Bollig happy to stick up for Blackhawks teammates

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Bollig happy to stick up for Blackhawks teammates

Brandon Bollig shook off his gloves and prepared to face St. Louis tough guy Ryan Reaves. It was the hometown kids moment in St. Louis last week, a chance for his family to see him at his pugilistic best.

Even if theres a mixed reaction to Bollig putting up his dukes.

I dont think my mom likes it too much but my dad enjoys it, said Bollig with a smile, the same one he usually displays during his fights. Theyre along for the ride and fans at this point. Its as fun for them as it is for me. Theyre happy to see me at this level.

And now that hes at this level, Bollig will do whatever it takes to stay here.

Bollig is known for his fighting prowess and he hasnt disappointed in his short stint with the Blackhawks -- he has five fights in seven games games. He added that fifth on Tuesday night, going after Reaves for his hit on Jamal Mayers in the Blackhawks 4-3 shootout victory over the Blues. Bolligs energy and drive to stick up for teammates has resonated throughout the Blackhawks locker room.

There was no hesitation. He just jumped right in the pile there and fought him. That got us pumped, said Patrick Kane. Its good to know we can play a physical game like that.

But coach Joel Quenneville said the rookie has brought so much more than just the bruiser mentality.

I thought hed be pretty excited the last time he went into St. Louis. But I like how hes playing, and Im not talking about his fighting, he said. I think that, positionally, he has awareness. He brings energy and finishes hits. Technically, hes doing the right things. Hes been a nice fit for us.

On Bolligs response on Tuesday, Quenneville said, he did what he had to do. That was a good response to a big hit.

Bollig knows his calling card and figures itll be that way most of his career. The native of St. Charles, Mo., doesnt mind the fights, although even hes surprised that hes had this many so soon. He and Reaves bout in St. Louis was a lengthy and memorable one for Bollig, who tapped Reaves on the helmet in a good-fight gesture afterward.

You have to have respect for guys who are willing to do it that much, Bollig said. Its obviously something you have to have a certain mental awareness to do, and maybe be a little messed up in the head to do it all the time. Everyone here is kind of tough in their own right.

Bollig has proven his toughness quickly in the NHL. His teammates appreciate several aspects of his game. And whatever keeps him in the big leagues, hes ready to do it.

I think at this point willing to do what I have to do to stay here; if its fighting every night, Im wiling to do that. Bollig said. I hope theres not a time when I get tired of it or not willing to do it because thatll be the time Im done with the game.

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.

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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.