Chicago White Sox

White Sox minor league pitcher of the month Reynaldo Lopez 'forcing issue' to be called up

White Sox minor league pitcher of the month Reynaldo Lopez 'forcing issue' to be called up

Reynaldo Lopez has only strengthened his case over the last month that he deserves to be in the majors.

Seemingly ready for a promotion, the Triple-A Charlotte starting pitcher was named the organization’s minor league pitcher for July on Wednesday. Single-A Winston-Salem outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Charlotte infielder Jake Peter split honors as the franchise’s minor league player of the month.

Acquired in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, Lopez posted a 2.10 ERA and struck out 38 batters in 30 innings last month. MLB.com’s No. 59 prospect, Lopez currently is among the International League leaders in strikeouts (third with 122), strikeouts per nine (third, 9.5), opponents average (third, .220) and innings pitched (fifth, 116).

“He’s forcing the issue,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Sunday. “He’s had several starts in a row that have been very impressive. Lucas Giolito, as well, has been impressive in his recent starts, and at some point here they’re likely going to force our hand to get them here to Chicago and give them the opportunity to show what they can do at the big league level.”

Peter hasn’t slowed down since he adjusted levels, moving up to Charlotte from Double-A Birmingham in July. Peter not only had an 18-game hitting streak, he hit .364/.424/.542 with four home runs, 13 RBIs and 21 runs between the two.

Jimenez has used his new opportunity with the White Sox to show how explosive of an offensive force he can be. The No. 5 prospect in baseball, Jimenez produced a .356/.415/.678 slash line with seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games after he was acquired in the deal that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs.

“We view him as similar to Moncada, where Yoan was in his development the year before we acquired him — with the potential to grow into a potent offensive force,” Hahn said last month. “Again, one of the more exciting prospects in baseball with a diverse skillset that can impact the game multiple ways.”

Lopez’s potential has had plenty of fans wondering when he’ll have the chance to make an impact in the majors.

The White Sox starting rotation could use the help. The team’s starters are 22-49 with a 5.13 ERA this season and have only pitched five or more innings in 52 of 104 games. Lopez, who has 42 major league innings to his credit, was the most polished pitcher acquired last winter. The White Sox suggested he was close to major-league ready during the spring and Lopez has begun proving it the past few months.

“He’s been commanding all his pitches, being very aggressive within the zone and showing that he’s getting close to needing to be here to show what he can do against big league hitters,” Hahn said.

J.D. Power study shows White Sox offer top fan experience in Chicago sports

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USA TODAY

J.D. Power study shows White Sox offer top fan experience in Chicago sports

The White Sox haven't done much winning this season. In fact, they entered Wednesday with just 45 victories, eight fewer than Oakland's 53 wins.

But while the product on the field hasn't yielded much (a full teardown and rebuild will do just that), according to one study the fans in the stands are still having an excellent time.

J.D. Power released their second annual 2017 Fan Experience Study, and the White Sox rank first in the Chicago market among all the major sports teams.

J.D. Power "measures fan satisfaction with their overall experience at major pro sporting events." The seven factors (in order of importance) are:

1. Seating area and game experience
2. Security and ushers
3. Leaving the game
4. Arriving at the game
5. Food and beverage
6. Ticket purchase
7. Souvenirs and merchandise

On a 1,000-point scale, the White Sox lead the Chicago market with an 809 rating, slightly above the MLS' Chicago Fire. Take a look at the chart here:

Of the 11 markets, Chicago was the only where a sport other than MLS or NHL led the way.

J.D. Power added these notes from Chicago: 

  • Sweeter on the south side: The White Sox (809) jump to the top of overall fan experience scores in the Chicago market, knocking the Fire (806) off its perch from last year and making it the only MLB team to rank highest in the study across all markets.
  • Hey, hey, what’s with the champs?: The Cubs (767) had a storybook season in 2016, but the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field still aren’t living up to fan expectations, particularly when it comes to the food and beverage experience (695).

Not only did the White Sox finish first in Chicago, they fared pretty well among all markets. Only the New York Red Bulls (819), Los Angeles Galaxy (815), Houston Dynamo (814), New Jersey Devils (813) and the Florida Panthers (813) ranked higher.

The team may not be winning this year, but you're guaranteed to have a great time at G-Rate Field.

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer leaves games early, expected to make next start

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer leaves games early, expected to make next start

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carson Fulmer left Tuesday night's game early but he should be back on the mound again in time for his next start.

The Triple-A Charlotte pitcher exited in the top of the sixth inning with a cramp in his right leg, Knights manager Mark Grudzielanek said. Fulmer informed the staff he had cramped up in the third inning and received treatment. He returned to the mound but had to exit again in the sixth. The Knights lost 5-3 to the Toledo MudHens in 10 innings at BB&T Ballpark.

“He just cramped up. It was a hot night and it was his push-off leg,” Grudzielanek said. “His actions, he was feeling it so we got him out of there.

“He was a cramping up a few innings, probably the end of the third he came in a little tight, worked him out, hydrated him and tried to get him feeling a little better, loosened him up. He looked good in the fourth but it came back after the fifth.”

“Absolutely, he’ll be fine. It was cramps. It wasn’t anything other than that. You get better, you move on and he’ll make his next start and be ready to go like he always does.”

[MORE: Why White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito feels as good as he has all season

Fulmer moved on after a slow first inning cost him three runs. The right-hander yielded a three-run homer to ex-Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario in the first inning, one of three first-inning hits Fulmer allowed. But Fulmer, the team’s first-round pick in 2015, settled down and retired 10 straight batters.

Fulmer is 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts this season.

“He hung some pitches and got behind a little bit and when that happens you put some runners on, put a good swing on it and it leaves the park,” Grudzielanek said. “He understands the consequences when you get behind hitters.

“He looked good after that. He’s working his offspeed pitches. I thought he threw for strikes earlier in the counts and got ahead of some of the hitters and had some rollouts and some easy fly balls and he was a different pitcher there for four or five innings.”