Chicago White Sox

Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

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Stewart scuffles as Sox drop finale to Indians

Sunday, Sept. 11Posted: 5:13 p.m. Updated: 6:10 p.m.

Associated Press

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Luis Valbuena had a a big zero in the home-run column, and it was bothering him.He can rest easy now.Valbuena connected for a solo shot and Ubaldo Jimenez threw six effective innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.Valbuena also singled twice and scored two runs as the Indians collected 14 hits. Trevor Crowe had three singles, and Jason Donald and Lonnie Chisenhall added two hits apiece."I feel good because I was working all day in the cage and made an adjustment," Valbuena said.Valbuena drove an 0-2 pitch from Will Ohman over the wall in right in the sixth, making it 4-2 Tribe. It was Valbuena's first extra-base hit and RBI this season. He entered the game just 5 for 34 on the season at the big league level despite hitting .302 in 113 games for Triple-A Columbus."He's tough to read because he's never looked overmatched, but the numbers don't add up," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was our best hitter in Triple-A the whole year. ... Today he had a very good day. I'm happy for Luis because he's had enough hard times up here the last two years."Valbuena especially enjoyed his first major league homer since April 16, 2010."I'm so happy because I don't want to see the zero there," Valbuena said.Crowe entered the game hitless in seven at-bats. After starting 106 games in the outfield for Cleveland in 2010, Crowe had shoulder surgery on March 30 and was activated on Wednesday."It was good to see him do that," Acta said. "He spent the whole season basically in Arizona rehabbing. ... It's nice to see him have some success so he'll have some confidence going forward."Despite the slow start since his return, Crowe felt he was about to break through."I felt like for the amount of time off, I was seeing the ball really well and it was only a matter of time before I started making some solid contact," Crowe said.Jimenez (3-2) issued five walks, but allowed just two runs and three hits. The right-hander, who was acquired from Colorado before the July 31 trade deadline, struck out two and improved to 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA over his last four outings."I felt good out there," Jimenez said. "I only had a couple of innings (when) I couldn't find the strike zone. I think I was trying to throw too many breaking balls and couldn't control them."While his command was shaky, Jimenez reached the upper 90s with his fastball, important for a pitcher who has struggled with inconsistent velocity this season."When I got to the fifth inning, I (thought the fastball) was my best pitch today," Jimenez said.White Sox starter Zach Stewart (2-4) yielded three runs and seven hits over five innings in his first outing since he tossed a one-hitter at Minnesota last Monday."I wasn't hitting spots like I was last outing, like I should have been," Stewart said. "I missed some spots. Some of my breaking balls weren't as sharp, I left them over the plate and got hit around a little bit."Alejandro De Aza went 2 for 3, scored two runs and stole two bases for Chicago. Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez each singled twice and drove in a run.Jimenez walked the bases full in the fourth, the last of the free passes issued to Brent Morel, who has drawn seven of his 14 walks this season since Sept. 1. Jimenez got Gordon Beckham on a grounder to third to escape the threat.The White Sox also left the bases full four times on Saturday."Well, you know we continue to leave people on base," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Jimenez throw 100 pitches. I never see a guy throw 100 pitches and only (allow) two runs."The Indians broke it open with three runs in the eighth against Matt Thornton. Donald drove in a run with an infield hit and Carlos Santana lashed a two-run double to right.The Indians earned a split in the four-game series between teams chasing Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers won their ninth in a row Sunday and lead Chicago by 10 12 games and Cleveland by 11."We played right into the Tigers' hands basically," Acta said. "That what we did this series, kill each other while they continue to win."NOTES: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy will not pitch again this season. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will rest in an effort to come back at full strength in 2012. Peavy had shoulder surgery last season. Rookie Dylan Axelrod will start in Peavy's place on Wednesday. ... The Indians activated DH Travis Hafner (strained right foot) from the disabled list. Acta said Hafner will split time at DH with Jim Thome for the remainder of the season. ... The White Sox will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they open a three-game series against Detroit at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday. Rick Porcello will face Chicago's John Danks in the opener. ... The Indians' 10-game trip continues with a stop in Texas on Monday for the opener of a three-game set. Justin Masterson will start for Cleveland against Matt Harrison.Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materialmay not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top 10 storylines from the White Sox minor league season

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USA TODAY

Top 10 storylines from the White Sox minor league season

White Sox prospects received more attention from fans and media this year and on Sunday the White Sox minor league season concluded with rookie level Great Falls dropping the decisive game in the Pioneer League Championship.

