White Sox

Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 11:58 p.m.
By Scott Phillips
YourSeason.com

Chicago certainly loves its basketball.

In front of a sold-out United Center crowd, fans that usually pack the place for Derrick Rose and the Bulls were treated to the flash and flair of the 34th annual McDonalds All-American game as the East topped the West 111-96 on Wednesday night.

The announced crowd of 19,909, the largest crowd ever for a McDonalds game, saw the typical highlight-reel plays that such a game produces. They also saw Sun-Times Player of the Year Wayne Blackshear battle through a dislocated left shoulder to play limited minutes.

After initially saying he wouldnt play in the game on Monday, Morgan Parks Blackshear, a Louisville recruit, played through the pain and started the game.

"Before I first came on the court I was in the back with team doctors trying to figure out if I would be able to play," Blackshear said. "(My shoulder) wasn't even hurting at all. I got loose before the game and it was okay. I was a little scared of it but it was nothing major. I was okay.

The doctor approved him to play limited minutes, said West coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph. So we decided to start him and play him four minutes each half.

Blackshear finished the game with two points on 1-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and two assists in eight minutes of playing time.

"It was fun. (It was my) first time on the United Center floor. It was a dream for me. I was just blessed to be here," Blackshear said, "I wanted to play, but all of the doctors told me no. But on game day we checked it out and they said I was good to go."

After trailing 57-44 at halftime, the West came roaring back thanks to the strong play of Chicagos other representative, Perspectives-MSAs Anthony Davis. The Kentucky recruit came out firing in the second half, leading the West on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 57-all. Davis scored nine of his 14 points in the second half and also finished with six rebounds and four blocks. Davis was 5-of-8 from the field.

Still, it wasnt enough as the East capitalized on 18 West turnovers that led to 26 points. The game featured 10 lead changes and 11 ties, but co-MVPs James McAdoo and Michael Gilchrist fought off the constant pushes from the West to pull away. McAdoo, a North Carolina recruit, had a game-high 17 points while Kentucky recruit Gilchrist notched 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Florida recruit Brad Beal also had 17 points for the East while Pittsburgh recruit Khem Birch led the West with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. The East also had double-figure efforts from North Carolina recruit P.J. Hairston (15 points) and Duke recruit Quinn Cook (14 points).

Austin Rivers, the son of former Proviso East legend and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. The Duke commit shot 5-of-14 from the field.

Kentucky recruit Kyle Wiltjer (11 points) and Indiana recruit Cody Zeller (10 points) also finished in double figures for the West.

White Sox prospect Luis Robert on fire fresh off promotion to Triple-A

White Sox prospect Luis Robert on fire fresh off promotion to Triple-A

Luis Robert has been promoted twice in 2019, but nothing has slowed down his red-hot season.

The 21-year-old Cuban has only played in five games for Triple-A Charlotte, but has skipped past the adjustment period and has been productive in all five.

After collecting two hits, a walk and two stolen bases on Monday, Robert is hitting .429/.500/.810 for the Knights. He has reached base at least twice in every game with Charlotte.

Robert has shown some versatility in his game as well. He hit four extra base hits in his first three games, including two home runs in his first game for Charlotte. In the last two he has added three stolen bases. One of the stolen bases on Monday didn’t require a slide.


With Eloy Jimenez coming into his own for the White Sox and Dylan Cease one start into his major league career, Luis Robert is the clear gem of the White Sox system currently. The outfielder is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

Charlotte’s BB&T Ballpark is known as a hitters’ park and Triple-A plays with the same baseballs that have been under fire lately for being juiced for hitters in the majors. It makes sense that Robert would put up big numbers, but it’s still an impressive start that has White Sox fans antsy for his call-up.

It’s just five games and the White Sox haven’t been in any rush with their top prospects, but Robert is showing that he isn’t that far away from being ready for MLB pitching.

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Jason Heyward getting back to 'who he's supposed to be' in Cubs lineup

Jason Heyward getting back to 'who he's supposed to be' in Cubs lineup

This is the Jason Heyward the Cubs thought they were getting when they signed him to an eight-year deal in December 2015.

Back then, the Cubs believed Heyward had more power to tap into from his 6-foot-5, 240-pound, linebacker-esque frame. 

It didn't play out that way initially, with Heyward hitting only 26 homers to go along with a .367 slugging percentage and .688 OPS in his first three seasons in a Cubs uniform.

But all that has changed this year.

Heyward is on pace for 26 homers in 2019 — which would equal that three-year total — and his 71 RBI pace would be his highest since 2012, when he drove in 82 runs.

The 29-year-old hit his 15th homer of the season Sunday and it marks the first time he's eclipsed the 15-homer threshold since that same 2012 season, when he hit 27 dingers as a 22-year-old with the Atlanta Braves.

The power is the area that jumps off the page right now about the new and improved Heyward, but that carries with it a grain of salt that must be taken with everybody's longball total in the game right now. But his walk rate (11.6 percent) is the second-best mark of his career to only his rookie season in 2010. He's also pulling the ball less than he ever has and utilizing the middle of the field more while his hard and soft contact rates are far and away better than they've ever been in a Cubs uniform. 

All told, this is not the same hitter Cubs fans saw in the first three years of Heyward's megadeal.

"He's set up a little bit differently," Joe Maddon said. "Right now, his confidence is soaring. That ball was properly struck [Sunday afternoon] and he's been doing that often — even his basehits.

"... He's set up a little bit differently, but honestly, I think it's a confidence thing right now. He's feeling so good about himself. He's on the barrel more. I mean that's obvious. You don't see the ball off the weaker part of the bat nearly as often as we've seen in the past. I think that's the primary difference — the ball's off the barrel. 

"His hands are really alive. I love that the ball's still line to line, but the power is still showing up. I think that's exactly who he's supposed to be."

Sunday's homer was the game-winning hit for the Cubs and Heyward put his team in front once again Monday night with an RBI groundout to plate Kris Bryant in the fourth inning before a bullpen/defensive meltdown in the seventh inning. Oh yeah, and he got the game-winning knock in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday immediately after the Cubs gave the lead right back to the Pirates in the pivotal first game coming out of the All-Star Break.

He's been a difference-maker in this Cubs lineup all year, even as they search for more consistency and steady production. 

Heyward has gone from a guy who was on the bench in some of the most important games in the 2016-17 postseason because of his offensive issues to an integral part of this team's run production.

He's shown flashes of this in the past, including a month or so in the early part of last summer where he got really hot. But this has been sustained offensive production. In every month but May (when he batted .186 with a .618 OPS), Heyward has hit over .300 with an OPS well above league average, including a .968 mark in June and .992 in April.

But right now, he's not getting into all that. He's just trying to ride the wave of a long season.

"I don't try to break it down at all, honestly," Heyward said. "Just keep it simple and just stay in tune to what I got going on — first at-bat or whatever. It is kinda simple when you just look at it — not dwell on the negative, don't get too deep on that. 'Cause you're gonna fail. Just kinda choose how you want that to happen and make the best."