Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

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Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

The White Sox are currently in the midst of another hot streak going into the Midsummer Classic. They have taken five of seven from the two best teams in baseball, including a convincing sweep of the Rangers. Lets take a look at how the rest of the organization fared last week.

Prospect Nestor Molina has seen action at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season and he is 7-7 with a 4.61 ERA. His stats do not exactly jump off the page at you, but he has shown signs of growth and maturation. Unfortunately, Molina was placed on the seven-day disabled list last week. Apparently it's only a minor case of right elbow tendinitis, but it raised enough concern for the club to send him to Chicago for further examination. Molina has recorded 88 innings of work this season and this could simply be a result of fatigue. Never the less, anytime the word tendinitis is thrown into the conversation there is cause for concern.

They say when it rains it pours, and in the case of the case of the Sox minor league system it poured a little bit last week. Top pitching prospect Simon Castro was also assigned to the seven-day DL after pitching lights out in his last start. Castros success in Birmingham has not gone unnoticed, as he was awarded a promotion to Charlotte a couple weeks ago. In his second Triple-A appearance he went seven innings, gave up no runs on four hits and fanned nine. In short, he was dominant. Unfortunately his pitching efforts reaped no offensive support and he was slapped with the no decision, as the Knights fell 1-0 in 11 innings.

As mind-numbingly repetitive as it is to say, Jared Mitchell struggled at the plate this week. The LSU product went 3-for-21 (.143) with eight K's. He did drive in six, and scored five times but as his strikeout total creeps closer to the century mark, his chances at being in the big leagues in the relatively near future diminish. Mitchell has gone down on strikes 98 times (35 percent of plate appearances) already this season, which is second-worst in the entire Southern League. Needless to say, his production is nowhere near where it needs to be and with each unsuccessful hack I am more convinced that we are driving down a road with a possible dead end. Jared Mitchell may be falling out of the picture fast.

Birmingham shortstop Tyler Saladino had the type of week every up and coming prospect loves to have. He went 9-for 25 (.360) at the dish with two doubles, a homer, five RBIs, six runs scored and four swiped bags. Those four stolen bases take his season total to the top of the Southern League with 29. His memorable week at the plate (.995 OPS) was backed up by a solid defensive performance. Its weeks like these that move a youngster very quickly through the system.

Winston-Salem slugger Trayce Thompson saw similar levels of production as Saladino. He also went 9-for-25 (.360) with five RBIs, five runs, and three doubles. On Monday, Thompson went yard twice, boosting his total to 16 on the year. The talented prospects successful week led to a ridiculous 1.233 OPS. Thompson got off to a slow start this season, but he is taking the proper steps to raise his .232 average to where it needs to be.

Rangel Ravelo has been tabbed the man to watch out of the Class-A Kannapolis Intimidators clubhouse. Unfortunately last week he did not fit the bill. Ravelo was 3-for-22 (.136) with no extra base hits, no runs, two RBIs and three strikeouts. One plus is that Ravelo is putting the ball in play and not striking out much. He simply has to find some holes in the defense and if he continues to hit the ball he is bound to break through.

While the White Sox system is not very deep there are some power arms in the organization as evidenced by the number of youngsters who have assumed roles in the big clubs bullpen and rotation. With injuries to Jesse Crain, John Danks, Phil Humber and Brian Bruney, the White Sox needed to find help and with players like Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Jose Quintana doing the job, the drop-off has been non-existent.

Joe Musso contributed to this report.

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”