White Sox

White Sox boast four top-40 prospects in MLB Pipeline's newest list

White Sox boast four top-40 prospects in MLB Pipeline's newest list

The transition from rebuilding to contending figures to come soon on the South Side. But the White Sox are still about that top-prospect life.

MLB Pipeline unveiled its updated list of the top 100 prospects in baseball Saturday, and the White Sox landed four guys in the top 40, including three in the top 20: Luis Robert was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the game, with Andrew Vaughn at No. 16, Michael Kopech at No. 20 and Nick Madrigal at No. 40. 

White Sox fans, thanks to an offseason full of free-agent signings, have shifted the bulk of their attention to the major league level. Rick Renteria is talking playoffs or bust, and it seems the team's long-awaited contention window could open as soon as Opening Day. And these youngsters are a big part of the reason why.

Three of the four — Robert, Kopech and Madrigal — are expected to make significant contributions to the 2020 team, and they'll likely all be off this list the next time it's updated, as they'll be full-fledged big leaguers and no longer prospects.

Robert, who tore up the minor leagues last season, is likely ticketed to be the White Sox starting center fielder on Opening Day, thanks to the big-money contract extension that wiped away any lingering service-time discussion. He became the second consecutive White Sox prospect to get such a contract before playing a single game in the majors, following Eloy Jimenez, who received his own big-money deal last spring.

Kopech has already reached the big leagues, though he was limited to just four appearances prior to requiring Tommy John surgery in September 2018. His recovery wiped out his entire 2019 season, so even though it seems like he jettisoned his prospect status a long time ago, he's still considered one with so little playing time under his belt. The White Sox might slow play his return to the major league mound, and it's possible he might not be on the Opening Day roster. But the team is waiting until spring training to finalize a plan for the 2020 season.

Regardless, the White Sox brass continues to describe Kopech as someone who will feature prominently in the starting rotation.

Madrigal is also expected to reach the big leagues in 2020 after making it all the way to Triple-A Charlotte last season. His ability to make consistent contact remains the most impressive part of his game, and he struck out just 16 times in 2019. But he also has a reputation as an elite defender at second base, and that's where he should be taking over on an everyday basis once he reaches the South Side. When that will be remains to be seen; it doesn't sound like Madrigal will be expected to make the Opening Day roster after he played in only 29 games at Charlotte last season. But Rick Hahn said it's possible Madrigal could impress enough in spring training to force the issue.

As for Vaughn, the 2019 first-round first baseman is a little further behind the other three players discussed here. But thanks to his powerful bat, he's caught the eye of plenty of evaluators, as evidenced by his high placement on MLB Pipeline's list. Jose Abreu isn't going anywhere for the next three seasons, though Edwin Encarnacion's claim to the White Sox everyday DH role could last as little as one year.

If Vaughn follows a similar path as Robert and Madrigal — who both rose from Class A to Triple-A during the 2019 season — perhaps he'll be discussed as being close to major league ready for the 2021 season. Heck, if the White Sox find themselves in a pennant race in 2020, perhaps Vaughn is considered as a September addition. But that will obviously depend on how he fares in the minors.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Chris Widger homered for the first time in five years

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Chris Widger homered for the first time in five years

You want some “team of destiny” type moments from the 2005 season?

How about Chris Widger just teeing off on Barry Zito?

Zito is one of the more accomplished pitchers of the modern era and a fearsome foe in his day. He held the White Sox to just a couple hits through the first six innings on April 25, 2005.

Meanwhile, Widger, the White Sox backup catcher, hadn’t homered in a big league game in half a decade. As Chris Kamka described when he remembered this guy back in October, Widger had few big league opportunities after the 2000 season and played fast-pitch softball and independent league ball in 2004 before the White Sox picked him up.

Coming into this matchup against Zito and the A’s, Widger’s last major league homer came against the White Sox, off Mike Sirotka, in a 2000 game on the South Side.

No matter. Widger played the unlikely hero this night, breaking a scoreless tie in the seventh inning by obliterating a Zito offering into the outfield seats at the Oakland Coliseum.


That swing turned the game around, with the White Sox turning a scoreless tie into a 6-0 rout over the final three innings.

Widger also caught Jon Garland’s complete-game shutout in this one, doing good work both at the plate and behind it.

The reserve position players were clutch for these White Sox, and you don’t need to look any further than this game to see it. In addition to Widger’s offensive fireworks, Pablo Ozuna made some things happen in this one, too. He reached base three times, stole two bases and scored two runs, including the fourth run off Zito in the seventh inning with a diving slide into home plate.

Widger and Ozuna were the only two White Sox batters this night with multi-hit games.

Just like the White Sox bullpen complemented the starting rotation to form a championship-caliber pitching staff, the bench provided a few reliable options for Ozzie Guillen when his regulars needed days off.

It all added up to a world-champion roster.

What else?

— Garland was fantastic, and he was the story of the night despite all the Widger talk above. This was the second shutout of his career and his first since 2002. This performance capped an incredible month of April for Garland, with a dazzling 1.80 ERA in 30 innings over his first four starts of the campaign. Against the A’s, he allowed just four hits and one walk, retiring the final 13 batters he faced in order. He went toe to toe with Zito and was the better pitcher this night.

