White Sox

A quick concern about Crain

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A quick concern about Crain

Jesse Crain put together a fantastic 2011 out of the White Sox bullpen, posting a 2.62 ERA while averaging over a strikeout per inning in his first year in Chicago. He was incredibly reliable, appearing in 67 games and throwing 65 13 innings. With that in mind, his name has been thrown around in discussions regarding the team's closer in 2012.

But there are a few concerns. Namely, Crain's high walk rate, his abnormally-high rate of stranding runners on base and his low ground ball rate.

Crain issued 4.27 walks per nine innings, a fairly high number that isn't a red flag on its own -- especially given his high strikeout rate. But that strand rate is concerning.

But there are plenty of relievers who have sustained a strand rate over 80 percent (in other words, four out of every five baserunners they allow to reach do not score). Generally, that strand rate is a number that will regress for starters (only Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have a strand rate of 80 percent or above in the last two seasons), but for relievers, it's hardly out of the question for a high strand rate to be sustainable, especially those who are high-strikeout guys like Crain.

The high fly ball rate, though, is a little more worrisome given U.S. Cellular Field's propensity to play like a bandbox. Only one in three balls in play off Crain stayed on the ground last season, while nearly half were fly balls. There certainly exists a chance that a few of those fly balls turn into home runs in 2012 just based on a little bit worse luck.

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