White Sox

When you compare Yoan Moncada's career start to Paul Konerko's, it's a little easier to relax

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AP

When you compare Yoan Moncada's career start to Paul Konerko's, it's a little easier to relax

Yoan Moncada's high strikeout total has an awful lot of folks in a tizzy.

There are plenty of reasons why no one should freak out over this quite yet: It's still very early in the season (and Moncada's career), it's part of Moncada's still-ongoing development and it's not exactly keeping the White Sox from an imminent pennant race.

But here's one that might make some people relax: The start of Moncada's career has gone a lot better than the start of Paul Konerko's.

Konerko went on to become one of the greatest White Sox hitters ever, but he didn't start out that way. Before he finished with 439 career home runs, made six All-Star appearances and helped the White Sox win the 2005 World Series, things didn't go so hot right out of the gate.

When you compare the first 308 major league plate appearances of Konerko and Moncada, Moncada has the edge in batting average, homers, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Konerko didn't strike out as much, but Moncada's off to a better start in many other categories.

Here are those numbers, courtesy of our own Chris Kamka:

While the White Sox fan base has been generally great about embracing the rebuild and exercising patience with the organization's fleet of talented prospects, some eager rebuild-lovers are itching to see Moncada, who was the No. 1 prospect in baseball last season, have success at the big league level. (By the way, Konerko was a highly rated prospect, too, landing on Baseball America's top-100 prospects list in four different years.) Moncada's still developing, but if his "poor" start turns into the kind of career that Konerko's did, that ought to make White Sox fans very happy.

Until then, some patience and relaxation might be in order — and perhaps this comparison can help.

Talks between Harper, Phillies 'intensifying' as Padres reportedly try to challenge White Sox for Machado

Talks between Harper, Phillies 'intensifying' as Padres reportedly try to challenge White Sox for Machado

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manny Machado hasn't shown up at Camelback Ranch. Neither has Bryce Harper.

The White Sox first full-squad workout comes Monday. Will there be a surprise appearance from one of the two biggest names on the free-agent market?

The South Siders have been in pursuit of both 26-year-old superstars for months as their free agency has dragged into spring training. So what's the latest?

Well, apparently things are "heating up" between Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies, the White Sox main competition for both of these guys all offseason long. The Phillies have been described as the most likely landing spot for Harper since November, and now talks between the two sides are "intensifying," according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

What that actually means in terms of when a deal could be done, who knows? That's how this offseason has gone. But the White Sox aren't out yet. For those who think there's no chance that Harper comes to the South Side, at least know that the White Sox are in on the free-agent superstar until they aren't. They reportedly met with him twice in the final months of 2018, though various reports indicated they never made a formal offer.

But here's the good news for White Sox fans: If Harper ends up in Philly, that could dramatically increase the chances Machado comes to Chicago. While the Phillies have proclaimed a desire to "maybe be a little stupid" with their free-agent spending this offseason, adding both Harper and Machado on massive deals on top of the free-agent contracts handed out to Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson seems unlikely.

While the White Sox don't exactly need either player and the franchise's rebuilding plans wouldn't be negatively affected should they both opt to play somewhere else, there was a bit of a nightmare scenario forming in where Harper would've been wooed to the West Coast by the San Francisco Giants and the Phillies could've sent all their stupid money Machado's way, leaving the White Sox empty handed. With Harper perhaps on the verge of landing in Philly, that scenario no longer exists, and the White Sox could still be favorites for Machado.

That being said, there was more news Sunday, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale throwing some Machado-related info in a tweet about Mike Moustakas going back to the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Padres emerged as a late entry in the Machado derby and have reportedly met with him. They, like the White Sox, can pitch a loaded farm system and a rebuild on the cusp of producing a perennial contender.

