Breaking down the White Sox farm system

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Breaking down the White Sox farm system

If a major league clubs farm system is any forecast of the future of a franchise, the Chicago White Sox should plan for a little bit of rain. Much like its crosstown rival, the Sox are in desperate need of a number of successful drafts to add depth to their now sparse lower level talent.In an attempt to beef up their minor league pitching this winter, the Sox elected to trade inconsistent closer Sergio Santos in return for right handed prospect Nestor Molina. Molina is an above average pitcher with a mid-range fastball complimented by a slider, a changeup, and a pretty active splitter. The only problem is some scouts do not think that Molina has a very high ceiling -- in other words, he is already peaking and shows little room for improvement. With some fine tuning, Molina could end up a back-of-the-rotation starter at best, but probably has a better chance of being a late-inning reliever.South Side farm system poster boy Addison Reed is one of the bright spots for a farm system lacking depth in the worst way. The large-framed Reed tops out in the 95 mph range, but his biting slider has catapulted him to the next level and his active arm and electric stuff will eventually land him in the closers role. The Sox are a team still searching for someone to call their everyday closer and while Chis Sale appears to be the next to get his shot in that role Reed will probably get his audition this summer.Another pitcher walking the line between starter and bullpen is former Padre Simon Castro. Castro was acquired in the Carlos Quentin trade and is the high-potential type player you love to have in your farm system. On the contrary, there are some question marks that come along with Castro. The 6-foot-5 righty has a mid-90s fastball and a changeup with good movement, both of which he has trouble locating. Castros command problems stem from a number of mechanical issues that have plagued him in the past, but the hope is that White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper can fix his flaws like he has done with so many others in the past.One of the White Sox top outfield prospects is Jared Mitchell. Mitchell, a two-sport standout at LSU, was the White Sox first-round selection in the 2009 draft. General manager Kenny Williams and the rest of the Sox organization had high hopes for the extremely athletic outfielder, and in 2009 Mitchell hit .327 with 25 extra base hits, 36 steals and showed great power to the opposite field. Mitchell was also named Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series. It seemed as if the sky was the limit for him until he ruptured his Achilles' tendon making a circus catch in a 2010 spring training game. The unfortunate incident surrounded Mitchell with a great deal of uncertainty because such a large part of his game relies on speed. At times his outstanding acceleration made up for his lack of experience and instinct in the field.Mitchell returned to the lineup and played a full 2011 schedule but he struggled significantly, hitting only.222 and fanning 183 times -- 38 percent of his trips to the plate. He has shown signs of improvement early this season with Double-A Birmingham and is currently hitting .341 with a .471 OBP in 24 appearances. Perhaps more importantly, he is showing significant speed which means he is close to 100 percent recovered from the Achilles' injury. That is giving Williams and Co. hope that he is not far from playing in the big leagues on an everyday basis.The White Sox system is not considered strong by most talent evaluators, but after changing scouting directors and putting a renewed emphasis on developing pitching the Sox are hopeful that brighter days are ahead for an organization that trying to retool from within. Right now the major league club is led by a solid core of veterans, but as they continue to age it will be imperative that the team's drafts start producing at a solid rate of return.Joe Musso contributed to this article.

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

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Associated Press

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

BALTIMORE -- The White Sox closed a record-tying April in the most appropriate of ways -- with another heavy dose of late-inning magic.

Jose Abreu made up for a costly error with two late RBIs, including singling in the go-ahead run in the ninth, and the White Sox tied a team record for April victories with an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 29,152 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Playing without manager Robin Ventura, who was ejected after a controversial review in the fourth, the White Sox scored five times in the final three innings to rally for win No. 17. They finished the season’s opening month with a 17-8 mark to tie the 2000, 2005 and 2006 clubs for most April victories.

“I’ll put a lot of money with Jose at the plate with runners in scoring position,” Adam Eaton said. “We got the job done. Good team win. Not really how we drew it up, but it shows character with the team for sure. Battling back, each delivering punches and for us to get the last punch in there … Huge night for us.”

It was in particular a big showing for Abreu, who entered the game with a .220 average and 11 RBIs, his fewest in April in three seasons. The occasion became even bigger after Abreu’s fielding error in the eighth -- one of two by the White Sox -- extended the inning for Matt Albers.

With the White Sox leading 7-5, Abreu couldn’t handle a nice throw by Todd Frazier with two outs in the eighth and Manny Machado reached. Albers -- whose scoreless streak was snapped after 33 1/3 innings -- hit Adam Jones with the next pitch and Chris Davis followed with a game-tying, two-run double off Zach Duke.

But a team that has scored 49 of its 95 runs (51.6 percent) from the seventh inning came through again.

