White Sox

Amid otherwise joyous SoxFest, one fan wanted to know how White Sox could have traded away Fernando Tatis Jr.


Amid otherwise joyous SoxFest, one fan wanted to know how White Sox could have traded away Fernando Tatis Jr.

"How could you whiff on him?"

That was the somewhat harsh question lobbed during the final panel of this year's otherwise joyous SoxFest, members of the organization's front office and player-development staff getting quizzed over why Fernando Tatis Jr. wasn't among the fleet of prospects who were omnipresent this weekend at the Hilton Chicago.

Tatis was dealt to the San Diego Padres along with pitcher Erik Johnson in the 2016 in-season trade that brought James Shields to the South Side. It's important to note, of course, that trade occurred prior to the announcement of the now-beloved rebuild, back when the White Sox were trying to best position themselves for a run at an American League Central championship in the final year of the Robin Ventura Era.

Oh, and Tatis was just 17 years old at the time.

Since, Tatis has rocketed up prospect lists, and just Saturday night he was named by MLB Pipeline as the No. 8 prospect in the game. The next morning, at least one fan was wondering why — particularly in the wake of a year and a half of substandard pitching from Shields — the White Sox let Tatis slip away.

"Any time you trade a 17-year-old — obviously we were high on him when we signed him — there’s risk," Jeremy Haber, the White Sox assistant general manager, said in response to perhaps the weekend's only negative query — other than when someone complained to Rick Renteria that he bunts too much. "At the time, we were … competing for a playoff spot. This organization has never been shy about being aggressive when we’re trying to win. And that’s going to come with the potential of trading someone who’s good. We expect when teams call and ask for our players, just like with our major league players, there’s a reason they like them.

"The track record in this business is not 100 percent."

Of course, it would be nice to have Tatis starring alongside Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and the five other White Sox prospects who landed on MLB Pipeline's top-100 list Saturday night. But the sheer volume of highly touted prospects that general manager Rick Hahn and his front office have injected into this organization in the past year plus remains staggering, and you could still make a case that the White Sox — even after Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez graduated from prospect status — have the most impressive farm system in baseball.

Haber's line about a less-than-perfect track record, though, is an important thing to remember as the rebuild moves along. While the White Sox have a seemingly endless amount of exciting young players right now, the odds nearly guarantee that not all of them will pan out.

"As we sit here today, you look at not just what you hear from us or what you’re seeing with your eyes, but what’s being reported by people outside the organization, we objectively have options at every position, guys who could, if they max out and hit their ceiling, provide us with championship-caliber players at every position on the field and on the pitching staff," Hahn said during his pre-SoxFest press conference Friday. "Unfortunately, player development isn’t always linear and cruel things happen and the baseball gods likely have some hiccups in store for us along the way. So ultimately not everyone is going to hit those ceilings, in all probability."

Given his high ranking, Tatis looks at the moment like one that got away. But there are an awful lot of highly ranked players — Jimenez ranked fourth and Kopech ranked 10th on the same list — under the White Sox control to make sure Tatis' absence doesn't put any damper on this rebuilding process.

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.

Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues


Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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