White Sox

When They Were Prospects: Carlos Lee

When They Were Prospects: Carlos Lee

With such a strong focus on current White Sox prospects, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at statistics and scouting reports of other South Side stars on their journey to the MLB. Our Chris Kamka dug deep into the numbers.

“El Caballo” Carlos Lee ran wild on the South Side beginning with his Major League debut on May 7, 1999. 

He homered in his first Major League at-bat.

Originally signed by the White Sox in February 1994, Lee started out as a third baseman. 

“[Ron] Schueler likens Lee to Los Angeles’ Bobby Bonilla. A notoriously poor defensive player who earns a spot in the lineup because of his stellar bat,” Teddy Greenstein wrote in the Chicago Tribune as Lee built his resume as a prospect.

Offense, however, was never a problem.

He broke through in 1997 at Winston-Salem by hitting .317/.357/.516 with 17 HR & 82 RBI in 139 Games. He made his way up the prospect charts, ranking No. 43 according to Baseball America entering 1998, then rising to No. 28 entering 1999 after hitting .302/.350/.485 with 21 HR and 106 RBI in 138 games at Birmingham.

After raking for 25 games at Charlotte in 1999, it was time to make the jump.

A month and a half into his Major League career, Lee received high praise, as Frank Thomas was quoted in the Chicago Tribune (6/23/1999) saying:

“I see a young me in Carlos Lee. The way he goes through pitches and how he hits the ball to right field. I watch him hit and think: those are the things I used to do [at that age]. I think he’s the second coming.”

Lee acquitted himself well at the Major League level in his rookie year, hitting .293/.312/.463 with 16 HR and 84 RBI in 127 games. He was a model of consistency, hitting 24, 24, 26, 31 and 31 home runs in his five full seasons with the White Sox. Perhaps his most impressive number was 28, which was his franchise record hitting streak (which still stands) in 2004.

[MORE WHEN THEY WERE PROSPECTS: Ron KittleMagglio OrdonezHarold BainesJose Abreu

After that 2004 season, he was sent to the Brewers in a deal which netted the Sox a top-of-the-order catalyst for the eventual 2005 World Series champions, Scott Podsednik. 

After making his way through Milwaukee, Texas, Houston & Miami (reunited with his former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen), Lee hung it up following the 2012 season, with 358 career home runs (in the top 100 in MLB history) to go with 1,363 RBI.

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

0710-rick-hahn.jpg
USA TODAY

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

The baseball offseason is moving at a quicker pace than recent years, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is among those happy to see that.

Hahn and the White Sox contributed to that quick start to the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal on Nov. 21. He said he prefers that in an interview with Bruce Levine and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score on Saturday.

Hahn also gave an update on the team’s offseason.

“We still have work to do, but at the same time we’re obviously quite pleased to have added Yasmani Grandal, much to no one’s surprise bringing back Jose Abreu and we’re intrigued by some of the talks we have going on right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously you can’t convert on everything, a point that was publicly driven home this past week, but at the same time we know that regardless of whether we convert on one specific target or not, there are still a lot of reasons to be excited based on the guys we currently have, much less what we may add in the coming weeks.”

The comment about being unable to convert on everything is surely a reference to Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hahn didn’t give any hints as to what the White Sox are working on, but he did say he prefers the speed of this offseason.

“We’d certainly prefer to do things sooner rather than later,” Hahn said. “That’s generally true regardless of the time of year.”

If Hahn wants to get things done quickly, it would make sense that the winter meetings could be a time of White Sox activity. Hahn wasn’t biting on that.

“There’s nothing magical about getting a deal done Tuesday at the winter meetings,” Hahn said. “It creates a little more buzz perhaps and fulfills some expectations within the fanbase and the media.

“A guy is not going to have any less impact on your team if you acquire him Dec. 20 vs. Dec. 12.”

Hahn also gave updates on various current players on the team:

  • Yasmani Grandal has been studying up on White Sox pitchers and how he can help the young pitchers develop.

“This guy’s No. 1 goal and No. 1 priority is to make the pitchers better," Hahn said. "He’s texting me two, three times a week still with stuff he had seen on our guys and conversations he’s had with our guys about how he thinks we’re going to be able to get them better in the coming months.”

  • Hahn was asked if the White Sox would add another middle infielder to provide cover until Nick Madrigal comes up. He didn't rule it out, but cited Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as capable of helping out. Hahn has previously said he expects Madrigal to be up for most of the 2020 season.
  • Nothing new here, but Hahn said Michael Kopech will enter spring training "without restriction" and will have "some innings management" throughout the season. Kopech missed 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season.
  • Carlos Rodon's timeline to return from Tommy John surgery hasn't changed. Hahn said they will re-evaluate him in April to see where he is after spring training. He is still tentatively expected to return in late July or early August.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.