Put Your Sox On – June 8, 2018
The White Sox Stink……. And For Some Reason, I Couldn’t Be More Excited!
Watching the Chicago White Sox this season has been strange. As a lifelong fan, I’ve never seen a worse start to a season. After the 2-2 series split at Minnesota, our record is an awful 20-40. I must admit I was angry after Monday’s first game of the doubleheader in which Nate Jones blew yet another save that could’ve been a victory for Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez pitched 7 shutout innings while giving up only 1 hit, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.42. In 12 starts this year, Lopez’s record is just 1-4. He’s had only two bad starts while pitching great most of the Spring with 8 quality starts (6+ innings with 3 runs or less allowed). What a shame. I feel bad for him, just as I always felt bad for Jose Quintana and Chris Sale in years past. How many times did they leave after quality starts, yet the bullpen blew the game? Also, they never received any run support. Unfortunately the baton has been passed to Lopez. At some point you worry about these starting pitchers mindsets. It can be troubling for them when they think they must pitch a shutout to earn a win for this Sox ballclub.
Nonetheless, when I get over the fact that wins and losses mean little to nothing in this 2018 season, I find myself with extreme hope for the future. The latest fantastic news was the 2018 MLB Draft which started on Monday night. The Sox had the 4th pick and selected a kid that might already be my favorite player, Nick Madrigal! This kid is a middle infielder from Oregon St., a perennial college baseball powerhouse. Madrigal is small at 5-7 165. So of course the comparisons are to current MLB stars Dustin Pedroia and Jose Altuve. If Madrigal comes close to putting up the career numbers of those guys, we are gonna love him intensely. Speaking of numbers, have you seen Madrigal’s stats this year at Oregon St.? In just 32 games after starting the season on the DL with a broken wrist, he’s hitting .406 with a .470 OBP, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 32 runs, 13 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 11 SB’s. Wait a second…..did you see that? Only 5 K’s?…… in 133 AB’s? That is a truly insane statistic. In the modern game of swinging away and not worrying about striking out, Madrigal has Joe DiMaggio-type contact rates. That’s only 1 strikeout for every 27 at bats. Projecting to a full MLB season of 600 AB’s, that would amount to about 23 strikeouts. That is unheard of. Madrigal has 0 errors on defense this year too. Now remember these numbers are produced in college baseball but Madrigal’s hitting philosophy, strike zone awareness, and two strike approach are so good we can see why he was the 4th overall selection. Check out Madrigal (jersey #3) and his Beavers mates in the NCAA Super Regionals today starting at 4pm on ESPN2.
I’m usually a big fan of small players because I grew up as a small player. I can relate to the trials and doubts that these guys have had to overcome constantly. Many Sox fans are probably thinking about his size as an extreme detriment. Not me. I love it. Usually smaller guys work harder to prove the doubters wrong. Only in baseball can small players thrive. It really doesn’t matter how big, or small, a player is in this sport. That’s one of the greatest attributes of the game. It won’t be long and I’ll be wearing a Madrigal jersey to Sox Park and cheering for this guy who is likely to become my favorite player. Many of the older South Side fans might remember two of our greatest Sox infielders ever from the 1950s, Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox. Both of those short, small players became Hall of Famers, Aparicio in 1984 and Fox in 1997. Hopefully Madrigal conjures up memories of those HOFers as his career progresses.
One of the greatest things about the Sox rebuild is following these prospects and predicting what will happen one, two, and three years down the road. I buy the Baseball America Prospect Handbook every year and it is a joy to read at the present time. This year the White Sox have the 4th best “Talent Rankings” in MLB. Last year we were ranked as the 5th best farm system. Even with Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and others moving up from the minors to the big leagues, our organization is thriving. So let’s have some fun and look at a possible future roster and lineup for our 2021 South Siders.
2021 Starting Lineup & Batting Order
- Nick Madrigal – 2B or SS – the next Pedroia!
- Yoan Moncada – SS or 2B – don’t worry, they’ll find spots for these guys
- Jose Abreu – 1B or DH – will he still be here at age 34? (DOB: 1/29/87)
- Eloy Jimenez – RF or LF – one of the greatest hitting prospects since Frank Thomas
- Luis Robert – CF – great power and speed combo
- Matt Davidson – DH or 3B – has shown rapid improvement this year
- Jake Burger – 3B or DH – tore the same Achilles tendon twice this year; can he play defense anymore or is he strictly a DH?
- Tim Anderson – SS or OF – rumors abound that Timmy’s headed to the OF
- Zack Collins – C – Collins has been really hot over the last two months
Utility IF – Yolmer Sanchez (3B/SS/2B), Jose Rondon (2B/SS), or Gavin Sheets (1B)
4th OF – Blake Rutherford – I like him a lot; potential sleeper!
Adam Engel – great defense and speed, not much bat….. yet.
Charlie Tilson – New Trier grad, I like him…… so far
Daniel Palka – I think this kid is the real deal! His exit velocity numbers have been staggering.
Luis Alexander Basabe – best defensive OF in the minors according to BA
Backup C – Seby Zavala, Kevan Smith, or Evan Skoug (from Libertyville, IL)
2021 Starting Rotation
- Michael Kopech – looks like an ace who can throw 100 mph
- Carlos Rodon (L) – don’t forget about Carlos, our lone remaining lefty starter after Sale and Quintana were dealt in what was once our biggest strength
- Reynaldo Lopez – very solid beginning to his young career
- Dylan Cease – they rave about him in Winston-Salem
- Dane Dunning, Lucas Giolito, Alec Hansen, Spencer Adams, or Blake Battenfield (1.58 ERA)
Bullpen – Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Thyago Vieira, A.J. Puckett, and/or a bunch of random guys including the pitchers listed above that don’t get the 5th spot in the rotation
Closer – Zack Burdi
We listed 21 hitters and 14 pitchers currently in the Sox system. Obviously things change. Trades are made, prospects develop or get hurt, and more draft picks will progress. Notice that I didn’t list Avisail Garcia. He’s one example of a guy that I love but ultimately I think won’t be around in 2021. Rather, I think GM Rick Hahn will let him go in free agency after this season or he’ll be traded for prospects or pieces before 2021. To be honest, I think Jose Abreu may not be around in ’21 either. We’ll see. Abreu is an amazingly consistent hitter but remember that he is older since he didn’t arrive from Cuba until he was already 27 years old in 2014. Who knows? Maybe a guy like Dylan Covey discovers himself and becomes a mainstay. You never know.
We must remember that the Sox record in 2018 is of little importance. We’re likely picking in the top 5 of next year’s 2019 MLB Draft again. Who cares about losing games? Nevertheless, sometimes I need to remind myself, like after that 1st game of the doubleheader on Monday. What’s integral to the future of the Sox is the development of these individuals. So let’s watch them grow and develop as major league ballplayers. Let’s try to enjoy it. My son and I try and do enjoy many of the games. He is a big Sox fan and we often watch games together and talk about the future. We have conversations about players, such as “Is Yolmer a future guy?”, or “Where will Moncada hit in the batting order eventually?”, or “Unless Carson Fulmer learns how to throw strikes with his fastball, he has no future. He might want to slow down that delivery.”
It’s sometimes hard to see the horizon during a storm but there it appears, after the rain has gone. The clouds disappear and the rainbows appear. A fresh start is in the making. These are the times we’ll look back on in 3 or 4 years. So enjoy the storm while you still can. Embrace the beauty of the storm, which leads to hope, which leads to joy and happiness. Embrace the grind and the struggle. For only then can true fulfillment be attained. So try not to get frustrated and……. Let’s Go Go-Go White Sox!