White Sox

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

Coastal Carolina won its first national championship in any sport at the College World Series and two White Sox draft picks were a part of the fun.

Zach Remillard, an infielder drafted by the White Sox in the 10th round, and Mike Morrison, a right-handed pitcher drafted by the Sox in the 27th round, got to win a championship before they embark on their professional careers.

The Chanticleers entered with modest expecations. Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore often said he just wanted his team to reach the College World Series.

Until this week, he never imagined the Chanticleers would do so much more: They're heading back to Conway, South Carolina, with the school's first national championship in any sport.

The Chanticleers defeated Arizona 4-3 in the deciding Game 3 of the College World Series finals on Thursday, capitalizing on two errors on the same play to score four unearned runs in the sixth inning of a game delayed a day by bad weather.

It was worth the wait.

"Whenever I die, I'll know this group of guys here, they willed themselves to be the national champion," Gilmore said. "It was just meant to be, no doubt. If there is such a thing as a team of destiny, this group is it."

Coastal Carolina (55-18) became the first team since Minnesota in 1956 to win the title in its first CWS appearance. Arizona (49-24) was trying for its second national title since 2012, but came up just short in a season in which it was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12.

"Amazing season, and they're a deserving champion," first-year Wildcats coach Jay Johnson said of the Chanticleers. "We played as good as we possibly could this year, and they're the best team we've played."

Andrew Beckwith (15-1), the national leader in wins, went 5 2/3 innings after pitching two complete games and picked up his third victory of the CWS. He was named the Most Outstanding Player.

"He's been coaching for 21 years, and he deserves every bit of it," Beckwith said of Gilmore. "We got him to Omaha and we got him a national championship. The senior class, the hard work in the fall, the dedication of the guys who don't play much -- it doesn't go unnoticed. It was a full team effort the whole College World Series, and we got it done."

Alex Cunningham earned his first save, striking out Ryan Haug with a full-count fastball to end the game after Arizona had pulled within a one in the bottom of the ninth. When Haug swung and missed, Cunningham turned to his dugout, beat his chest with his fist three times and saluted before flipping his glove away to start the celebration.

"The running joke is that in high school I lost the state championship three times in a row. I was not going to lose this one, I promise you that," Cunningham said.

The championship was the first in a team sport in the 33-year history of the Big South Conference. The Big South could savor the accomplishment for only about eight hours. The Chanticleers will become members of the Sun Belt Conference on Friday.

"This program has been a lot better than people give it credit for,'' Gilmore said. "They thought we played in a small conference and couldn't get this done. This bunch wanted to prove everybody wrong.''

Arizona, which came into the day with just two errors in seven CWS games, saw second baseman Cody Ramer commit two on the same play in the sixth inning. He couldn't get a handle on a grounder, allowing David Parrett to score from third. Then Ramer tried to get Michael Paez running from second to third, but he overthrew Kyle Lewis. That allowed Paez to come home.

G.K. Young then launched a no-doubt homer into the seats above the right-field bullpen for a 4-0 lead.

"It's the best feeling of my life," Young said. "I'm trying not to cry right now. Just dreaming of that in my head since I was 10 years old, hitting a home run in the College World Series. I never would have thought it would come in the championship game."

The Wildcats cut the lead in half with two unearned runs in the bottom half of the sixth against a tiring Beckwith. Arizona's Bobby Dalbec (11-6) worked 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight to increase his CWS total to 25 in 20 innings.

Arizona's first two batters in the bottom of the ninth reached base against Cunningham, and Gibbons' sacrifice fly made it a one-run game with two outs. Ryan Aguilar then doubled into the left-field corner, but Ramer was held at third because Anthony Marks was able to get the ball back to the infield so quickly.

"That's the play of the season in college baseball," Johnson said. "We play aggressively, but Cody would have been out by 100 feet -- and I know it's only 90 feet. I can't believe the play that was made."

As for the two White Sox draft picks, Remillard and Morrison, both are seniors so they will be expected to sign and join one of the two White Sox rookie affiliates, in Great Falls, Mont., or at the club's spring training complex in Arizona, in the coming weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.