— Zito, of course, was good, too. But the White Sox actually ended up handing him one of his worst days of the 2005 season. Of Zito’s major league leading 35 starts, in only 12 of them did he give up more than three earned runs. He made 21 quality starts that season. And he looked every bit his dominant self throughout much of this one. Through six innings, he gave up just two hits, putting only five batters on base. But a pair of two-RBI hits in the seventh turned things around quickly. He went from one of his finest outings of the season to a rare four-run evening. He ended up facing the White Sox again later in the 2005 season, with much better results. Zito tossed eight two-run innings on July 3.

— Two of the five White Sox hitters who reached in those first six innings against Zito reached after getting hit by a pitch. Ozuna was hit in the hand leading off the game. Joe Crede was hit in the ribs leading off the third inning. Zito hit 13 batters in 2005, matching a career high. This was one of two starts where he hit multiple batters. The Angels lineup got it worse 10 days before this game, with three batters hit by Zito pitches.

— Juan Uribe made a couple excellent defensive plays in this one. He made a tremendous play up the middle to rob Eric Chavez of a hit in the sixth inning, sparking a terrific Hawk Harrelson call.


And he made another web gem in the bottom of the ninth to help Garland lock down the win.

— Speaking of web gems, though, the best play of the evening came from future White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher, who made a miraculous diving catch in right field to steal a hit away from Timo Perez in the top of the ninth. Seriously, it was one of the better catches you'll see. Swisher received mixed reviews from fans during his one season on the South Side in 2008, but he had some very good days with the A’s. In 2005, his first full season in the major leagues, he had the first of nine 20-homer seasons and finished sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

— Last but not least, I need to point out Harrelson’s love for a couple of A’s players’ names. Marco Scutaro and Huston Street sounded oh so sweet to Hawk’s ears.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

April 24, 2005: The White Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but Orlando Hernandez blew that advantage, with Matt Stairs homering off Cliff Politte to give the Royals a one-run edge. The White Sox struck back, though, in the eighth, getting back-to-back two-out RBI hits from Aaron Rowand and Ozuna to tie the game and then take the lead. White Sox win, 4-3, improve to 15-4.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Friday, when you can catch the May 1, 2005, game against the Tigers, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s another Garland gem, plus some more out-of-the-park fun courtesy of Timo Perez.

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Darrin Jackson remembers Ed Farmer: 'He bled White Sox, simple as that'

Darrin Jackson remembers Ed Farmer: 'He bled White Sox, simple as that'

Listening to the remembrances of Ed Farmer on Thursday, one thing was abundantly clear: He was a meaningful member of the White Sox family.

And every day and every night, he did everything he could to add to that family.

“He brought people in,” said Darrin Jackson, Farmer’s broadcast partner for more than a decade, during a Thursday conference call. “I always said there was nobody in Chicago or anywhere else that would bring in more new fans to that organization than Ed Farmer. You could be a Cardinal fan, you could be a fan of anybody and he would have you up in our booth and you would be converted instantly.

“He had a way of making sure to make you a part of the White Sox family. It was something special to be around.”

By the time he started his three decades as one of the signature voices of White Sox baseball, he had long been a part of the South Side baseball tradition. Farmer was born on the South Side and grew up a White Sox fan. He got to pitch for his hometown team for three seasons from 1979 to 1981, establishing himself as one of the best relief arms in team history.

To any of the hundreds of players who came to the White Sox during Farmer’s tenure in the broadcast booth, they learned what made him a unique part of the organization. Paul Konerko put Farmer on his “Mount Rushmore” of White Sox characters.

Everyone who talked of Farmer on Thursday, be it to reporters or in social media posts, remembered what he meant to them and the White Sox organization. The feeling, Jackson said, was mutual.

“He bled White Sox. Simple as that,” Jackson said. “He grew up loving the White Sox. He was fortunate enough to pitch for the White Sox, broadcast for the White Sox. Jerry Reinsdorf treated him like a younger brother. And Ed felt that he was part of a special family.

“Ed Farmer will always be remembered as a Chicago guy that absolutely loved being in the White Sox organization and in a White Sox uniform. … There was nothing more important than being part of the South Side and the White Sox.”

At times, Jackson was overcome by emotion while discussing his partner and friend. The two sat next to each other in the radio booth for the last 11 seasons. Their broadcast was often a talking point among White Sox fans, and A.J. Pierzynski even referenced Farmer’s tendencies Thursday: “It's a sad day for the White Sox organization and family that Farmio won't be there in the radio booth, talking about golf instead of baseball.”

But what everyone talking about Farmer on Thursday remembered was not the specifics of his broadcasting or the specifics of his pitching career. It was the interactions they had with him, the things he did for them and the love he showed them.

The way he brought them into the White Sox family. His family.

“No matter what you thought of him as a play-by-play (announcer), you’ll never forget what he brought into your home, into your car,” Jackson said. “And the times he was broadcasting, he’s just such a memorable guy that there’s absolutely no way he didn’t make a difference in your life.

“Ed Farmer will never be forgotten.”

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