White Sox

Montini captures fourth straight 5A title

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Montini captures fourth straight 5A title

By Mike Clark
Season Pass

CHAMPAIGN The image conjured up in recent years by the phrase Montini football is probably a long pass to Jordan Westerkamp or Joe Borsellino, or maybe a twisting, weaving run by Dimitri Taylor.

Hard-nosed, defensive-minded play may not be what quickly comes to mind. But it got the job done for the Broncos Saturday morning when they won their fourth consecutive Class 5A state title, 19-6 over Morris at Memorial Stadium.

Taylor ran 74 yards for a touchdown on Montinis first offensive play and caught a 48-yard scoring pass from Alex Wills just before halftime. Otherwise, Montini (12-2) was limited to five field-goal tries by Andrew Harte, two of which were successful.

The difference was a Montini defense that gave up 264 yards, but just one touchdown and that was with 47 seconds left in the game.

It was a marked difference from last years final, when the Broncos won the highest scoring playoff game in state history: a 70-45 shootout with Joliet Catholic when they gave up 515 rushing yards and six touchdowns to Ty Isaac.

Last year the defense didnt do so well, Montini defensive lineman Fred Beaugard said. We knew this whole season we couldnt be like

that. ... We had to step it up.

And the Broncos had to do it against Morris (12-2), which got back to state for the first time since 2007 with a grind-it-out style.

It was a physical game, Morris coach Alan Thorson said. Thats how we played all year. Were a smash-mouth, physical team.

But Beaugard (nine tackles, three sacks) and the rest of the Montini defense kept the Redskins ground game mostly in check. Morris rushed for 179 yards, though 70 of them came on two plays.

That got the Redskins out of their comfort zone, which was the Broncos game plan.

We knew that the key to their offense was running the ball, Beaugard said. We had to get them into a passing game. Once we do that, our defensive backs have the ability to cover their wide receivers.

On the other side of the ball, the Broncos leaned on Taylor (18 carries, 165 yards). His early touchdown ended a Montini trend of falling behind early in the playoffs.

For us to get the lead early was huge, Montini coach Chris Andriano said. I think it got our defense fired up.

Taylor provided another emotional boost with his scoring catch 2:16 before halftime, which put Montini up 13-0. Harte added field goals of 23 and 31 yards in the third quarter to make it 19-0.

Morris got on the board with Zach Cinnamons 33-yard scoring pass to Jeff Perry in the final minute. But it couldnt keep Andriano from becoming the fourth coach to win four consecutive state titles.

Four in a row, Ive got to pinch myself, Andriano said.

Is Luis Robert so good that he'll start the season at Double-A?

Is Luis Robert so good that he'll start the season at Double-A?

Just how good is Luis Robert?

Well, that's the problem. Us on the outside, we don't know exactly.

The White Sox obviously love him, willing to give him big bucks to come play a starring role in the rebuild. Rick Renteria raved about Robert last month at the Winter Meetings, getting White Sox fans all excited by hyping Robert's speed, fielding skills and power.

But as good as the scouting reports sound, is Robert really so good that he'll go from never playing a game in the United States to the higher levels of minor league baseball right away?

That eyebrow-raising possibility was floated Tuesday.

Robert unsurprisingly has plenty of confidence in his own abilities and told The Athletic's James Fegan at the team's hitters' camp in Arizona that his goal is to make it to the big leagues sometime in 2018.

But perhaps the more interesting comment came from Chris Getz, the White Sox director of player development, who said Tuesday that Robert could potentially start the season at either of the White Sox two Class A affiliates, Kannapolis or Winston-Salem, or even at Double-A Birmingham.

Robert is just 20 years old, and he's yet to play a game of minor league baseball in the United States after spending his teenage years playing in Cuba. In fact, his only action since joining the White Sox has been 28 games in the Dominican Summer League. He did fare quite well in that handful of contests, slashing .310/.491/.536 with three homers, 14 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a sparkling 22-to-23 walk-to-strikeout ratio. But that's not really the point.

The White Sox are in no rush with Robert, or any of their highly touted prospects, for that matter. Not expected to compete for a championship in 2018, there doesn't appear to be any reason to elevate Robert to the highest levels of the minors so quickly without first getting him some experience in the lower levels.

Of course, Getz even mentioning the possibility of Robert starting the season at Birmingham should also show just how good the team thinks Robert is right now. So maybe Robert's major league dream for 2018 isn't as crazy as it sounds?

Meet the Prospects: Luis Alexander Basabe

Meet the Prospects: Luis Alexander Basabe

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.

Luis Alexander Basabe

Basabe, the 21-year-old outfielder, flew under the radar in the trade that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

A native of Venezuela, Basabe was overshadowed by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech in that deal with the Red Sox, but he's a promising piece of the future, as well.

A year before joining the White Sox organization, Basabe slashed .264/.328/.452 with 66 runs scored, 53 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 110 games with Boston's two Class A affiliates in Greenville and Salem.

Last season with Class A Winston-Salem, VBasabe played in 107 games, slashing .221/.320/.320 with 52 runs scored, 36 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Basabe rated as the No. 17 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Basabe in the video above.