White Sox

White Sox promote top prospect Tim Anderson, designate Jimmy Rollins for assignment

White Sox promote top prospect Tim Anderson, designate Jimmy Rollins for assignment

Tim Anderson has forced the White Sox to act.

The shortstop, the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America, has been promoted to the major leagues on Friday from Triple-A Charlotte. To make room on the 40-man roster for the club’s 2013 first-round pick, former National League Most Valuable Player Jimmy Rollins has been designated for assignment.

The moves come 24 hours after the White Sox gave starting pitcher Mat Latos his walking papers and promoted rookie pitcher Tyler Danish to the majors. The promotion also took place much earlier than the White Sox originally anticipated -- they intended for Anderson to spend all season at Charlotte. But a recent hot streak by Anderson, who is hitting .304/.325/.409 with four home runs, 20 RBIs and 11 steals in 256 plate appearances, and a lackluster offense have spurred the White Sox into action.

“So far (Anderson) has done his part to force up that time frame,” general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “Ultimately, when Tim arrives in Chicago it will be because we feel he’s ready to help make us better, not because of anything that is going on in this clubhouse. More about what Tim is capable of doing at the big league level. We’ll pick that time accordingly.”

The time is now, apparently.

Not only is Anderson hot, Rollins and the White Sox have been quite the opposite.

Rollins had a .624 OPS through 166 plate appearances this season, including a .502 mark against right-handed pitchers. Since May 13, Rollins has a .528 OPS in 58 plate appearances for a team that has lost 20 of its last 27. Recently, second-year shortstop Tyler Saladino has played more often for the White Sox, who are averaging 4.02 runs per game.

Meanwhile, Anderson has torn up International League pitching for more than a month after a slow start. Part of his hot streak has included a much-improved strikeout rate. Anderson, who is hitting .361/.382/.517 with 13 extra-base hits and seven steals in his last 153 plate appearances, has reduced his K-rate by nearly 10 percent.

Anderson, who turns 23 later this month, struck out 29 times in his first 103 plate appearances or 28.1 percent of the time. He has whiffed 29 times in his last 153 PAs (18.9 percent). He has only walked eight times this season.

While a period of adjustment to major league pitching is expected, the White Sox think Anderson can handle it. Outfielder J.B. Shuck said he’s very impressed with how Anderson comports himself after the two spent more than a month together at Charlotte.

“He has that personality where he’s not going to get rattled by anything,” Shuck said earlier this month. “I think he’ll do well when he gets his chance.

“He got a little taste (of adversity) this year. When I first went down, he might have been hitting .215 or .220 and you would have never known. He went about his business and continued to have fun and just got better. It clicked for him or whatever it was. I think he went on a stretch where I don’t think he got out for like six games. That’s just his personality and that’s why I think when he does get up here, he’s going to do well.”

Anderson’s arrival comes only three years and four days after the White Sox made him the 17th pick out of East Central CC in Decatur, Miss. Of the players drafted ahead of him, only the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray and Miami Marlins’ Colin Moran arrived in the majors faster.

Hahn has long suggested Anderson could force his way into the majors at some point this season. But he also noted it would be up to the player --- that the White Sox wouldn’t call him up unless he was ready.

“You’ll know when you see him walk through that clubhouse door,” Hahn said Tuesday. “A month ago I was asked about by national reporter if there was concern about Tim Anderson. And now rightfully so people are asking if he’s ready. Shows how quickly things can turn and when guys can push the time frame it comes quickly. Our belief from the start of the offseason was Tim is a level to level guy who performed well at each level, but in all probability he’s going to have to spend a year in Charlotte. We tried to remain open minded and the good ones have a way to force the time frame.”

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.