White Sox

White Sox minor league update: Yoan Moncada has strong debut in Triple-A Charlotte

White Sox minor league update: Yoan Moncada has strong debut in Triple-A Charlotte

After a strong finish to spring training, Yoan Moncada picked up right where he left off in his Charlotte Knights debut.

The No. 2 MLB prospect went 3-for-5 with three singles, two runs, a stolen base and a walk on Thursday in Triple-A Charlotte's 9-8 win in 11 innings over the Norfolk Tides.

"It was a good game," Moncada said. "It was a good way to start the season. I felt really good with my bat, with my swing. I hit the ball with authority throughout the whole field. My legs were loose and ready to run, I took every opportunity to make an impression and to help my team.

"I was anxious to start the season. I was excited before the game started. It was a very exciting experience with the fans and my teammates."

In his final seven spring training games, Moncada went 10-for-22 with three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs. It's the kind of production the White Sox are banking on for when he reaches The Show one day in Chicago.

Though manager Rick Renteria was thrilled to see Moncada have a nice debut, he isn't thinking ahead about what it’d be like to coach the team's top prospect just yet.

"I'm glad that he got three hits last night," Renteria said. "I'm glad that he's moving forward. I think for me to start thinking that far ahead wouldn't be prudent. I think it doesn't serve me in any way, shape or form at this particular time with what we're trying to do with the guys that are here."

The White Sox No. 4 prospect, Reynaldo Lopez, started Thursday's game and pitched three innings. He allowed three hits, four runs (two earned), a home run and three walks while striking out five.

Lopez said he enjoyed the Opening Day experience with his new club, but admitted that playing in cold and windy weather made things challenging for him.

"I felt good," Lopez said. "The first two innings I felt all my pitches were sharp, but in the third I couldn't feel my hand because of the cold weather, and then I started to have some complications. But overall, I felt good."

Zack Burdi made an appearance for the Knights as well. The Downers Grove-native pitched 1 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and a walk.

In Single-A Winston-Salem, Zack Collins had himself a day for the Dash. The 10th overall pick of the 2016 draft went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs, and a walk.

Luis Alexander Basabe, the team's No. 8 rated prospect, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

While Renteria has his own club to manage, he keeps a close eye on how his young talent is doing at the minor-league level.

"We keep track of all that stuff," Renteria said. "There are a lot of things that we keep our eye on. Obviously, we try to make sure we're focused on what we're doing here but yes, we keep an eye on what's going on down there, how guys are pitching, how guys are taking their at-bats, how they're defending.

"And then beyond that, the reports that we get that are connected to those numbers, to see if they correlate."

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With the 2016 MLB Draft and the returns the White Sox received from the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the team’s farm system has vastly improved from this time a year ago. Given that the team is in rebuild mode, it's easy to assume that the White Sox could be following their top prospects closer than usual.

But Renteria is approaching it the same way he did in 2016.

"I can't speak to that because I wasn't in that office doing those things," Renteria said. "I can tell you for most organizations it's pretty consistent, everybody kind of keeps abreast of what's going on within their organization, in their system. I don't think it probably was any different for us than what it's going to be this year."

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: