White Sox

Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Sunday Oct. 17, 2010
Posted: 8:20 a.m.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
The Arizona Fall League can be used as a springboard or a showcase for some players, letting them finish the calendar year on a positive note. Very often a good a good AFL showing will also create some buzz around a player heading into spring training the following year.

Josh Vitters falls under the former category while Kyle Smit can, at least for the moment, be classified as part of the latter. Both are playing for Mesa this fall and each played a big part in Saturday nights 10-1 victory over the Peoria Saguaros.

The Cubs made Vitters the third pick in the 2007 draft yet he hasnt lived up to such a lofty selection. Hes made a steady climb through Chicagos system and played well enough but has yet to dominate the way a high draft pick is expected to dominate. He split this season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, struggling when he reached the Southern League before a broken hand ended his year in July.

To say that Vitters has something to prove this fall would be an understatement. A big showing in the AFL would go a long way toward putting some polish back on his young career despite the fact he only turned 21 in August. More efforts like Saturdays would accomplish that task.

Vitters had a homer and four RBIs and has four hits and five RBIs in his last two games. He had only 39 RBIs in 91 games at two levels during the regular season so this marks a fine start for the third baseman. Ryan Flaherty went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

As for Smit, well, it certainly appears as if the Cubs found a gem when they acquired him from the Dodgers in a deadline deal this July. He pitched two scoreless innings and earned his first AFL victory. He hasnt allowed a run in four AFL innings after pitching to a 1.96 ERA and winning five of the 12 games in which he appeared for Tennessee following the trade.

Based on what he did after the deal and how he has performed thus far in the AFL, Smit should have a wonderful opportunity to open some more organizational eyes in spring training.

Chris Carpenter also pitched two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a pair of walks. Hes walked three and allowed five hits through four AFL innings.

The Saguaros, who have a healthy contingent of White Sox prospects, managed only seven hits. Jared Mitchell, who drew two walks, had one of them. Jason Bour, who split the season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, went 0-for-1 in his AFL debut while Eduardo Escobar went 0-for-3.

Anthony Carter made his debut and struck out three batters in his inning of work. He appeared in 46 games for Birmingham during the regular season. Charlie Leesman allowed a run in one inning for the second time in as many outings.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

White Sox Talk Podcast: SoxFest at Night!

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Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Cubs and outfielder Steven Souza have agreed to a one-year, big-league deal. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported Friday the two sides were nearing an agreement.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions. The Diamondbacks non-tendered him last month.

Souza is a career .233/.323/.417 hitter with 70 home runs in five seasons. His best campaign came with the Rays in 2017: .239/.351/.459, 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+ — all career-bests, excluding his average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than average (23).

Signing Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

He's coming off a serious knee injury, but Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. If he's healthy, he’ll add power to the middle of the order and add another bat to an outfield group with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another option in case those two slump again, with room for a larger role.