White Sox

Composed prospect Reynaldo Lopez's White Sox debut a 'good one'

Composed prospect Reynaldo Lopez's White Sox debut a 'good one'

If prized prospect Reynaldo Lopez felt any nervousness on Friday night it was seemingly undetectable.

The starting pitcher impressed from the outset and energized the Guaranteed Rate Field crowd in his White Sox debut as he pumped 97-mph fastballs while only making a few mistakes. The first player to emerge from the December trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, Lopez lived up to the hype with six strikeouts in six strong innings as the White Sox downed the Kansas City Royals 6-3. At no point did Lopez, who earned a no decision, better demonstrate the poise that made him the No. 59 prospect in baseball than when he pitched out of a fourth-inning jam to protect a one-run lead.

“He got through that great,” catcher Kevan Smith said. “Obviously got a couple hits off him there. He kept his poise. He made some great pitches in some counts he was behind on that I was proud of him about. That was a great inning for him to have there in the middle because he was kind of cruising a little bit. I was like, when’s he going to hit some adversity here? He got through it and it was a good one.”

Solid reviews poured in from every corner of the building for Lopez, who threw 36 four-seam fastballs at an average of 96.5 mph. Working with a three-pitch mix, Lopez started to attack as soon as his introductory applause died down. The right-hander struck out a pair in the first inning and struck out the side in the second inning as well. While Lopez walked a batter in each of his first three innings, he also remained hitless.

“He’s a good pitcher, man,” said Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. “He’s got some good stuff. Great fastball. Great changeup. Great slider. He’s going to be a good pitcher in this league. So you got to tip your hat to him.”

Ironically, Lopez wound up tipping his hat twice to Moustakas after he struck him out in their first encounter. Moustakas ended Lopez’s no-hit bid with one out in the fourth inning with a long home run to right field to get the Royals within 2-1. The blast temporarily derailed Lopez, who allowed consecutive singles to Cheslor Cuthbert and Alcides Escobar afterward.

The third straight hit off Lopez brought pitching coach Don Cooper out to the mound. But Lopez didn’t break as he escaped further damage. Alex Gordon flew out to shallow center and Drew Butera fouled out to end the inning.

“He looked comfortable, too,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He didn't look very nervous to be honest. He looked like he was in the right place. Everything he did was very much under control.

“We were hoping it would look that way.”

Lopez was proud just to have the chance. The effort came only a week after Lopez said he felt like he was ready for a shot at the majors following an outstanding July. Lopez was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month in July after he posted a 2.10 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Having pitched 44 innings in the big leagues last season, Lopez has believed all along he’s ready to be here. He said it had been difficult at times not to already be in the majors but he was happy with the patience he’d shown the White Sox.

Lopez was even happier with his performance on Friday, particularly how he escaped the fourth-inning jam. While he surrendered the lead in the sixth when he allowed a solo homer, Lopez and Smith think the youngster produced a good effort on which to build.

“I know that I’m going to allow some hits,” Lopez said. “But I think that the key is just to keep your focus on the game and keep your confidence and that was what all I did. I gave up three hits in a row but then I kept my confidence and I was able to get out of that inning.

“My key today was just my focus. I was focused all the game and I was able to command all my pitches.”

Tim Anderson reacts to the death of Kobe Bryant

Tim Anderson reacts to the death of Kobe Bryant

People from the world of sports and beyond continue to react to the death of Kobe Bryant.

Before he became a baseball player, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson played basketball while growing up and was, like many other basketball fans across the world, a fan of Bryant's.

Now a professional athlete himself, he reacted to the news and reflected on Bryant's impact on his life and the lives of others.

"Kobe Bryant is definitely one of the greatest basketball players to play. You hate to see something happen like that. Prayers to his family," Anderson told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien on Monday. "It hits home. It's his kids, his family. His daughter was with him. You hate to see something like that happen. I'm praying for his family. I have girls of my own, so it definitely hits different when it's someone like that.

"Kobe Bryant's an icon and inspired so many kids and is still inspiring people in today's sports, even outside of basketball. So you hate to see something happen like that. The prayers are with him and his family, and I'm praying that they get through this."

Bryant's daughter, Gianna, was also among those killed in Sunday's helicopter crash. Anderson has two daughters of his own.

"It hits, like I said, (when you think about) his kids. You instantly think about his family and his kids," Anderson said. "Just knowing the guy that I am, I love my family to death, I love my kids. I couldn't imagine having to go through that. But I want to continue to uplift his family and continue to send prayers. I think everyone needs to gather around them in a moment like this and give all the support you can."

Anderson expanded on some of the ways he looked up to Bryant, the basketball player, as well as Bryant the person.

"He definitely was someone I looked up to," Anderson said. "His desire to win and the way he stepped on that court, and the way he played each game was definitely to win each game. So he definitely inspired me in that aspect.

"Every time you shoot a 3, you're going to say, 'Kobe!' I think that's automatic when you pick up that basketball, every person that shoots is like, 'I'm Kobe.' That's how he inspired African-American guys and not just African-Americans, kids all over the world.

"And even the things he did off the court, a real businessman and first class how he handled his things, just so professional the way he did it.

"He was all over TV, he was all over the place, all over magazines and stuff. His long career with the Lakers was definitely enjoyable to watch. I was such a huge fan. But you hate to see something like this happen to such a great guy and a great father and just a great person overall."

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High praise for Andrew Vaughn, including a Paul Konerko comp

High praise for Andrew Vaughn, including a Paul Konerko comp

Andrew Vaughn is getting a lot of love.

The White Sox first-round pick in last year's draft, Vaughn is a slugging first baseman who was downright sensational in his collegiate career at Cal. Now, he's one of the White Sox highest rated prospects and a guy who could soon be swinging his powerful bat on the South Side.

Just how highly do the White Sox think of him? Here's director of player development Chris Getz talking about Vaughn at SoxFest over the weekend:

"He's a very talented kid, and he's talented for a lot of different reasons," Getz said during a Saturday-afternoon seminar. "When you look at the physical ability, especially in the frame that he has, and what he's able to do to a baseball, it's pretty fun to watch.

"But when you sit down and talk to Andrew Vaughn about hitting, that is the most impressive thing. I sat down, and I just wanted to listen and learn from him. It's like talking to a 10-year vet. I say that because he knows exactly what he needs to do to have success. He has a very advanced approach, and I don't think he'll ever waver from it. He knows exactly what he needs to do on a daily basis to have success against a particular pitcher.

"So Andrew Vaughn's a good one. We're happy to have him."

The White Sox are obviously biased, but the love for Vaughn doesn't stop once you get outside the organization. MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball Saturday, and Vaughn ranked No. 16 in the game, ahead of fellow White Sox youngsters Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal.

And this ought to get White Sox fans salivating even more. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter to compare Vaughn to a major leaguer. Mayo came up with one of the best hitters in White Sox history.

So the obvious question is now when we'll see Vaughn swinging in the big leagues. He's obviously a year behind his fellow first-rounder, Madrigal, who is expected to reach the majors in the early portions of the 2020 season. But Vaughn might not be very far behind. He only played 29 games at Class A Winston-Salem last season, and in his first full season as a pro, it wouldn't be surprising to see him start at Winston-Salem again. That's speculation, but it would make sense considering it's where Madrigal and Luis Robert started in 2019 and both ended up playing at three levels. Because of the way those two flew through the system, it would not be surprising to see Vaughn reach Triple-A in 2020, as Mayo said. All would have to go as well as things went for Madrigal and Robert, of course, but given the rave reviews of Vaughn's talent, that shouldn't be out of the question.

While the White Sox have exhibited plenty of patience with their prospects in recent years, they could also be looking at a new situation: being in a pennant race in September. If that's the case, and the lineup could use a little oomph, would they consider bringing Vaughn up in order to help them reach the postseason for the first time in more than a decade? That was a much easier question to answer when no playoff spots were on the line. Now, maybe things could be different.

An interesting element to all this is what kind of room there will be for Vaughn. Jose Abreu isn't going anywhere for the next three seasons, at least. However, the team gave itself some flexibility at the DH spot, with Edwin Encarnacion only on a one-year deal. That contract has an option for the 2021 season, but if Vaughn proves himself ready, the White Sox could move on from Encarnacion after just one year and open up an everyday spot for the young slugger.

Until then, we'll just have to rely on more rave reviews like the ones from Getz and Mayo. And if the guy turns into the second coming of Konerko, well, that will fly go over rather nicely on the South Side.

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