Flowers determined to earn starting role

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Flowers determined to earn starting role

A.J. Pierzynskis move to the Texas Rangers has given Tyler Flowers the one thing he has wanted most these last few years: opportunity.

Though Pierzynskis deal with the Rangers is still not official, his one-year, 7.5 million-contract appears to pave the way for Flowers to take over as the White Sox everyday starting catcher in 2013. Flowers, who hit .213 with seven homers in 153 plate appearances last season, said by phone late Friday he doesnt have any expectations that the White Sox simply hand over the keys to the starting role. But what the 26-year-old (he turns 27 in January) does want is a fair chance to take over the job and believes he will thrive in the situation once the team reaches Glendale, Ariz. in February.

I dont want to be handed the job, but I want a level playing field and then Ill take my chances, Flowers said.

Acquired by the White Sox in a Dec. 4, 2008 trade that sent Javier Vazquez to Atlanta, Flowers has technically had a chance to win the White Sox job each of the past few springs. A two-time Baseball America top-100 prospect, Flowers believed he might have a shot the last time Pierzynski was a free agent heading into 2010 only to see the veteran return on a two-year deal.

Though he was in camp, Flowers said he always knew the odds of him taking the job from Pierzynski were long.

Theres a chance, but when youre up against someone making 7 million a year the reality is your chances are pretty slim, Flowers said. Im fighting for that job. But do I have a chance? Probably not. But you have to prepare because what if AJ is hurt.

The White Sox hoped Flowers would play winter ball in Venezuela this offseason but his own injury wiped out the plan. With two games left in the regular season, Flowers suffered a broken wrist when he was hit with a pitch by Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez.

Flowers was in a cast until 2 12 weeks ago, which he said restricted the start of his offseason weight-training program by one week. But he also noted that he has started his hitting and throwing programs on time and expects to be fine for the teams first partial workout on Feb. 12.

In limited playing time in the majors, Flowers has a .205.307.388 slash line. Those numbers have led to some White Sox fans to wonder how the team believes Flowers can take over as the teams full-start starter on the heels of a career performance by Pierzynski, who hit .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs last season.

But the teams decision-makers think Flowers performance will improve with everyday repetitions. Flowers had a .275.391.481 slash line and 80 homers in 2,253 minor-league plate appearances.

His pro numbers also have come with once-a-week appearances and rarely has Flowers had a chance to start in long stretches of games. Last summer, then-general manager Kenny Williams said Flowers doesn't need to worry about his offense because he played sporadically.

The team is very high on Flowers defensive abilities behind the plate. Theyre confident he can call a good game, provide a strong target and he has a strong arm. Last season, Flowers threw out 14 of 42 base stealers and had a 1.2 WAR, according to Fangraphs.com.

Though some might have doubts, Flowers doesnt. He knows there might be a growing pain here and there but is sure hes capable.

Its not going to be a cakewalk playing every day, Flowers said. Teams see you and your weaknesses and they adjust and I have to take care of those weaknesses. Im definitely confident. It really has nothing to do with that. I believe Im good. My intention is to do it and show everyone I can hang around for a long time.

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

It's no secret that White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech throws hard.

Acquired in the trade that sent ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox, Kopech was clocked throwing a pitch 105 mph last July while pitching for the Salem Red Sox.

But that's nothing compared to what the No. 4 right-handed pitching prospect in baseball did on Tuesday.

Granted, Kopech was throwing an underload baseball (which he confirmed in a response to the original tweet), but 110 mph is 110 mph.

The White Sox would settle for a few miles per hour less on the mound, but either way it looks like they've got a good one.

White Sox trio lands on MLB.com's Top 10 RHP prospects list

White Sox trio lands on MLB.com's Top 10 RHP prospects list

The White Sox farm system has taken a complete 180 over the past calendar year.

Gone are the days where the White Sox would be lucky to land a single prospect in Top 100 prospects lists.

After undergoing an overhaul that saw franchise cornerstones Chris Sale and Adam Eaton shipped out for a bundle of prospects, the White Sox are soaring up MLB farm system rankings.

As they will each day until the end of the January, MLBPipeline will release baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

To kick off the countdown, the Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects were released on Tuesday, and to no surprise the list is White Sox heavy.

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Lucas Giolito (No. 3) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 10), sent to the White Sox from the Nationals in a blockbuster deal for Eaton, both cracked the Top 10 list. 

Michael Kopech, who was a key piece along with MLB.com's 2016 top overall prospect Yoan Moncada in the White Sox haul from the Boston Red Sox for Sale, came in at No. 4 on MLBPipeline's rankings.

Check out what MLB.com's Mike Rosenbaum had to say about each White Sox pitcher below:

3. Lucas Giolito, White Sox
The prized right-hander of last year's class, Giolito saw his stock wane over the course of the season and especially in the big leagues, where apparent mechanical issues resulted in diminished velocity and hindered his control. He's shown the ceiling of an ace in the past, with the ability to command a mid-to-upper 90s heater, a knee-buckling curveball and a fading changeup, and now has renowned pitching coach Don Cooper on his side after joining the White Sox as part of the offseason Adam Eaton blockbuster deal.

4. Michael Kopech, White Sox
Kopech began the year on the disabled list with a broken hand but made up for the time lost with dazzling performances in the Class A Advanced Carolina League and, later, in the Arizona Fall League. Acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December, the 20-year-old hits triple digits with ease and backs it up with a plus slider and a promising changeup. As he continues to make developmental strides, Kopech will move quickly in 2017.

10. Reynaldo Lopez, White Sox
Overshadowed by Giolito headed into last season, Lopez proved the more effective of the duo in the big leagues before joining him in the offseason trade to Chicago. A more consistent and linear delivery resulted in improved strike-throwing ability for the 23-year-old righty, who can miss bats with his well above-average fastball, excellent curve and improved changeup.

Ironically, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Houston Astros pitcher Francis Martes, two players who have been rumored to be involved in their respective team's talks with the White Sox for starter Jose Quintana, made the Top 10 list on Tuesday.

Heading into the 2016 season, shortstop Tim Anderson (No. 38) and pitcher Carson Fulmer (No. 42) were the only two White Sox prospects on MLBPipeline's Top 100 list.

At the very least the White Sox will double that number in 2017 with the three aforementioned pitchers and Moncada.