White Sox bringing back veteran catcher Geovany Soto on minor league deal

White Sox bringing back veteran catcher Geovany Soto on minor league deal

The White Sox have added a veteran to their 2017 catching mix as Geovany Soto agreed to return on a minor league deal on Thursday, a baseball source said.

Soto — who hit .269/.321/.487 with four home runs in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels last season — previously played in 78 games for the White Sox in 2015.

With the organization’s lack of experienced options behind the plate, the veteran catcher, an ex-Cub and the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, has a good chance to make the club’s Opening Day roster.

Soto hit .219/.301/.406 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs in 210 plate appearances for the 2015 club when he split playing time with Tyler Flowers. Both catchers were allowed to depart after that season, and the White Sox signed free agents Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila with the hope they’d offer the team more offensive production.

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The team’s catchers both struggled in 2016, and Navarro was traded to Toronto in late August while injuries limited Avila to 57 games. Avila’s disabled list trips opened up playing time for rookie Omar Narvaez, who caught 34 games and showed promise.

Avila returned to the Detroit Tigers on a one-year contract last month, leaving Narvaez and Kevan Smith, who caught seven games last season, as the only catchers with big league experience on the 40-man roster.  

While the White Sox have identified 2016 first-round pick Zack Collins as their catcher of the future, he’s likely to spend all of 2017 in the minors. With the team now in a rebuild, the plan is to give Collins every chance to improve his catching skills. The 2016 Johnny Bench Award winner spent most of the 2016 Arizona Fall League catching bullpen sessions in an attempt to improve behind the plate. He’s expected to start the season at Single-A Winston-Salem.

The Score's Bruce Levine first reported that Soto signed with the White Sox.

Late runs push White Sox past Tigers as winning streak hits five

Late runs push White Sox past Tigers as winning streak hits five

DETROIT — Geovany Soto broke open a tie game with a two-run single in the eighth inning, helping the White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 7-3 on Friday night at Comerica Park.

Anthony Swarzak pitched two scoreless innings for the White Sox, who won their fifth straight.

Tigers reliever Alex Wilson allowed two hits and two unearned runs in the eighth. Detroit third baseman Nick Castellanos committed two errors in the inning, and three in the game, leading to Soto's go-ahead hit.

Former Tigers pitcher Mike Pelfrey started for the White Sox and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He walked four and struck out two.

Detroit got to Pelfrey early, jumping out to a 2-0 first-inning lead on Justin Upton's bases loaded, two-run single. The Tigers loaded the bases again that inning, but Jim Adduci grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The White Sox answered in the top of the second, getting back-to-back home runs from Todd Frazier and Avisail Garcia off Detroit starter Matt Boyd to tie the score at 2.

The White Sox took a 3-2 advantage in the third on Garcia's RBI single, and the Tigers tied it on Victor Martinez's RBI single in the fifth.

Melky Cabrera began the top of the eighth with a single, and Frazier reached base on Castellanos' first error of the inning. Garcia followed with a hard hit ball to third, which Castellanos could not handle, loading the bases.

After Wilson induced a double play, with the runner being forced out at home, Yolmer Sanchez received an intention walk to reload the bases. Soto then delivered the big hit.

Tim Anderson added a two-run homer in the ninth to extend the lead to 7-3.

Boyd pitched seven innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. He stuck out five and walked two.

White Sox prospect Luis Basabe adjusts to new organization, playing without his twin

White Sox prospect Luis Basabe adjusts to new organization, playing without his twin

Luis Alexander Basabe’s roommate received a phone call on the road on July 9 in which he learned he had been traded by the Boston Red Sox. What would be a strange experience for most teammates was even more difficult for Basabe and his.

The player traded was his identical twin brother, Luis Alejandro Basabe.

“I was like, ‘Man, I don’t believe that,’ ” Luis Alexander Basabe said.

Nearly five months later, Luis Alexander received a similar call from the Red Sox to inform him he was included in a four-player package headed to the White Sox in exchange for five-time All-Star Chris Sale. Having already experienced the trade of a brother he describes as younger (by five minutes), shorter and weaker, Basabe wasn’t rattled.

While he later found that acclimating to a new organization was "weird" at first, Basabe said he already feels at home with the White Sox. The center fielder currently has a 10-game hitting streak and is slashing .260/.351/.400 with four stolen bases in 58 plate appearances for Single-A Winston-Salem.

“So far everything has been very good,” Basabe said. “When (my trade) first happened it didn’t feel weird or anything because it was in the offseason.

“I felt a little more comfortable because I had been through it with my brother. But I know it’s a business and no matter where I go I’ve got to do my job and play the way I do.

“ ‘Yeah, that’s all right. I don’t care because I’m here with a chance.’ ”

Plentiful opportunity is potentially there with the White Sox.

The No. 8-ranked prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, Basabe, 20, has all the tools needed to be a top-notch defensive outfielder. His speed and arm are both graded at 60 on the 20-80 scout scale and his fielding rates at 55. Basabe’s manager thinks he has everything necessary to play a critical spot.

“He’s a true center fielder to me,” Winston-Salem manager Willie Harris said. “Speed, arm. It’s still a little early to tell if he’s going to hit. Who knows? But from the defensive side of the game, he knows what’s going on. He’s going to learn as he goes on and he’s going to be very, very good.”

Everything may come down to whether or not the switch-hitting Basabe performs at the plate. His hit tool grades at 45, according to MLB Pipeline, which is more in line with the bat of a fourth outfielder.

But so far the White Sox are optimistic Basabe can make the proper adjustment.

“He’s got a sweet swing,” White Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger said. “He’s got a timing thing to handle. But he’ll get it and it should be very helpful.”

The biggest help will be repetitions. Basabe spent almost the entire 2016 season at Single-A Greenville in the South Atlantic League. Only at the end of the season was he promoted to Advanced-A Salem in the Carolina League, the same league he’s in now.

“He’s got a little bit of everything,” player development director Chris Getz said. “He can run, he has the ability to hit and he’s aggressive on the bases.

“He’s still only 20 and he’s had some success. But we feel the more at-bats he gets he’s going to be successful.”

Despite that young age, Basabe, whom his parents call “Chande”, and his twin, “Jandro”, have already learned about the harsh realities of baseball. They had just arrived at the ballpark to play the Lexington Legends that night when Greenville manager Darren Fenster summoned Luis Alejandro to his office with the news of his trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would be assigned to Single-A Kane County.

“It was at 2 p.m. and the manager called my brother outside to come talk to him,” Luis Alexander said. “And then he told me ‘They traded me.’ ‘Really?’

“But then, (you learn) it really was a business and he got more chance over there.”