Golson may be favorite, but Notre Dame QB battle not close to ending

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Golson may be favorite, but Notre Dame QB battle not close to ending

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's quarterback competition has created a second position battle on the fields of the LaBar Practice Complex. This one, though, has nothing to do with playing time or depth charts.

Brian Kelly's purple-faced outbursts on NBC last season gained national notoriety, so the thought of him having to play good cop with Notre Dame's quarterbacks seems a bit odd. But that's first-year offensive coordinator Chuck Martin's goal.

"We both want to be the bad cop. We're usually in a race to get there first so we could be the bad cop and force the other guy's hand to be the good cop," laughed Martin. "So I've out-flanked him in practice, I like to cheat up as the cadence goes to where I'm almost behind him, so if I want to unload I can really get on him and force Kelly to be the good cop."

While neither Kelly nor Martin would hint at who their starter will be Sept. 1 against Navy, the general consensus around campus is that Everett Golson will get the nod. Kelly said Thursday he'll move away from a 50-50 reps split between Golson and Andrew Hendrix early next week and speak with both quarterbacks about their position.

But that conversation won't represent a final decision.

"But there's still so much learning, so it wouldn't be as cut and dry as say, here's my No. 1," Kelly said. "The door will still be open for growth during that week, but we'll start to separate the reps a little bit."

The door is certainly still open for Hendrix -- or Golson, if the coaching staff goes in another direction -- to gain the starting role before the Navy game. Either way, though, Notre Dame will head to Dublin with a quarterback who has never started a collegiate game.

"It can all be decided and look perfect in practice, and when the lights go on -- we all know from being around this game that, when the lights go on, kids react differently," explained Martin. "Some kids play better than they ever play, and some kids play worse. Whoever gets the first chance is going to have to go out there and play and prove to everyone that they can be capable of doing the job. Not that we're looking for a quick hook, I'm not saying that, just it still will be an unknown when we send that kid out there for the first series."

Notre Dame's already used the quick hook under Kelly, with Dayne Christ finding himself on the bench of last year's season opener after a rough first half. If a change is made at quarterback, it may not be during the Navy game. It could come the week after.

"You're always preparing for all the eventualities -- if those two kids (Golson and Hendrix) don't look like they're handling the job description, and you got a guy who's won a bunch of games for us," Martin said, referring to Tommy Rees. "And that's depending on a lot of factors -- is it one guy, is it two guys, is it two guys battling it out, is one guy battling it out, did they both play well, did they both fall on their face. We're prepared to go any direction, I'm sure coach is prepared for every eventuality, but it's just going to play out."

Rees' presence has been described as positive in preseason camp, but with the incumbent starter suspended for the season opener, there exists a chance that Rees re-enters the conversation after Week 1.

"I know Tommys itching to get back, were all itching to get Tommy back as well, because when hes in there working, we see what hes doing, we get the reps mentally," Hendrix said. "When Tommy comes back, coach Kelly will obviously play it how he knows best, we trust him in that. But we are excited to have Tommy back."

But interceptions were a problem for Rees last season, and Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff are trying to eradicate those turnover woes from the offense. Golson, to his credit, has only thrown one interception in preseason practice, a note which Kelly lauded on Thursday.

"You build trust," Kelly said. "You don't just give it, you build trust ... and he's exhibited that trust in the way he's handled himself in camp."

Whether Golson can keep that trust through Week 1 remains to be seen, as well as if Hendrix has it or Rees can earn it back. Ideally, Kelly and Martin would like to stick with the same quarterback from Week 1 through bowl season. But if they can't do that, Notre Dame's quarterback competition could extend into the fall.

"At the end of the day, you still are going to battle until you get it right," Martin said. "Sometimes it takes longer, especially at that spot."

Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz and the rest of the return for Chris Sale

Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz and the rest of the return for Chris Sale

The White Sox return for Chris Sale has been generally praised in the aftermath of Tuesday’s megadeal with the Boston Red Sox, with the headliner being 21-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada

But the White Sox also acquired three other prospects with varying ranges of hype: 20-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech, 20-year-old outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and 22-year-old right-hander Victor Diaz. Baseball America ranked all three among the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox farm system, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Kopech No. 5, Basabe No. 8 and Diaz No. 28 in Boston’s farm system. 

Kopech is a hard-throwing former No. 33 overall pick out of Mount Pleasant, Texas who was rated as a top 100 prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2016 season. Over three minor league seasons from rookie ball to high Single-A, Kopech has 172 strikeouts, 69 walks and only three home runs allowed in 134 2/3 innings with a 2.61 ERA.

Whether or not Kopech sticks as a starting pitcher (35 of his 36 professional games have been starts) remains a point of contention among prospect evaluators, though he features a power slider and a low-90’s changeup that Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser wrote has drawn comparisons to New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. He also reportedly threw a 105 mph pitch last summer with Double-A Salem — and even if that radar gun reading was inaccurate, he’s able to fairly regularly throw his fastball at or above 100 mph. 

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

There have been two off-the-field issues with Kopech, though, that are why he’s been dinged in some prospect rankings. In 2015, he was suspended for the final 50 games of the season after testing positive for amphetamine use, and in March of 2016 he fractured his hand following an altercation with a teammate

Basabe — not to be confused with his twin brother, infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe, who the Red Sox traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks last summer — is a toolsy outfielder who hit .264/.328/.452 with 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts between Single-A Greenville and high Single-A Salem last year. FutureSox’s Rob Young wrote that Basabe has “immense upside” as a potential five-tool player, while Baseball America’s best-case is Basabe’s raw talent develops into a "top of the order center fielder" 

Over four minor league seasons, Basabe has a .253/.353/.408 slash line with 21 home runs, 25 triples and 73 stolen bases in 93 attempts (78 percent). 

Diaz has had some control issues, issuing an average of 3.97 walks per nine innings, over his first two professional seasons. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.88 ERA with 63 strikeouts out of Single-A Greenville’s bullpen last year, and with a fastball touching 100 mph, he could develop into a legitimate relief option down the road if he can find the strike zone more consistently. 

What’s worth noting here is the depth of the trade for the White Sox. This is a farm system that lacked both top-end and raw talent when Rick Hahn & Co. woke up on Tuesday, but adding Moncada, Kopech, Basabe and Diaz to a group headlined by recent draft picks like right-hander Carson Fulmer, catcher Zack Collins and right-hander Zack Burdi should have a significant impact on the quality of the White Sox minor league ranks. 

MLB releases postseason shares for Cubs

MLB releases postseason shares for Cubs

The Cubs' postseason shares were released Tuesday afternoon amid the craziness of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale deal.

Fresh off a World Series win, the Cubs handed out 66 full playoff shares, worth $368,871.59 each. The organization also dealt 8.7 partial shares and four cash awards.

As champs, the Cubs received a share of $27,586,017.75 of the players' pool, which is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the American League and National League wild card games and then 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series, the first four contests of the League Championship Series and first four games of the World Series.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The 2016 players' pool set a new record at $76,627,827.09, up from the 2015 total of just under $70 million.

2015 champion Kansas City Royals received share amounts of just over $370,000 last season, split into 58 shares.

The Cleveland Indians received more than $18 million from the 2016 players pool.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays — runners up in the LCS — tallied more than $9 million from the players' pool.