White Sox

Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

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Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

If Northwestern truly has only begun to showcase what they plan to do with Kain Colter, Big Ten opponents could be in for a long season.

Following Colters career day in a 44-29 win over Indiana the junior rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns and caught nine passes for 131 yards Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said the Wildcats have much more in store for how they plan to use their ultra-talented offensive weapon.

Im very proud of the way hes playing, but none of us are surprised, Fitzergald saisd. We knew that in high school, and it shows obviously the way that he can pick up our system. And were just getting started, Ill put it to you that way, with the things were gonna do there.

Even if Saturday was just the beginning, it wasnt a bad way to start. The Wildcats compiled a program-record 704 yards of offense in the win, helped out by Colters 292 out of the backfield as a runner and in the slot as a receiver.

I thought we had a good plan, Fitzgerald said. And Kains Kain. Hes unbelievable. Hes as dynamic of a young man, maybe, I think, in this conference, with the versatility and the things that he can do.

His nine catches were the first nine of his season after four weeks behind center, rushing and passing. Part of Fitzgeralds decision to have Colter leave the helm and move into the slot is the progression of redshirt sophomore Trevor Siemian, who passed for 308 yards in the win over the Hoosiers.

Six of Colters nine receptions came on third down, and all six were converted.

Kain did a good job of shaking loose and beating his guy, Siemian said. I dont think they had an answer for Kain all day; at receiver, at quarterback, wherever it was. If hes getting loose, Im going to get him the ball.

With Colters versatility to play anywhere on the field, Siemians decision-making, and not to mention running back Venric Mark (29 rushes, 139 yards, 1 TD), the Wildcats offense could start featuring two quarterbacks more often than not.

Were trying to find a way to get our best 11 on the field, Fitzgerald said. I think we came out of the first four games and said, every time we took Kain off the field, we looked at ourselves collectively as a coaching staff and said, What are we doing here?

The same, Fitzgerald added, could be said for Siemian.

Those two guys are in our best 11, some way, shape or form in what we believe in philosophically and offensively and as a program, he said. And how can we exploit the talents that our young men have to our advantage, I think this was kind of the first chapter of what we plan to do.

As he usually does, Colter could only deflect the praise for his career day elsewhere, but theres no denying the Northwestern offense is running as smooth as ever at the perfect time.

The offensive line, Trevor Siemian and the receivers really did a good job today, Colter said. We just went out there and executed the game plan. The coaches provided us with a great game plan.

We went out there, executed and made a lot of plays, he added.

And if this is just the beginning, as Fitzgerald claims, thats a phrase Colter should get used to saying this season.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the brightest future stars in the game. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, one spot behind Eloy Jimenez.

He’s a five-tool shortstop slashing .289/.359/.509 at Double-A San Antonio with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 85 games. He’s bilingual, charismatic, the kind of guy who could be a face of a franchise.

And two years ago, he was property of the White Sox.

That was until they traded Tatis, who was only 17 at the time, to the Padres for James Shields. Tatis had yet to play a single game in the White Sox farm system, so it was tough to predict his future. However, speaking with Tatis before he competed in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, the trade was definitely a shock to him.

“I was surprised. It was weird. For a kid that young to get traded, I had never heard of it. When they told me that, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Tatis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

No front office is going to bat 1.000, and when it comes to Tatis, this is a trade the White Sox would love to have back.

But first, more perspective.

In June of 2016, six months before the White Sox started their rebuild, they were 29-26, a game and a half out of first place. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a healthy Carlos Rodon anchoring their rotation, they felt that with the addition of Shields, they could compete for the division.

Unfortunately, perception didn’t meet reality. Shields struggled on the mound with the White Sox in 2016 and 2017. His numbers have improved considerably, and he could return the White Sox another prospect if he’s dealt before the trade deadline. However, it’s unlikely they’ll receive a player with the potential that Tatis has right now.

“(The trade) was about getting a good starter so they could get to the playoffs. I understood. I know this game is a business,” Tatis said.

Before the trade occurred, Tatis looked into his future and saw a day when he’d be the White Sox starting shortstop.

“Yeah, that was my goal when (White Sox director of international scouting) Marco Paddy signed me,” Tatis said. “We talked about it when I started and that was the goal.”

His goal now is to make it to the major leagues with the Padres.

“I’m pretty close. I want to keep working. When they decide to call me up, I’ll be ready.”

As for his former team, he’s impressed with the talent the White Sox have assembled.

“They’re building something special. They have really good prospects. I wish the best for them.”

You can’t help but wonder what the rebuild would look like if Tatis was along for the ride. He’s the one who got away.

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

If the season ended today, Javy Baez may be your National League MVP.

Of course, the season isn't ending today, only the first half of the 2018 campaign is.

He flashed his skills again over the weekend — scoring the game-winning run Friday, posting a 5-RBI game Saturday and then drove in the Cubs' first run in their 7-4 victory Sunday to close out a sweep of the Padres.

Entering the All-Star Break, Baez should be the frontrunner for Most Valuable Player.

For starters, he's the best player on the best team in the league.

Thanks to a recent hot surge by the Cubs and an ugly weekend for the Brewers (who have lost 6 straight), Baez and Co. will go into the break with the best record in the NL. 

Baez, meanwhile, leads the Cubs in WAR and nearly every offensive category — OPS, slugging percentage, homers, RBI, runs scored, doubles, triples, total bases, stolen bases and hits.

And that's not even saying anything about his glovework at any position on the infield or dynamic baserunning.

He's on pace to become the first Cubs player to drive in 125 runs since Sammy Sosa in 2001.

Baez also is on track for a 30-30 season — something only Sosa accomplished in a Cubs uniform in 1993 and 1995. 

El Mago will enjoy his week in the Home Run Derby and as the NL's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game, but those shouldn't be the end of his accolades this year if he can find a way to keep this pace up in the second half.

What other NL candidate would be a better choice for the MVP right now?

Baez is tied for the league lead in RBI. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is just behind Baez with 70 RBI, but he also has 70 fewer at-bats than the Cubs star due to a platoon to begin the year. 

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are also having great years, but the Reds are nowhere close to a playoff spot. 

Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt are also having very good seasons on teams that are currently in the playoff hunt, but how do you deny the best player on the league's best team?

After all, where would the Cubs be without Baez this season? 

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have battled through injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness, the pitching staff has had all kinds of consistency/health woes and Willson Contreras has yet to find his power stroke at the plate.

At the very least, "El Mago" has been the most important player on the North Side of Chicago during the first 3.5 months of 2018.