White Sox

Ramirez gunning for first Gold Glove

827641.png

Ramirez gunning for first Gold Glove

Alexei Ramirez has proven to be an outstanding defender since the White Sox moved him to shortstop full-time in 2009.

But this spring training, the White Sox helped him improve with a minor adjustment in his pre-pitch setup. As the team heads in its 99th game against the Texas Rangers on Friday night, Ramirez is on pace to commit a career-low 12 errors this season.

Those figures have some in the White Sox clubhouse of the belief Ramirez -- who is on pace to make the same amount of plays as last season with an improved fielding percentage -- could win his first Gold Glove this season, if he hits enough.

He has great hands, said infielder and two-time Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson. He has great feet. He has great range and he takes good angles at different balls in the hole. Hes smooth. I like watching him play. Hes one of the best in the game. I hope he gets the Gold Glove this year. In my eyes it is (enough), but the guys who vote say youve gotta hit.

Ramirez is hitting .268 with three homers and 46 RBIs, which ranks second among American League shortstops.

Hes even better with the glove.

Back in February, the White Sox coaching staff noticed Ramirez would stand still prior to every pitch. They believed a tiny movement before each pitch would aid their already superb defender so they filmed his actions and sat him down to watch.

He adjusted to it right away, third-base coach Joe McEwing said. Theres some guys that stand still and waggle with the pitch. But if you have some movement, now youre able to adjust quicker. Youre able to get better jumps at balls off the bat. It has helped in going side-to-side more. He has plus range and a plus arm. So if hes able to get more balls thats better for everybody.

Ramirez said through a translator the added movement has helped him to further refine a position he has only played for four seasons.

I would definitely say it has helped me a lot, Ramirez said. I have a quicker reaction now toward the ball once its hit. Its keeping me agile. Even though I did not play the position (before 2009), I practiced it, so I felt comfortable. I feel like Im learning things on a daily basis. My confidence gets up more because I watch video and pick up things I can improve on.

Ramirez has also shown he feels comfortable at the plate recently. Over his last 34 games, Ramirez has raised his batting average 53 points. He has 17 multi-hit games in that span and has given manager Robin Ventura the confidence to hit him sixth in the absence of catcher A.J. Pierzynski the previous two games.

But will those totals be enough for Rawlings to contact Ramirez this offseason?

Its a shame that, at times, the Gold Glove is a hitting award, McEwing said. We think hes one of the best shortstops in the game. Every year, other shortstops getting mentioned and he doesnt, which is a shame because hes a talented kid.

Eloy Jimenez and a bunch of White Sox prospects get promoted as the rebuild advances

Eloy Jimenez and a bunch of White Sox prospects get promoted as the rebuild advances

For White Sox fans focused on what’s happening at the major league level, there’s understandable frustration over the team’s 25-games-below-.500 record.

But in the minor leagues, progress is happening, and there was no more tangible sign of that than Thursday, when a host of the organization’s highly touted prospects, including top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez, were promoted.

Jimenez, ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, is the biggest name of the bunch. He’s moving on up from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, joining top-ranked pitching prospect Michael Kopech as being just a step away from playing on the South Side.

Jimenez got a late start to the season while recovering from an injury, but he’s put up impressive numbers, with a .317/.368/.556 slash line to go along with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 doubles in 53 games.

Plenty of fans and observers have deemed Jimenez ready for the majors right now, but general manager Rick Hahn had said for a while that Jimenez would play at the Triple-A level, citing the different way pitchers will attack him as a hitter and the oft-discussed boxes that the White Sox need to see every prospect check (the reason Kopech is still playing at Triple-A).

Jimenez is the organization’s top-ranked prospect, but the White Sox have created an unbelievable depth of highly touted guys and a lot of them were on the move Thursday, too.

Luis Robert, who just recently started his season after recovering from a thumb injury, was moved from Class A Kannapolis to Class A Winston-Salem, as Hahn said he would just a little while ago. Robert was the victim of overcrowding in the Winston-Salem outfield, a problem somewhat remedied by Thursday’s moves. The No. 3 prospect in the White Sox system and the No. 24 prospect in baseball, Robert slashed .289/.360/.400 with four RBIs and four stolen bases in just 13 games.

