White Sox

CSN to debut two, half-hour specials chronicling the rising stars in the White Sox organization

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CSN to debut two, half-hour specials chronicling the rising stars in the White Sox organization

“White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte”

AND

“White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem”

Premiere - Monday, May 22 at 7:00 PM & 7:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on CSN

Live stream available on CSNChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (May 11, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago White Sox, has announced it will be debuting a pair of brand new, behind-the-scenes, CSN Original Productions that will provide an up-close and personal look at numerous rising stars in the White Sox organization - including Yoan Moncada (ranked #1 overall in MLB’s 2017 Top “100 Prospects”), Lucas Giolito (ranked #8), Michael Kopech (ranked #13), Reynaldo Lopez (ranked #39), Carson Fulmer (ranked #63), Zack Collins (ranked #73), along with Nicky Delmonico, and Downers Grove native Zack Burdi among many others - with the back-to-back airings of White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte and White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem presented by Ozinga on Monday, May 22 at 7:00 PM & 7:30 PM CT respectively.  NOTE: Live stream also available on CSNChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app to authenticated CSN Chicago subscribers. 

Produced & written by CSN Senior Producer of Original Content Ryan McGuffey and edited by CSN Executive Producer of Original Content Sarah Lauch, White Sox Cornerstones takes an in-depth look at the highly-touted prospects in the White Sox farm system at Class AAA Charlotte, Class AA Birmingham, and Class A Winston-Salem with exclusive, candid interviews with players, managers, front office execs, along with a unique study of day-to-day life for these prospects, whose goals are micro-focused on their development and making their dreams come true by being called up as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

"It is our passion to create content that appeals to the fans of all our teams,” said Kevin Cross, Sr. Director of News & Original Content for CSN Chicago. “If you follow the White Sox and you care about any aspect of this rising organization, we want our viewers to continue to know we share that same passion with them. Cornerstones is a prime example of that philosophy."

In the breaking down the two half-hour specials, White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte (debuting at 7:00 PM on May 22) will lead it off providing viewers with an in-depth look at the White Sox top prospects at AAA Charlotte.  Led by future MLB superstar Yoan Moncada, the Knights feature several prospects from one of baseball's best minor league systems.  Moncada, acquired in a December trade for pitcher Chris Sale, has been the talk of the International League.  He ranks at or near the top of nearly every statistical category and Cornerstones details why he's ready to call Chicago home and why he is a key factor in the team's promising future.  The Cuban native discusses his development in the six months since becoming a member of the White Sox, as well as his relationship with friend and current White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.

The Charlotte Knights also feature one of the more promising starting rotations in the minors with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer.  Fulmer, the White Sox #1 pick in 2015, joins Zack Burdi (a 2016 1st round pick) in a 'walk to work' with CSN, discussing their thought process leading up to a game, being a part of the rebuild and how members of the team are as competitive off the field as they are on it.

Featured interviews include…

Yoan Moncada (#1 prospect in organization)

Lucas Giolito (#2 prospect in organization)

Reynaldo Lopez (#4 prospect in organization)

Carson Fulmer (#5 prospect in organization)

Zack Burdi (#7 prospect in organization)

Nicky Delmonico (3rd baseman - Knights)

Rick Hahn (Chicago White Sox Sr. VP/GM)

Mark Grudzielanek (Knights Manager)

Steve McCatty (Knights Pitching Coach)

Mike Pacheco (Radio voice of the Knights)

Then, at 7:30 PM on May 22, White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem will provide viewers with a deep look at the top prospects at Class AA Birmingham and Class A Winston-Salem in the White Sox organization.

In Birmingham, CSN exclusively 'rides the bus' with the Barons after a road win against the Montgomery Biscuits.  The 90-plus minute ride featured extensive interviews with several key members of the Barons, including the organization’s #3 prospect Michael Kopech and #11 prospect Spencer Adams.  Kopech, whose fastball routinely hits 100mph, is the talk of the Southern League and opens up about the trade to Chicago and how his obsession with being the very best factors in to the overall White Sox rebuilding mindset.

In Winston-Salem, CSN travels to Salem, Virginia for a road game against the Salem Red Sox.  Hours before the game, CSN sits down for lunch with 2016 top draft pick/White Sox #6 prospect Zack Collins and teammate, pitcher Tanner Banks.  The lunch showcases Collins in a different light and brings out personality and character in the hopeful future catcher.  Also included is a trip to the Salem ballpark for interviews with players and former White Sox star/current Winston-Salem Dash manager Willie Harris.

