White Sox

Trayce Thompson ready to hit reset button and work his way back into White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

Trayce Thompson ready to hit reset button and work his way back into White Sox rebuild

Had the White Sox rebuild started a year earlier than it did, there’s a good chance that Trayce Thompson would have factored heavily into the front office’s long-term plans.

He certainly wouldn’t have been swapped for Todd Frazier in that win-now three-team deal before the 2016 season. And with his age what it was, he might’ve been viewed as a key cog in those now-so-omnipresent 2020 lineup projections.

At least, that’s where Thompson always wanted to be.

“Getting traded from here, I was devastated,” Thompson said. “Playing for the Dodgers was special, but I wanted to be with the White Sox. I was drafted by this team when I was a teenager. I wanted to be here for as long as I could possibly think of. … These guys took a chance on me when I was a teenager and they stuck with me when I was not good in the minor leagues. They always believed in me, so I always hope for the best for this organization.”

More than two seasons later, Thompson is once again with the White Sox, acquired in a Thursday trade with the Oakland Athletics. But this time he’ll have to work his way into talk of the team’s bright future. Though he’s still a young player at 27, he’s not named Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert or Micker Adolfo or Luis Alexander Basabe or Charlie Tilson or Ryan Cordell or Daniel Palka or Luis Gonzalez.

But none of those guys have the opportunity Thompson does now: to impress this coaching staff and this front office at the major league level.

“I think like that anywhere I go,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in Chicago or L.A. or Oakland. I always thought that I had the ability to play every day. I feel like I showed that when I was here in ’15. I know it was brief, small sample size. I know that. But then in ’16 I thought I did the same thing in L.A. There was a point there in the middle of that season where I was hitting in the middle of the order for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was 25 years old, and I know it was a small sample size, but I know I’m that same player. It’s up to me to go prove myself again.”

In this developmental season, where contenting for a championship isn’t expected, why not?

Of course in order to earn that consideration, Thompson will have to play much more like he did that last time he wore a White Sox uniform than how he has since he left. In 44 games with the South Siders in 2015, Thompson opened a lot of eyes with a .295/.363/.533 slash line and 16 extra-base hits in 122 at-bats. After getting dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, however, he slashed just .225/.302/.436 in 80 games in 2016 and was much worse in 27 games last season: .122/.218/.265.

“Last year I was terrible,” Thompson said. “I was terrible last year. I have to prove that I’m the same guy I was before that, and I think I’m ready to. I had a full offseason to work out and get ready, so like I said I’m ready to go.”

Thompson is likely to get plenty of opportunity. After a red-hot spring, Adam Engel is looking much like he did last season, entering action Friday with a .179 batting average in 14 games. Nicky Delmonico has quietly been one of the team’s more reliable hitters, with a .283 average and a .377 on-base percentage, but as expected his splits are heavily skewed: He’s hitting .316 against righties and is just 1-for-8 against lefties.

“I think he’s going to provide an option at all three outfield positions,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Certainly, at the bare minimum, he’ll provide some defensive assistance late in ballgames like we’ve used Leury Garcia for that purpose a few times.

“I think now with Trayce in that role could potentially give Nicky a little time against certain lefties. I think we’re real pleased with the way Nicky battles against lefties and righties, and he’s not necessarily screaming out for a platoon partner per say, but there’ll be a couple of matchups where Trayce could help with that. And he plays a very strong center field, and we’ve got a guy in Engel right now who’s sort of struggling to get back to where he was all spring, and hopefully he can find that soon and in the interim Ricky now has another option to go along with that out there depending on how he sees the set lineup.”

Thompson can increase that opportunity by playing well, obviously, and if he plays well enough, perhaps he can work his way into the discussion for what’s looking like a real crowded outfield of the future.

Before the rebuild, Thompson captured the imaginations of White Sox fans looking toward the future. With all eyes focused there now, Thompson’s task becomes putting himself in that picture once again.

“I think it’s an extremely exciting time,” Thompson said of the rebuilding White Sox. “You get to see a lot of the guys that are going to be here for the next hopefully decade or so. I think it’s a really exciting time to see a lot of the talent that’s out on the field, not just here but also in Charlotte or in Birmingham, wherever all those young guys are that I got to see in spring training a lot. It’s pretty impressive.

“I’ve known those guys, like I said, since I was 18 years old and they’re pure baseball people. So it’s an exciting time and everybody’s going to do their absolute best to go out and win a game that day. Fans have to be patient, but like I said, I think it’s exciting because look what happened in Houston or look what happened a couple years with those Royals teams. It took them a little while to get going. So I think it’s the start of something great here.”

