White Sox

Why the White Sox are excited about Reynaldo Lopez: 'His time has come'

Why the White Sox are excited about Reynaldo Lopez: 'His time has come'

The White Sox like what they have in Reynaldo Lopez and are ready to see how his talent translates to the majors.

Lopez arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday afternoon, a day ahead of his White Sox debut. Lopez will pitch for the White Sox in the opener of a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals. The No. 59 prospect in baseball spent Thursday assimilating himself to the clubhouse, playing catch and soaking up an atmosphere that has been energized by his promotion. Similar to last month’s call up of Yoan Moncada, Lopez’s first game has excited both the team’s fans and its members.

“Everybody has kind of been anticipating his arrival as we wait for a lot of the other guys who are going to be developing over the course of the next couple of years to get here,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Certainly, we’re all looking forward to getting him out there on the hill and see how he’s doing.”

The White Sox got a pretty good look at Lopez this spring after he came over in a December trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals. Lopez made five starts and posted a 3.72 ERA over 19 1/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking five. The right-hander made a strong impression on Don Cooper with his three-pitch mix.

“You could tell right away he had good stuff, he had three pitches, the fastball curveball and changeup,” Cooper said. “I enjoyed the conversations we had. I remember going to the film room with him looking at stuff. And now his time has come. And I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

While the two talked shop -- they moved Lopez on the rubber to improve his command -- Cooper said most of his intent this spring was to build a foundation with Lopez, who pitched 44 innings for Washington in 2016, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and others. The veteran pitching coach hopes those conversations and film sessions help he and Lopez pick up where they let off in March.

“It was more establishing a relationship because I knew he was going to be here,” Cooper said. “I wanted to feel comfortable with him and I want him to feel comfortable with me.

“I didn't want anything to slip through the cracks with my thoughts. I wanted him to know exactly where I was coming from and what I thought of him. Anytime he has questions or wants to know something, I want it to be clear for him.”

One thing is evident -
W- Lopez is as ready as he’s going to be. Lopez, 23, was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month after he posted a 2.10 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 30 innings in July. He said on Friday he’s believes he’s ready to be here and the White Sox think so, too.

“He's had to wait his time and now his time has come,” Cooper said.

Why it's unlikely Garrett Crochet will pitch for the White Sox in 2020

Why it's unlikely Garrett Crochet will pitch for the White Sox in 2020

The thought of Garrett Crochet taking the Chris Sale path to the major leagues was all the rage on draft night.

A month later, it doesn't sound like White Sox fans should get their hopes up.

Crochet was one of 16 players named to the White Sox "taxi squad" on Tuesday, a group of minor leaguers who will work out in Schaumburg to stay ready in case injuries or underperformance at the major league level necessitate their presence on the active roster. But with 13 of the players currently in big league camp mathematically prevented from making the Opening Day rosters, these additional 16 guys strike more as backups to the backups.

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Crochet is a different case, though, as he's been talked up as a pitcher who could arrive in the bigs in a hurry — expressing his own desire to take on that challenge on a recent edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast — with stuff so good there were people on TV on draft night speculating that he could be a weapon in a 2020 pennant race.

But though he agreed that Crochet has "present major league stuff," White Sox head of player development Chris Getz made it sound pretty unlikely that the team that's been so patient with its prospects during its rebuild would suddenly thrust someone with no pro experience into the big league spotlight.

"We feel like he has present major league stuff," Getz said Tuesday, "but really it’s about getting him here, getting him comfortable with our staff, shaking hands, getting to know you, know our philosophies and watch him develop this summer. That was the plan for Garrett.

"He doesn't have too many innings under his belt. And then you factor in a layoff like everyone else, we want to build him up appropriately. But we also just want him to get comfortable with being a White Sox. We'll certainly start with one inning and tack on two innings. There's some pitch-development things we're certainly going to work on with Garrett.

"He does have present major league stuff, without question, but our job on the development side is to get the most out of this player. ... I don't think we need to necessarily focus on a major league radar for Garrett, I think it's more just getting comfortable with the organization."

It figures to be challenging enough for major league veterans to be able to perform at the top of their game after a months-long layoff and a brief three-week ramp-up to a 60-game regular season. Crochet has never thrown an inning of pro ball, and he made just one start during his junior year at the University of Tennessee. In his collegiate career, in total, he pitched in just 36 games.

RELATED: White Sox name 16 to Schaumburg taxi squad, but their '20 impact seems minimal

White Sox fans were hopping mad when the team wouldn't promote Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert at the ends of dominant minor league seasons, after they'd spent multiple years in the minor leagues. Crochet has nowhere near that level of experience, and the COVID-19 pandemic limited his ability to play at any level.

As good as the stuff might be, it would be one heck of a gamble to throw him into a major league season, especially one where every game is expected to be dripping with meaning in a two-month pennant chase.

Of course, front-office types don't like to make end-all, be-all declarations, and so not even Getz would say "never" to the thought of Crochet making a sprint to the bigs. But it sure sounds like the White Sox have a bunch of priorities ahead of making Crochet a part of their 2020 bullpen.

"In an environment like this, it's tough to rule anything out," he said. "Garrett's a talented player, but the focus is truly just to get his foot in the door here and get around our guys and we'll go from there."


