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.
At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.
But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.
“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens.
“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”
The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.
In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.
"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."
Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.
"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."
His struggles continued when he got to The Show.
In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.
"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."
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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.
"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.
"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."
That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.
Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.
While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again.
"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."
The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.
The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.
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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality.
Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.
"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."
"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.
"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."
In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.
When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse.
Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.