Mitchell off to great start in Birmingham

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Mitchell off to great start in Birmingham

2012 is the most important year of Jared Mitchell's career. A good year, and he's back on the prospect track the Sox set him on in 2009. A bad year, and he'll be slapped with a first-round bust label.

Last year was a major step backward for Mitchell, who missed nearly all of 2010 following a devastating ankle injury in spring training. For a player as raw as Mitchell, missing a year was extremely costly -- as evidenced by his 183 strikeouts and .304 on-base percentage in 129 games last season.

But Mitchell has shown signs of life early on into 2012. He posted a .387 OBP in 30 spring-training at-bats, although his 121 strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't ideal. But most importantly, Mitchell looked like he fully trusted his surgically-repaired ankle for the first time in two years.

Mitchell's success has carried over into Double-A, which is promising given the organization's aggressive placement of him in Birmingham. He has a .433 OBP through 60 plate appearances, but even more encouraging is his 1611 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Yes, he's still striking out at a high rate -- that may never be fixed -- but he's getting on base and hitting the ball hard (three doubles, three triples) and has stolen three bases.

Sixty trips to the plate hardly is enough to make a determination about Mitchell. And even if you add in his 31 spring plate appearances, that's still not enough to say he's definitely back on the prospect track.

But the results, and the way Mitchell's gone about them, are at least encouraging. And for a farm system starved for promising prospects, it's a welcome sight.

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- Jose Quintana looked as if he might be on the way to a second consecutive gem on Wednesday afternoon before it quickly took a turn for the worse.

After three perfect frames, Quintana got hit hard in the middle innings and was forced out of the contest. The Arizona Diamondbacks offense awoke from an early slumber against Quintana to complete a sweep of the White Sox, who fell 8-6 in front of 18,002 at Chase Field. The eight earned runs allowed by Quintana are the most he has yielded in a start in two years.

None of what transpired in the first three innings Wednesday offered any indication of what was to come. Quintana picked up where he’d left off on Friday night in Seattle when he combined with David Robertson on a one-hitter.  

His offspeed was diving and Diamondbacks hitters had no chance. Quintana induced checked swing after checked swing and racked up five strikeouts in three innings. He even made a smooth defensive play on Gregor Blanco’s bunt-base hit attempt to start the fourth inning with the White Sox leading 2-0.

But then it all went south.

Nick Ahmed doubled to left and red-hot Paul Goldschmidt doubled to deep center to make it a 2-1 game before Chris Owings tied it with an RBI single. Things only got worse for Quintana in the fifth inning when he hit the first hitter Brandon Drury with a 1-2 pitch. Quintana then left a 1-0 fastball over the middle and Jake Lamb didn’t miss the mistake, driving it the opposite way for a two-run homer and a 4-2 lead. Four batters later, Ahmed doubled in a pair and the rout was on. Goldschmidt’s single knocked Quintana from the game.

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Owings had a sac fly off Anthony Swarzak to score one inherited run and Drury singled in the other to put Arizona ahead by six.

Quintana allowed eight hits and struck out seven. The eight runs he allowed were the most he’d allowed in a start since the Detroit Tigers tagged him for nine runs on April 19, 2015.

The poor outing raised Quintana’s earned run-average by nearly a point from 3.92 to 4.82. Even though it’s still more than two months until the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline, Quintana’s inconsistent start to the season has also almost certainly harmed his perceived trade value. Not only has Quintana pitched poorly, but shifts in the plans of other clubs could provide contending teams with more trade options. However, with teams still focused on the upcoming draft and the deadline a way off, Quintana has more than enough time to get back on track.

One player who has continued to stay hot for more than a month now is first baseman Jose Abreu, who blasted his 100 th homer on Tuesday night. For an encore, Abreu matched his career high with four hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning that got the White Sox to within 8-4.

Melky Cabrera had an RBI groundout in the seventh inning and Abreu singled in another to make it an 8-6 game. But the White Sox would get no closer.

Leury Garcia’s solo homer in the second inning gave the White Sox an early lead. Abreu doubled in the fourth and scored on a double play to make it a 2-0 lead.

From April 19th on, Abreu is hitting .347/.404/.677 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances. He’s currently on pace for 36 home runs, which would tie the career high he established in 2014. 

Yolmer Sanchez enjoys brief outfield adventure

Yolmer Sanchez enjoys brief outfield adventure

PHOENIX -- Yolmer Sanchez did something Carlos never has on Tuesday night when he set foot in the outfield.

The White Sox second baseman took over in right field during Tuesday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a double switch. Sanchez moved to right field to start the sixth inning and was tested as Jake Lamb’s fly ball found him immediately.

Afterward, Sanchez pumped his first and celebrated his catch. It was the first outfield appearance made by Sanchez in 820 professional games, including the minors and winter ball.

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“It was a good,” Sanchez said. “I’m not an outfielder but it was good. I was nervous when the first hitter fly ball. I was really nervous but after that I feel a little more calm. And looking good.”

“When you play this team there is a chance to double switch. I was ready. It was fun. Everything I can do to help the team I will be there. Infield, outfield, I’m going to be there.”

Sanchez only played one inning in the outfield as Avisail Garcia pinch hit for the pitcher in the top of the eighth and took over.