White Sox

White Sox prospect Frankie Montas lights up radar gun in Futures Game

white-sox-frankie-montas-7-12-15.png

White Sox prospect Frankie Montas lights up radar gun in Futures Game

CINCINNATI -- The entire World Team dugout expected a triple-digit fastball on Sunday afternoon and Frankie Montas didn’t disappoint.

Though the World Team lost to the U.S. Team 10-1 in the Futures Game at Great American Ballpark, the White Sox Double-A pitcher created quite a stir among his teammates in the sixth inning when he threw consecutive 101-mph fastballs. As if that weren’t enough, Montas backed up those efforts with a 99-mph heater.

While Montas allowed three earned runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning, he more than enjoyed himself a year after a knee injury forced him to miss the 2014 Futures Game.

[MORE: Robin Ventura would prefer Chris Sale not pitch in All-Star Game]

“Everybody was expecting it,” Montas said. “‘That’s the guy that throws 100.’ So everybody was expecting me to throwing something hard.”

One of three minor-leaguers acquired from Boston in the Jake Peavy deal that also brought Avisail Garcia from Detroit, Montas is 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA over 73 innings for Birmingham this season.

The fastball may have scouts, executives and coaches drooling, but Montas and the White Sox are focused on the development of his slider and changeup. Not satisfied with a slow start -- he had a 3.60 ERA through seven starts in 2015 –- after his first big league camp this spring, Montas has worked hard to improve command of his secondary pitches.

Though he produced a 1.44 ERA in 15 starts, Montas didn’t have as much development time in a 2014 season disrupted by separate knee surgeries for a torn meniscus (the left knee was in March, the right in June). Over his last seven starts, Montas has a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings.

“Slider has been better and the changeup, I’ve started to get a feel for it,” Montas said. “Last year when I was in High-A I was doing great. This year at the beginning I was not doing how I expected to do. Thank God I figured out some things and I’m doing better.

“Everything is going well.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Montas’ season has gone so well the White Sox had to limit his June 20 and July 9 starts to an inning so he could pitch in exhibitions. He appeared in the Southern League All-Star Game on June 23, reaching 102 mph on the radar gun. That appearance raised expectations among his teammates Sunday, who went crazy when he topped 100 despite a lopsided score.

“I was like ‘Ok, let me throw a couple,’” Montas said. “It was a really good experience.

“Lot of fans and you get an opportunity to play with the best players on all the teams. It’s real exciting. I enjoyed it even though we lost the game.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

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

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
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.