White Sox

Ventura confident in Hudson at the hot corner

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Ventura confident in Hudson at the hot corner

Despite a shaky defensive performance by Orlando Hudson on Thursday, White Sox manager Robin Ventura remains confident the team does not need help at third base.

Hudson, a former Gold Glove second baseman, joined the Sox on May 22 after regular third baseman Brent Morel was placed on the 15-day disabled list. But Morel pulled himself out of a rehabilitation assignment game Thursday, further delaying his return to the Sox.

That leaves Hudson as the No. 1 choice for Ventura at third. Utility players Eduardo Escobar and Brent Lillibridge are capable of also seeing time there.

Well be able to make a go with them doing that. Im comfortable with that, Ventura said Friday prior to Chicagos interleague series opener against Houston at U.S. Cellular Field.

Hudson will make his 14th start at third tonight, one game after having one of his worst performances at the position in Thursdays 4-3 victory over Toronto. He wasnt charged with any errors, but misplayed three balls.

The most damaging was in the second inning when a ball got past him with the bases loaded, which scored two runs as the Blue Jays took an early lead.

Hudson has committed three errors and has a .923 fielding percentage in 15 games with the Sox. He admitted the transition to third isnt going as well as hed hoped.

Man, Im scuffling. Im scuffling, Hudson said. Our manager is one of the best third basemen to play the game, so hes trying to ease me a little bit to get me out of my own head defensively. But other than that, Im just trying to catch it and get it over to first base. It has been a struggle. It hasnt been pretty lately, but hopefully it will get a little better soon.

The Sox are hoping so, too. Getting Morel back will help. But the position still isnt an area of strength for a team that inserted itself into the AL Central race, and plans to remain in it all season.

Ventura said Hudson should improve due to the experience hes gained already. Even when hes made mistakes.

There are different things happening that hes not used to, Ventura said. Its a learning process. You try to bring him up to speed as fast as you can, but you can only teach so much. Some of it has to be the experience of being out there doing it. Hes had some interesting things happen already, so that should speed up the process.

Morels return to the Sox doesnt appear imminent. Thursday night with Triple-A Charlotte, Morel pulled himself out during a game at Toledo. It's unclear if it was related to the lumbar back strain that put him on the DL.

Theres something else going on there. Its a setback, Ventura said.

Morel was expected back in Chicago today to be examined by Sox medical personnel. He had yet to arrive prior to the end of player pregame media availability.

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."