White Sox

White Sox morning roundup

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White Sox morning roundup

From the weekend:

The White Sox Opening Day roster is set, with Eduardo Escobar, Nate Jones and Zach Stewart winning the three spots up for grabs on the team. Jones was the most surprising selection; the 26-year-old hasn't pitched an inning above Double-A in his career. But he has more upside than his competition (Brian Bruney, Eric Stults), and as the last man out of the bullpen, there's not much harm in bringing him to Texas.

Conor Jackson was signed to a minor-league deal and will provide organizational depth in the outfield as well at first and third base. The former Arizona top prospect was cut from Rangers camp, paving his way to the White Sox.

Your game recaps: The Sox mustered just two hits in a loss to Kansas City on Friday, John Danks had a successful outing in his final spring tuneup Saturday and Dayan Viciedo hit his first home run of the spring in a 13-run outburst Sunday.

Adam Dunn's final Cactus League line: .255.415.569, 14 walks, 10 strikeouts, 5 home runs. And that's a pretty good reason for optimism.

Speaking of optimism, Kenny Williams is brimming with it. The White Sox GM also took batting practice.

The Sox probably can't afford to lose one of their five starters to stay in contention. That makes the health of Jake Peavy one of the most important storylines in 2012, if it wasn't already.

Ever wondered what Wilson Betemit and Jim Thome have in common when it comes to home runs? Chris Kamka has the answer and more in his 10 "useless but interesting" spring training facts.

The Sox won't face Yu Darvish in this week's opening series against Texas. In other news: OPENING WEEK IS THIS WEEK.

Around the division: Ubaldo Jimenez did this.

Judge for yourself. The video doesn't really tell us much, although I find it hard to believe Jimenez won't be suspended for what appeared to be a pretty intentional beanball (although he says otherwise).

In non-brouhaha news, Drew Smyly won Detroit's fifth starter gig, Kansas City hasn't named Joakim Soria's ninth-inning replacement and Minnesota looks to have a pretty deep bench.

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?

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.