White Sox

First-rounder Carson Fulmer gives back after signing with White Sox

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First-rounder Carson Fulmer gives back after signing with White Sox

Earlier this year, members of the White Sox front office met with various area scouts to begin discussing who the organization could take with the No. 8 pick in the June MLB Draft. When Carson Fulmer’s name came up, one of the scouts felt he had to remove himself from the discussion less he’d sound biased toward the then-Vanderbilt right-hander’s makeup beyond his baseball skills.

“One of them started talking about Fulmer,” Hahn explained, “and he goes, 'You know what, maybe I shouldn't talk about this guy because I want to evaluate him on strictly on the ability and talk to you in terms of what kind of baseball player he is. But I've know this kid since he was a freshman in high school and I'm so biased by how good of a person he is and how great his character is, and I'm worried that is going to make me over sell it. This guy is great, that's all I'm saying.’”

Upon signing with the White Sox for a bonus of $3,470,600 on Friday, Fulmer quickly proved that scout’s report to be accurate and not hyperbole.

Fulmer donated $10,000 of that slot-value signing bonus to the White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) program, an arm of Chicago White Sox Charities that provides resources for inner city youths to play baseball. One of Fulmer’s teammates at Vanderbilt — outfielder Ro Coleman — is a product of the ACE program, as is White Sox seventh-round draft pick Blake Hickman.

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“I definitely wanted to give back somehow,” Fulmer said. “Coming into an organization that believes in the ACE program, really sticks with it, that was definitely a group I wanted to donate to and give back, especially with the organization behind it all.

“It was just a special opportunity for me to give back, especially with the organization I’m a part of now and to help kids that are going through tough situations or just need a little extra help moving forward.”

Fulmer been in Chicago since Wednesday and has quickly acquainted himself with the city. After throwing out the first pitch before Friday night’s game at U.S. Cellular Field, he’ll head back to his hometown of Lakeland, Fla. — where White Sox ace Chris Sale is from, too — for a mandated rest period before beginning work again in Arizona.

The White Sox expect Fulmer to return to Chicago at some point — he could be fast-tracked to the majors if all goes well — and if he does get back here, Hahn thinks he’ll bring a strong presence to the clubhouse. His donation to the ACE program helped convince Hahn and the organization of it.

“That was 100 percent on his own, he brought up the idea,” Hahn said. “He came up with the idea, he researched it, he said why don't I do this. ... He is a class individual, we're looking to have him for his ability and for his role as a potential leader for this club.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.