Of course, neither the White Sox nor the Padres are the New York Yankees, Machado's supposed preferred landing spot. The Bronx Bombers have a loaded infield and appear to be preseason World Series contenders without him, but the longer he waits, the longer the historically deep-pocketed franchise has to get back in the mix. Most likely, however, Machado is waiting for the biggest possible contract. The numbers that have been associated with reported offers have not been anywhere near the gigantic total he was expected to receive at the beginning of the offseason.

The White Sox are still in both derbies, and both players remain undecided. So nothing new there. But if Harper and the Phillies are moving toward something, that could bring this interminable wait to a conclusion.

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It's an all-important year for Luis Robert

It's an all-important year for Luis Robert

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It's an all-important year for Luis Robert.

It seems like Robert's been around for a decently long time after signing as an international free agent in 2017. But he's played a grand total of 50 minor league games in the United States.

He's just 21 years old, but he fell behind a few of his fellow White Sox prospects, from a timing perspective, thanks to a season-long battle with injuries in 2018. Two thumb injuries did the most damage to his developmental timeline, keeping him from debuting until June and limiting his power once he did return.

"It was a season with a few bumps," Robert said through a team translator Sunday at Camelback Ranch. "I started playing good here in spring training and then had the injury. I came back, but I didn't perform the way that I like because of the injury, and then I re-injured my thumb. I came back stronger but I got injured again. But at the end, I think I finished the season strong. It was a learning experience and I think right now, I'm in a better position to have success this year."

Of course, this isn't to say that Robert is in any danger of falling out of the White Sox future plans. He's as much a part of those as he ever was, and his skills continue to earn rave reviews from anyone you ask. He's ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization and the No. 40 prospect in the game.

But the White Sox will admit it's rather important that Robert stay healthy this season, continue his development and move through the minor league system toward the South Side so he can be a part of the much-anticipated transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

"Hopefully this year he gets a complete year under his belt healthy, which will, to be honest, tell us a lot about where he’s at," manager Rick Renteria said Sunday. "I think he’s made strides. We all love what he’s capable of doing, we all love the physical skill. He had a nice (Arizona) Fall League. He’s progressing, even though he’s had limited time due to the hand injury. But I think this year will be a big year for him in terms of his progression.

"Guys with talent like that seem to progress pretty quickly. So hopefully he’s one of those guys that’s able to do that, and see how it impacts us moving down the road at the major league level."

The Arizona Fall League performance was a mighty positive sign for those waiting to see what a healthy year for Robert might look like. He slashed .324/.367/.432 with a couple homers and 10 RBIs in 18 games. He wowed just about everyone with his talent. He scored from second base on a sacrifice fly.

"He’s got that type of talent," Renteria said. "I think he’s one of those guys that you want to see his overall game come into play. I think the experience that he’s going to gain this summer will play a big part. ... Guys like that, that skill set, hopefully they jump exponentially in terms of their growth and their maturation. We’re hopeful that he’s one of those guys. And looking at some of the video we did see and conversing with everybody, everybody sees where he’s going and we’re looking forward to seeing him continue to develop."

"It was very important for me because I just played (50) games in the regular season and I had an opportunity to get some at-bats there and perform at the level that I think I can do," Robert said. "It was very, very important for me and for my confidence."

Robert shares his fellow prospects' ever-present confidence, and he once again relayed how often they all talk about playing together in the major leagues and turning the White Sox into a championship team.

The White Sox, though, are working, as they have throughout the ongoing rebuilding effort, to make Robert's development as comfortable as possible. His locker at Camelback Ranch sits right between big leaguers and fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada.

"For me, it's very important to have them by my side," Robert said. "Abreu is a veteran, he knows the league and he knows the things you need to do in order to get better. Moncada is a young guy, but he has experience, too. Because he's younger, I can relate more with him. We're always trying to have fun, but they're always giving me advice on how to think, how to get a better routine and how to get better in order to take advantage of my abilities."

Of course, Abreu and Moncada won't be with Robert down in the minors this season. But the most important thing is that injuries are nowhere to be found, either.

If they stay away, Robert could finally show what he's capable of, and that could end with him rocketing toward Chicago.

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