White Sox

Is Reynaldo Lopez a future ace? Already with 10 quality starts to his name, consistency is a good first step

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USA TODAY

Is Reynaldo Lopez a future ace? Already with 10 quality starts to his name, consistency is a good first step

Is Reynaldo Lopez a future ace? His manager thinks so.

Lopez might not be the biggest name in the White Sox rebuilding effort, with much of the pitching hype going to Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen, even to Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease. But what Lopez is doing at the major league level shows he’s got as much of a chance at starring in that crowded rotation of the future as anyone.

Friday night’s six innings and three runs in the White Sox series-opening loss to the visiting Detroit Tigers was far from Lopez’s best moment in a season that’s gone very well for him to this point. He gave up nine hits, one off his season high, and only struck out three opposing hitters. But he kept the White Sox around long enough for Omar Narvaez to tie the game with a three-run homer after he threw his final pitch of the evening in the sixth.

A shut-down performance it was not. But it was quality, certainly by the statistic and perhaps by many other measures. It was his sixth quality start in his last eight outings, and it’s that consistency that’s made him the team’s best starting pitcher this season.

It’s part of what makes Rick Renteria see a future ace.

“Right now, he’s scratching at the surface of what he can be,” Renteria said before Friday’s game. “He’s got the makeup. I think his mound presence when he goes out there — at the beginning of the season, we would have moments where he would hit or miss in terms of what we thought his intensity level was like before the start of a game — but he’s been much more focused and committed to what he’s going to be able to do in terms of attacking the opponent.

“It has shown in his last few outings, and the way he’s approached his pitching, he’s gotten us deep into ballgames, minimized damage on the other side. He continues to mature. I think his confidence level is really growing. I think you put that together with the ability to repeat a delivery, use all your pitches whenever you want to use them, if you command the zone as he has been. He’s got a chance because not only does he have stuff, he has the ability to command that stuff.”

Renteria, in describing a variety of White Sox starters this season, has talked about the ability of a pitcher to keep the damage low, to hang around and eat up innings, as signs of growth and signs of quality contributions. It sounds simple enough: Prevent the other team from scoring a bunch of runs and make it so the bullpen doesn’t have to throw a bunch of innings. Sounds like the bare-minimum requirements of a starting pitcher rather than the definition of a front-of-the-rotation guy.

But you can’t have one without the other. It’s been upsettingly obvious to White Sox fans how certain young pitchers haven’t been able to accomplish those tasks this season. It shows that Lopez is perhaps ahead of the game in his development while his contemporaries continue to go through more visible growing pains.

Reliability has been the name of the game for Lopez, who after Friday’s start owns a 3.35 ERA and 10 quality starts on the season. Only 16 pitchers in baseball have recorded double-digit quality starts this season.

“That’s part of it. Like today, grinding through when the game first started, the first couple of innings. You are going, ‘Man, he got a little deeper into his pitch count.’ You are wondering if he was able to get through it.

“He was able to just kind of magically get to the sixth inning with 97 or 98 pitches. So, he gave us a chance. He truly gave us a chance.”

Lopez is happy to have the confidence and the praise of his manager. Giving your team a chance to win, that’s the goal for pitchers, and that’s what Lopez has been doing on a start-by-start basis. He also happens to think things have gone well.

“Those words make me feel proud, especially coming from Ricky,” he said through a translator. “I work hard every day to try to improve, to try to do my best every time that I have the opportunity to go out there to pitch and perform. It’s good when you hear those comments about yourself. That’s a motivation because you see that people are noticing what you’re doing and all the work that you put in day in and day out in this sport. And especially for me this season, it’s been a very good season.”

White Sox are considering five players for the third pick in the MLB draft

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USA TODAY

White Sox are considering five players for the third pick in the MLB draft

While more key White Sox prospects are making the jump to the majors and progressing through the higher levels of the minors, the farm system is still due to get another significant prospect.

That’s because the White Sox hold the third pick in the draft, which is six weeks away on June 3. This is the highest pick the White Sox have had since the team took Carlos Rodon No. 3 overall in 2014. Last year the White Sox had the fourth pick and took Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal.

Nick Hostetler is the White Sox director of amateur scouting, which means he is the face of the White Sox draft. In an interview with James Fegan of The Athletic, Hostetler said the White Sox have “dwindled our list down to about five” players they could take with the third pick.

So who could those five players be? This year’s draft class is position-player heavy at the top, which is something Hostetler later admits, but he did said there is “a pitcher still in our mix.” Given that, it sounds like four position players and a pitcher.

MLB Pipeline has six position players topping its rankings while Baseball America had batters occupying the top nine spots. Baseball America added that “four players seem to have put themselves into a tier among their own.” In that group is Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn and two high school shortstops, Bobby Witt Jr. and C.J. Abrams. FanGraphs and ESPN have the same top four in some order.

Rutschman was Madrigal’s teammate at Oregon State last year when the Beavers won the College World Series. He is the consensus top-rated prospect with Pipeline, BA, ESPN and FanGraphs all putting Rutschman No. 1.

After that things vary a little bit with Vaughn offering comical offensive numbers the last two years for Cal. He had a 1.350 OPS last year as a sophomore and has a 1.219 OPS so far this season.

Witt and Abrams are prep shortstops noted as good athletes. Witt’s father was the third overall pick in 1985. Abrams is known for his elite speed and went to the same high school in Georgia (Blessed Trinity Catholic) as former White Sox players Tyler Flowers and Matt Skole.

Finding out the pitcher Hostetler was referring to is trickier, although TCU left-hander Nick Lodolo is having a dominant junior season with 77 strikeouts, a 2.20 ERA and a WHIP just under 1 in 65 1/3 innings.

The draft is only six weeks away, but things can change quickly as these players wind down their season. Still, these are names that will continue to be named towards the top of the draft.

 

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Eloy Jimenez set to miss a few games after White Sox place him on bereavement list

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USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez set to miss a few games after White Sox place him on bereavement list

Eloy Jimenez will get a couple days away from baseball to be with his family in the Dominican Republic following the passing of his grandmother.

The White Sox placed Jimenez on the bereavement list and brought up Nicky Delmonico from Triple-A in his place. Jimenez has returned to his hometown of Santo Domingo.


He must remain on the bereavement list for at least three days so he will miss at least all of the three-game series in Baltimore that starts Monday night.

Jimenez takes a knee before his first trip to the plate each game and wears red batting gloves in memory of grandfather. He told Chuck Garfien that story on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast.

After a surge in his second week in the majors that saw his batting average rise to .319 and his OPS hit .828, Jimenez has hit a bit of a rough patch. He is 3-for-31 in his last eight games, although that does include a home run Wednesday in Detroit. Overall, Jimenez is hitting .231/.286/.372.

Delmonico joins the White Sox for the first time in 2019 after starting the season with Triple-A Charlotte. He is hitting .286/.382/.540 for the Knights. The 26-year-old played 131 games with the White Sox between 2017 and 2018. He struggled with the team in 2018 after showing some potential when he was first called up the year before.

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