White Sox

If the Sox need pitching, could Simon Castro help?

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If the Sox need pitching, could Simon Castro help?

In a perfect world for the White Sox, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber would put their struggles behind them, pitching at the level the team believes the pair can. But if one or both pitchers can't keep runs from scoring -- Floyd has an ERA of 10.38 in his last seven starts and Humber has a 7.47 ERA since his perfect game -- the Sox may be forced to look elsewhere for starting pitching.

A name that popped up this week is Simon Castro, who the White Sox acquired from San Diego in last winter's Carlos Quentin trade. Once a highly-touted prospect in the Padres' system, Castro's star fell considerably during a 2011 season that saw him post a 5.63 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. Castro began the season with Triple-A Tucson, but was sent back to Double-A after six rough starts.

But Castro has pitched well with Double-A Birmingham, sporting a 3.60 ERA with 67 strikeouts, 16 walks and four home runs allowed in 85 innings. And he's caught the eye of Kenny Wiliams, who discussed the pitcher's progress on Monday.

"We're really happy with his progress," Williams said. "He has returned to the guy that he was when he was one of the top prospects in baseball with San Diego."

The question, though, is if Castro can handle opponents at a level higher than Double-A. 2012 is Castro's third go-around in Double-A, where he's posted a 3.52 ERA in 304 career innings. But Castro has struggled at Triple-A, making eight starts at that level in the San Diego organization with a 9.50 ERA. His control has escaped him in Triple-A, with 24 walks and 27 strikeouts to his name in 36 innings.

Williams says the main question with Castro is if he can handle the mental aspect of pitching above Double-A.

"We're going to make sure that continues and have the conversations like we did with Jose Quintana and some of the other guys we brought up quickly: Can he handle it makeup-wise and will he continue to grow and not go backwards? It's a delicate situation when you're discussing things along those lines, but we couldn't be any more pleased than where we are with him."

Quintana has shown the mettle to pitch above Double-A, posting a 1.53 ERA in 35 13 innings with the Sox this season. Unlike Castro, Quintana never failed at Triple-A, although that's because he hasn't thrown an inning at that level in his career.

To Castro's credit, the Pacific Coast League is a cruel place for pitchers, and he's hardly thrown enough innings in Triple-A to make a long-term judgment about his ability to pitch at that level.

The Sox don't appear ready to shake up the starting rotation just yet, especially with John Danks out for at least another month. But if they do reach that point, Castro may find himself in the pitching help discussion.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”