Chicago White Sox

Rick Hahn on White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada: 'We're not going to rush this'

Rick Hahn on White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada: 'We're not going to rush this'

Yoan Moncada has done what the White Sox have asked and he’s going to have to continue to do it a little bit longer.

The super prospect is in the midst of a fantastic run at Triple-A Charlotte in which he has reduced his strikeout rate and shown defensive improvement. But even as the date nears in Moncada could be promoted without losing a year of service time it appears he’ll remain with the Knights. General manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday that the White Sox are very pleased with the efforts of the top-ranked prospect in baseball. He also noted the club intends to make sure Moncada is sufficiently prepared for when he finally gets the call.

“He’s shown a fair amount of progress in each of those areas that we’ve asked of him,” Hahn said. “That said, we want to see that over an extended period of time. It’s awfully important to not lose sight of the fact this is a 21-year-old player, one who was not playing two years ago as of right now. It’s a guy who has fewer than 325 or so plate appearances above A-ball.

So we think the world of his talent and future and we think he is responding to the challenges we put ahead of him, but we’re not going to rush this.”

The team’s fanbase is gripped with Yoansanity. Moncadamania is peaking on the South Side.

But if Moncada’s current play hasn’t changed the team’s thinking, the fan factor isn’t likely to budge it, either.

Over his last 16 games, Moncada is hitting .385/.446/.585 with three home runs and seven RBIs and 16 runs scored. Moncada also has reduced his strikeout rate to 21.6 percent with 16 whiffs in his last 74 plate appearances after 18 in his first 55. The defensive improvements have come along nicely, too, particularly in turning double plays and more aggressive angles to the ball.

With May 14 fast approaching -- the date at which the team wouldn’t surrender a year of service time by promoting Moncada -- there’s been hope the White Sox might promote the second baseman. But Hahn doesn’t sound like someone on the verge of unleashing the team’s most-hyped prospect on the fanbase.

“We think the world of his talent and future and we think he is responding to the challenges we put ahead of him, but we’re not going to rush this,” Hahn said. “As satisfying as it may be for all of us to see him out there even tonight at the big league level because it gives you that shot in the arm and shows there is progress in the rebuild, it’s not in the long term interest of Yoan Moncada or the club. He’ll be here when he answers all the questions we have for him with the developmental standpoint at the minor league level. He’s done a good job, but there is a benefit to letting him answer all of those and continue the repetitions at that level until that next stage takes place at this level.”

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Nothing is proven, Lucas Giolito will have to come back next season and show he can do this once again. But another huge development in the White Sox rebuild has been the continued development and success of Giolito late in the season.

The young White Sox pitcher added another outstanding performance to the ledger on Sunday afternoon.

Giolito pitched seven sharp innings and helped the White Sox officially avoid 100 losses in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. He allowed a run and five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It’s another step in a nice turnaround for Giolito, who struggled at Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I feel like this is where I can pitch,” Giolito said. “I can pitch deep into games. I wouldn't really say awestruck or anything like that. I’d say that there’s a lot of struggles there earlier this year. I worked through those … I feel like getting the confidence back up, it’s all I really needed to feel comfortable and be ready to go.”

Some of the metrics would suggest Giolito is in line for a dropoff. While his earned-run average is 2.38, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.94. His xFIP is a little lower at 4.42. But the elevated numbers are in part due to Giolito not missing as many bats and striking out 6.75 batters per nine innings.

But Giolito’s big-league numbers also come at a time in which he has never pitched more. He has pitched a combined 174 innings this season, which dwarfs his previous high of 136 2/3 innings in 2016.

Despite the workload, the right-hander continues to bring good stuff. He got seven swings and misses and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball, which averaged 92.3 mph, according to Baseball Savant.

“He's got angle, he's got height,” manager Rick Renteria said “He's got good angle so that creates, believe or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup. So the angle creates some pretty good deception.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign]

Giolito has filled up the strikezone since he reached the majors partly because of belief in his stuff. He’s thrown strikes on 63.4 percent of his pitches and was even better Sunday with 65 of 98 offerings. The other part of it is trust in his defense, which made several spectacular plays behind him.

Giolito knows this is only the beginning. But he feels good after a stretch in which he has quality starts in five of six games. Over the stretch he has a 1.83 ERA and 25 hits allowed with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“My confidence is there,” Giolito said. “I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I’m talking to (Don Cooper) about. There’s always stuff to improve, for sure. I’d say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I’m going to continue to try and pitch like I am.”

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

When searching for why Avisail Garcia has had sustained success this season, you can’t overlook his fitter frame.

The White Sox outfielder entered a breakout 2017 season approximately 18 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. Garcia, who’s hitting .331, doubled, homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 8-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon. Given the way he has performed this season, the first-time All-Star said he plans to work even harder this offseason.

“One hundred percent (better),” Garcia said. “I want to keep losing a little bit more. I want to feel way better next year.”

Garcia has provided the White Sox with a boatload of feel-good moments this season. He cut down two base runners in Friday night’s wild victory over the Royals, including on the final play of the game. Overall, Garcia has felt a difference in the field and it’s shown up in his defensive numbers. He headed into Sunday worth 2 Defensive Runs Saved after he finished the 2015 season at minus-11.

But even more of Garcia’s production has come at the plate, where he reached the 80-RBI mark on Sunday. He followed a one-out Yoan Moncada double off Ian Kennedy in the first inning with an opposite-field blast to right field, Garcia’s 18th homer.

Six innings later, Garcia doubled in a run. He’s hitting .331/.379/.504 on the season and entered Sunday worth 3.5 f-Wins Above Replacement.

“It seems likes he’s always finding barrel and like, man, that’s impressive to go up there, have disciplined at-bats and consistently get the barrel of the bat to the ball,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said.

Garcia’s play has offered him more encouragement to continue his efforts. Though he was adamant at the All-Star Game he wanted to duplicate his first-half efforts, Garcia suffered a series of injuries that bothered him throughout July. But he’s found comfort at the plate once again and knows how important a role his improved conditioning has played.

“The offseason, I have to do the same even harder,” Garcia said. “I want to do my best every year so now I have the ability to be here and trying to help my team. Just have to keep working.”