MLB Power Rankings: Week 15

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 15

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 30 MLB teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Previous rankings: Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 First Half

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: They're starting to run away with the East.
JJ: Get Sabathia back soon, but could use additional SP.
2
Tony: Will they land Hamels or another high-end SP?
JJ: Solidly a top-2 team. Need Hamilton to get going again.
3
Tony: Strasburg could be dynamic in the bullpen when he's done starting.
JJ: Maybe Strasburg should hit after 160 IP: Has a 1.102 OPS.
4
Tony: Youkilis best deal of the year so far.
JJ: Joey Votto has somewhat close to Ruthian OBPSLG numbers.
5
Tony: Mike Trout is amazing, but SP issues creeping up.
JJ: Clear favorites for the first Wild Card.
6
Tony: The Cutch is The Bomb.
JJ: Very close to Yankees, Rangers in expected W-L.
7
Tony: They've had rough luck at SS this year.
JJ: Would be ironic if Sheets cools interest in Greinke from MIL.
8
Tony: Votto injury is, like, the worst buzzkill ever.
JJ: Andrew McCutchen: .371.423.651, 21 HR. Wow.
9
Tony: This team will go as far as Lincecum's right arm will allow.
JJ: Lincecum looked good in last start, can it last?
10
Tony: Will Kemp, Ethier stop recent slide?
JJ: Still need another SP, but they look to be back.
11
Tony: Is this the hot streak we've been waiting for?
JJ: Fading fast. Will need help just to reach playoffs at this point.
12
Tony: Don't seem like a contender right now.
JJ: Still hanging around WC battle, but for how long?
13
Tony: Curious to see what they'll do before deadline.
JJ: Their undoing, currently? 6-14 vs. AL Central.
14
Tony: Can Ellsbury, Crawford inject life into this team?
JJ: Recent hot streak has them as a legit WC contender.
15
Tony: Just hanging around, but for how much longer?
JJ: Don't sleep on them. They'll be in it in two months.
16
Tony: OK, this is where they regress now. Right?
JJ: Santana's ERA above 5 since throwing no-no.
17
Tony: Not a contender, despite Ike Davis' turnaround.
JJ: Still like them for second WC when they get healthy.
18
Tony: Hottest team in baseball right now.
JJ: 12-16 vs. division. Good team in wrong division.
19
Tony: They need Morrow back, like...now.
JJ: Hanging on by a thread, now third in AL Central.
20
Tony: Yep, they're sellers at the deadline.
JJ: Could get a bounty for Greinke, but not out of race yet.
21
Tony: It's a circus in Miami, right Bryce Harper?
JJ: From a distance, Upton's downturn is just confounding.
22
Tony: Swept by Cubs? Ouch...
JJ: Getting healthy, but may be too late.
23
Tony: I'm not ready to count them out just yet.
JJ: A rudderless team too concerned with pine tar.
24
Tony: Hosmer was off to 0-for-11 start in 2nd half.
JJ: A future rotation of FelixHultzenWalker should be fun.
25
Tony: Good to see them playing some solid ball.
JJ: Rizzo effect: Haven't lost a series since his call-up.
26
Tony: King Felix is re-crowned.
JJ: Getting killed in division, have an 11-21 record in AL Central.
27
Tony: Would they listen to offers on Mauer ever?
JJ: Trade bait? Liriano has 2.83 ERA since return to rotation.
28
Tony: How many trade pieces do they really have?
JJ: Chase Headley would be a great get for a contending team.
29
Tony: They're just lucky 'Stros are around.
JJ: Pomeranz a bright spot in a war zone of a rotation.
30
Tony: Don't see them climbing out of here anymore.
JJ: Back to where they started the year: dead last.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."