White Sox

Just how impressive was Alec Hansen striking out Joey Votto in a spring training game?


Just how impressive was Alec Hansen striking out Joey Votto in a spring training game?

One of the more fun parts of Thursday's edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast was finding out while recording that pitching prospect Alec Hansen struck out Joey Votto in a Cactus League game.

You can listen to our reaction, but how about a little more insight into just how impressive it was that Hansen got Votto to punch out on just three pitches?

For those who might not know — after all, Votto does play in the National League — the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman has one of the best batting eyes in baseball history. His .428 career on-base percentage is the highest among active players, and it ranks 11th all-time. Three times during his career he's led baseball in on-base percentage and three times he's led baseball in walks, including last year, when it could be argued that he should have been named the NL MVP. Votto finished the 2017 regular season with an out-of-this-world .454 on-base percentage and 134 walks, leading the game in both categories, and a 1.032 OPS, best in the NL. He played in all 162 games for the Reds and struck out only 83 times, a career low.

And then there's the fact that Hansen's strikeout of Votto came on only three pitches. For context — provided by the great Chris Kamka — just 12 of Votto's 83 strikeouts in 2017 came on three pitches. Of the 1,087 times Votto has struck out in his 11-year career, only 147 were on three pitches.

So what Hansen did wasn't just impressive. It's practically unheard of.

Of course, this was a spring training game, so none of it really matters at all. But what a thing for the 23-year-old minor league hurler to say he did. Last season, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts in 141.1 innings, splitting time between both of the White Sox Class A affiliates and Double-A Birmingham.

Hansen was recently ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox system and the No. 54 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

White Sox fans usually don't need any more reasons to get excited about the future of the franchise. But Hansen sitting down Votto on three pitches? That's some excitement fuel right there.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

Well, remember all the players on the Rays that you know? Bad news. They aren’t on the Rays anymore.

That’s not entirely true, I suppose, as Chris Archer is still on the Rays. But he’s got to be looking around the home clubhouse at the Trop these days and wondering, “Where’d everybody go?”

Perhaps trying to emulate the other fish-based Florida franchise, the Rays traded away a bunch of players this offseason, making this roster — one that somehow managed to finish third in the American League East last season — unrecognizable.

Evan Longoria, perhaps the best player in this young franchise’s history, was traded to the San Francisco Giants. Jake Odorizzi was traded to the Minnesota Twins. Corey Dickerson was DFA’d, then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Steve Souza was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. And look at this lengthy list of guys who were lost to free agency: Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter and Steve Cishek.

Can someone go check and make sure the rays in that tank in center field didn’t get traded, too?

So who’s left from this offseason purge? Well, there’s Archer, who despite being an awesome face for the game has finished with an ERA north of 4.00 in each of the last two seasons. He’s still really good, at this point almost a lock for 200 innings and way more than 200 strikeouts. But who’s going to help him out?

The additions of 34-year-old Denard Span and 32-year-old Carlos Gomez were … odd. There are two former White Sox in the mix in Micah Johnson, who’s been on like 17 teams since November, and Daniel Hudson, who the Rays got back for Dickerson. Matt Duffy didn’t play at all last season. Kevin Kiermaier only played in 98 games last year but was quite good, having the best offensive season of his career. After an All-Star season for the Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos missed most of last season, his first with the Rays.

The best player on the team, or at least the one with the best 2017 campaign, is closer Alex Colome, the pitcher whose name begins “Alex Co” that the Rays still employ. He led baseball with 47 saves last year, and that’s on a team that won only 80 games. Mighty impressive. He’s got 84 saves in the last two seasons combined.

That doesn't mean there's not help on the way. Much like White Sox fans, Rays fans can salivate over a potentially promising future. The organization boasts three of the top 25 prospects in baseball: pitcher Brent Honeywell (No. 18), infielder Willy Adames (No. 22) and "first baseman/pitcher" — that sounds fun — Brendan McKay (No. 25). And they have two more guys in the top 100, including shortstop Christian Arroyo, the big piece coming back in that Longoria deal with the Giants. So the future is perhaps as bright as that sunburst in the Rays' logo.

In the end, though, it ain’t shaping up to be a good year in St. Pete, and the catwalk-filled baseball warehouse has only a little to do with that. The post Joe Maddon/Andrew Friedman Era hasn’t gone too well. Meanwhile, Maddon's won a World Series with the Cubs, and Friedman's been to one with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Any other wacky managers and baseball geniuses out there?

2017 record: 80-82, third place in AL East

Offseason additions: Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, C.J. Cron, Micah Johnson, Joey Wendle, Daniel Hudson

Offseason departures: Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, Steve Souza, Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek

X-factor: He's not the X-factor, but it's worth pointing out that the Rays do have a player named "Mallex," which sounds like the name of a bad guy in a superhero movie. While Archer looks real lonely on that starting staff, there's some interesting guys around him. Somewhat strangely, the Rays are going to employ a four-man rotation. The X-factor of the bunch is Jake Faria, who in his first big league season last year turned in a 3.43 ERA in 16 games, 14 of which were starts. He struck out 84 batters in 86.2 innings. Past Archer and Faria, you've got Blake Snell, who struck out 119 guys in 129.1 innings, and Nathan Eovaldi, the one-time New York Yankee who missed all of last season.

Projected lineup:

1. Denard Span, DH
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
4. Carlos Gomez, RF
5. Brad Miller, 2B
6. Wilson Ramos, C
7. C.J. Cron, 1B
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
9. Mallex Smith, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Chris Archer
2. Blake Snell
3. Nathan Eovaldi
4. Jake Faria

Prediction: Fifth place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants

Check out the White Sox holiday caps — otherwise known as Avisail Garcia's home run robbing gear — for 2018


Check out the White Sox holiday caps — otherwise known as Avisail Garcia's home run robbing gear — for 2018

Baseball always has a way of trotting out special uniforms for holidays, and 2018 will be no exception.

Major League Baseball unveiled its special caps, jerseys and socks for this season's games being played on Jackie Robinson Day, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day and the Fourth of July, and they are very cool.

The White Sox tweeted out each of their special garments. Take a look:

That Fourth of July hat is especially cool, if you ask me.

Nice going with Avisail Garcia as the sample player for the Fourth of July jerseys, too. He made a pretty nice snag wearing some of these special duds a few years back.