Who knew? Stat nuggets from the White Sox pre-All-Star break season

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USA TODAY

Who knew? Stat nuggets from the White Sox pre-All-Star break season

It’s the All-Star Break, so why not take a look back at the first 58.6% of the White Sox season.

 

They may not be contending quite yet, but there have been several interesting moments. 

 

Focusing on the hitters, let’s take a look at ten amazing achievements this season.  And while there may be several to list for some players, I’m going to limit it to one fact per player.  Let’s go.

 

  • On March 29 (Opening Day), Matt Davidson became the 1st player in MLB history to hit 3 Home Runs in a game in March.
  • On April 23, Yoán Moncada (22 years, 331 days) became the youngest player in White Sox history with a double, triple & HR in the same game, passing Tito Francona (24 years, 205 days) on 5/28/1958.
  • Daniel Palka recorded a triple on May 22nd, making him the first player in White Sox history with 3 triples & 3 HR within his first 20 career MLB games.
  • On July 3, Palka (LF) & Avisaíl García (RF) became the second pair of White Sox outfielders to each hit 2 HR in the same game; the other pair? Minnie Miñoso (LF) and Larry Doby (CF) on July 30, 1957.
  • On May 28, Matt Skole became the first player in White Sox history with a home run AND a walk in his MLB Debut.
  • The lone White Sox walkoff Home Run of 2018 was off the bat of a player who hit .116 for the Sox this season (Trayce Thompson on May 3 – he went 14 for 121 this season for the Southsiders).
  • The White Sox have started a game with backto-back home runs four times in franchise history. 9/2/1937, 7/4/2000, 9/2/2017 & 6/12/2018.  Each of the last 2 times, Yolmer Sánchez hit the second home run.
  • On June 23, Tim Anderson became the first White Sox shortstop ever to homer on his birthday.
  • On June 27, José Abreu hit his 136th career HR and passed Minnie Miñoso for most by a Cubanborn player in White Sox history.  He hit one more since.
  • Leury García managed to become the first White Sox player with at least 10 stolen bases (he has 10) without being caught before the AllStar Break since Mike Cameron (13 for 13) in 1997.

White Sox first-round pick Nick Madrigal was magical in his Kannapolis debut

White Sox first-round pick Nick Madrigal was magical in his Kannapolis debut

After getting just two hits with the Arizona League White Sox, a team for rookies, Nick Madrigal made a big splash in his Low-A debut with the Kannapolis Intimidators.

Madrigal went 3 for 4 with two singles, a double, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored on Tuesday afternoon against the Hagerstown Suns.

It may only be one game, but the fourth overall pick by the White Sox in this year’s MLB draft looks ready to play. Madrigal was almost perfect on his first day, obtaining a .750 batting average with a 1.800 OPS. That’s a pretty promising performance for the infielder who can play shortstop and second base.

Even though the 21-year-old hasn’t even struck out in the minors yet, he wasn’t quite as successful in the Arizona League. In five games and 13 at-bats, Madrigal achieved only a .154 batting average with two runs scored and one RBI. But he’s making up for those numbers.

So far with the White Sox organization, the Oregon State product isn’t walking at a shocking rate. He’s not striking out at all, either. Madrigal proved he’s an efficient contact hitter in college where he only struck out seven times in 2018. At the same time, he only hit three home runs, but he can have sneaky power at times.

Standing at 5-foot-7, 161 pounds, Madrigal was a force to be reckoned throughout his time in the Pac-12 Conference. Last season in college, he impressed many major-league scouts with a .367/.428/.511 slash line and 34 RBIs. He missed time with a hairline fracture in his hand after sliding into home plate back in February, but his strong junior year comeback performance helped make him a 2018 first-round pick.

He was just as good in his first two seasons with OSU. As a freshman in 2016, Madrigal had a .333/.380/.456 slash line with 29 RBIs in 49 games played. In his 2017 sophomore season, the talented hitter played in 60 games, tallied 40 RBIs and attained a .380/.449/.532 slash line with four homers, making it his most powerful season.

In three seasons playing Division 1 baseball, Madrigal also stole a combined 37 bases. He capped off his NCAA career with a College World Series title back in late June. His past production influenced White Sox director of scouting Nick Hostetler in the draft.

“Nick is recognized as one of the best hitters in college baseball, and we’re excited to add him to the organization," Hostetler said. "He possesses tremendous baseball skills, character and makeup…”

Madrigal will try to prove his critics right. Oregon State head coach Pat Casey thinks the young infielder could quickly work his way up to the majors.

“He'll be in the big leagues in 1 1/2 or 2 years,” Casey said. “I get it, you've got to develop. But put him in a big league uniform, and he can play.”