White Sox

With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

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With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

As Jason Frasor makes his way back to Toronto, the White Sox 2012 bullpen currently has four locks: Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Will Ohman. That leaves three spots open.
One of those will probably go to Zach Stewart to fill a long reliever role, although Dylan Axelrod could pitch his way into a roster spot if he has a good spring or Stewart tanks in Arizona. Maybe the Sox take both Axelrod and Stewart, although whoever doesn't end up in the MLB pen would be better served pitching out of Charlotte's starting rotation.
So with two spots open, here's a rundown of who could break camp with the Sox in early April:
Hector Santiago: The screwballing lefty fits more as a long reliever if he'll be in a bullpen role, but he's perhaps the most impressive arm the Sox currently could call upon. That being said, the Sox could also elect to put Santiago in Charlotte's starting rotation -- a move that would be worth it, since starting pitching is much more valuable than long relief.

Gregory Infante: Control is still an issue for Infante, who walked 32 with 59 strikeouts in 68 13 innings across Double-A, Triple-A and the majors last year. He has a power arm but not the gaudy minor league strikeout totals to back it up. That being said, he's on the 40-man roster and will be 25 in July. He's also one of the better options the Sox have under their control at this point, which, depending on your point of view, may not be a good thing.
Brian Bruney: The Sox brought Bruney back on a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training after the righty posted a 5.87 ERA with the Sox in 2011. He had some decent results in the majors before regressing hard in his final few games, after which he was designated for assignment. He doesn't have much upside, but at least the Sox will be aware of what they're getting if he winds up in the 2012 bullpen.
Jhan Marinez: One of the players the Sox received from Miami in the Ozzie Guillen swap, Marinez is a power arm with even more control issues than Infante. Over 58 innings in Double-A last season, Marinez walked 42 with 74 strikeouts. It's hard to imagine the Sox going with a guy who averaged 6.5 walks per nine innings unless he blows everyone away in the spring.
Deunte Heath: Another guy with control issues, Heath walked 62 in 102 23 innings splitting time between the rotation and bullpen in Charlotte last year. He did strike out 117 and does have the ability to throw multiple innings, but he didn't walk a batter in just two of his 14 relief appearances in Triple-A last year. And he walked two or more in half of those appearances.
Simon Castro: The righty acquired from San Diego in the Carlos Quentin trade may ultimately wind up as a reliever, but the Sox will almost certainly give him a shot at starting first before dumping him in the bullpen.
Jacob Petricka: He's another guy who may wind up pitching in relief but will get a shot to start next season, albeit at Double-A.
Other less likely candidates: Anthony Carter, Nathan Jones, Donnie Veal
An outside source: Adding a reliever via either free agency or a trade could be a route the Sox go, but if they do, they need to be careful to not overpay for the fourth or fifth guy out of their bullpen -- in other words, someone who won't have as big an impact as Thornton, Crain or Reed.

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

The young players that figure to feature heavily in the future of the White Sox have had quite a week.

It started with Lucas Giolito being the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins, then Eloy Jimenez blasted a big go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in his first crosstown game against the Cubs. Now, Zack Collins has added his own blast of optimism to the White Sox young core.

The 24-year-old made his first major league start on Friday in Texas and delivered a three-run home run in his first at-bat. It was his second MLB plate appearance after he drew a pinch-hit walk Wednesday in Wrigley.

After the White Sox beat the Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings, Collins talked to Jason Benetti and Steve Stone on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

“Honestly I was just in shock,” Collins said. “I was running around the bases. It seemed like it lasted like three seconds and I felt myself sprinting around second so I had to slow it down and enjoy the moment, but it was an awesome time.”

Collins finished 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, but that is Collins’ game. He’s going to strikeout a lot and his batting average probably won’t be pretty. He has a career .234 batting average in the minors (.250 in Triple-A Charlotte this year), but he coupled that with a .378 on-base percentage and big power.

In his five trips to the plate on Friday, Collins saw 22 pitches. He’s going to work the count and sometimes he’s going to run into home runs.

“It was smooth,” Collins said. “I just kind of put the ball in play and the ball flew. I really don’t know. It was kind of a blur to me. It was obviously a big moment for me.”

Collins was called up Tuesday morning ahead of the first game against the Cubs. He didn’t play that game, but the pinch-hit walk on Wednesday helped take out some of the nerves.

“On Wednesday night I stepped up, I had a little bit of jitters, had a little bit of butterflies and stuff, but I think that was the point of getting in there on Wednesday and getting all that out,” Collins said. “It felt good tonight.”

Collins still hasn’t played catcher since he got called up. He was the DH in Friday’s lineup. That didn’t stop his dad from being excited about his first start.

“I was pumped,” Collins said of when he saw he was in the lineup. “I immediately texted my dad and told him I was in there. He told me good luck, play hard, do your thing. Obviously it started off well and we got a big win tonight so it was fun.”

As of the postgame interview, Collins didn’t yet have his home run ball. However, it sounded like he was able to make a deal with a fan for it.

“Somebody said they did get the ball,” Collins said. “I think I have to make a little trade with somebody.”

 

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WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

Zack Collins started his MLB career in fitting fashion, with a walk.

In his next trip to the plate, he hit a home run.

Collins came on as a pinch-hitter Wednesday at the Cubs and drew that walk. Friday's game at Texas was his first start. The 2016 first-round pick entered the lineup as a DH and batted eighth.

He came up with two on and two out against Rangers starter Ariel Jurado. Collins, as he is known for, took the first three pitches before fouling off a curve on a 2-1 count. Then he took a slider deep to right-center.

Watch Collins' home run in the video above.

Collins is known for three things as a hitter: home runs, walks and strikeouts. Before getting called up from Triple-A Charlotte, Collins was hitting .250/.374/.482. He had nine home runs in 50 games with 36 walks and 66 strikeouts. He was sixth in the International League in walks while playing fewer games due to splitting time at catcher.

In a very short time period, Collins is showing what the White Sox thought they were getting when they drafted him 10th overall in 2016.

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