White Sox

White Sox have fared well with season tickets

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White Sox have fared well with season tickets

Just a guess, but fans who spoke with White Sox players on Thursday were probably a bit more pleasant this time around.

Players Addison Reed and Gordon Beckham, coaches Daryl Boston and Bobby Thigpen, and CSN analyst and former player Bill Melton spent the lunch hour dialing season-ticket holders and perspective buyers.

Whereas last year was a troubling time on the South Side, after ex-manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle had left for Miami, and uncertainty surrounded new skipper Robin Ventura, the 2013 White Sox have gained a little momentum at the box office. A team, which won a surprising 85 games and saw the development of young pitchers Reed, Chris Sale and Nate Jones, has helped the White Sox retain the majority of their season-ticket holders from last season, said White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer.

Our (season-ticket) renewal rate is well into the 90 (percent) range, Boyer said. And our new season tickets are significantly ahead of where we were last year. Last year no one knew how Robin would be. Obviously for us to be competitive all last season, we have a lot of wind in our sails. Its very encouraging.

When it comes to the gate, the White Sox could use some encouragement. The teams attendance has declined for six straight seasons and last season fell below 2 million for the first time since 2004. In an attempt to win back old fans and create new ones, the team rearranged its ticket prices this offseason, lowering the price of bleacher seats and increased seats closer to the infield. They also have begun to offer seats for 7 in the upper deck and 20 in the lower deck and lowered the cost of parking.

We needed to reverse that trend and draw more fans, Boyer said. We wanted to make a very bold move to not only bring back old fans but new fans.

Reed had an opportunity to speak with a dozen or so fans on Thursday and said the response was overwhelmingly positive.

They were excited and surprised and it was fun, Reed said. They are the whole reason why we play, its for the fans. It was kind of cool to see how surprised they were and have them laugh and being able to talk to them.

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