White Sox

Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

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Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

Rounds 2-16 of the MLB Draft are underway on Tuesday, and the White Sox have sprung for pitching and up-the-middle position players so far. Here's a look at who the Sox selected today:

Round 2, Pick 76: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern University

From the MLB.com scouting report, it sounds like Beck has three fairly well-developed pitches, but the report says he doesn't always throw like a power pitcher despite a fastball that tops out at 94 mph. In 103 23 innings for GSU, Beck posted a 3.91 ERA with 115 strikeouts, 29 walks and 11 home runs allowed in 103 23 innings.

Round 3, Pick 108: Joey DeMichele, 2B, Arizona State University

For a second baseman, DeMichele has shown decent power, hitting 15 home runs in just under 400 at-bats in the last two years (stats go up to Memorial Day). He's a low-strikeout player who doesn't walk a ton, relying mostly on contact skills to boost his OBP near .400 with the Sun Devils.

Round 4, Pick No. 141: Brandon Brennan, RHP, Orange Coast College (Calif.)

Brennan was a 40th-round pick of the Rockies in 2010 but opted to attend the University of Oregon, where he spent one year before transferring to Orange Coast College. Here's a YouTube clip of the right-hander from earlier this year:

Round 5, Pick No. 171: Nick Basto, SS, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Fla.)

Per South Florida Sun-Sentinel preps reporter Dieter Kurtenbach, Basto, who's committed to FIU, intends to turn pro -- although the Sox will have to squeeze him in under their bonus cap to make that happen. Video:

Round 6, Pick No. 201: Kyle Hansen, RHP, St. John's University

The brother of former Red Sox and Pirates reliever Craig Hansen, the younger Hansen appears destined to land in the bullpen despite working as a starter in college. MLB.com's report describes a good fastball-slider combo with a change that needs refinement, which sounds pretty typical of a pitching prospect who ultimately will wind up being used as a reliever.

Round 7, Pick No. 231: Jose Barraza, C, Sunnyside High School (Calif.)

Barraza cracked Baseball America's top 500 draft prospects list at No. 472, and per FutureSox, he's not committed to a college. That doesn't necessarily mean the Sox have a better chance at signing him, as JuCo is always an option.

Round 8, Pick No. 261: Zach Isler, RHP, University of Cincinnati

Pitching nearly exclusively in relief, Isler struck out 55 in 55 innings with 26 walks during his junior year at Cincinnati, but he has a mid-90s fastball that could play with some development.

Round 9, Pick No. 291: Micah Johnson, 2B, University of Indiana

Johnson put together a fine 2010 (.335.402.474) before an elbow injury stunted his growth in 2011. He only played in 24 games and didn't hit well, perhaps a product of his injury. Could be an interesting guy to watch if he gets back to his pre-2012 trajectory.

Round 10, Pick No. 321: Brandon Hardin, RHP, Delta State University (Miss.)

No, not the Bears' rookie safety. He struggled as a starter but excelled as a reliever, where he'll probably end up in the White Sox system.

Round 11, Pick No. 351: Eric Jaffe, RHP, UCLA

A 19th-round pick of Boston in the 2010 MLB Draft, he transferred from Cal to UCLA and didn't pitch a whole lot while on campus. He's a big guy (6-foot-4, 235 lbs.) who pitches in relief. Video:

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.