White Sox

NCAA Hoops: DePaul, ISU extend win streaks

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NCAA Hoops: DePaul, ISU extend win streaks

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Cleveland Melvin scored 24 points and DePaul defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 69-61 Saturday to extend its winning streak to seven games.

Melvin, a Baltimore native, reached double digits in scoring for the 26th consecutive game. He added eight rebounds.

The winning streak marks the longest for DePaul (9-3) since the Blue Demons won nine straight during the 1993-94 season.

For much of the second half, DePaul held a double-digit lead until six straight points by the Retrievers (2-10) cut the lead to four with 11 minutes to play. Aaron Morgan then hit a jumper in the lane and added a free throw for a three-point play.

Jamee Crockett stole the ball and Brandon Young made two free throws, and Young found Melvin for an alley-oop to stretch the lead back to 11.

Morgan led UMBC with 15 points.

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Carmichael, ISU roll over Austin Peay

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) Jackie Carmichael had 18 points and 12 rebounds as Illinois State concluded nonconference play with an 83-57 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday.

Camichael's double-double was his fourth of the season and 25th of his career. Tyler Brown added 16 points, John Wilkins had 14 and Jon Ekey 11 for the Redbirds (9-3), who shot 50 percent from the floor. Brown also had a career-best six steals, while Johnny Hill and Kaza Keane each had six assists.

Anthony Campbell had 20 points for Austin Peay (4-8), which hit 12 of 24 3-pointers but also turned the ball over 25 times.

The game was tied at 23-all when Illinois State closed the first half on a 21-5 run. Three straight dunks by Brown, Wilkins and Carmichael highlighted the surge, and Austin Peay was scoreless for 3:59 during that stretch.

The Governors never got closer than 13 points in the second half.

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Averkamp leads Loyola over St. Peter's

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) Ben Averkamp scored 17 points, 13 from the foul line, to lead Loyola (IL) to a 54-49 victory over St. Peter's Saturday.

The Ramblers (8-3) won it at the foul line, where they had a huge advantage. Averkamp was a perfect 13 for 13 as St. Peter's sank 23 of 31 foul shots. St. Peter's (5-6) went 6 for 19 at the stripe.

Both teams started sluggishly, with the Peacocks leading 17-16 at the break despite shooting 29.6 percent (8 for 27, 0 for 4 on treys). Loyola was even worse, making just 5 of 20 from the field and missing 5 of 6 3-pointers.

Each team warmed up in the second half, but Loyola rode Averkamp and its foul shooting to the win.

Joe Crisman led Loyola with 12 points on 5 for 5 shooting. Yvon Raymond was the lone Peacock in double figures with 17 points.

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UIC falls to Miami Ohio

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) Will Sullivan scored a career-high 16 points and Miami (Ohio) snapped a four-game losing streak to beat Illinois-Chicago 82-70 on Saturday.

Will Felder and Jon Harris each finished with 14 points for the RedHawks (4-6), who sent Illinois-Chicago to its second straight lost after winning eight consecutive. Reggie Johnson had 12 points and Quinten Rollins had five steals.

Miami used a 9-0 run early in the first half, capped by Geovonie McKnight's jumper to give it a 20-9 lead. The RedHawks controlled the rest of the contest, and never trailed in the second half.

Felder's slam dunk gave Miami a 79-65 advantage with 1:40 remaining in the game. Illinois-Chicago pulled no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Gary Talton scored 15 points for the Flames (9-3). Daniel Barnes finished with 14 points, Joey Miller had 11 points, and Hayden Humes and Josh Crittled added 10 points apiece.

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NIU can't handle Washington

SEATTLE (AP) C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points to lead Washington to a 67-57 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon.

Wilcox topped the 20-point mark for the seventh time in eight games. Aziz N'Diaye added 13 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.

Washington led 36-25 at halftime.

Sophomore Abdel Nader came off the bench to lead Northern Illinois (2-9) with 18 points, while Keith Gray added 10.

Troubled by inconsistent play during the nonconference portion of its schedule, Washington (8-4) has now won four straight games.

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Drake tops Eastern Illinois

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Micah Mason had 19 points and six assists and Drake continued its torrid 3-point shooting during a 74-56 victory over Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (6-5), who came into the game ranked fifth in the country with 9.1 3-pointers per game, were 13 of 22 beyond the arc and shot 56 percent overall from the floor. They also hit 15 of 18 free throws.

Drake also got 14 points from Ben Simons, 11 from Chris Hines and 10 from Seth VanDeest.

Sherman Blanford had 18 points and seven rebounds for Eastern Illinois (3-10), which outrebounded Drake 25-19 but committed 19 turnovers. Morris Woods added 10 points for the Panthers.

Drake trailed 26-24 before scoring nine straight points to close the first half. A 3-pointer and layup by Mason to start the second half extended the lead to 12 points, and the Bulldogs later added a 14-2 run to make it 61-41 with 9:42 remaining.