Here's a look at some of the standout players, storylines and moments from the season that was, from Yoan to Eloy to Robert.

1. Yoan Moncada gets called up to make his White Sox debut after seven-player trade with Yankees

Yoan Moncada wasn't only the top White Sox prospect but the top prospect in baseball according to some, so when he was the first big prospect in the club's rebuild to get called up, it was a significant moment. Moncada mania began with a standing ovation from the home fans in his debut. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance and later said his White Sox debut had a similar feeling to his major league debut with the Red Sox.

2. Eloy Jimenez’s arrival and immediate hot streak

Trading Jose Quintana to the Cubs wasn't an easy pill for White Sox fans to swallow. With that in mind, it's a good thing that Eloy Jimenez quickly turned public perception of the trade in the White Sox favor. Jimenez had good, but not great numbers with the Cubs' Carolina League affiliate Myrtle Beach (.271/.351/.490) when he was traded. Jimenez had missed some time due to injury, but staying in the same league, he erupted with the Winston-Salem Dash. In 29 games with the Dash, Jimenez hit .345/.410/.682 and blasted eight home runs.

One of the highlights was when Jimenez told teammate Ian Clarkin, who arrived from the Yankees just days after the Quintana-Jimenez trade, that he was going to hit a home run. After Jimenez did in fact go yard that game, Clarkin shared Jimenez's prescient call on Twitter.

Jimenez provided more magic by blasting a home run in his first at-bat for Double-A Birmingham. In 18 games with the Barons, Jimenez hit .353/.397/.559 and solidified his spot as one of the best hitting prospects in the game. He has impressed the White Sox and Jimenez thinks he is ready to play in the majors.

3. The Luis Robert saga

With the major league team struggling on the field, the off the field moves attracted most of the attention. The chase for Cuban free agent Luis Robert riled up Sox fans, who were eating up the latest news and rumors about the then-teenage prospect.

When the Sox landed Robert, it was another big move for a quickly improving farm system. The outfielder has received high praise from around baseball.

After signing Robert played in the Dominican Summer League. He missed some time with minor injuries, but finished hitting .310/.491/.536.

4. Michael Kopech dominates in Double-A

Along with Moncada, Kopech was a big part of the Chris Sale trade. When the White Sox got him he was a hard-throwing 20-year-old who had plenty of strikeouts, but also plenty of walks.

After continuing that trend for the first three months of this season, something appeared to click for Kopech. The former first-round pick walked 11 batters in 44 1/3 innings in his final eights starts with Birmingham. He struck out a whopping 58 during that stretch and earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A Charlotte.

When he was in Birmingham, Kopech created buzz the Barons hadn't seen since Michael Jordan. He finished tied for fifth in the minors with 172 strikeouts on the season, which impressed the White Sox front office and earned him Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher.

5. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez make White Sox debuts

Moncada was the first major prospect to get promoted in the White Sox rebuild, but Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito represented the first pitching prospects to join the big league club. Both joined the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade in the offseason, had major league experience and began the year in Triple-A.

Lopez's debut came first. After rolling off a hot July in which he posted a 2.10 ERA, Lopez pitched a quality start on Aug. 11 in his White Sox debut.

Meanwhile, Giolito waited a little bit longer after struggling for much of the year in Charlotte. He had a 5.40 ERA in his first 16 starts for the Knights, but found some consistency later in the year and drew rave reviews when he made his Sox debut on Aug. 22.

6. Breakout years for Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning

Lopez and Giolito received most of the attention in the Eaton trade, but in the early part of the season it was Dunning who was making the most noise in the minor leagues. The 2016 first-round pick utterly dominated the opposition in Single-A Kannapolis with a 0.35 ERA and 33 strikeouts against just two walks in 26 innings. Dunning got promoted to Winston-Salem and finished tied for 11th in all of the minors with 168 strikeouts, capping off a stellar first full season in pro ball.

Amazingly, Dunning may have been outshined by his own teammate. Alec Hansen, who the White Sox drafted in the second round last year, didn't get promoted out of Kannapolis as quickly, but dominated in Winston-Salem and finished the year in Birmingham. He ended up leading all of minor league baseball with 191 strikeouts and he thinks 2018 could be even better.

7. White Sox draft Jake Burger in the first round and he hits for a cycle

The White Sox will have a higher draft pick next year, but this year the Sox picked up Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger with the No. 11 pick.

Burger began his pro career hot by hitting .358 in Kannapolis, but slumped the rest of way. Burger hit .219 in August and September, but did hit for a cycle on Aug. 24.

