White Sox

Could local product Charlie Tilson still fit into White Sox plans?

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USA TODAY

Could local product Charlie Tilson still fit into White Sox plans?

Charlie Tilson is back on the White Sox 40-man and also finally on the field.

The Winnetka-product returned to action Saturday in the Arizona Fall League and has appeared in three games. Tilson missed all of the 2017 season as he tried to rehab from a torn left hamstring suffered in August 2016. He’s 0-for-10 with two walks in the AFL.

The outfielder was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on Thursday along with reliever Zach Putnam, who had reconstructive elbow surgery in late June. The White Sox also declined a $3.5 million club option for veteran catcher Geovany Soto, which brings the 40-man roster to 34 players.

What Tilson’s re-emergence means for his future with the White Sox will depend on how his body responds.

Tilson was initially cleared for baseball activity in late September after a long season of setbacks. Acquired from St. Louis in a deal for Zach Duke in July 2016, Tilson first suffered a stress reaction in his foot during spring training. After that, Tilson suffered a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his right ankle.

Both injuries kept Tilson — who also missed the 2012 season with a separated right shoulder — off the field this season and effectively wiped out his chance to win the everyday job in center field.

Tilson’s absence opened the door for Jacob May and Adam Engel. After winning the job in camp, May struggled and demoted to Triple-A Charlotte. The speedy Engel took over and proved an outstanding defender in center over 97 games in his rookie season. But Engel would need vast improvement upon the .166/.235/.282 slash line he produced in 336 plate appearances this season to become more than a defensive specialist.

While the team hopes Luis Robert is its everyday center fielder of the future, the Cuban product has yet to play his first game on U.S. soil. Prospect Blake Rutherford also could figure into those plans, but he’s yet to play above Single-A Kannapolis.

That could give Tilson another crack at an opportunity with the White Sox if he can stay healthy. It’s a big if given all the injuries he has suffered. But with few options ready to immediately grab hold of the job, the window still could be there for Tilson.

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