White Sox

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reynaldo Lopez is close to ready. Carson Fulmer has continued to pitch very well. And Lucas Giolito just had his best start of the season.

But when it came time to find a replacement for James Shields, the White Sox turned to veteran Mike Pelfrey at Triple-A Charlotte. Just like he had promised all offseason and spring and reiterated on Friday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stayed away from his top prospects to fill the void when Shields was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Pelfrey's contract was purchased on Saturday and he started against the Cleveland Indians. Even though he would have loved it to have his name called once again, Fulmer said he understand what the White Sox are trying to do.

"We know our time is coming soon," Fulmer said. "Hopefully sooner than later, but I think the main thing is they just want to make sure we're ready to stay up there for good instead of moving back down and making that transition back and forth. No, we're good, man."

Fulmer has a 4.24 ERA through three starts, though he didn't get much help from his defense in his second outing on April 12 when he allowed five earned runs at Durham.

But the most important number to look at with the right-hander is the strikeout to walk ratio, which currently stands at 11:3 in 17 innings.

Both he and the White Sox look at it as more proof the 2015 first-rounder is progressing as they hoped he would when he was returned to Charlotte last August. In six starts since, Fulmer has a 2.53 ERA, 25 strikeouts and six walks in 32 innings.

Still, Hahn and the White Sox want to see more from their prospects. They don't want to create a taxi service back and forth from Charlotte. In order to do that, they're slamming on the brakes and focused on player development instead of rushing players to fill voids. Fulmer, who charted pitches during Saturday's game against the Rochester Red Wings, said he's focused on what he's doing instead of looking at the big picture.

"I don't look into too many things," Fulmer said. "Our time is coming. We have to be patient and we have to respect the process."

"I've figured out a lot so far with my delivery, my command has been really, really good. I'm forcing a lot of weak contact, a lot of ground balls and my game has changed a lot. I think I'm pretty close to where I want to be and the process obviously takes a while and you have to respect that. With the guys we have here and the way we push one another I think it's gotten me ready for the next step."

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality


Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint


Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.