White Sox

Why the White Sox are optimistic about their middle infielders' potential

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USA TODAY

Why the White Sox are optimistic about their middle infielders' potential

HOUSTON -- After both started slow, the White Sox middle infield of the future has heated up at the plate. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada have also made steady gains in the field.

It’s the kind of play the White Sox think they’re going to see plenty of from the extremely talented pair over the next few years. Their combined production admittedly has excited the White Sox brain trust, which knows Anderson and Moncada have hardly tapped into their potential and are only now building rapport.

“We should be optimistic,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Those two guys in the middle continue to improve. They’re getting along. They’re becoming understanding of each other, their idiosyncrasies, the things they like and don’t like. When you have a combination in the middle that is over time going to grow together, it can be something special.”

The potential is limitless.

Anderson, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games in a 3-1 win over the Astros on Thursday, was rated as high as the No. 45 prospect by Baseball America ahead of the 2016 season. Moncada -- who’s had an outstanding road trip -- rose to the No. 1 ranking in baseball before he was promoted two months ago.

Bench coach Joe McEwing said he appreciates the raw tools each player brings to the field. Both possess outstanding range and have strong, accurate arms. He also likes how each is accountable when they make mistakes and has seen each improve immensely.

Anderson’s improvement has been more about letting his instincts and talent take over after a rough first half in the field. Meanwhile, Moncada’s has been more about technical adjustments --- footwork, jumps, knowledge of hitters. Moncada has also widened his base, which has led to steadier fielding, McEwing said. And now they’ve begun to learn how to work with each other.

“They’ve developed a bit of chemistry and it started early,” McEwing said. “They gravitated to each other and started working together early.

“You’re seeing them growing together and it’s been fun to watch.”

“We’re extremely excited.”

Anderson thinks the pair works well together because they have similarly easygoing personalities. The shortstop said he and Moncada have liked to joke around with each other since the outset. Prior to Moncada going on the disabled list late last month, Anderson’s Instagram featured a photo of him treating his teammate’s shins in the trainer’s room.

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Anderson also thinks the players’ proximity in age -- he’s 23 months older -- is helpful.

“We’re easy to get along with,” Anderson said. “We’re just having fun. I’m easy to play with. He’s easy to please with. He understands me very well and I understand him very well. It’s just get as many reps as we can get and get comfortable and have fun with it.

“He’s kind of like me. We don’t talk much but there’s some energy in there, some excitement. We’re always joking and playing and laughing.

“Definitely someone I can play up the middle with for a while and going to enjoy every minute of it. Very special kid and very talented.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Don Cooper with the inside scoop on Kopech, Rodon and a dozen other pitchers

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Don Cooper with the inside scoop on Kopech, Rodon and a dozen other pitchers

With some of baseball's top pitching talent in the White Sox system, who better to talk about them than longtime White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper? Coop gives us the goods on Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease, Joakim Soria and many others. He reveals the adjustment Lucas Giolito made last season that changed everything for the young right-hander, the one White Sox pitcher he thinks will make a big jump in 2018, and explains why he thinks the White Sox could surprise people in 2018.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Thyago Vieira

Vieira, the 24-year-old right-handed hurler, has just one inning of big league ball under his belt.

A native of Brazil, Vieira made his major league debut last season for the Seattle Mariners, pitching one scorless inning — and striking out one batter — in an Aug. 14 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He's since joined the White Sox rebuild, acquired in a November trade that sent international bonus slot money back to the Pacific Northwest.

In the minors last season, Vieira split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma, combining for a 4.00 ERA in 54 innings of 41 appearances. He struck out 46 hitters and walked 22. In previous minor league seasons, he showed a good ability to strike out opposing hitters, posting a 10.8 K/9 with Class A Bakersfield in 2016.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Vieira rated as the No. 20 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Vieira in the video above.