White Sox name 16 to Schaumburg taxi squad, but their '20 impact seems minimal

White Sox name 16 to Schaumburg taxi squad, but their '20 impact seems minimal

The White Sox "taxi squad" is here, and though the 16 players named Tuesday will bring some high quality talent to Schaumburg, it doesn't seem too many of them will be cracking the major league roster in 2020.

While 43 players prepare for the upcoming season at Guaranteed Rate Field, these additional 16 players will work out at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg, beginning Wednesday, and serve as depth from which the White Sox can make in-season roster moves in the absence of a minor league season.

Of course, only 30 players from the group of 43 that's been working out on the South Side for the last week and a half will wind up on the Opening Day roster, and that number will dwindle as the season moves along. The remaining 13 who don't make the team will wind up with these 16 in Schaumburg, and they'll presumably play more intrasquad games than anyone could ever imagine while staying in shape for a potential call-up.

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The new dozen-plus-four players added to the mix for 2020 are mostly prospects White Sox fans have heard plenty about during the rebuild. But with winning time arriving at the major league level, it's hard to say how much any one of these guys still factors into the team's long-term planning. That doesn't mean the organization shouldn't keep trying to develop them into something, be that big league starters or reserves on the South Side or trade assets for future win-now augmentation. And without any minor league games to get that done in, some team-monitored activity is better than none.

The most notable name on the list is Garrett Crochet, the team's first-round pick from last month's draft. While discussed as someone who could mirror Chris Sale's path to the major leagues and wind up pitching in the middle of a pennant race in 2020, don't get your hopes up that you'll see something like that. Not with the patience the White Sox have taken in player development over the past several years. Fans were jumping up and down with anger when the White Sox wouldn't promote Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert at the tail ends of dominant minor league seasons. What would lead anyone to believe they'd fast track someone who hasn't pitched in a professional game and, to be honest, didn't pitch in too many collegiate games, either? Crochet, almost surely, is part of the taxi squad to get even the smallest amount of experience as part of the organization, even if that means little more than throwing a few pitches to Blake Rutherford every couple days.

Additionally interesting, though perhaps no more likely to wind up on the South Side this season, is Jonathan Stiever, who the White Sox see as a possible piece in one of their rotations of the future. He hasn't pitched above Class A, and if he's needed at the major league level, things will have gone horribly wrong, as the White Sox have spent most of "Summer Camp" talking up their newfound starting-pitching depth. If folks are suggesting Stiever be summoned from Schaumburg, that means a starting group of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López, Gio González, Carlos Rodón, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert — that's eight guys! — woefully failed to live up to even the most conservative expectations. And so, like Crochet, Stiever is most likely part of this group to gain even the slightest amount of development in this most unusual of seasons.

The full list looks like this: right-handed pitchers Zack Burdi, Ryan Burr, Matt Foster, Brady Lail, Alex McRae, Bryan Mitchell and Stiever; left-handed pitchers Crochet, Bernardo Flores Jr., Jacob Lindgren, Adalberto Mejía and Bennett Sousa; catcher Seby Zavala; and outfielders Micker Adolfo, Luis González and Rutherford.

RELATED: Why the White Sox are ready to take the next step: Free-agent additions

The four position players don't figure to hold too much of a chance of reaching the majors this season. After all, there are more than enough of them in big league camp already, and some of those guys will eventually wind up in Schaumburg once the season begins. You'd figure the White Sox would draw from guys who don't make the team like Luis Basabe and Nicky Delmonico before reaching for Adolfo or González. Zavala is the organization's No. 5 catcher, burying him on the depth chart behind even Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes.

But teams always seem to burn through pitching, relief pitching, especially, and that could be even more the case in this shortened season. White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal spoke Tuesday about his predictions for how pitchers will be used in 2020, and he expects a playoff-style management that sees the huge emphasis on bullpens that we've seen in the postseason in recent years. That could open the door for someone like Burdi, a first-round pick in his own right who's struggled with injury issues for years now. A local product, he's quick to grab people's attention, and he was on track to be a closer prospect of some note before health issues put that on hold.

The White Sox, particularly after adding Steve Cishek to a back-end mix that was already a strength in 2019, probably aren't hoping for a situation in which they'd need to find alternatives. But of course, they'd always welcome them if it made them more competitive. Neither Evan Marshall nor Jimmy Cordero were on the Opening Day roster a year ago, and yet they remain important pieces of the bullpen. And so while it will be hard to get a read on how Burdi or any of the other pitchers would fare in a big league game when they'll be pitching to their teammates out in the burbs, at least the White Sox won't be calling them to get up off their couch and join the big league bullpen.

Moving into contention mode means less focus on prospects and more focus on the big league club. And now that Robert is there and Nick Madrigal shouldn't be too far behind, the only interest coming out of Schaumburg could be how major league ready Andrew Vaughn's bat looks and how tantalizing Crochet's stuff is. The rest are there because the White Sox can have them there, and because you never know what happens in a major league season. Maybe a perfect storm of injury luck forces the White Sox to dip down and draw from this group. Or maybe they'll live up to their "taxi squad" name and just shuttle up and down the Eisenhower a whole bunch of times as emergency depth.