8. Zack Collins struggles at the plate, but shows defensive improvements

When Zack Collins was drafted by the White Sox with the 10th pick in 2016, he was thought of as a sure-thing bat with question marks about his ability to play catcher. So naturally, his 2017 played out in exactly the opposite way.

He hit .223 in Winston-Salem while striking out 118 times in 426 plate appearances, but got promoted to Double-A Birmingham anyway. He got promoted the same day as Eloy Jimenez and both homered in their Birmingham debuts. Collins posted an .893 OPS in Birmingham, but still hit just .235.

Collins received better reviews about his defense, which he owes partially due to training with Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, a fellow University of Miami product.

9. Zack Burdi’s Tommy John Surgery

When Zack Burdi was with the White Sox in spring training, he was trying to act like he belonged in big league camp. The fire-balling relief prospect was in line to be the White Sox closer of the future.

After beginning the season in Triple-A Charlotte and producing uneven, but promising results, the White Sox learned in July that Burdi would need Tommy John Surgery. A look at the White Sox bullpen now shows a lot of young, unproven pitchers and Burdi likely would be among them had he stayed healthy.

Now, it's all about the recovery for the 22-year-old, whose upside combined with the lack of proven arms in the White Sox bullpen means he remains a potentially key part of the team's future.

10. Micker Adolfo flashes power potential

Micker Adolfo wasn't a high-profile prospect at the start of the year, but had a breakout season. The 21-year-old was a big international signing back in 2013, coming with a $1.6 million signing bonus.

He was named the White Sox minor league player of the month for both May and June. He began to show his power potential with Kannapolis and helped the team make it to the South Atlantic League Championship Series. Adolfo slowed in the second half, but finished with 16 home runs, tied for fifth in the league.

Bonus: Nicky Delmonico shines in short big league stint

It wasn't a big deal at the time, but Nicky Delmonico's promotion has looked like a potentially significant moment for the White Sox rebuild. He has had a breakout performance in the majors and has made a strong case that he could be a significant part of the team's future.

White Sox prospect Alec Hansen thinks 2018 season could be even better than breakout season

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White Sox prospect Alec Hansen thinks 2018 season could be even better than breakout season

Look out for Alec Hansen.

The White Sox prospect thinks 2018 could be even better with all that he’s learned about managing himself in his first full season. That's pretty scary when you consider that Hansen, who finished at Double-A Birmingham, led the minors in strikeouts and earned two promotions in 2017.

The No. 6 White Sox prospect (No. 95 overall according to MLBPipeline.com) is even more optimistic about his second full season.

“(The first full season) was great that it taught me about my arm and how my arm is going feel in between every start and how my body is going to feel throughout the season,” Hansen said on a conference call. “I can go into this offseason and work out and get my body the way I want it to going into spring training and be able to maintain that throughout the season next year.”

“I'll have a lot more confidence and experience. By the end of next year that experience and confidence in my body will be where it needs to be to be in the major leagues for good.”

Hansen has plenty of reason to feel confidence. The No. 49 pick of the 2016 draft followed a stellar pro debut with an outstanding 2017 campaign in which he struck out 191 batters in 141 1/3 innings. Believed to have No. 1-starter type stuff, Hansen put it all together and carved a niche for himself in an organization loaded with pitching prospects.

Hansen said the final two starts of the season at Double-A Birmingham, in which he struck out 17 batters in 10 1/3 innings, further convinced him how his stuff would play at higher levels.

"That’s something I'll remember for the rest of my life that I led the minor leagues in strikeouts this year, which is pretty cool,” Hansen said. “You got to think, it was at the lower levels, it was in A-ball where guys swing a lot and are pretty aggressive at the plate. But it was nice to see I went up to Double-A and still had quite a few strikeouts. That was kind of reassuring.”

So, too, were the promotions.

Hansen started the season at Single-A Kannapolis and made 13 starts before he was sent to Single-A Winston-Salem after striking out 92 batters in 72 2/3 innings. He also excelled for the Dash, striking out 82 batters in 58 1/3 innings. Right before the season ended, Hansen got the call one last time. He went 11-8 with a 2.80 ERA and struck out 191 batters in 141 1/3 innings over 26 starts.

“Honestly, I had no idea what was going to happen to me this year,” Hansen said. “If you asked me at the beginning of the season where do I expect to end up, I wouldn’t have said Double-A. But if you asked me toward after the All-Star break and after a couple of starts at Winston-Salem where I started to pick it up a little bit, then I was kind of hoping I was going to finish at Double-A.”