White Sox

Manny Machado's high school coach thinks he'll go to the White Sox, though he's got some interesting reasoning

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USA TODAY

Manny Machado's high school coach thinks he'll go to the White Sox, though he's got some interesting reasoning

White Sox fans are going to like Manny Machado's high school baseball coach. Why? Because he thinks the 26-year-old free-agent superstar is coming to the South Side.

Lazaro Fundora, Machado's high school coach in Miami, told NJ.com's Brendan Kuty that the White Sox will be where Machado ends up — because it's where he can play shortstop.

"As far as where he could play shortstop, for instance, that’s why I think the White Sox could be it," Fundora said in the interview. "That’s just me thinking as a baseball guy.

"Well, if you want to play short, that will probably be the best venue for him."

That's an interesting thought for a lot of people, Tim Anderson probably chief among them.

It's well known that Machado prefers to play shortstop, and you'd think that every team involved in this derby — the White Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees — would be willing to let him do so. But all of them have shortstops already, to one degree or another.

Anderson is arguably the most entrenched of any of them, one of the few long-term pieces currently on the White Sox major league roster and a player under contract for at least the next four seasons. His defensive improvement at shortstop was one of the high points of last year's 100-loss season on the South Side. Machado is obviously an incredible player with an excellent track record, and it wouldn't be ridiculous to move Anderson to another position — something the team-oriented Anderson would likely have no problem doing. But Machado is also a two-time Gold Glove winner at third base, a position where the White Sox don't have an obvious long-term answer. And hundreds of millions of dollars make a convincing argument to slide back over to the hot corner. Of course, there's been plenty of talk that the White Sox might move second baseman Yoan Moncada to third base, in part because of the long-term projection of last year's first-round pick, Nick madrigal, a defensive whiz on the middle infield.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have an even more complex situation on their infield. Didi Gregorius will be on the mend from Tommy John surgery for the first few months of the 2019 season, creating a hole at shortstop that it seemed like Machado would be a no-brainer to fill. Gregorius is also slated to be a free agent after the 2019 season. Then the Yankees signed Troy Tulowitzki to a league-minimum deal, creating all sorts of uproar, and they've been rumored to be potentially trying to trade Miguel Andujar, their third baseman who nearly won AL Rookie of the Year honors last season. It's been speculated they could also move Andujar to first base, too.

The Phillies might actually have the clearest path for Machado to play shortstop. Yes, they acquired Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason, but it's been discussed he could be moved around more easily, perhaps just over to second base.

Fundora also brought up Machado's long-held desire to play for the Yankees. But he said that the desire to play shortstop could trump that. (So, too, most likely, would that team's reported unwillingness to offer a really big contract.)

"He’s been a Yankees fan his whole life," Fundora said in the interview. "Anybody would like to wear those pinstripes, would love to play with the Yankees. I think that’s definitely up there. But as far as where he could play shortstop, for instance, that’s why I think the White Sox could be it."

That's some interesting reasoning that you think wouldn't exactly be at the top of Machado's list of demands. Money, city, the potential for winning championships and comfort with an organization would figure to be more important factors.

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Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: