White Sox plan to give prospects more time to develop

White Sox plan to give prospects more time to develop

Out of necessity, the White Sox in the past often expedited a prospect's development plan to get him to the big leagues to fill a vacancy. Carlos Rodon, Carson Fulmer and Tim Anderson are the most recent examples of young players whose paths were sped up in order to potentially play a big role for a contending club.

But now that they're enduring their first rebuild in nearly 20 years, the White Sox say they plan to change the way they operate. With no immediate designs to contend for the postseason, general manager Rick Hahn's focus on the long-term health of the organization will extend to player development, where the White Sox intend to take more time with minor leaguers. While the team's current crop of top prospects — three accrued service time in 2016 — could easily reach the majors next season, the White Sox say there's no rush. They've decided to embrace their position and will essentially slam on the brakes for the betterment of their young players.

"No guy is going to get to Chicago until we feel they’re ready to have success at the big-league level, that they’re ready for that finishing element of their development that happens at the big-league level," Hahn said last week at the Winter Meetings. "No one’s going to be promoted any time in the foreseeable future simply because there’s a need at their position."

Zack Collins offered many pluses when the White Sox selected him with the No. 10 pick in the 2016 amateur draft. Not only could he potentially be the team's catcher of the future, but Collins' plate approach is so advanced he could have found himself in the majors as a designated hitter by as early as mid-2017 if all went well.

Given 2017 was expected to be the third year of their contention window, Collins potentially gave the White Sox another left-handed hitting option.

But now that they're focused on the future and only the future, Hahn said the White Sox will take their time and try to develop Collins' catching skills. He's likely to start 2017 at Single-A Winston-Salem.

"If he was a bat-only player he would come more quickly because the bat is more mature, more close to big league ready than the receiving," Hahn said last month. "However, we think he has a very good chance to be an everyday catcher with a premium bat and we're going to take the time to bring along the defense at the rate it requires."

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The same goes for infielder Yoan Moncada, who after a meteoric rise through the minors had 20 big league plate appearances in 2016. Acquired from Boston in the Chris Sale trade, the White Sox want Moncada, 21, to work on his defense and plate approach. He could start next season at Double-A Birmingham.

While Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez both pitched for Washington last season, last week Hahn said both are likely to begin 2017 in the rotation at Triple-A Charlotte. Same goes for Fulmer, who was in the majors last July, only 13 months after he was drafted. After he struggled in a relief role in the big leagues, Fulmer rebounded with three great starts for Charlotte to end the 2016 season. While Fulmer is close enough to ready for the big leagues, the White Sox may prefer for him to further develop in the minors and force the issue.

The past two seasons the club promoted Rodon and Anderson with the idea that they would take their final development steps in the majors. Each was needed to fill a critical void for a team hopeful it could reach the playoffs. Both have made tremendous strides and proven to be very capable big leaguers. Both also at times exhibited signs they could have used more development in the minors.

But now that they're rebuilding for the first time since 1997 that same rush isn't as likely to occur in the short term. It's the advantage of the White Sox knowing where they're headed and embracing the plan.

"Perhaps the last couple of years, we’ve walked out of these meetings and addressed a number of holes at the big-league level and you get that excitement about wanting to see it all come together," Hahn said. "Your time horizon was much shorter. You were only a few months away from putting it together and seeing it on the field. This is going to be a lot longer than a few months. ...

"It’s going to be about putting them in the best position for their long-term development.

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

Lucas Giolito got the “click” he was looking for on Thursday night and it resulted in a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte.

Currently the No. 2-rated White Sox prospect, Giolito has struggled so far this season at Charlotte. He’s 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts in 46 1/3 innings.

While he’s struck out 43 hitters, Giolito has also walked 25. But it all came together for the tall right-hander on Thursday when he threw an 87-pitch no-no against the Syracuse Chiefs.

