Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

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Breaking down rounds 2-16 for the White Sox

Rounds 2-16 of the MLB Draft are underway on Tuesday, and the White Sox have sprung for pitching and up-the-middle position players so far. Here's a look at who the Sox selected today:

Round 2, Pick 76: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern University

From the MLB.com scouting report, it sounds like Beck has three fairly well-developed pitches, but the report says he doesn't always throw like a power pitcher despite a fastball that tops out at 94 mph. In 103 23 innings for GSU, Beck posted a 3.91 ERA with 115 strikeouts, 29 walks and 11 home runs allowed in 103 23 innings.

Round 3, Pick 108: Joey DeMichele, 2B, Arizona State University

For a second baseman, DeMichele has shown decent power, hitting 15 home runs in just under 400 at-bats in the last two years (stats go up to Memorial Day). He's a low-strikeout player who doesn't walk a ton, relying mostly on contact skills to boost his OBP near .400 with the Sun Devils.

Round 4, Pick No. 141: Brandon Brennan, RHP, Orange Coast College (Calif.)

Brennan was a 40th-round pick of the Rockies in 2010 but opted to attend the University of Oregon, where he spent one year before transferring to Orange Coast College. Here's a YouTube clip of the right-hander from earlier this year:

Round 5, Pick No. 171: Nick Basto, SS, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Fla.)

Per South Florida Sun-Sentinel preps reporter Dieter Kurtenbach, Basto, who's committed to FIU, intends to turn pro -- although the Sox will have to squeeze him in under their bonus cap to make that happen. Video:

Round 6, Pick No. 201: Kyle Hansen, RHP, St. John's University

The brother of former Red Sox and Pirates reliever Craig Hansen, the younger Hansen appears destined to land in the bullpen despite working as a starter in college. MLB.com's report describes a good fastball-slider combo with a change that needs refinement, which sounds pretty typical of a pitching prospect who ultimately will wind up being used as a reliever.

Round 7, Pick No. 231: Jose Barraza, C, Sunnyside High School (Calif.)

Barraza cracked Baseball America's top 500 draft prospects list at No. 472, and per FutureSox, he's not committed to a college. That doesn't necessarily mean the Sox have a better chance at signing him, as JuCo is always an option.

Round 8, Pick No. 261: Zach Isler, RHP, University of Cincinnati

Pitching nearly exclusively in relief, Isler struck out 55 in 55 innings with 26 walks during his junior year at Cincinnati, but he has a mid-90s fastball that could play with some development.

Round 9, Pick No. 291: Micah Johnson, 2B, University of Indiana

Johnson put together a fine 2010 (.335.402.474) before an elbow injury stunted his growth in 2011. He only played in 24 games and didn't hit well, perhaps a product of his injury. Could be an interesting guy to watch if he gets back to his pre-2012 trajectory.

Round 10, Pick No. 321: Brandon Hardin, RHP, Delta State University (Miss.)

No, not the Bears' rookie safety. He struggled as a starter but excelled as a reliever, where he'll probably end up in the White Sox system.

Round 11, Pick No. 351: Eric Jaffe, RHP, UCLA

A 19th-round pick of Boston in the 2010 MLB Draft, he transferred from Cal to UCLA and didn't pitch a whole lot while on campus. He's a big guy (6-foot-4, 235 lbs.) who pitches in relief. Video:

Preview: White Sox return home to battle Blue Jays on CSN+

Preview: White Sox return home to battle Blue Jays on CSN+

The White Sox return to U.S. Cellular Field to battle the Blue Jays tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Aaron Sanchez (7-1, 3.35 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (2-6, 4.16 ERA) 

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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James Shields takes step in right direction, but White Sox still need more

James Shields takes step in right direction, but White Sox still need more

BOSTON — James Shields took a step toward turning his season around, though there’s still plenty of room to improve. 

The 34-year-old right-hander, who entered the day with a 21.81 ERA in three starts since being acquired from the San Diego Padres, allowed three runs over five innings in the White Sox 8-7 extra-innings loss to the Boston Red Sox Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park. 

While it wasn’t an unmitigated disaster like his previous starts against the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, Shields only lasted five innings and issued more walks (four) than he had strikeouts (three). Still, he was able to keep the White Sox in the game — and left with a lead — which represents a step in the right direction. 

“Obviously my last three outings weren’t very good, so it’s definitely a positive,” Shields said. “I’ve been around the game a while, I’ve got a lot more in the tank. Body feels great, so we’ll move forward.”

Shields’ abbreviated outing, though, forced the White Sox to burn relievers Matt Albers (who hit a batter and gave up two hits) and Dan Jennings (who threw a scoreless inning) early. And with those two guys used, and reliable right-handers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam on the disabled list, manager Robin Ventura turned to rookie Chris Beck in the seventh. 

