Robin Ventura

When They Were Prospects: Alex Fernandez

When They Were Prospects: Alex Fernandez

With such a strong focus on current White Sox prospects, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at statistics and scouting reports of other South Side stars on their journey to the MLB. 

The White Sox run of first round draft picks from 1987-90 is one of the best four-year stretches in the history of the MLB Draft.

Jack McDowell (1987), Robin Ventura (1988), Frank Thomas (1989) and Alex Fernandez (1990). Hard to do better than that.

While Fernandez is the only one of the quartet never to receive All-Star honors, make no mistake about it, the White Sox 4th overall selection in the 1990 Draft was a solid choice.

[When They Were Prospects: Jose Abreu]

He was 1987 Gatorade Florida State Player of the Year at Monsignor Edward Pace High School. 

He transferred from the University of Miami to Miami-Dade South Community College in order to be draft eligible sooner, and ended up the 1990 Golden Spikes Award winner (awarded to the best amateur baseball player in the country). He was the first to win the award at a junior college; a feat unmatched until Bryce Harper did it 20 years later.

After the draft, Fernandez tuned up with eight minor league starts, putting up a sparkling 1.81 ERA (in 49.2 IP) including a 17-strikeout performance in A-ball. He was ready to go.

The hefty right-hander was the first player from the 1990 MLB Draft to reach the Majors -- he and Frank Thomas both made their MLB Debuts for the Sox in Game 1 of an Aug. 2, 1990 doubleheader in Milwaukee.

Fernandez pitched for the Southsiders through his age 26 season (1996), compiling a 3.78 ERA and 951 strikeouts in 1,346.2 innings during that time. It's a workload that only four pitchers since have been able to match through their age 26 season. 

Most innings through age 26 season (1990-present):

1620.1 - Felix Hernandez

1406.1 - CC Sabathia

1397.2 - Madison Bumgarner

1378.1 - Clayton Kershaw

1346.1 - Alex Fernandez

From 1991 through 1996 (with the exception of the 1994 strike-shortened season), Fernandez put up at least 180 innings every year. In 1995 and 1996, the Miami native started the White Sox season opener. He reached a career-high of 200 strikeouts in 1996 as he was ready to test free agency.

Fernandez signed a 5-year, $35M contract to pitch for his hometown beginning in 1997. He pitched well in his debut season with the Marlins, posting a 3.59 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 220.2 frames. A badly torn rotator cuff was diagnosed after a rough start in Atlanta in the NLCS. He was only 28 years old, but his shoulder would never be quite right again.

The White Sox all-time prospect team is sick

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AP

The White Sox all-time prospect team is sick

You know all about the current crop of White Sox prospects. Baseball America has five in its top 100. MLB Pipeline has seven.

But did you realize how many White Sox greats from the past three decades were rated as top-100 prospects?

Baseball Twitter had some fun earlier this week looking back at Baseball America's all-time top-100 prospect lists, the site's top-100 prospects for every year going back to 1990, and assembling all-time prospect squads for big league teams.

Well, I took a crack at assembling a 25-man roster for the White Sox, and it is very, very good.

Pre-2005 stars are well represented in this conversation, with guys like Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee and Ray Durham as no-doubt starters. But world champs like Tadahito Iguchi, Bobby Jenks and Jon Garland also made the cut. So too did a Hall of Famer in Frank Thomas and active players like Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and even Gio Gonzalez, who never pitched for the White Sox but had multiple stints in their farm system.

The choices were limited to guys who were ranked as top-100 prospects when they part of the White Sox organization. That, for example, is why you won't see Paul Konerko, who was a top-100 prospect (four times!) when he was part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

Oh, and I also decided to leave off current prospects like Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez because there's no knowing what they'll be just yet. They might one day dominate this list. Though I did include current catching prospect Zack Collins backing up Tyler Flowers because those were the only two White Sox catchers on the lists.

Here's my 25-man team, and let me know if I left someone off you would've included. The full lists are right here. Just Ctrl+F "White Sox" — or any other team you choose — to zoom down the lists.

Pitchers

James Baldwin
John Danks
Jon Garland
Gio Gonzalez
Roberto Hernandez
Daniel Hudson
Bobby Jenks
Brandon McCarthy
Jon Rauch
Addison Reed
Carlos Rodon
Chris Sale

Catchers

Zack Collins
Tyler Flowers

Infielders

Jose Abreu
Gordon Beckham
Joe Crede
Ray Durham
Tadahito Iguchi
Robin Ventura

Outfielders

Mike Cameron
Carlos Lee
Magglio Ordonez
Ryan Sweeney

Designated hitter

Frank Thomas

And if I was forced to play manager and write up a starting lineup ...

1. Ray Durham, 2B
2. Mike Cameron, CF
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Frank Thomas, DH
5. Magglio Ordonez, RF
6. Robin Ventura, 3B
7. Carlos Lee, LF
8. Gordon Beckham, SS
9. Tyler Flowers, C

Chris Sale, SP

Reinsdorf: Ozzie Guillen 'can't come back' as White Sox manager

Reinsdorf: Ozzie Guillen 'can't come back' as White Sox manager

The calls for Ozzie Guillen to return as the White Sox skipper will go unanswered as long as Jerry Reinsdorf owns the team. 

The chairman made that crystal clear in his interview with USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday:  

I feel very badly for him. Ozzie is a good manager. I’ve recommended Ozzie for several managerial positions that opened up, but his experience in Miami was costly.

I hope he ends up somewhere. He can help somebody. He just can’t come back here. He burned some bridges when he left here.

Guillen presided over the 2005 World Series team and compiled 678 wins in his eight seasons on the South Side, but he was a habitual line stepper, to quote the late Charlie Murphy. 

The former manager was a consistent adversary to then-GM Kenny Williams, who now fills the executive vice president role on the South Side. Their arguments often spilled over into the media, painting an ugly picture of their relationship.

[MORE: Crosstown Love: Cubs quietly gave Rick Renteria World Series ring]  

Ozzie's filter-free approach followed him to Miami, where he was the manager for one season. There, he made the mistake of saying that he "respected Fidel Castro," which didn't exactly thrill a city with a large Cuban population. He was fired at year's end. 

As for a possible return to the Sox, the shouts were deafening towards the end of Robin Ventura's term -- mostly because of the contrast between Ozzie's get-in-your-face personality and Ventura's calm demeanor. But with Rick Renteria leading the young team, they've quelled to a certain extent. 

"Ozzie Ball" won't be returning to Chicago anytime soon.