White Sox

Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

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Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

The White Sox are currently in the midst of another hot streak going into the Midsummer Classic. They have taken five of seven from the two best teams in baseball, including a convincing sweep of the Rangers. Lets take a look at how the rest of the organization fared last week.

Prospect Nestor Molina has seen action at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season and he is 7-7 with a 4.61 ERA. His stats do not exactly jump off the page at you, but he has shown signs of growth and maturation. Unfortunately, Molina was placed on the seven-day disabled list last week. Apparently it's only a minor case of right elbow tendinitis, but it raised enough concern for the club to send him to Chicago for further examination. Molina has recorded 88 innings of work this season and this could simply be a result of fatigue. Never the less, anytime the word tendinitis is thrown into the conversation there is cause for concern.

They say when it rains it pours, and in the case of the case of the Sox minor league system it poured a little bit last week. Top pitching prospect Simon Castro was also assigned to the seven-day DL after pitching lights out in his last start. Castros success in Birmingham has not gone unnoticed, as he was awarded a promotion to Charlotte a couple weeks ago. In his second Triple-A appearance he went seven innings, gave up no runs on four hits and fanned nine. In short, he was dominant. Unfortunately his pitching efforts reaped no offensive support and he was slapped with the no decision, as the Knights fell 1-0 in 11 innings.

As mind-numbingly repetitive as it is to say, Jared Mitchell struggled at the plate this week. The LSU product went 3-for-21 (.143) with eight K's. He did drive in six, and scored five times but as his strikeout total creeps closer to the century mark, his chances at being in the big leagues in the relatively near future diminish. Mitchell has gone down on strikes 98 times (35 percent of plate appearances) already this season, which is second-worst in the entire Southern League. Needless to say, his production is nowhere near where it needs to be and with each unsuccessful hack I am more convinced that we are driving down a road with a possible dead end. Jared Mitchell may be falling out of the picture fast.

Birmingham shortstop Tyler Saladino had the type of week every up and coming prospect loves to have. He went 9-for 25 (.360) at the dish with two doubles, a homer, five RBIs, six runs scored and four swiped bags. Those four stolen bases take his season total to the top of the Southern League with 29. His memorable week at the plate (.995 OPS) was backed up by a solid defensive performance. Its weeks like these that move a youngster very quickly through the system.

Winston-Salem slugger Trayce Thompson saw similar levels of production as Saladino. He also went 9-for-25 (.360) with five RBIs, five runs, and three doubles. On Monday, Thompson went yard twice, boosting his total to 16 on the year. The talented prospects successful week led to a ridiculous 1.233 OPS. Thompson got off to a slow start this season, but he is taking the proper steps to raise his .232 average to where it needs to be.

Rangel Ravelo has been tabbed the man to watch out of the Class-A Kannapolis Intimidators clubhouse. Unfortunately last week he did not fit the bill. Ravelo was 3-for-22 (.136) with no extra base hits, no runs, two RBIs and three strikeouts. One plus is that Ravelo is putting the ball in play and not striking out much. He simply has to find some holes in the defense and if he continues to hit the ball he is bound to break through.

While the White Sox system is not very deep there are some power arms in the organization as evidenced by the number of youngsters who have assumed roles in the big clubs bullpen and rotation. With injuries to Jesse Crain, John Danks, Phil Humber and Brian Bruney, the White Sox needed to find help and with players like Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Jose Quintana doing the job, the drop-off has been non-existent.

Joe Musso contributed to this report.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.