Sox clobber Indians, win fourth straight

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Sox clobber Indians, win fourth straight

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com contributor

Not even the pitcher with the best ERA in the American League could slow down the White Sox offense.

Sparked by a career-high five RBIs from Dayan Viciedo, Chicago rocked starter Derek Lowe in a 14-7 victory over Cleveland on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox had season highs in runs and hits (17).

The Sox, who clinched its third consecutive series victory, won for the eighth time in nine games and extended their home run streak to 12 games. They scored four runs in each of the first, third and seventh innings, then added two in the eighth.

Alex Rios went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI despite being robbed of an apparent homer in his first at-bat. Paul Konerko had four hits, drove in two and scored three times to raise his AL-best batting average to .396.

Lowe allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 2 13 innings against an offense that continues to pound the ball. Lowes ERA climbed from 2.15 to 3.25.

What looked the makings of a great pitching matchup never materialized as Lowe wasnt alone in his struggles. Jake Peavy, who came in with the ALs third-lowest ERA, gave up seven runs on six hits in 6 13 innings. Peavy walked one and struck out nine in a 113-pitch effort.

The Sox rocked Lowe from the start, scoring four times in the first inning, and doing it in rare fashion -- without a home run.

Four singles and a double scored four runs against Lowe. Konerko scored Gordon Beckham with Chicagos third consecutive one-out single.

It appeared Rios would clear the bases with a long drive, but Michael Brantley robbed him with leaping catch over the fence just to the left of the 400-foot sign in dead center.

The only extra-base hit of the inning came next on a run-scoring double by A.J. Pierzynski, his 11th RBI in the past 10 games. Viciedo followed with an RBI two-run single to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.

The Indians waited until the third to attack Peavy. A walk, single and hit batter loaded the bases and Brantley cleared them with a double to right-center, cutting Chicagos lead to 4-3.

Northbrook native Jason Kipnis followed with a two-run home run as Peavy labored through a 37-pitch inning after he had retired the first seven batters he faced.

The Sox quickly regained the lead on back-to-back lead-off doubles by Dunn and Konerko, followed by a Rios single. Viciedo clubbed his 10th home run to score Rios and make it 8-5.

Viciedo extended his home run streak to a career-high three games.

Kipnis struck again in the fifth with another two-run home run off Peavy. It was Kipnis first career multi-homer game.

But the Sox pulled away in the seventh with another four-run inning, highlighted by a Rios double to score Konerko. Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza also had RBI in the inning.

Konerko wasnt done, however. His ground-rule double into left-center field in the eighth gave him a perfect day at the plate (four hits, one walk). He was replaced by a pinch-runner and left to a standing ovation.

Rios followed with a deep home run to right, his fourth of the season.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."