White Sox announce 20 invites to spring training

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White Sox announce 20 invites to spring training

By James Fegan
CSNChicago.com contributor

The Chicago White Sox announced Thursday the invitation of 20 players to their spring training camp in Glendale, Arizona. The group is a combination of 13 prospects from the teams farm system and seven non-roster invitees signed to minor league contracts.

Outfielder Trayce Thompson and Infielder Carlos Sanchez are the most heralded prospects among those invited, rated second and third respectively in the White Sox organization according to Baseball America.

Thompson, 21, finished the 2012 season in Triple-A Charlotte after hitting 25 home runs across stops in Single-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. Sanchez is a year younger still, but is considered to have an outside chance at a major league roster spot. This year will also see Keenyn Walker, an outfielder who was selected with the White Sox first pick of the 2011 draft, make his first appearance at big league camp.

2011 second-round pick Erik Johnson, a right-handed starter who just completed his first year as a professional, is the highest-rated pitching prospect going to Glendale. Joining him will be Scott Snodgress, a left-hander out of Stanford who led the White Sox farm system in strikeouts, and right-hander Jake Petricka. Daniel Moskos, a left-hander who was selected fourth overall in the 2007 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, was also invited.

Rounding out the group of prospects are a pair of catchers in Michael Blanke and Kevan Smith, first basemen Andy Wilkins, and infielders Tyler Saladino, Seth Loman, and Marcus Simien. Saladino was featured on several top 10 lists for prospects in the White Sox organization coming into 2012, before enduring a rough season where he recorded a .668 OPS.

The announcement of non-roster invitees for the 2013 White Sox camp marks the return to the organization of right-handed reliever Jeff Gray, and outfielder Stefan Gartrell.

Gray pitched 13.1 innings for the White Sox in 2011 before being put on waivers and claimed by the Seattle Mariners. He spent all of 2012 working out of the bullpen for the rival Minnesota Twins, recording a 5.71 ERA over 52 innings. Gray was originally signed as a Free Agent by the White Sox in December.

Gartrell is returning to the organization that drafted him in the 31st round in 2006. He spent six seasons in the White Sox farm system before being traded to the Atlanta Braves shortly after the start of the 2011 season. Gartrell has hit 20 or more home runs in four straight seasons, almost all of which were spent in Triple-A.

Left-handed reliever David Purcey, who last saw major league action with the Detroit Tigers in 2011, right-handed pitcher Ramon Troncoso, catcher Bryan Anderson, and infielders Josh Bell and Steve Tolleson were all given non-roster invitations to camp as well.

Preview: White Sox host Rays in series opener tonight on CSN+

Preview: White Sox host Rays in series opener tonight on CSN+

 

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (3-11, 7.11 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (7-11, 4.86 ERA)

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White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

CLEVELAND -- Whether they knew him or not, the overwhelming sentiment throughout the White Sox clubhouse on Sunday is that baseball was robbed of one of its most likeable players when Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was tragically killed in a boating accident.

Known for his vivid celebrations on the field and his wide, endless smile, Fernandez made a strong impression, whether with his skillset or infinite love of the game. White Sox players had their eyes fixed on several televisions littered throughout the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field on Sunday during a morning press conference confirming the death of Fernandez, 24, and two others.

White Sox reliever Dan Jennings played with Fernandez for two seasons. Though he enjoyed a 3-0 White Sox win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Jennings said his happiness was muted as he mulled the death of Fernandez, who was killed when the boat he was on slammed into a jetty in Miami Beach, Fla.

“He seemed invincible is what it was,” Jennings said. “A lot of guys know what I mean when I say he was invincible on the mound. There were days he was unstoppable, and that’s how you viewed him is invincible. It’s too hard to really put into words what he meant to the game and what he meant to Miami.”

“I just hope to love the game as much as he does some day. It’s tough to do, but he did. He had fun, and he loved the game more than anything.”

Todd Frazier remembers how approachable he found Fernandez in their limited interactions. The two met in the outfield one day after they faced each other for the first time and joked around.

“I was like, ‘Dog, you don’t throw me any fastballs,’ ” Frazier said. “He was like, “Why would I throw you fastballs?’ And we just started laughing.

“That’s the kind of guy he was. You could come up and talk to him. He had an infectious smile and just had a love for the game that I hope every ballplayer could have. It’s a terrible, terrible day.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Fernandez’s death reminded him of the March 22, 1993 accident that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. Only pitcher Bob Ojeda survived that crash and Ventura remembers the shockwaves it sent through clubhouses throughout baseball.

“I can still remember … just how sad that was,” Ventura said. “You don’t have to know them personally. But they’re within their group, and it breaks everybody up. It really does.”

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon didn’t have a chance to meet Fernandez, a pitcher he admired for his competitive style and bulldog mentality. But another reason Rodon looked up to Fernandez is for the way he seemed to play the game with such joy. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said during a press conference Sunday that Fernandez enjoyed the game like a Little Leaguer does.

Rodon recently spoke about rediscovering his own joy of baseball. Naturally, Rodon’s thoughts drifted toward Fernandez when he took the mound on Sunday.

“You could tell,” Rodon said. “We had a beautiful day to come out and play and sad to say that one person is never going to get to play again. He’ll be very missed. You can’t take these days for granted. Just hope you guys go home today and tell the people you love, you love them. Losing a person like that is hard.”