Featured interviews include…

Michael Kopech (#3 prospect in organization)

Zack Collins (#6 prospect in organization)

Luis Alexander Basabe (#8 prospect in organization)

Dane Dunning (#10 prospect in organization)

Spencer Adams (#11 prospect in organization)

Willie Harris (former White Sox infielder/current manager Winston-Salem Dash)

Matt Cooper (#28 prospect in organization)

Courtney Hawkins (13th overall pick - 2012 MLB draft)

Eddy Alvarez (Barons second baseman, 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist-Sochi)

Jake Dunning (Barons pitcher, brother of Dane)

Brett Austin (Barons catcher)

Please note the following quotes from the CSN Original Production of White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte and White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem, presented by Ozinga, debuting respectively on Monday, May 22 at 7:00 & 7:30 PM CT:

YOAN MONCADA on being MLB’s top overall prospect: “For me, it doesn’t really come with any type of pressure. I’m very grateful to be named the number one prospect, but for me, I just have to keep doing everything that I’ve been doing and just keep working hard and trying to get better every day.

“I feel really good being able to be a part of this organization, especially since they’re going out and they’re getting a lot of young talent. I can be part of that talent. I feel really good and I’m excited that, in the future hopefully, when we’re all up there, we can go out and help the team win.”

RICK HAHN on the development of Yoan Moncada: “I’m probably as happy if not more so with the stuff happening between 10pm and 7pm, in other words, the 21 hours a day he’s not playing.  Obviously, the stuff happening on the field between 7 & 10 during the game have been great.  He’s continuing to develop, we’ve seen a lot of positives offensively and defensively and in terms of his approach during the game.  But, so much of what’s going on with a player like that happens off the field. 

“In pregame with the drills he’s doing with (Knights manager) Mark Grudzielanek and Vance Law, our roving infield instructor, it happens on the bus rides, it happens in dealing with the media and handling expectations….and I think it’s easy to lose sight of given his name and the fact that he was in Boston, up to the big leagues and got a ton of money to sign, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s only 22 years old.  When we acquired him, he had fewer than 200 plate appearances at the big league level above double-A under his belt.  There’s still a fair amount of development that has to happen with this kid, not just from a baseball standpoint, but from a physical standpoint and from a maturity standpoint.  We’ve just been thrilled ever since he showed up at camp.”

LUCAS GIOLITO on being at AAA Charlotte in a stable environment vs. being shuttled throughout the minor leagues like he was a year ago in Washington: “Just being able to come to the field every day and have a set goal in mind…kind of like a checklist of things I need to work on to get better and be able to be here, and be comfortable, take the ball every fifth day, and go out and try to win and pitch deep into games…that’s my job description. At the same time, being in one location, working on things to try to make myself a better pitcher so when I do get that opportunity in the big leagues again, I can take advantage of it and stay there…and not have to worry about ‘Am I going down?...Am I moving up?’…just getting rid of that mindset all together and focus on the task at hand.”

MICHAEL KOPECH on what drives him and visualizing the phone call of a promotion to join the Chicago White Sox:  “I’m just obsessed. It’s a game and it’s a job, but at the end of the day, it’s what I love to do and I think if I’m not this obsessed with it for just one day, then I need to stop playing. This is the only way I’ve ever been in the game and that’s what kind of keeps me going every time I’m on the field.

“As crazy as it sounds, I feel like I already got the call and I’ll just have to relive the moment, I’ve visualized it so much. At this point, it’s just kind of practice. I’d be extremely excited to get the call, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve thought about it so many times in my head that it already feels like it happened. If I can get to that point and relive that moment exactly the way I imagined it, I feel like I’ll be there for the rest of my career.”

CSN will also re-air White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte on Fri, May 26 at 3:00 PM - Sat, May 27 at 4:30 PM - Mon, May 29 at 11:00 PM & Wed, May 31 at 11:00 PM…additional airings of White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem will take place on Sat, May 27 at 5:00 PM - Mon, May 29 at 7:00 PM & 11:30 PM & Wed, May 31 at 11:30 PM.

Viewers are also urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s White Sox section: (http://www.csnchicago.com/whitesox ), which will include video footage from White Sox Cornerstones and additional “web-exclusive” video excerpts.  In addition, CSNChicago.com will provide White Sox minor leagues commentary write-ups from CSNChicago.com’s White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes throughout the season.  In addition, the popular “White Sox Talk PODCAST” (presented by Wintrust) with White Sox Pre/Postgame Live host Chuck Garfien and an array of special guests, features in-depth White Sox minor league reports, including the latest news on all the key prospects at AAA Charlotte, each and every week throughout the season. Fans can download all of CSN’s podcasts at CSNChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: As previously announced, CSN will continue its schedule of Charlotte Knights (Class AAA) game coverage with the following upcoming contests…

2017 Charlotte Knights (White Sox AAA) telecast schedule on CSN

Sat, May 27     6:00 pm            vs. Buffalo (Blue Jays)                     LIVE

Sun, May 28    6:00 pm            vs. Buffalo (Blue Jays)                     Same day delay - 7:00pm on CSN

Thu, June 15    6:00 pm            vs. Louisville (Reds)                         LIVE

Sat, June 17     6:00 pm            vs. Indianapolis (Pirates)                LIVE on CSN+HD

Sun, June 18    1:00 pm            vs. Indianapolis (Pirates)                Same day delay - 7:00pm on CSN

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.