White Sox

Pirri proving his talents in Rockford

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Pirri proving his talents in Rockford

As the lockout drags on, over 100 NHLers are playing in the American Hockey League, upping the pace and the standard of hockey expected to be played during each matchup.

Not only has IceHogs forward Brandon Pirri embraced the challenge, he's set the bar for what consistency and leadership should look like on the ice. With 13 points in 15 games played this season, he's leading the boards in Rockford, doubling his second-ranked teammate Martin St. Pierre in number of goals with a total of six.

As for the higher-caliber of players this season, Pirri hasn't felt the slightest bit intimidated, and he's proven that in his performance.

"The pace is higher, it's a little more open, but at the same time it's the same gritty league," Pirri told CSNChicago.com. "You have to battle for everything. Right now it's real tight, every game's close."

Playing alongside Blackhawks' Brandon Bollig, Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith, and Nick Leddy, Pirri has spent this season demonstrating that he can not only keep up with the Chicago players in town, but also shine among them.

Stan Bowman, Joel Quenneville and other members of the Blackhawks brass have been in attendance at the BMO Harris Center in Rockford for nearly every home game, scouting the team and preparing for NHL season to return.

"You see them at the rink, but at the same time you have to worry about yourself and stay focused on the game, because if you worry about that stuff then you're not going to play your game," Pirri said.

Having the big dogs watching closely from the press box may not be directly affecting Pirri's style of play, but it sure will help his outcome if he keeps up these numbers as the NHL teams wait to return to the ice.

In the meantime, he'll continue working towards his final goal, "becoming a consistent pro."

If the Futures Game tells us anything, it's that the White Sox outfield of the future is ridiculously deep

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USA TODAY

If the Futures Game tells us anything, it's that the White Sox outfield of the future is ridiculously deep

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just how deep is the White Sox outfield of the future?

The answer was embodied by the leadoff hitter in the Futures Game on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital.

Luis Alexander Basabe was one of two White Sox representatives in the prospect showcase held two days prior to baseball’s Midsummer Classic, along with pitcher Dylan Cease. And while Basabe was very deserving of the honor in the middle of a strong 2018 campaign — he blasted a two-run homer on a 102 mph pitch in the third inning — he’s not exactly the first name that comes to mind when running down the organization’s top prospects in the outfield.

MLB Pipeline ranks four outfielders — Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo — ahead of Basabe on its list of White Sox prospects. And after Basabe come Ryan Cordell and Luis Gonzalez. And that’s before mentioning players outside the top 30 in the system, guys having big years like Joel Booker and Alex Call.

It makes for a lengthy list of possibilities to populate the outfield on the next contending White Sox squad.

“There’s a lot of players who have good ability, and that’s cool,” Basabe said Sunday. “I look at them, and I say, ‘They are good!’ And that makes me work more to be in the big leagues.”

That, of course, has been Rick Hahn’s goal all along during this rebuilding effort, to build as much depth throughout the farm system as possible.

That depth has been seemingly achieved among the organization’s starting-pitching corps, where Cease, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning have joined current big leaguers Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez as potential members of the rotation of the future.

The outfield, though, is equally loaded.

That depth is obvious with Basabe’s selection to the Futures Game. The White Sox are showing they deserve the title of one of baseball’s best farm systems when their No. 13 prospect is capable of reaching the game’s premier prospect event.

Of course, the other benefit of depth is tied to Basabe’s selection: It’s a heck of a safety net for the inevitable injuries that come with being a professional baseball player. Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo are all currently dealing with injuries of varying significance, with Adolfo out for the next eight to 10 months after having Tommy John surgery and Robert out for the second long stretch this season with a thumb injury.

No one is suggesting that these specific injuries will derail the careers of any of those three big talents. But being able to point to other young outfielders as backup plans is a key for any organization, especially one so focused on the future like the White Sox. Prospects succumbing to injuries or simply not reaching expectations is a reality of the game. But if such things should occur, the White Sox, at least, have quite the Plan Bs in the likes of Basabe, Rutherford, Gonzalez and more.

Take a look at the numbers the White Sox outfield prospects have put up this season.

— Jimenez: .313/.371/.541 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 65 with with Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte

— Robert: .293/.372/.373 with five extra-base hits and nine RBNIs in 21 games with Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem

— Adolfo: .283/.368/.466 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 78 games with Class A Winston-Salem

— Rutherford: .305/.348/.468 with 30 extra-base hits and 60 RBIs in 75 games for Class A Winston-Salem

— Basabe: .256/.356/.447 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 80 games with Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham

— Gonzalez: .300/.352/.478 with nine homers, 26 doubles and 38 RBIsin 75 games with Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem

— Booker: .285/.364/.440 with seven homers, 55 runs scored and 27 RBIs in 74 games with Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham

— Call: .251/.359/.407 with seven homers and 36 RBIs in 77 games with Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham

That’s all very, very good news for the White Sox.

Back in spring training, Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo talked about their desire to arrive on the South Side at about the same time and make up the team’s outfield one day. Well, there’s a good chance that the three outfielders on the next contending White Sox team will come from the above list of names.

“There’s a lot of competition,” Basabe said. “We’re here, this is what it’s about. We’ve got to compete.”

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

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AP

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 10 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: