White Sox

Motivated Youkilis ready to prove he can still play

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Motivated Youkilis ready to prove he can still play

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Youkilis said before Mondays game he has moved on from the Red Sox, who traded him to the White Sox after nine seasons in Boston a day earlier.

No matter how politically correct he manages to be, Youkilis -- who didnt comment when asked about his relationship with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine -- is motivated by the idea baseball observers doubt he still has the ability to play.

Youkilis said those questions offer more motivation than his sour ending with the Red Sox. His trade to the White Sox comes a little more than two months after Valentine, who is in his first season with the Red Sox, questioned the veteran third basemans desire to play baseball.

Youkilis is hitting .233 with four homers and 14 RBIs this season.

I dont think it has to do with (the end there), just that there was a lot of talk and saying You cant play baseball anymore, and I think I can, Youkilis said. I think I can play at a high level and go out there. But talk is one thing and I have to go out and prove it by my actions.

During Sundays press conference to announce the trade, general manager Kenny Williams said Youkilis has an edge and wants to prove his doubters incorrect. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said Monday he believes the addition of a motivated Youkilis can only be a positive.

Its never bad when a guy has something to prove to himself and other people, Pierzynski said. I think Kevin is a proud guy. He has done a lot of good things in this game and wants to prove that hes not done and that he can still play.

Youkilis said he now feels healthy after he spent much of the early part of the season battling a lower-back injury. Youkilis has been limited to 42 games because of injury and after he lost playing time to Red Sox rookie Will Middlebrooks, who on Monday was named the American League player of the week.

The combination of poor play, injuries and lost playing time led to frustration for Youkilis.

I started out really cold and hadnt played up to my capability and it was very frustrating, Youkilis said. I wasnt very happy with how I was producing. I wasnt playing good baseball and it wasnt consistent playing time moving back and forth. It wasnt the way I was accustomed to playing. Im just excited to come to Chicago.

The White Sox are pleased to bring Youkilis on board. Manager Robin Ventura said acquiring Youkilis is a good message for the front office to send the clubhouse.

You know they care, Ventura said. They see the need and they understand and youre trying to get the best guy you can get. Hes the best guy we can get. Thats what guys feel. Theyre going out and getting somebody thats going to fit in and be a pro and has a history of being a good player.

As for how Youkilis fits in the clubhouse appears to be of little concern. Players greeted Youkilis with open arms in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field, including Adam Dunn, who wore and dirtied up Youkilis old Red Sox jersey before batting practice.

Were a pretty easygoing bunch and theres no reason why he shouldnt fit right in, second baseman Gordon Beckham said.

Jake Burger is one of baseball's top 10 third-base prospects, per MLB Pipeline

Jake Burger is one of baseball's top 10 third-base prospects, per MLB Pipeline

Jake Burger was the White Sox first-round draft pick last summer, but he's gone a bit under the radar thanks to the organization's wealth of highly touted prospects.

Well, MLB Pipeline hasn't missed Burger's big bat, ranking him as one of the top 10 third-base prospects in baseball Tuesday.

MLB Pipeline has been rolling out its top-10 lists at every position since last week, and the White Sox have been well represented, with Michael Kopech the site's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect and Zack Collins its No. 9 catching prospect. The site will unveil its shortstop and outfield lists on Wednesday and Thursday, and you're almost guaranteed to see Eloy Jimenez's name at or near the top of that list of outfielders.

But seeing Burger's name this high should give White Sox fans yet another reason to get excited about the future. After all, third base has been projected as one of the few places on the diamond that might need an outside addition to put the South Siders over the hump — especially with huge names like Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado slated to hit the free-agent market in the next couple offseasons.

But Burger's rise might prevent a need for a superstar upgrade at the hot corner. He hit a combined 43 home runs in his final two seasons at Missouri State, and he slashed .271/.335/.409 with nine doubles, four home runs, 27 RBIs and 13 walks compared to 28 strikeouts in 47 games at Class-A Kannapolis last season.

Whether Burger sticks at third base or not remains to be seen — something that's been speculated about — as he's obviously got plenty of development left, having just joined the organization last summer.

But to have some folks in the know to rate Burger so highly is only a good sign for the White Sox as the rebuild rolls on.

Plus, look what he's been doing during the offseason:

“Know yourself, know your worth”

A post shared by Jake Burger (@burgatron13) on

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.