White Sox

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

The White Sox haven't scored in their last 23 innings and only have had one runner reach second base in their last 20 frames, a stretch of offensive futility manager Rick Renteria said can be used as a learning experience. 

The White Sox managed just four baserunners and were shut out, 7-0, by a dominant Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians Saturday evening in front of 32,044 at Guaranteed Rate Field. While the White Sox have run into some top pitching over their last three games — Masahiro Tanaka, Corey Kluber and Carrasco, the latter of whom fired eight shutout innings Saturday — Renteria admitted some of his hitters have been pressing lately, too. 

"For me, it’s about our learning curve now and understanding that (those pitchers) are really executing and doing what they want to do," Renteria said. "And we want to make sure that we give ourselves a chance by staying and trusting with the approaches that we take into the at-bats and try not to focus too much on the results and stay focused on the approaches and we know that the results will take care of themselves. But I know the guys are wanting to get the big hit or wanting to drive the ball out of the ballpark as opposed to just staying very simple. I think it’s a great learning lesson for all of us as a club."

The lone offensive bright spot came in the seventh inning, when Jacob May — pinch-hitting for Melky Cabrera, who jammed his wrist chasing a foul ball but had X-Rays come back negative — connected for a leadoff single, the first hit of his career. The 25-year-old began his career hitless in his first 26 at-bats, and upon returning to the dugout let out a cathartic yell into his helmet and was mobbed by his teammates. After the game, he said it felt like he got "Harambe" off his back. 

Mike Pelfrey, replacing the injured James Shields, allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with one walk and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings. The White Sox didn’t want to bring up one of their prize pitching prospects in Triple-A for only two or three starts, so it was the 33-year-old Pelfrey who got the start.

Edwin Encarnacion blasted a two-run home run on a two-out, 0-2 pitch in the first inning, and was tagged for two unearned runs in the fifth on a Carlos Santana double and Francisco Lindor sacrifice fly.

Cleveland tacked on more runs on Michael Brantley’s two-run home run in the seventh and Jose Ramirez’s solo home run in the eighth off Michael Ynoa, who replaced Zach Putnam after the right-hander left the game due to tenderness in his right elbow. The White Sox announced Putnam is day-to-day due to the issue, though Renteria said the issue was more with Putnam's tricep, not his elbow. 

Tyler Saladino singled twice and Jose Abreu drew a walk to account for the other baserunners the White Sox managed against Carrasco.

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

The White Sox catching depth will soon be put to the test.

Saturday, the White Sox placed catcher Welington Castillo on seven-day concussion list. In a corresponding move, the team promoted catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte, 

In 26 games this season, Castillo holds a .176/.286/.318 slashline with three home runs in 85 at-bats. He exited Friday's game against the Twins in the eighth inning after taking two foul tips off of his catcher's mask. 

While White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday that Castillo didn't go into concussion protocol, the team is likely being precautious due to the nature of the injury. 

Zavala, 25, has yet to appear in the big leagues, though he's played in 360 minor league games since the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He holds a career slashline of .267/.335/.457 across all minor league levels, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. 

Zavala's slashline this season is currently below his career averages (.218/.253/.506 in 21 games), but he's hit six home runs in 87 at-bats. Last season, he hit 13 in a combined 380 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

Although the circumstances of his promotion are not ideal, Zavala is leaving Charlotte on a high-note. In last night's game against the Durham Bulls, he went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.

With Castillo out, the White Sox will likely lean on James McCann more. In 31 games this season, McCann holds a stellar .333/.373/.523 slashline

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White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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