Beck avoided a meltdown but allowed a run. While Nate Jones ultimately gave up the game-tying run in the eighth, having to cover a dozen outs proved to be a difficult task. 

“We were getting a little short today,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We didn’t have (Zach) Duke out there to be able to come in. We were trying to patch it together. These guys have been used a lot, so we knew we couldn’t necessarily go four outs with Jonesy or (David) Robertson. We were a little thin.”

Shields was generally better at getting ahead in the count, and held Boston scoreless through his first four innings. But after striking out Christian Vasquez and getting Marco Hernandez to ground out to begin the fifth, the Red Sox lineup turned over to face Shields for the third time. Mookie Betts’ single was followed by a Dustin Pedroia RBI double, though Xander Bogaerts popped out to end the inning. 

Shields issued walks to David Ortiz — he thought his 1-2 slow curveball was a strike, though — and Ryan LaMarre before being pulled with no outs in the sixth. 

“He was playing more in the strike zone early on in the at-bat than in previous starts,” Avila said. “Throughout the innings that he pitched there were times where he kinda got out of himself a little bit and rushed a little bit but he was able to make the adjustment much quicker than he did in his previous outings. A good start for him, pitched well, used everything. Was able to go both sides of the plate with a good mix of his pitches. Those are the types of starts that I’ve seen quite a bit of him make and would expect to make.”

Anything better than a figurative fireworks show would’ve been an improvement, and while Thursday wasn’t vintage Shields, it did represent a step in the right direction. 

“Overall it was just me trying to relax and not trying to do too much for my new team,” Shields said. “I felt okay today. But there’s always room for improvement and I’m going to try to get better next time.” 

White Sox can’t complete sweep, but looking at positives leaving Boston

White Sox can’t complete sweep, but looking at positives leaving Boston

BOSTON — The White Sox couldn’t hold two leads and couldn’t come through with the bases loaded twice late in the game, but head back to Chicago looking at the positives from taking three of four games from the Boston Red Sox. 

Xander Bogaerts’ walk-off single off Matt Purke dealt the White Sox an 8-7 loss in Thursday afternoon’s series finale at Fenway Park, ending a four hour, 25 minute slog. The bigger-picture view of things was full of optimism, though, for a team that hasn’t had many reasons to take a glass-half-full approach over the last few weeks. 

“The quality of baseball we played this series was probably the best baseball we played all year, including the nice start that we had,” catcher Alex Avila, who had four hits Thursday, said. “We played well with the lead, we played well when we were behind. (We) made some big pitches when we had to, got some big time hits when we needed to, which is something that’s been lacking past few weeks.” 

A narrow view of Thursday’s game, though, has a more frustrating tone. The White Sox squandered a 4-1 lead, got it back on Jose Abreu’s go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the seventh, then gave that two-run advantage back in bottom of the seventh and eighth innings. 

The White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the eighth but failed to score when J.B Shuck flied out to left (it wasn’t deep enough for Brett Lawrie to be sent home, even with natural third baseman Travis Shaw having to play left field), Tim Anderson struck out and Adam Eaton grounded out. 

The same scenario played out in the top of the 10th, with Lawrie, Avila and Avisail Garcia again loading the bases but Shuck (popout), Anderson (strikeout) and Eaton (strikeout) failing to plate the go-ahead run against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. 

Bogaerts delivered his walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th. 

“We won three out of four — you look at it that way,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You could look at a lot of things negatively, but the way it’s been going for us, you win a series and get ready for tomorrow.”

The White Sox pulled off an impressive bases-loaded escape on Monday and won in extra innings, then cruised to a victory behind Chris Sale on Tuesday. Wednesday saw Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie blast home runs in a rare spate of run support for Jose Quintana in a comeback win. And while the final three innings Thursday were certainly disappointing, starter James Shields exited the game with a lead and Abreu momentarily picked up for a strung-out bullpen in the seventh. 

“This was a good series,” Shields said. “We got swept in Cleveland, coming in here to Boston, one of the best hitting teams in the league and to do what we did three out of four is pretty good.”

Where Avila saw the greatest benefit to this series — outside of winning three games in a row for the first time since early May, of course — was getting some high-leverage experience for a handful of players. Michael Ynoa held on to a one-run lead in the eighth inning Wednesday, while Chris Beck — with an assist from a strange decision to bunt by Jackie Bradley Jr. — limited the Red Sox damage to just one run in a shaky seventh inning Thursday. 

Whether the experience of this series pays off as the White Sox look to remain within striking distance for the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2008 remains to be seen. But for a team starved of positive morsels since early May, there was plenty to like about these four days in Boston. 

“We need to graduate a little bit because we’re going to need everybody,” Avila said. “But overall we had a really good series, played really good baseball. It just shows you how tough it is to beat a team four days in a row.”