White Sox

Frankie Montas whiffs seven but White Sox lose finale to Tigers

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Frankie Montas whiffs seven but White Sox lose finale to Tigers

Frankie Montas struck out seven batters in four innings on Sunday afternoon.

That was about it as far as the highlights go for the White Sox, who lost 6-0 to the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the regular season.

Montas only allowed a run and two hits but the White Sox offense was no match for Daniel Norris and four Tigers relievers, who combined on a three-hit shutout.

A White Sox team that went into February with postseason aspirations finished 76-86, good for fourth in the American League Central.

“Very disappointing,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Absolutely. But now it's time, you go back to work and try to figure out what you're going to be doing in the future as far as guys making it to spring training, start doing that.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“You're going into this offseason trying to get some work done.”

Not much went right for the White Sox this season.

But one area they can be pleased with is the development of some of their younger players, Montas being one of them. The hard-throwing right-hander earned an All-Star nod at Double-A Birmingham, he appeared in the Futures Game and pitched well enough in relief after his September promotion to receive two starts in the team’s final 11 games.

Montas started slow on Sunday with a pair of first-inning walks and a run allowed but picked up steam from there, striking out the side in order in the third inning.

He ended the season with a 4.80 ERA and struck out 20 batters in 15 innings. He also walked nine.

“I learned how to play at this level,” Montas said through an interpreter. “You are competing against the best. How to handle the situations and compete against the best, how to have a routine and do your best every day.”

[MORE: Poor base running hurt White Sox in big way in 2015]

The White Sox had a chance to see what several other young players could do at the major league level this season. They have to like what they’ve seen from Carlos Rodon, Trayce Thompson and know that the defensive capabilities of Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez have value in the big leagues.

The White Sox still aren’t sure what to make of Montas, whether he’s a better fit in the rotation or out of the bullpen, where he allowed a run in eight innings. But Ventura said once Montas got comfortable on Sunday he showed the White Sox glimpses of why he can be a starter.

Ventura likes what he has seen from Montas and some of the other young White Sox.

“That's the biggest thing,” Ventura said. “You see Trayce Thompson come up here and do the things that he's done, Frankie coming up and getting in there. We do have some young guys that got up here at the end that you have a better idea about looking forward.”

The White Sox should be able to add more young talent next June through the amateur draft and international free agency. Though the White Sox and Seattle Mariners ended with identical records, the White Sox pick 10th in the amateur draft because they had a worse record than Seattle in 2014.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.