On The Farm: Young pitches well in Bristol victory

On The Farm: Young pitches well in Bristol victory

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010
10:00 PM
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com
WHITE SOX
Bristol (Rookie)
Robert Young waited a bit for Thursday night, nearly two months in fact. His first professional victory, however, proved to be worth the wait as Bristol squeaked by Burlington, 1-0, at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

Young, whom the White Sox selected out of Dartmouth in the 31st round of Junes First-Year Player Draft, went a career-best seven innings while allowing only two hits. He fanned a season-high five and walked only one.

His effort shouldnt have come as much of a surprise, though. Young (1-3) didnt allow an earned run in his last start at home against Johnson City and has now allowed only two earned runs in his last 17 13 innings.

Its definitely been a long time coming, Young told CSNChicago.com. I had luck go my way tonight and its better to be lucky than good sometimes and that definitely happened tonight. If a few things go different, its a different outcome. Things are getting better, though and Im making progress each time out.

While Young credits some of his success on Thursday to luck there was also a bit of skill involved. He recently incorporated a slider into his repertoire and used it masterfully against Burlington. Young had never used a slider much before the last few weeks, even in his college days, but when his curveball was beginning to become less effective against right-hander hitters, he knew he needed to find an out pitch.

Bristol pitching coach Curt Hasler helped Young find the panacea, introducing him to the slider. Young worked on it in the bullpen and discussed it with Hasler in between innings the results Thursday were impressive.

I worked on it before my last outing against Johnson City and it proved to be very beneficial, Young said. I was struggling with the curve. It was getting slow and loopy and I needed a breaking ball for right-handers and I started fiddling with a slider. I wound a grip that worked and it worked very well tonight.

I toyed around with it in college but I never got too accustomed to throwing it. My pitching coach was a big advocate of mastering three pitches for strikes. So sometimes I had the curve working, sometimes the changeup and on a few occasions both. So I was never at a point where I needed a slider. But when I got here it was pretty apparent that I needed a better breaking ball. He said how about a slider and its worked well so far.

Young also kept the ball down in the zone against Burlington, adhering to another point Hasler has been stressing. He allowed singles in the third and fifth innings, pitching out of both tight spots. Burlington also put two men on in the fourth but Young got Geoffrey Baldwin looking for the third out.

Things are getting better and better each time out and thats always a plus, Young said. I would have liked to have started closer to where I am now but at least Im making progress.

Chase Blackwoods seventh-inning homer gave Young the victory.

The idea is to go out every outing and not give up a single run, Young said. It just makes it more important when you know were not pushing any runs across. I knew I needed to have a good outing, though. I havent pitched the way I know I can this summer.

So personally, I replayed every inning in my head, took them one at a time and figured out what was working mechanics wise.

Kannapolis (A)
Ryan Buch continued his impressive run as a starting pitcher Thursday night as the Intimidators blanked Savannah, 2-0, at Grayson Stadium.

Buch (4-0) improved to 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in six starts after scattering four hits over six innings. He tied a season high with six strikeouts and didnt walk a batter. He had been 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts at Bristol in late June and early July.

Kannapolis scored both their runs on Ian Gacs two-run double in the first inning.

In other action, Winston-Salems game at Wilmington was rained out and will not be made up. The dash also announced that their Sept. 2 game against Lynchburg was moved from 7 PM to noon. Durham defeated Charlotte, 6-2, at Durham Athletic Park. Jeff Marquez (8-6) took the loss after surrendering three runs on seven hits in five innings. Jeremy Reed had a single and an RBI, giving him seven RBIs in the series. ... Birmingham dropped an 8-6 decision at Mobile despite collecting 15 hits. Justin Edwards allowed eight runs in 4 23 innings.

CUBS

Daytona (A)
Mark Reed scored on an eighth-inning wild pitch Thursday night to give Daytona an 8-7 victory over Dunedin at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Cubs had scored three seventh-inning runs to tie the score at 7-7. Rebel Ridlings RBI double knotted things up. Ridling also had a two-run homer in Daytonas three-run third inning. Alex Maestri picked up the victory after allowing one run in three innings of relief. The victory, combined with Tampas loss at Clearwater, pushed the Cubs into first place by a game in the Florida State Leagues North Division.

In other action, Tennessee banged out 10 hits at Chattanooga yet still dropped a 5-3 decision to the Lookouts. Brandon Guyer remained hot, though, collecting two of those hits, both of which were homers. He drove in three as he extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Hes batting .459 (28-for-61) during the streak with four homers and 22 RBIs. Beloit bested Peoria, 2-0, scoring both its runs in the seventh inning. Brett Wallach, making his third start since coming over in the deadline deal with the Dodgers, had his best outing with the Chiefs, tossing two-hit shutout ball over six innings. Peoria, however, managed only four hits.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Bears looking beyond individual players in third preseason game

Bears looking beyond individual players in third preseason game

“The all-important third preseason game… .”

Or is it?

The short answer is yes, because “it'll be the most extended play of the starters we have available will play,” said coach John Fox.

In fact, it has been said that before training camps ever begin, upwards of 45 roster spots are pretty well decided. And the combination of camp time and first two preseason games have taken care of perhaps all but the finest of tunings of roster decisions.

“You know we've got some guys that we've evaluated on a lot of football plays before the third preseason game,” Fox said, “so albeit it is important, we have a pretty good idea about some of our players.”

