Breaking down Sale's MLB starting debut

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Breaking down Sale's MLB starting debut

Chris Sale's line today: 6 23 innings pitched, one run, three hits, two walks, five strikeouts, nine groundouts, three flyouts, 100 pitches.

Doesn't sound like someone who hasn't started a game in the majors, right?

The thing that pops out is how many ground balls Sale got. A big question coming into this year was about his ability to command the strike zone with dialed-back stuff, and Sale answered that question positively on Monday. He kept the ball low in the zone with a fastball that averaged about 92 miles per hour -- around four miles per hour slower than his average velocity as a reliever.

The key was that Sale didn't try to strike everybody out. He could get away with that as a reliever and often succeeded doing so, but through 100 pitches, he had to be more efficient. And he was. That's extremely encouraging.

Sale's fastball was his best offering on Monday, but his slider and changeup were good as well. He only threw 12 changes -- right in line with his 11.7 percent usage of that pitch as a reliever last year.

It's just one start, but that's an early answer to another Sale question: He's not throwing his changeup more as a starter than as a reliever. And he probably doesn't have to -- 12 pitches in 100 is about right for a third pitch.

Overall, here's how Sale's offerings broke down (via Brooks Baseball): 57 fastballs, 31 sliders, 12 changeups. His percentages in his two years of relieving: 55 percent fastballs, 35 percent sliders, 10 percent changeups. So little has changed in his pitch selection, at least through one start.

There's not much Sale could've done better in his first start. Now he's just gotta do it 30 more times this year.

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four of the team's top-10 prospects and a former All-Star are among the 19 nonroster invitees to White Sox big league camp this spring.

The team announced Monday that prospects Michael Kopech, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Spencer Adams have all been invited to camp next month. Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, Cody Asche, Cory Luebke and Geovany Soto are among the eight minor league free agents who also received an invitation. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 14 while the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.

Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December while Collins and Burdi were both selected in the 2016 amateur draft. Adams was drafted in 2014.

Signed earlier this month, Soto is expected to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. Soto, who played for the White Sox in 2015, finished last season with four home runs and an .809 OPS in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels.

Cabrera, who produced 4.6 Wins Above Replacement between 2012-13, hasn't played in the majors since he appeared in 29 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. Luebke, who has twice had reconstructive elbow surgery, finished with a 9.35 ERA in nine games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Asche blasted 31 homers with a .240/.298/.385 slash line in 1,287 plate appearances since 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other minor league free agents include: left-handed pitcher David Holmberg, right-handers Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak, and catcher Roberto Pena.

White Sox minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes, and outfielder Courtney Hawkins also have been invited to camp.

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