White Sox

White Sox pitcher Zach Thompson: 'I want to go out there and pitch pissed off'

zach_thompson_white_sox.jpg
AP

White Sox pitcher Zach Thompson: 'I want to go out there and pitch pissed off'

SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- White Sox pitcher Zach Thompson doesn’t have a personal vendetta against the other 29 teams in major league baseball, he’s just pitching like it.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander was left unprotected by the White Sox this offseason, making him available in the Rule 5 Draft in December. Every team in baseball could have selected him, knowing that they’d have to keep him in the majors all season or risk losing him.

Thompson waited by the phone during the Rule 5 draft waiting for a call that never came. He went 0-for-29.

Now he’s out to prove to everyone that they made a mistake.

“Every single time I’m pitching against another team, I want to show them, ‘Hey this is what you missed. Now this is what the Sox have,'” Thompson said. “It’s kind of looking at every dugout after I throw against them and do really well saying, ‘There you go. That’s what you could have had, but too bad. Here I am.’”

A phone call Thompson did receive this winter came from pitching coach Don Cooper who explained on the White Sox Talk Podcast in January what he was going to tell Thompson.

“I’m hoping you have a chip on your shoulder, because you are good,”  Cooper said. “You did get kind of slighted by 29 other clubs. They had a chance to get you. They didn’t take you, but you’re with us. I’m hoping to give him as much of an opportunity in spring training to show everybody this is what you missed. This is why you should have picked me up. I’m glad he didn’t get picked up.”

What did Thompson take from his offseason conversation with Coop?

“That I want to go out there and pitch pissed off,” he said.

So far in spring training, the mild-mannered Thompson has come out of the bullpen in a fit of rage, giving up one run on three hits in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. In 2018, the starter-turned-reliever had a breakout season, posting a combined 1.55 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 75 1/3 innings with Winston-Salem and Birmingham.

Sunday, it was the Arizona Diamondbacks' turn to see what they could have had with Thompson. He entered the game in the eighth inning with a man on first base and one out. Thompson needed only one pitch to get Ryan Grotjohn to ground into a double play to end the inning.

“We’ve been very impressed by what he’s been doing. Absolutely,” Rick Renteria said about Thompson. “Here’s a guy with tremendous angle, has a lot of action on his pitches. He’s attacked the strike zone. He’s only had a couple of games in which the first hitter has actually gotten on by a walk or a hit.  He’s been aggressive in the zone, showing that he’s commanding it. He’s confident and he gets after hitters which is good.”

Thompson might have entered camp as a longshot to make the Opening Day roster, but with nine games left in Arizona, he still has a locker inside the major league clubhouse at Camelback Ranch. He’s hoping that when the White Sox begin the season in Kansas City on March 28, he’ll be there with them.

“I’d like to think so. Everyone in here would like to think you have a spot. I’m going to keep that mindset no matter what happens,” he said. “There’s only a week left in camp. I’d like to think I’ll break with the team, but I can only do what I can do and control what I can control and just see what happens.”

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.

A deeper look at why Yoan Moncada is off to a hot start this season

moncada-419.jpg
USA TODAY

A deeper look at why Yoan Moncada is off to a hot start this season

Yoan Moncada continued his hot start to the season with a leadoff home run in Detroit on Friday.

He finished with two hits and a bases-loaded walk in a 7-3 White Sox win.

Moncada’s base numbers are all up this season. He is hitting .325 with a 1.002 OPS and a team-leading six home runs. Beyond that, a deeper look at the numbers show why Moncada’s production is up.

Moncada didn’t show much, if any, improvement in 2018 from 2017. Most of his numbers across the board were similar or slightly worse.

Moncada was patient at the plate, but maybe too patient in his first two seasons with the White Sox. He led the majors with 217 strikeouts last season and 85 of those were strikeouts looking. So far this season, Moncada is yet to strikeout looking.

This season, Moncada is swinging at more pitches both in the strike zone and overall, which is leading to a lower strikeout rate. A look at the advanced stats from FanGraphs shows Moncada swung at 63.9 percent of pitches in the zone in both 2017 and 2018 (these numbers are before Friday's game). That number is up to 69.1 percent this season. On top of that, Moncada is making more contact on those swings on pitches in the zone (up to 86.5 percent this season after 77.5 percent in 2017 and 79.8 percent in 2018).

His strikeout rate (32 percent in 2017, 33.4 percent in 2018) is way down at 24.1 percent. Strikeouts were the biggest red flag for Moncada last year. By being more aggressive this season, Moncada has been able to cut way down on that number.

His power has gone way up as well. He already has 12 extra base hits (in 82 plate appearances) and his home run on Friday was an absolute bomb. Moncada took it deep for 458 feet. That’s the longest White Sox home run of the season and is tied for the eighth longest home run in the majors this season.


He later showed that despite being more aggressive, he still has that plate discipline that was such a big part of what made him a coveted prospect in the first place. He drew a five-pitch bases loaded walk in which he did not swing the bat.

No matter how it's happening, Moncada’s turnaround has been one of the most important things in the young White Sox season.

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson proud of Jason Benetti for "jumping all over Joe West's ass"

hawk-harrelson-0513.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson proud of Jason Benetti for "jumping all over Joe West's ass"

Chuck Garfien speaks with Hawk Harrelson about Tim Anderson's bat flip and Joe West kicking Anderson out of the game (3:40), Anderson taking his game to a new level (08:50), the passing of legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock (14:30), Hawk praises Jason Benetti for criticizing Joe West on the air (17:35), how Harrelson is adapting to not calling baseball games (19:50), why he teared up watching Tiger Woods win the Masters (23:40) and more.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast

Subscribe: