White Sox

White Sox place seven players in MLB Pipeline's list of baseball's top 100 prospects

White Sox place seven players in MLB Pipeline's list of baseball's top 100 prospects

You might've heard something about the White Sox having a good farm system.

MLB Pipeline put out its much-anticipated top 100 prospects list Saturday night, and the South Side rebuild was well represented.

A total of seven players landed on the site's list: outfielder Eloy Jimenez ranked fourth, pitcher Michael Kopech ranked 10th, outfielder Luis Robert ranked 28th, pitcher Alec Hansen ranked 54th, pitcher Dylan Cease ranked 61st, pitcher Dane Dunning ranked 92nd, and outfielder Blake Rutherford ranked 99th.

Jimenez has generated tons of buzz ever since coming to the White Sox organization in last summer's crosstown swap with the Cubs. He's only played a handful of games above the Class A level, though plenty of fans want him on the South Side as soon as possible. Jimenez hit 19 home runs last season in 89 minor league games. MLB Pipeline has Jimenez ranked as the No. 2 outfield prospect in baseball.

Kopech, who recently voiced that he's ready whenever the call to the big leagues comes, dazzled last season at Double-A Birmingham and was named the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher. Ranked as the No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline, Kopech could very well reach the White Sox major league roster this summer should all go well at Triple-A Charlotte.

Robert is just 20 years old and has yet to play a game of minor league baseball in the United States, but he has plenty of folks inside and outside of the organization excited. Manager Rick Renteria brought an eye-popping scouting report back from the Dominican Republic, and there's been talk of the possibility that he could start the 2018 season at Double-A.

Hansen was among minor league baseball's leaders with 191 strikeouts in 2017, and he recently earned a sparkling scouting report from White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who said Hansen has a curveball that "breaks like a freaking firecracker."

Cease was acquired along with Jimenez in the trade with the Cubs and has great promise after turning in a 3.28 ERA and striking out 126 batters last season.

Dunning is another one of those potential candidates for the White Sox starting rotation of the future. He had a sub-3.00 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 2017 between Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem.

Rutherford was the centerpiece of the return package in that seven-player trade with the New York Yankees last summer. Though he slipped from a much higher ranking last season — he was the White Sox No. 4 prospect heading into the offseason — he could still be a big part of that outfield of the future on the South Side.

Be sure to check out NBC Sports Chicago's entire Meet the Prospects series, profiling 25 different pieces of the rebuild that are hoped to turn the White Sox into a perennial contender.

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season


It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.