“It was special,” Giolito said on a conference call on Friday. “Just the way the year has gone, it didn't start the way I wanted it to, the numbers haven't been great. So it's great to have a no-hitter under my belt, my first professional one. Just take that and work from there. I'm just going to keep working on the things I've been working on the past few weeks and hopefully string a few good ones together.”

Rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors before the 2016 season, Giolito’s profile has slipped some because of performance. The top name included from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, Giolito has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches and fastball at times. Earlier this month, Giolito described his performance as “atrocious,” while remaining optimistic that his fortunes could change just like clicking on a light switch.

Giolito said he felt confident on the mound Thursday and it translated.

“I did a lot better job of keeping the fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate,” Giolito said. “I was able to get the ball inside to lefties pretty well, maybe got a few jam shots some pop outs here and there and then I had my two-seamer working as well. It was just a pretty solid day as far as throwing the fastball.”

Pleased as he is, Giolito is striving to be better. He pointed at his three walks as an area he’d like to improve upon. But he’s also happy with how it all worked on Thursday.

“There's always still work to do,” Giolito said. “I walked three batters and that is not something I want to be doing. The walk numbers are a little too high for my liking. There's still plenty to work on, but everything felt pretty solid last night. I felt like I repeated my delivery well, I executed more pitches. Especially when I'd fall behind in the count I'd execute quality pitches and you can get yourself out of bad situations doing that.”

The Knights made two roster moves on Friday -- Yoan Moncada was activated off the seven-day disabled list and Ryan Raburn was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

Dylan Covey is already the sixth White Sox pitcher to be placed on the 10-day disabled list this season. The club announced Friday that Covey is headed to the DL just as one of the pitchers already there, James Shields, took another step forward in his rehab.

Shields threw his second bullpen in three days on Friday and hopes to begin a minor-league rehab assignment after he throws a three-inning, game-situation-like bullpen on Monday.

The White Sox promoted reliever Juan Minaya to take Covey’s spot on the 25-man roster. They also announced Tyler Danish would be the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader and manager Rick Renteria said Covey’s scheduled start Monday would be filled internally. Reliever David Holmberg could make the start.

“I’m full bore,” Shields said. “Everything is working really well and everything feels good. Ready to rock and roll.

“It’s been pretty tough for me. I’m pretty anxious. I want to be out there and help my team win. But at the end of the day I have to stick to the process. You know the team was really doing good up until this last road trip. Now we need to pick it back up. I’m looking forward to coming back and helping the squad out.”

Covey isn’t surprised he landed on the DL.

He missed much of the 2016 season with a left oblique strain and knew exactly what he was experiencing when he felt the tug on Tuesday. But Covey remembers the early portion of last year’s injury and thinks he’s in better shape now.

“Well, my first thought was, ‘Oh, no. I did it again,’” Covey said. “It’s kind of looking like it might not be nearly as bad as it was last year. So I’m staying optimistic and taking it day by day.”

“I think if I tried to push it another pitch like I did last year, it could have maybe worsened the situation. So I’m glad I was able to hold back a little bit.”

Minaya -- who pitched in 11 games for the 2016 White Sox -- missed roughly five weeks with an abdominal tear. Though he wanted to race back (he struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings this spring), Minaya knew he had to be practical about his rehab. Once healthy, Minaya pitched well at Triple-A Charlotte, where he posted a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.

“I took a little while but we’re going through the process and we have to be patient and do everything they say to get healthy,” Minaya said. “We have to do the right thing to be healthy.”

“I feel very happy with myself because I’m working to get back here and I see the progress and I feel very happy.”

Minaya gives the White Sox nine relievers on their 13-man staff. That amount would make it much easier for the team to fill Covey’s first turn in the rotation with a bullpen game on Monday. A career starter who only began to pitch in relief this season, Holmberg could give the White Sox several innings to start. While Renteria won’t name any candidates for the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, he did suggest it would be an internal candidate.

“We’ll probably end up filling with one of our own guys,” Renteria said.