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Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”

Carson Fulmer's demotion and the current state of the White Sox rotation provide several rebuilding reminders

Carson Fulmer's demotion and the current state of the White Sox rotation provide several rebuilding reminders

Carson Fulmer getting sent to Triple-A following Friday’s game might be, to this point, the biggest development this season on the South Side.

Fulmer doesn’t carry the same expectations as higher-rated prospects like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen or Dane Dunning, but this is a top-10 draft pick who the White Sox still believe can play a significant role in their bright future. And he’s struggling. Badly. Once his ERA jumped up past 8.00 thanks to his third straight brief and run-filled outing, the White Sox made the decision to send him to Charlotte.

It leaves the White Sox rotation looking like this: James Shields, a struggling Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Hector Santiago and either Chris Volstad or the recently summoned Dylan Covey.

Four of those guys (Shields, Santiago, Volstad and Covey) don’t figure to play a role in the team’s long-term future, and Giolito is dealing with his own significant struggles, leading the American League in walks heading into his Saturday-night start. Lopez has been the rotation’s bright spot, but even he watched his ERA climb more than a full point after allowing six runs in two innings his last time out.

It’s not a great state for the rotation to be in if you, like the White Sox, have your sights set on the long-term future of this team, though it probably won’t look like that for too much longer. Still, it provides a few valuable reminders about not only this rebuilding effort but rebuilds in general.

This season is about development, and this is what development looks like

For better or worse, this is what development looks like. The White Sox own baseball’s worst record, and general manager Rick Hahn has been among the large number of White Sox fans to voice their disappointment over play that has been sloppy at times.

Fulmer’s struggles fall into the same category and serve as a reminder that growing pains like this are going to happen. We’ve seen it with Fulmer. We’ve seen it with Giolito. We’ve seen it with Lopez. Heck, we’ve seen it with Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, too.

But more than wins and losses, this is what this season is about. Hahn calls it “the hardest part of the rebuild” because it features guys getting lit up and games being lost. The hope is that Fulmer can figure things out in the minors and that Giolito won’t require a similar demotion to right his ship. And if everything turns out all right, then this will be an easily forgotten chapter in both of those players’ development.

In the moment, though, it’s another reminder that rebuilds take time and that the waiting game provides minimal fun.

Each player’s development has a different trajectory

Just because Fulmer is getting bumped down to Triple-A doesn’t mean he can’t still turn into a successful major league pitcher. Player development and rebuilds aren’t linear, as rebuilders like to say. And to expect every prospect to travel in a straight line from potential to big league stardom doesn't make much sense.

“We reiterate, ‘It’s not the end of your career,’” Renteria said Saturday. “This is simply a reboot, a reset. Ultimately, I think after the initial shock for any player, they settle down and they understand exactly what’s going on when you look at it logically and look in the mirror. I think it’s easy to logically look at it and say, ‘I need to work on x, y and z.’

“This is a good kid with a really positive attitude and a lot of confidence. I think he’ll look in the mirror and go, ‘You know what, I got things I can work on, I’ll settle in and get over this initial bump and get to work.’ Those are the guys that end up giving themselves a chance to return sooner rather than later and have success.”

Not all prospects pan out

The other side of that coin is the reminder that not every single one of the White Sox wealth of prospects will pan out. Hahn & Co. have prepared for that and built up an incredible amount of prospect depth, but when someone doesn't live up to expectations, it will be painful.

This isn’t to suggest that Fulmer, specifically, won’t pan out, but it’s to point out that not everyone will. That’s a crowded-looking rotation of the future with Kopech, Hansen, Dunning, Fulmer, Giolito, Lopez, Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease all competing for those eventual five spots. Rather than the White Sox having to make tough decisions about who will be left out, certainly a possibility, the developments of those pitchers might make those decisions for them.

Renteria is confident that Fulmer will be back in the big leagues, and there’s little reason to think that this is the end of Fulmer’s opportunity. But not every top-10 pick reaches All-Star status.

The future is on the way

The current starting rotation might have fans asking why the heck it looks like it does. But a month or two from now it will look drastically different.

Rodon makes his first rehab start Saturday at Class A Kannapolis as he battles back from shoulder surgery last fall, and he shouldn’t be too far away from providing a serious jolt to the starting staff. Not to mention, he’s a guy who as good a chance as anyone as grabbing one of those front-end spots, and with him in the rotation, things will look a tad more futuristic.

Same goes for Kopech, whose promotion figures to be coming at some point this summer. Given the hype and the expectations there, his arrival will obviously be a really big deal.

But regardless of the results either Rodon and Kopech put up in their first tastes of major league action in 2018, they’ll make the rotation into something that way more closely resembles the rotation of the future. There’ll be plenty of development left for the Hansens and the Ceases and the Dunnings in the minors. But a rotation featuring Rodon, Kopech, Giolito and Lopez looks a lot different than one featuring Shields, Santiago, Covey and Volstad.

Patience. It’s not much fun. But it’s necessary to build a contender.