fielder's hamstrings tightened up. In his second at-bat, he singled off Wesley Wright.

"It's a crazy feeling. You think about it all the time," Danks said. "Everybody wants to come up here and everybody wants to get their first, I was just glad it happened sooner rather than later."

It took Danks just two tries to get his first hit. For Robin Ventura, the wait was similarly short, as he walked in his first career at-bat and singled in his third. He didn't have to wait long to get his first taste of the majors, making his debut a day after joining the Sox in 1989.

Ventura saw plenty of youngsters grow anxious on the bench waiting for their major-league debuts during his 16-year career. He's glad Danks didn't have to go through that.

"You get guys that get called up -- having been a player and see guys that sit without getting in there, the buildup can be a little rough," Ventura said. "It's nice to be able to get him in there and get him an at-bat."

The first at-bat of Danks' major-league career came in the sixth inning Friday against Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez, the lone remaining Astro from the 2005 World Series team. Danks was 19 in 2005 and in his freshman year at the University of Texas when the Sox ended their 88-year title drought. He was drafted in the 19th round by the White Sox a few months prior, although he opted to continue his playing career under Augie Garrido in Austin.

Growing up in Round Rock, Texas, Danks was a three-hour drive from both Houston and Dallas. He said he didn't grow up an Astros fan -- nor a Rangers fan -- so making his debut against Houston didn't have the added significance of, say, Mark Buehrle pitching against the Cardinals.

He's been connected to the White Sox for a long time. His brother, John, was acquired by the Sox in December of 2006 and has been a rotation mainstay for the last five seasons -- and, with his new contract, could spend a full decade with the organization. Jordan was drafted again by the White Sox in 2008 as a seventh-round selection with high expectations.

Danks didn't fulfill those, as he hit a wall in 2010 while playing in Triple-A. It took him three go-arounds in Charlotte to convince the White Sox he was ready, for there to be an opening in Chicago or both.

While working on his game in the minors, though, Danks did realize his shot may not come with the Sox.

"That was one thing that a lot of guys say, play hard every day, even if you don't get up with the team you're with, somebody's watching and you'll get a chance with somebody," he said.

But the White Sox didn't add Danks to their 40-man roster last December, leaving him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft. Plenty of teams could've selected Danks and given him a chance to win a job out of spring training. But he was passed over and remained with the White Sox, the team that had drafted him twice but had concerns about his offensive development.

Defense has never been a question for Danks. He's been regarded as having a fantastic glove for years. It was his bat that was holding him back.

"Last year, watching him and seeing him progress and what he did in spring training, he's a great outfielder," Ventura said. "Offensively, he's improved for me watching him."

And that improvement -- a .302419.515 slash line with eight home runs in Triple-A -- was enough to convince the Sox to add him to the 40 and 25-man rosters when Kosuke Fukudome went down with an injury.

Danks will turn 26 in August. He turned 22 in his first professional season and didn't have the quick ascension through the Sox farm system some expected. But this week, he finally made it.

"I knew that at some point I would get here," Danks said. "I didn't know if it would be this year. But I was just going to keep plugging away until that time did come."

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