Eaton started the winning rally with a bunt single off Orioles closer Zach Britton, who exited the game as he injured himself retrieving the ball. Carlos Sanchez then walked against reliever Vance Worley to set up Abreu, who also singled in the tying run in an eighth-inning rally. Abreu drove an 0-1 cutter from Worley to right and Eaton slid in to home ahead of the throw from Joey Rickard. Nate Jones, who got the final out in the eighth, retired the side in order in the ninth to close it out.

The White Sox also rallied back from a pair of earlier deficits, long after Orioles starter Kevin Gausman departed.

Brett Lawrie, who had a solo homer in the third, walked and stole second base in the seventh and Austin Jackson singled after a 10-pitch battle with Mychal Givens to get the White Sox within 5-4.

The White Sox scored three runs off Darren O’Day, who hadn’t allowed a run all season. Sanchez had a pinch-hit double to open the eighth inning and scored on Abreu’s tying RBI single to right. Frazier blasted a 411-foot homer -- his seventh -- to center to put the White Sox up 7-5. The team’s 49 runs from the seventh inning on are the most in the American League. The White Sox, who finished with 10 hits, also have six comeback wins.

“It seemed like everybody picked everybody up tonight,” Frazier said. “It’s just a good character builder here.”

The offense came through for starter Mat Latos, who had his worst start of the season. The Orioles tried often to go the opposite way against Latos and it worked to the tune of four runs and 11 hits.

Baltimore had at least two hits in four of the five innings that Latos worked, including solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop to tie it at 3 in the fourth.  

Latos allowed two hits to start the third, but was spared more damage when Adam Jones grounded into a controversial 5-4 double play that resulted in the 12th ejection of Ventura’s career.

Machado, who had singled ahead of Jones, slid late into second base and made contact with the leg of Lawrie, who never threw to first. Ventura asked for a review as Machado appeared to be in violation of the new slide rule. After a stoppage of at least six minutes, review officials determined that Machado didn’t interfere on the play and Jones was safe at first. Ventura immediately argued the call and loss of challenge with crew chief Gerry Davis, who ejected him.

But Latos pitched around it. He stranded two more runners on in the fourth to keep the score tied, but Baltimore pulled ahead in the fifth as Latos walked Matt Wieters and Alvarez doubled deep to center to make it 4-3.

Latos saw his ERA increase to 1.84 from 0.74.

“I was fortunate,” Latos said. “The offense showed up and put up a bunch of runs on the board and the defense showed up and we were able to get away with a really good win, a hard fought win.”

Ventura is pleased with how his team has handled its early success. Even though the White Sox have proven to be a fiery team in the dugout, Ventura thinks his veteran core has helped them keep a level head. While he’s pleased with the team’s April, he doesn’t think White Sox players will get ahead of themselves.

“They're looking for Sunday,” Ventura said. “They're excited about the win, no doubt, the way they're playing. But very good group about focusing on what's at hand and not looking in the rear view mirror.”

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox close series with O's

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Associated Press

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox close series with O's

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at noon. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (5-0, 1.66) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 3.91)

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

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Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

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Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

BALTIMORE -- It may only be a brief stopover, but Tommy Kahnle hopes to get the most out of his current tour with the White Sox.

Called up Thursday, the White Sox reliever could be sent back to Triple-A Charlotte as early as Sunday morning as closer David Robertson is expected to come off the bereavement list.

But Kahnle -- acquired from the Colorado Rockies in November -- not only has had a chance to show the White Sox what he has, he also is getting a quick refresher course from pitching coach Don Cooper. Cooper has worked with Kahnle to stand more upright in his delivery in hopes it will help him throw more strikes.

“It’s just stay tall on my backside because I tend to collapse a little bit and get a little erratic,” Kahnle said. “But overall, make a few adjustments and should be back on track.

“I had a few hiccups in spring and early in the season down in Triple-A. But overall I’ve been throwing well and just got to work on a few things and get better.

“Just get better and try to throw strikes. That’s always been my downfall.”

Kahnle made his 91st career appearance on Friday night. He walked two in a scoreless inning in a 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Kahnle has always had a big arm, striking out 102 in 103 innings. But he also has walked 61 batters.

Cooper likes the chance to get some in-season maintenance with any of his pitchers.

“Sure it is because you get a look at what’s going on up here,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to get him to stay tall … that’s a work in progress. It looks like he’s a little better with the slide step.”

Kahnle would like to help out a deep bullpen again before the season is out.

Robertson left the team after he pitched a scoreless inning to close out Wednesday’s victory in Toronto to attend his father-in-law’s funeral. Daniel Webb joined the team on Wednesday and struck out three in a scoreless inning on Thursday. But Webb went on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow flexor inflammation and Kahnle got the call.

“Even if it’s just a few days, it’s good to be back up here and show them what I’ve got and if they need me again I’ll be ready,” Kahnle said.