Dylan Cease, acquired with Jimenez in last summer’s crosstown trade with the Cubs, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham. Cease is the organization’s No. 5 prospect and the No. 52 prospect in the game. He went 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71.2 innings with Winston-Salem.

Luis Alexander Basabe was one of the bigger stories of the first half of the minor league season, sticking out among a group of highly productive outfielders at Class A Winston-Salem. He was promoted to Double-A Birmingham after slashing .266/.370/.502 with nine homers, 12 doubles and five triples to go along with 30 RBIs in 58 games. Basabe is ranked the No. 13 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Luis Gonzalez tore it up in the first half at Class A Kannapolis, and last year’s third-round pick was promoted to Class A Winston-Salem. Ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the White Sox system, Gonzalez slashed .300/.358/.491 with eight homers, 16 doubles, 26 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 55 games.

Ian Hamilton was promoted from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte after posting a pencil-thin 1.78 ERA in 21 relief appearances. The No. 19 prospect in the White Sox organization racked up 12 saves in 13 save opportunities with the Barons and allowed just five earned runs in his 25.1 innings. Hamilton is a name to watch considering the bullpen of the future is far less defined than the White Sox rotation of the future.

Seby Zavala, ranked as the White Sox No. 21 prospect, showed during the first half that his prospect ranking should perhaps be much higher. He’s moving from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte after slashing .271/.358/.472 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 56 games.

Alex Call, a third-round pick in 2016, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham. Call slashed .256/.368/.421 with 19 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs in 56 games.

Joel Booker, who famously stole home for a walk-off win earlier this season and also won the South Atlantic League All-Star Game MVP award this week, was promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham after he slashed .297/.389/.468 21 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases in 53 games.

Blake Battenfield, taken in the 17th round of last year’s draft, starred for Class A Kannapolis in the first half with a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts. He struck out 69 batters in 67.2 innings and earned a promotion to Class A Winston-Salem.

Lincoln Henzman, another 2017 draftee, selected in the fourth round, was also promoted from Class A Kannapolis to Class A Winston-Salem. He had a 2.23 ERA and 60 strikeouts in his 13 starts with the Intimidators.

Report: Bulls looking to move up in NBA Draft for Bamba or Jackson

Report: Bulls looking to move up in NBA Draft for Bamba or Jackson

The Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings flipped a coin to determine which team gets two different sets of numbers for NBA Draft Lottery. The Bulls won, but their set of numbers landed them the seventh overall pick. Meanwhile, the Kings won overall landing the second overall pick.

While the coin toss and lottery didn't work in their favor, the Bulls could be taking matters into their own hands and are looking to climb the draft order. According to a report from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the Bulls are "exploring the possibility of moving up to No. 4 or No. 5".

Bulls fans have been enamored with Michael Porter Jr., but Givony says the Bulls are looking for a big man to pair alongside Lauri Markkanen like Mo Bamba or Jaren Jackson Jr.

RELATED: All of our 2018 NBA Draft content in one convenient place

The seventh overall pick has been kind to the Bulls in the past, netting the team players like Kirk Hinrich and more recently, Markkanen (who was technically drafted by the Timberwolves but was a part of the trade for Jimmy Butler on draft night).

Now, Markkanen is the centerpiece of the Bulls plans as they build for the future. After Bamba's workout with the Bulls, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider Vincent Goodwill noted the Texas big man could be the best fit alongside Markkanen and Bamba agreed.

“I think Lauri and I, we're in a sense ... the front court of the future,” Bamba said. “I mean, he can step out and really shoot it really well. That gives me a lot of room to operate down low and start to develop.”

NBA Draft night could once again shape up to be an exciting night for Bulls fans.

Make sure to follow Bulls Talk, insider Vincent Goodwill and Mark Strotman for all the latest news surrounding the NBA Draft. Goodwill and Strotman will be at the Advocate Center, the Bulls Draft headquarter providing extensive coverage.