White Sox

White Sox prospects in Arizona Fall League fail to stand out

White Sox prospects in Arizona Fall League fail to stand out

Not all of the prospects the White Sox sent to the Arizona Fall League were there for the same reasons.

Some of them had injury-shortened seasons and the AFL served as a way to make up for lost time on the field. Some of them were there to see high-end minor league competition and see how they fared.

The league wrapped up the regular season on Friday and Glendale, the team the White Sox prospects were on, did not make the championship game. Overall, the results weren’t great. Frankly, none of the seven White Sox representatives distinguished themselves in Arizona.

The best performer of the bunch was reliever Tyler Johnson. Johnson, the No. 19 White Sox prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was out until mid-June with a lat strain this past season. He got an extra 8 2/3 innings in Arizona and will get more with USA Baseball's Olympic qualifying team in November. Johnson had a 3.12 ERA, but strangely struck out just three while walking seven.

Starting pitcher Bernardo Flores, another top 30 prospects at No. 28, also headed to Arizona after missing time in 2019. He made six starts in the AFL, totaling 20 1/3 innings. He struck out 19 and walked just five, but gave up a whopping 32 hits for a 7.97 ERA.

Under-the-radar relievers Bennett Sousa and Vince Arobio didn’t do much to put themselves on the map. Sousa had a 5.59 ERA, but did strike out 12 and walk only one in 9 2/3 innings. Arobio had more walks (8) than strikeouts (7) in 10 2/3 innings.

The hitting side was more interesting with Gavin Sheets (No. 13 ranked prospect) and Blake Rutherford (No. 9) looking to build on their seasons in Double-A. Both players had really slow starts in the regular season before building a bit more success towards the end of the year.

Rutherford played in the league’s all-star game, but hit .179/.281/.385. On the positive side, he finally showed some power with nine extra base hits (four doubles, three triples and two home runs) in 21 games. The three triples were second in the league.

Sheets’ AFL season mirrored his regular season. He got off to a very slow start, but hit .281/.385/.344 in his last 10 games. Overall, the 23-year-old first baseman hit .250/.321/.319 in 20 games. If Sheets had a good AFL run, he could have boosted his trade stock or started to build a case for him to get a 2020 call-up to the White Sox. Instead, he will have to make his case in Triple-A next year.

Micker Adolfo rounds out the group and his overall performance was less important than the fact that he got to play against high level competition and return to playing the field. Adolfo had Tommy John surgery and was limited to 36 games in 2019, all at DH. Adolfo was known for having a big arm before the injury. As right field continues to be a position of need for the White Sox, Adolfo could be a long-term solution there, just not any time soon.

Adolfo hit four home runs in 61 plate appearances, but also struck out 27 times. The power is still there. Maybe the rest of his game will come back with more at-bats.

What will Steve Cishek's role be with White Sox? 'Get three outs, any inning'

What will Steve Cishek's role be with White Sox? 'Get three outs, any inning'

It's safe to say the White Sox wanted to add Steve Cishek to their bullpen.

"According to my agent, within five minutes after the World Series, the White Sox called and expressed some interest," Cishek said Wednesday. "So when you get a call that soon, you know the team is up to something. Then of course with what they did this offseason, it made signing here very intriguing."

So what will Cishek's role be at the back end of that bullpen? For the newest member of the South Side relief corps, it's really not that difficult.

"I would assume it would be the same as it was with the Cubs," he said. "Get three outs, any inning."

Cishek is aboard to bolster that back end, one that heads into 2020 with some concrete names but some mystery, as well. Alex Colome will be the team's closer after racking up 126 saves over the past four seasons, and Aaron Bummer figures to be a frequent presence in the eighth inning of games after posting a 2.13 ERA last season.

Cishek was extraordinarily reliable for Joe Maddon and the Cubs in his two seasons on the North Side, with a 2.55 ERA in a whopping 150 appearances, many of them coming in high-leverage situations.

While Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero will start the season as options for Rick Renteria in high-leverage situations, too, that pair doesn't have quite the track record of Cishek. With Rick Hahn quick to remind about the volatility of relief pitching from one year to the next, adding a dependable arm in Cishek is an important complement to what the White Sox already had in the 'pen.

"I am fortunate enough now that we have guys that have all been at the back end of a ballgame and have had success in that particular role," Renteria said Wednesday. "I've got flexibility now and strength and hopefully having guys being able to take advantage of high-leverage situations. I use a guy two, three, four days (in a row), it's nice to have another guy I can probably slot in there to be able to do things like that. I have a little bit more flexibility right now."

Cishek's contributions on the pitcher's mound will obviously be of great import, but like every other veteran addition the White Sox have made this winter, he's also expected to do plenty in the clubhouse. While the Cubs teams he was a part of played in just one postseason game the past two seasons, he's no stranger to dealing with big expectations. The White Sox have those now after years of rebuilding, and Cishek should be able to help guide the players new to such an environment.

"With expectations, as long as we stay together as a team we can accomplish a lot," Cishek said. "A lot of the guys we've brought in have been through the fire. As a matter of fact, most of the guys have played in the playoffs the last four or five seasons even. So they have the playoff experience. They know what it takes to win and get to that level, and I think that's going to bode well for these young guys to see how they work, how us older veteran guys get after it and hopefully follow suit.

"I think we can teach these guys how to win."

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The person making the boldest White Sox predictions

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The person making the boldest White Sox predictions

Chuck Garfien is joined by the man who predicted a White Sox division title for the 2020 season before the Sox made any moves, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Castrovince also discusses his other bold White Sox predictions and why he's making them.

(2:48) - Why Castrovince selected the Sox to win the AL central

(7:03) - Why Castrovine selected Rick Renteria as AL Manager of the Year

(9:56) - Yoan Moncada will challenge Mike Trout for AL MVP

(12:43) - Will Luis Robert win Rookie of the Year

(13:54) - Why the Padres missed and the White Sox won last winter on Manny Machado

(18:57) - Was the Astro punishment enough?

(23:30) - For the love of Bruce Springsteen

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