White Sox

White Sox wowed by Avisail Garcia's game-saving catch

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White Sox wowed by Avisail Garcia's game-saving catch

As far as manager Robin Ventura and his players are concerned, Avisail Garcia’s leaping catch to rob Chris Davis of a game-tying home run in the ninth inning Saturday is among the best they’ve ever seen.

Garcia’s spectacular catch preserved a 3-2 White Sox win, the team’s fourth in a row.

“I was just trying to see the ball and catch it,” Garcia said. “That’s what happened. Instinct.”

Here’s what Garcia’s manager and teammates said about his catch after Saturday’s game:

Manager Robin Ventura: “(Davis) hit it pretty good. You know he had some topspin on it. You’re playing no doubles, and as soon as he hit it, it looked like a homer. The wind was blowing in a little bit, it probably caught some of the topspin that knocked it down. Avi got a good read on it. It's a great catch, it really is. It saves the game. For him, you could tell he was excited that he caught it. He's an emotional guy, and it's a big lift for everybody when a guy does that.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get an Avisail Garcia jersey shirt right here]

Closer David Robertson: “I knew (Davis) hit it good. He’s so strong, any time he makes contact you’re worried it’s leaving the field. I was just overjoyed to see him catch that ball and come back it with it. It was awesome.”

Outfielder J.B. Shuck: “That was phenomenal. He hit it off the bat, and he hit it hard so were all like 'Ah, man.' But you could see Avi tracking back, and he got off the ground and he was probably a couple feet behind the fence. That was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Outfielder Adam Eaton: “As soon as I saw it hit, I put my head down. I’m like, 'It’s over.' I thought it was going past the Miller Lite section of right field. But then I looked up, and I’m like, 'That thing has some serious topspin. We’ve got a chance.' And as it’s coming down, I know Avi — you could tell by his reaction — he was shocked he caught it too.”

Starter Jeff Samardzija: “Oh man, it’s right up there with Trout’s that he had. The timing of it made it so much more unbelievable. It’s a top three catch I’ve seen out here.”

Part of Yoan Moncada's development: Hitting better — and simply getting more experience — against left-handed pitching

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USA TODAY

Part of Yoan Moncada's development: Hitting better — and simply getting more experience — against left-handed pitching

Yoan Moncada’s development is one of the most important things at the major league level during this rebuilding, developmental season.

Fortunately for the White Sox, he’s having a fine season at the plate overall. He came into Wednesday’s game against the visiting Baltimore Orioles with a .262/.345/.469 slash line to go along with six homers, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs.

But as good as that might be, Moncada is not a finished product. Remember, this is a guy who was baseball’s top-ranked prospect a year ago, and there are expectations that he will be one of the best players — if not the best player — on the next championship-contending White Sox team.

And so there are obvious things that he needs to keep working on. Most noticeable to fans and observers is that high number of strikeouts. He’s got 55 in 166 plate appearances (one of the 10 highest totals in the American League) and will almost surely shoot past his 74 strikeouts in 231 plate appearances in 2017.

Another area of interest in Moncada’s development is what he’s doing against left-handed pitching, which quite frankly isn’t much.

Rick Renteria moved Moncada out of the leadoff spot against lefty starters some time ago, and the numbers don’t look good overall. As a right-handed batter against left-handed pitching, the switch-hitting Moncada is slashing .154/.244/.231 with three extra-base hits and two RBIs. That’s opposed to a great .302/.383/.557 line as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers.

But Renteria is seeing some growth from Moncada, who batted right handed against a lefty reliever during Tuesday’s eighth-inning rally. He didn’t get a hit, but he drove in the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly, progress in Renteria’s eyes.

“I’ll tell you this, the right-handed at-bat yesterday against the lefty was, for me, a real impressive at-bat because that’s the side he’s been trying to work on a little bit more against the lefties,” Renteria said. “To be able to drive the ball and create the sacrifice fly to drive in that run was really big.”

What’s the key, then, to getting at-bats like that against left-handed pitchers on a consistent basis from Moncada? According to Renteria, it’s just a matter of Moncada seeing more left-handed pitching. And when that happens, the skipper added, we could see more pop from Moncada from that side of the plate than we do from the left side, where he’s hit 12 of his 14 career homers.

“He doesn’t have as many at-bats (from the right side) just because he doesn’t face that many lefties,” the manager said. “You need a larger amount of at-bats against lefties to get a sense of where you’re going to ultimately be.

“I still think that he probably has the ability of having more power, even though he has power from the left side, I think he has the ability to have more power from the right side. It’s just a matter of him trying to manage that side of the box without trying to be the same as he is on the left-handed side.

“Very few switch hitters are the same from both sides of the plate. Some show more power from one side, and some show manageability of the barrel. He happens to have manageability of the barrel left handed and power. And I think he can have more power, maybe not as much manageability of the barrel from the right-hand side, but more power and more contact.

“But that’s going to continue with more at-bats against lefties, as many opportunities as we can give him.”

As with most things during this rebuilding season, Moncada remains a work in progress. Strikeouts, hitting from the right side, these are some of the things that he’s working on in a season that because of its disappointing win-loss record affords him the time and opportunity to develop.

White Sox fans are pretty happy with Moncada right now. But they could see a much different — and potential much better — player by the time the rebuilds hits its apex and that contention window opens up.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.