White Sox

Red-hot Jose Abreu finishes home run shy of second cycle in three games

Red-hot Jose Abreu finishes home run shy of second cycle in three games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jose Abreu is locked in like its 2014 again.

About the only thing White Sox slugger hasn’t done of late is complete that pesky second cycle. But otherwise he’s performing similar to how he did when he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year.

Abreu finished a home run shy of yet another cycle on Monday night only two days after he achieved the feat for the first time in his career. He batted with two outs in the ninth inning of an 11-3 White Sox victory over the Kansas City Royals with a chance to accomplish the feat once again but drew a walk against reliever Trevor Cahill. Abreu finished 4-for-5 with a double, triple, walk and two RBIs as he continued a torrid stretch.

“We were sitting in anticipation watching the at-bat,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It would have been unique to see something like that happen again.

“He’s been swinging the bat very, very well. Great at-bats, great approaches. He’s doing everything he needs to do to give himself a chance.

“He has been a pretty good tear of late.”

Though he’s had his moments, Abreu hasn’t been this good since his rookie season. With two singles already under his belt, Abreu tripled in a run in the sixth inning on Monday, his career-best 74th extra-base hit of the season. An inning later, Abreu doubled with one to give him 75 extra base hits and an unheard of second shot at the cycle about 48 hours after he legged out a triple in the eighth inning to complete the first one.

[MORE: Why teaching phase of White Sox rebuild has Don Cooper excited

About the only question left is whether or not Abreu -- who entered Monday with a 1.208 OPS in 33 September plate appearances -- would have another chance. Rookie Yoan Moncada, who had the first three-hit game of his career, ensured that when he legged out a grounder to second to avoid hitting into an inning-ending double play.

Abreu’s teammates made sure he wasn’t oblivious about the possibility as he headed to the plate.

“I knew because everybody around me was telling me, ‘Go for the homer, go for the homer,’ ” Abreu said through an interpreter.

Abreu said he primarily looked for a changeup from Cahill. He got one on the righty’s second offering and fouled it back. Abreu fouled off two more pitches before he ultimately drew an eight-pitch walk.

The slugger is 10-for-13 with two doubles, two triples, three homers, eight RBIs and two walks in his past three games. He’s hitting .306/.358/.564 with 31 homers and 92 RBIs in 603 plate appearances this season.

“My routine right now is working pretty good,” Abreu said. “I also have to thank the guys because they have been doing their job too and that has helped me perform and get the results I have right now.”

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."