White Sox

White Sox: Matt Purke realizes his dream in major league debut

White Sox: Matt Purke realizes his dream in major league debut

Matt Purke’s major league debut Friday night was the culmination of a seven-year journey to get here, complete with plenty of peaks and valleys. 

The 25-year-old left-hander was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 out of a high school in the suburbs of Houston, but didn’t sign. After three years at TCU, he was picked by the Washington Nationals in the third round of the 2011 draft and was considered a top prospect soon thereafter — Baseball Prospectus ranked him as its No. 91 prospect prior to the 2012 season. 

But Purke’s star quickly fell in a rash of injuries. He had shoulder surgery shortly after being drafted in 2011 and underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2014. In between were some rough seasons — like before his surgery two years ago, when he had an 8.04 ERA in eight starts — but he stuck with it and finally got his chance with the White Sox.

“It was awesome,” Purke said. “It was definitely my dream to play in the big leagues, and to finally get out there and be able to do that was great.”

Purke would’ve rather debuted in a game the White Sox won — they lost 4-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday — but his 1 1/3 scoreless innings helped keep the White Sox in theoretical striking distance. 

Purke was called up to the major leagues May 13 but had to wait a week to debut. He initially had a large party of family and friends in New York hoping to see his debut, but due to other obligations only Purke’s mother, father and wife were in attendance Friday night for his first big league appearance. 

But now that his debut is out of the way, Purke is focused on doing what he can to pitch in for a White Sox team trying to hold on to first place in the American League central. 

“Just ready to go,” Purke said. “Just really want to get out there and help the guys any way I can and help this team win.” 

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?


Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.