White Sox

Rick Hahn referred to himself as a 'jackass' as Fernando Tatis Jr. came up again at SoxFest

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn referred to himself as a 'jackass' as Fernando Tatis Jr. came up again at SoxFest

The White Sox farm system is undoubtedly loaded.

Rick Hahn pulled off three big trades in 2016 and 2017 to import Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, Yoan Moncada, Dane Dunning, Luis Basabe and Lucas Giolito into the organization. Add the other talent acquired through the draft or international signings, and there are few better systems in the game.

So why did the White Sox general manager refer to himself as a "jackass" on Saturday?

In what seems to be an annual tradition now at SoxFest, there was mention of Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the highest-rated prospects in baseball and a one-time White Sox signee who was traded to the San Diego Padres in the deal for James Shields just months before the start of the rebuild.

It's arguably the lone mistake Hahn & Co. have made during this rebuilding process (and it technically took place before the process started), with Tatis closing in on the majors and widely regarded as one of the best young talents around. Tatis was just 17 years old when the White Sox made the deal and had yet to play a minor league game. But that hasn't been much of an excuse in the minds of White Sox fans, who in an alternate reality could've seen Tatis and Eloy Jimenez sharing spots at the top of the prospect rankings.

Last year, a fan lobbed a question toward members of the front office during a panel Hahn wasn't a part of: "How could you whiff on him?" This year, Hahn took the initiative himself.

While praising the organization's success in the international-signing department, Hahn was listing the achievements of the department run by Marco Paddy and eventually got to Tatis, offering up a self-critique in the process.

"Since we’ve hired Marco Paddy and the staff he’s put together internationally, we’ve been as strong as anybody," Hahn said. "Signing Luis Robert, which was an example of us being strong internationally, did put us in the penalty box for a couple years, and we had to use some of that slot money in different ways to add talent. But his first signing was Micker Adolfo, who’s becoming one of the better prospects in the organization.

"He also signed someone that some jackass traded, a pretty good prospect by the name of Tatis."

Ouch. Self burn.

Hahn was likely poking fun at the social-media criticism he receives for making the move as much as he was perhaps admitting any regret at dealing away a guy who turned into a top prospect.

Of course, what shouldn't be lost in all that is that the White Sox have a pair of international signees in the system who figure to one day be a part of the outfield of the future. Nor should it be forgotten that Hahn has made a bevy of moves that have loaded the system and made the future extremely bright.

But if Tatis blossoms into an All-Star shortstop with the Padres, then he'll always be the one who got away.

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White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

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USA TODAY

White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

The White Sox saw another pitcher hit the shelf due to injury on Saturday.

Ahead of their game against the Rays, the White Sox placed reliever Kelvin Herrera on the 10-day injured with a right oblique strain. In a corresponding move, the team recalled right-hander Jimmy Cordero from Triple-A Charlotte.

Entering the 2019 season, Herrera was expected to be a formidable late-game reliever in the White Sox bullpen alongside closer Álex Colomé. While Colomé (20-for-21 in save chances, 2.39 ERA in 37 2/3 innings) has thrived, Herrera has struggled in his debut season on the South Side. The 29-year-old holds a 7.36 ERA in 38 games/33 innings. As things currently stand, his .326 batting average against and 3.82 BB/9 would be career highs. 

Herrera's struggles are somewhat suprising when considering how well he pitched (2.44 ERA, 48 games/44 1/3 innings) in 2018. He did struggle after the Royals traded him to the Nationals on June 18, though, perhaps a precursor of what was to come from him in 2019:

Kelvin Herrera in 2018:

  with Royals with Nationals
Games 27 21
Innings 25 2/3 18 2/3
ERA 1.05 4.34
BB 2 8
K 22 16
BAA .207 .304

The White Sox claimed Cordero off of waivers from the Mariners on June 7. He previously pitched with the Nationals (22 games, 19 innings) in 2018 and Blue Jays (one game, 1 1/3 innings) in 2019. He holds a career 5.75 ERA in the MLB, but he's pitched well with Charlotte. The 28-year-old has gone 3-1 with a 0.51 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Knights, with opponents hitting just .215 against him in 13 outings.

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Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals and the White Sox first win after the break, snapping a seven-game skid.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

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