Chicago White Sox

Sunday best: Lucas Giolito's latest gem puts future on display in middle of White Sox rebuild

Sunday best: Lucas Giolito's latest gem puts future on display in middle of White Sox rebuild

Fans playing along with the White Sox waiting game had reason to smile for a second straight Sunday.

Lucas Giolito turned in his second consecutive stellar outing, silencing the visiting Tampa Bay Rays and taking the next step in his quest to be a part of the White Sox rotation of the future.

It’s going to be a crowded field, one would figure. Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Giolito are already at the big league level, with Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning taking turns dazzling in the minor leagues. But Giolito, at least through his first three games in a White Sox uniform, has stated his case for being as strong a candidate as any to earn a spot on that future starting staff.

Sunday, he shut down the Rays’ lineup, holding them to one run on three hits over seven innings. This after he tossed seven shutout frames against the Detroit Tigers a week earlier. Combine the last two outings with his first, when he allowed four runs in six innings against the Minnesota Twins, and Giolito has a 2.25 ERA in his first three trips to the mound since joining the White Sox.

“He threw very, very well,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Riding his fastball, using his changeup really effectively, breaking ball mixed in. I though he attacked hitters, just went right after them. They were taking some very uncomfortable swings, it seemed like, so there must be obviously some deception to his delivery.

“The ball comes out of his hand pretty good, and it’s getting on top of those hitters. The 91, 92 looks like 95, 96 probably to them. He did a very, very nice job. Very, very nice job.”

This isn’t Giolito’s first taste of big league ball, mind you. He had a rocky go of things last season with the Washington Nationals, making one start in June, two in July and one in August before a pair of September relief appearances. All in all he posted a 6.75 ERA over 21.1 innings.

At 20 innings with the White Sox over the past few weeks, he’s faring much better, perhaps a credit to the South Siders’ place in the standings. The last-place season is allowing Giolito — and plenty of other young players, for that matter — to focus on improving and developing and not worrying about a roster spot.

“Knowing that I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and I get to work on what I need to work on and go out and compete every fifth day without having to worry about ‘Am I going to be sent down? Am I going to perform well enough?’ Just going out there and competing and giving it my all every time, it’s much more relaxed,” Giolito said. “I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Of course, that setup is also allowing the White Sox to get a look at a guy who could wind up in that rotation of the future.

While Kopech dominates the minors and Hansen and Dunning take turns racking up big strikeout totals, Giolito, Lopez and even the slightly more experienced Rodon can continue their own developments at the big league level and earn experience against big league lineups.

Giolito can count Sunday as a solid step forward. He struck out 10 Rays batters in the White Sox 6-2 win.

“Just continuing to feel comfortable out there throwing any pitch in any count,” he said. “I think that’s pretty important at this level, being able to throw that slider behind or throw a changeup behind, keep guys off balance. Just going out there and working and feeling like I can get my best stuff out there every time. Feeling really good.”

“He looked just as composed as he did his last outing,” Renteria said. “It’s like anything, as you continue to trust the stuff that you have and you’re able to command it and you’re seeing that you’re getting big league hitters out, good big league hitters, I think it’s just a matter of continuing to maintain his approach and the consistency with which he’s delivering the pitch to the plate. And now it’s just time. Time will start to tell us who he is or isn’t. Right now, thankfully, it’s a pretty good start for him.”

That’s one thing the White Sox are currently blessed with, time. And Giolito and the others will figure to get plenty of it to prove whether or not they belong in the franchise’s long-term plans. Ever since the White Sox acquired Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade this past offseason, he’s figured to be in those plans. Now he’s proving it.

It might be a last-place season on the South Side, but the future is already happening.

“You always want to win. That’s my goal every time I go out there: I want to give the team a chance to win, put up as many zeroes as possible,” Giolito said, who now has two wins in his last two outings. “But having all the young talent starting to work together and build up together, it’s really fun. And I’m looking forward to the future a lot.”

White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

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White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

HOUSTON — As much as he longs to pick first next June, Nick Hostetler has learned to cope in the name of player development.

The White Sox amateur scouting director sees a deep draft class full of high school and college players awaiting. He’d love if the White Sox didn’t have to sweat out other teams’ decisions in what will be another critical moment in the team’s accumulation process.

But Hostetler said Tuesday he’s learned not to let his own feelings get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. Even if the White Sox end up picking third or fourth next June, Hostetler appreciates that the worse draft position is the result of a hot streak by any number of young players.

“It’s really exciting to see some of these young kids have success,” Hostetler said. “I really do like seeing Tim Anderson hit .400 and Lucas Giolito doing what he’s doing. All of these things are so great for the ultimate plan, which is us winning at the big-league level. I don’t ever want to get so selfish where I’m worrying about one pick or whether we’re three or whether we’re four or whatever it is and to use that than to take away from the greater good.”

There’s no question one pick can make all the difference. Colorado has received good production out of the third overall selection of the 2013 draft, Jon Gray, who has thus far given them 7.1 f-Wins Above Replacement in his brief career. But that pales in comparison to the 21.0 WAR produced by second pick Kris Bryant.

Entering Tuesday, the White Sox boasted the third-worst record in the majors. But their lead over the flailing Detroit Tigers, who are fourth, has slipped down to 1 1/2 games.

While a 100-loss season still appears to be in play for the White Sox, it seems far-fetched they would catch Philadelphia or San Francisco to finish with a top-two selection next June.

No matter where the White Sox pick, Hostetler is excited about the prospects of the class, which has a nice blend of hitters and pitchers from high school and college. Hostetler said earlier this month it’s the best class he can remember since 2010.

Still, Hostetler jokes that he’s conflicted when it comes to September scoreboard watching.

“It’s hard not to sit there and look but I’ve done a really good job,” Hostetler said with a laugh. “I’m proud of myself for this. I’ve kind of removed myself from this point. I root for our guys to succeed and to win, but at the same time knowing ultimately come June and three or four years after we’ll really know if picking third or fourth actually mattered.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bill Melton tells all about his life in baseball

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bill Melton tells all about his life in baseball

Bill Melton's baseball career is the stuff of legend — some for what happened on the field, but also for what happened off of it.

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, the former White Sox slugger speaks with Chuck Garfien about winning the 1971 home run crown on the final day of the regular season after partying on Rush Street into the wee hours the night before. Melton also describes his huge public battle with then White Sox play-by-play announcer Harry Caray, partying at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club, hanging out with Frank Sinatra, fighting with former Angels manager Dick Williams.

Melton tells these stories and many more about the wild days of playing major league baseball in the 1970s. Plus, you'll hear a lost interview from 1971 when Brent Musburger interviewed Melton right after he became the home run king.

Listen to the latest episode below: