Ventura confident in Hudson at the hot corner

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Ventura confident in Hudson at the hot corner

Despite a shaky defensive performance by Orlando Hudson on Thursday, White Sox manager Robin Ventura remains confident the team does not need help at third base.

Hudson, a former Gold Glove second baseman, joined the Sox on May 22 after regular third baseman Brent Morel was placed on the 15-day disabled list. But Morel pulled himself out of a rehabilitation assignment game Thursday, further delaying his return to the Sox.

That leaves Hudson as the No. 1 choice for Ventura at third. Utility players Eduardo Escobar and Brent Lillibridge are capable of also seeing time there.

Well be able to make a go with them doing that. Im comfortable with that, Ventura said Friday prior to Chicagos interleague series opener against Houston at U.S. Cellular Field.

Hudson will make his 14th start at third tonight, one game after having one of his worst performances at the position in Thursdays 4-3 victory over Toronto. He wasnt charged with any errors, but misplayed three balls.

The most damaging was in the second inning when a ball got past him with the bases loaded, which scored two runs as the Blue Jays took an early lead.

Hudson has committed three errors and has a .923 fielding percentage in 15 games with the Sox. He admitted the transition to third isnt going as well as hed hoped.

Man, Im scuffling. Im scuffling, Hudson said. Our manager is one of the best third basemen to play the game, so hes trying to ease me a little bit to get me out of my own head defensively. But other than that, Im just trying to catch it and get it over to first base. It has been a struggle. It hasnt been pretty lately, but hopefully it will get a little better soon.

The Sox are hoping so, too. Getting Morel back will help. But the position still isnt an area of strength for a team that inserted itself into the AL Central race, and plans to remain in it all season.

Ventura said Hudson should improve due to the experience hes gained already. Even when hes made mistakes.

There are different things happening that hes not used to, Ventura said. Its a learning process. You try to bring him up to speed as fast as you can, but you can only teach so much. Some of it has to be the experience of being out there doing it. Hes had some interesting things happen already, so that should speed up the process.

Morels return to the Sox doesnt appear imminent. Thursday night with Triple-A Charlotte, Morel pulled himself out during a game at Toledo. It's unclear if it was related to the lumbar back strain that put him on the DL.

Theres something else going on there. Its a setback, Ventura said.

Morel was expected back in Chicago today to be examined by Sox medical personnel. He had yet to arrive prior to the end of player pregame media availability.

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."