White Sox

When They Were Prospects: Robin Ventura

When They Were Prospects: Robin Ventura

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.

In a baseball discussion, a simple mention of the number 56 is all it takes. You know exactly what is being discussed. Joe DiMaggio's MLB record hitting streak in 1941.

In 1987, Robin Ventura set an NCAA record (since broken) by hitting in 58 straight.

A year later, he was the Golden Spikes Award winner, given to the top collegiate player. And he was drafted 10th overall by the White Sox.

He concluded his NCAA career at Oklahoma State with a .428 batting average, 68 Home Runs, 301 RBI and a .792 slugging percentage in 210 games.

White Sox Director of Scouting and Player Development Al Goldis commented on the team's number one pick:

“Obviously, we were looking for a quality player. It just so happens we got a player to fill a need. He’s the best pure hitter in the draft, and we need hitting.”

Goldis added: “He’s a Boggs-type guy. His hitting fundamentals are excellent.”

He hit .278 with a stellar .403 OBP in a 129-game tour through Birmingham (AA) in 1989, striking out only 51 times compared to 93 walks. He finished the season with the White Sox. He hit only three home runs over his 145 combined games in the minors & majors.

[MORE WHEN THEY WERE PROSPECTS: Ron Kittle, Magglio Ordonez, Harold Baines, Jose Abreu

Entering 1990, Ventura was Baseball America’s #15 Prospect (Frank Thomas was ranked 29th). He hit .249/.324/.318 with 5 Home Runs in his first full Major League season.

Robin took it to the next level as the White Sox moved into New Comiskey Park in 1991. He hit .284/.367/.442 and his power arrived with 23 HR and 100 RBI. Ventura took home the first of his six career Gold Gloves at the Hot Corner. He made his first All-Star team the next year. For several years, Robin's sweet left-handed swing was the perfect compliment to the booming bat of Frank Thomas.

Ventura's 10-year run in Chicago concluded in 1998, finishing with 171 HR, 741 RBI, more Walks (668) than Strikeouts (659), and a slash line of .274/.365/.440 before moving on to the Mets for 1999.

Robin returned to Chicago to serve as White Sox manager from 2012-16.

 

Avisail Garcia, slated for offseason knee surgery, has been playing hurt since Opening Day

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Avisail Garcia, slated for offseason knee surgery, has been playing hurt since Opening Day

While some players' seasons have been open for interpretation, it's been an undeniably disappointing one for Avisail Garcia.

Turns out there's a good reason for the big change in his production from 2017 to 2018.

Garcia's battles with injuries this year have been no secret, but the White Sox outfielder revealed Tuesday that it's literally been going on all season long. He said that he felt something in his knee on Opening Day and that he's played hurt throughout the entire season. He also reported that he'll have arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 2, two days after the end of the season.

"Opening Day, I feel something in my knee," he said. "I had been feeling something, something, something and then I started feeling my hammy because I think I was favoring it. Especially because it’s my right knee, and that’s where all my power is. It’s crazy, but it is what it is.

"It’s sore. Every time I go home, it’s a little swollen. But I’m going to fix it soon. It’s been a crazy year, not for me, but for the whole team. Thank god we are alive and we are here. We have a chance. Let’s see what happens next year."

Garcia did make two trips to the disabled list this season, both due to an injured hamstring, which he said stemmed from the hurting knee. He played in 88 of the team's first 154 games, with six remaining on the schedule heading into Tuesday night's contest with the visiting Cleveland Indians.

Entering 2018, Garcia had the tall task of repeating his breakout campaign from a season before, when he made his first career All-Star appearance and posted some of the best offensive numbers in the American League with a .330 batting average and a .380 on-base percentage. During this injury-filled season, those numbers plummeted to .238 and .278.

"It’s been difficult. Difficult year," he said. "Nothing that I can do. I’ve been playing like this the whole season. Just gotta play and get after it, so it is what it is. I can’t control that. I can control what I do on the field.

"(The knee injury has) always been there. Everybody knows it’s hard when you get injury and then sit down and then go play and then sit down again. It’s hard to be consistent like that. This game is difficult so you have to be out there every day so you get to used to it and it’s hard to play like this. But it is what it is. It’s not an excuse. Everybody knows that. I’ve been playing like this so I’m trying to do my best."

Obviously, it's tough to judge Garcia's follow up to his All-Star season knowing how much his knee bothered him. But it still leaves unanswered the question of what his place is in the organization's long-term plans. He's under team control for one more season. The White Sox have the flexibility to do one of many things this offseason: keep him for one more season, try to trade him this offseason, hold on to him and try to trade him to a contending club next summer or extend him and keep him in the mix for when rebuilding mode transitions to contention mode. Garcia is just 27 years old.

Garcia said he'll be "100-percent" ready for spring training next year, and should his health be back to normal, his prove-it campaign that was supposed to come in 2018 could come in 2019. But there's also a wave of outfield prospects making its way toward the South Side that includes Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo and plenty of others. So no matter what statistics Garcia might be shooting for, the pressure will be on to show he's a safer bet than all that young talent.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Daniel Palka on Palkamania and his breakout season

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Daniel Palka on Palkamania and his breakout season

Chuck Garfien speaks with White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka who as a 26-year-old rookie has come out of nowhere to become one of the White Sox most popular players in 2018.  They talk about the time Palka gave a pitcher a black eye in Little League, how he used to be a relief pitcher at Georgia Tech,  why the Twins gave him up on him, the time when Chuck called Palka’s walkoff homer this year, his friendship with Kyle Schwarber and more.   

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