[MORE: Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains face deepest test yet in Bears' third preseason game]

So while individual players are tasked with taking steps up in their development – wide receiver Kevin White with just two catches so far, for instance – the focus now shifts from predominantly player evaluation to broader questions of how well whole units are performing together. Each unit has its own challenges in a preseason that is still waiting for the Bears’ first win:

Next step for offense

The shutout at the hands of the Denver Broncos in Game 1 was jolting, preseason or not. The 11 points by the offense in New England was promising.

Now what?

The offensive production last season was disappointing but yet respectable because of the unmatched parts Cutler needed to work with because of injuries at receiver besides losing No. 1 tailback Matt Forte for three full games and most of a fourth. Scoring: 23rd. Rushing yards: 11th. Plus Cutler’s career-best passer composite: 92.3.

That won’t be good enough in 2016. Regardless of the myriad changes ranging from coordinator on through running back, tight end and the offensive line, Cutler himself set the bar by pre-emptively ruling out possible excuses.

“Solely just Year 1 to Year 2,” Cutler said. “I think there’s going to be less thinking. I think we have a better idea of what we like in the offense; what we don’t like in the offense; where we need to improve; what we need to add. I think personnel-wise we’re getting better and better.”

The offense won’t put its entire playbook on display against the Chiefs. But “need to improve” is the mantra, and that extends through the running-back “committee,” the offensive line regardless of who’s on the field, and the receivers from White in his biggest dose of playing time to tight ends tasked with replacing Martellus Bennett as well as contributing to a run game that forms the foundation of the offense.

Defensive dominance, if you please

Upgrading the defense was the foremost priority of the 2016 offseason, beginning with inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan and lineman Akiem Hicks, and on into the draft when the Bears invested seven of their nine draft picks, including two of the first three, on that side of the football.

“I think we have a chance to be a better defense than we were last year, but the proof will be in the pudding,” coordinator Vic Fangio is on record saying. “Practice is the quiz; the games are the final exam. So until we start playing and see exactly what we’ve got, that will determine the true answer to that question. But I think we have a chance to be better.”

The first two preseason games involved the No. 1 defense but not to the degree that Game 3 will. And as of now, no starting quarterback has been sacked by a Bear, and no defensive starter has a sack through two games, although rotation’ers Sam Acho, Jonathan Bullard, Leonard Floyd and Cornelius Washington have at least a partial sack.

The Kansas City offense was No. 3 in rushing average, sixth in rushing yards per game and ninth in points per game last season. The Bears have yet to make a definitive statement that they are close to an elite defense, which is a prerequisite to moving significantly past the 6-10 record in 2015.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

How “special” are ‘teams?

The Bears were a respectable 12th in the special-teams ranking of Dallas Morning News legend Rick Gosselin, a mix of 22 categories that produces a meaningful evaluation of special teams. But the Broncos’ average starting position was their 32, vs. the Bears’ at the Chicago 21. Based on 12 possessions, that loosely translates into 132 field-position yards the Broncos had on the Bears.

The Patriots’ average start was the New England 32; the Bears’ was their own 24, meaning eight yards average on 10 possessions. However, one New England possession started at the Chicago 15 because of a Brian Hoyer interception, skewing the overall.

Meaning: The Bears improved from Week 1 to Week 2 in gaining field position. That needs to develop into a trend that benefits both the offensive and defensive units.

The overall goal is clear: “Improve from Week 2 to Week 3,” Fox said. “We’re here. It’s not a season; they call it preseason for reasons; it’s to evaluate, put your players in positions, take a look at players.”

White Sox hope pitcher Colton Turner can 'build' on strong season

White Sox hope pitcher Colton Turner can 'build' on strong season

The White Sox acquired minor-league pitcher Colton Turner from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for catcher Dioner Navarro.  

Turner, 25, has a 1.33 ERA in 44 games this season across three levels with 70 strikeouts in 54 innings. The White Sox assigned Turner, who missed all of 2014 after he had reconstructive elbow surgery, to Double-A Birmingham.

“Ever since he got back (from pitching in Australia), he seems to have hit his stride well,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Fastball/slider mix, good command.

“You can obviously see from the numbers he has done impressive work against righties for a left-handed reliever, which is nice to see.

“We’re going to wait to get to know him better. He’s had a real nice year and we like the stuff, we like the command and we’ll see if he’s able to continue to build on what he has done this year and try to figure out that more in 2017, the role he’ll play going forward.”

White Sox Top Prospects: Zack Burdi thriving in minors

White Sox Top Prospects: Zack Burdi thriving in minors

Zack Burdi hasn't been in the White Sox organization for long, but he's certainly showing why the club drafted him with the 26th pick in this year's draft.

The 21-year-old pitcher is thriving in the minors with a little over two months in to his professional career. Burdi worked his way through four affiliates and is currently in Triple-A Charlotte.

In 22 games and 31.1 innings pitched over four levels, Burdi has a 2.90 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 13 walks. In addition, the Illinois native hasn't allowed a run in the last 18.1 innings pitched with Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

"One of the things we want Zack to work on is his consistency with his delivery out of the stretch," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on Thursday. "The only problem is he’s not allowing any baserunners on, so he’s not really having a lot of opportunity to work on that. We are going to tell him to put more guys on.

"But no, in all seriousness a lot has already been thrown at this kid and he’s responded essentially to every outing, with the exception of the first one at Birmingham was rough. It’s been a lot about the consistency of his delivery and fastball command and fairly simplistic stuff that he’s taken to very quickly and he’s got a world of ability."

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Burdi was rated as the No. 21 best prospect in Baseball America's top 500 prospects prior to the draft.

Before joining the White Sox in June, Burdi finished off his collegiate career at Louisville. He was named to the All-ACC First Team, USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and Third Team Louisville Slugger All-America.