Blake Rutherford

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jim Callis believes White Sox will pounce on best MLB draft class in years

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Jim Callis believes White Sox will pounce on best MLB draft class in years

It's a fight to the finish between the White Sox, Phillies and Giants for the top pick in next year's MLB draft. But with the talent in the draft expected to be some of the best in years, how much will it really matter if the White Sox draft first, second or third? Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka speak with Jim Callis, senior writer for MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com. He says the 2018 MLB draft will be the best since 2011. Will the White Sox go with a high schooler or a college player? Does Seth Beer fit into their plans?

Callis breaks down the top names and predicts who he thinks the White Sox will draft with their number-one pick. Callis also analyzes key players in the White Sox farm system: Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez, Jake Burger, Blake Rutherford, Micker Adolfo, Dane Dunning and many more.

Later, Garfien and Kamka talk about what Jose Abreu has meant to the White Sox both on and off the field. Kamka shares some incredible statistical data that puts Abreu in a class by himself. 

All this, and more, on the latest White Sox Talk Podcast:

Why the White Sox are willing to gamble on prospects like Ti'Quan Forbes and Casey Gillaspie

Why the White Sox are willing to gamble on prospects like Ti'Quan Forbes and Casey Gillaspie

The record Powerball prize may have been given away last month, but Rick Hahn and the White Sox are still buying lottery tickets.

While the prized prospects have received the bulk of the headlines during the rebuild, the White Sox have recently quietly collected many low-risk, high-reward players.

Ti’quan Forbes is the latest lottery ticket-type prospect to be acquired by the White Sox. A 2014 second-round draft pick turned struggling minor leaguer, Forbes was obtained from the Texas Rangers on Thursday night in exchange for starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. During the 2017 season, the White Sox also traded for first-rounder Casey Gillaspie and claimed first-rounder D.J. Peterson and former touted prospect Alen Hanson off waivers. Given their success with similar moves in the past and the opportunity for playing time they have readily available, the White Sox aren’t afraid to gamble again.

“You’re not always going to be able to acquire the guy who’s got the fantastic, loud tools as well as the outstanding track record of performance,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “That’s the ideal. You want to be able to check all the boxes. There are going to be times where we’re betting on a performance that out-straps the tools to continue, and there’s going to be times where you need to bet on the tools that haven’t quite translated in the performance that ultimately, through repetition and improvement, translate into a good performance.”

[MORE: White Sox trade Miguel Gonzalez for minor league infielder] 

A free agent after this season, Gonzalez wasn’t going to bring back a heavy return. Not only does Gonzalez not have the shiny qualities of some of the higher-end assets moved ahead of him, but he’s a rental player to boot. While Gonzalez still possesses value, the White Sox could either take a less-talented player who has performed in the minors or a more toolsy prospect who just hasn’t panned out.

Forbes, who turned 21 on Saturday, is the latter. He was ranked as the No. 50 overall prospect in the 2014 draft by MLB.com but has struggled to perform since he turned pro. Forbes has a .634 OPS in his minor league career, a figure that dropped to .588 at Advanced-A this season. But that won’t prevent the White Sox from taking the shot.

The White Sox did the same when they took Gillaspie back for Dan Jennings from the Tampa Bay Rays in July. Coming off a 2016 campaign in which he was the organization’s minor league player of the year, Gillaspie struggled at Triple-A Durham with a .671 OPS entering Friday, down from .869 last season.

“(Forbes) was the one of the youngest kids in the 2014 draft,” Hahn said. “We knew he was extremely raw and was going to take some time. He has second-round pedigree.

“Peterson and Gillaspie were first-round guys, but it’s the same kind of element. There’s a reason these guys had that draft stock that they did at the time, and that’s because of their tools. The reason they’re available now perhaps is because they haven’t lived up quite yet from a performance standpoint, and we’ve got an opportunity here for our player development staff and a change of scene to perhaps hopefully unlock a little bit of that potential.”

The White Sox have had some success with similar moves in the past.

Most recently Tommy Kahnle developed from a hard-throwing pitcher who couldn’t find the plate into an unstoppable force and was the key to the deal that brought Blake Rutherford back from the New York Yankees.

Hahn also cited previous success with Gavin Floyd and Matt Thornton. It’s not as if the White Sox are the only team willing to take these risks -- they’re quite commonplace. But one advantage they do have is an abundance of opportunity.

“It’s not a unique play necessarily that we’re doing,” Hahn said. “But certainly in some of the major deals that we did, the goal was to get that well-rounded player, the well-rounded prospect, the one where the tools and the subjective analysis matched with performance and the objective side of evaluating a player. As we’ve moved toward some of these later deals, we knew you weren’t going to get that perfect mix coming back, you were going to have to take some bets either on the tools or the performance translating to the big-league level.”

White Sox prospect Jake Burger hits for the cycle in wild minor league game

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Jake Burger hits for the cycle in wild minor league game

White Sox prospect Jake Burger had been in a bit of a slump, but broke out in a very big way on Thursday.

The player the Sox drafted 11th overall in the June draft hit for the cycle for Low-A Kannapolis. Burger hit for a single in the second inning, homered in the third, tripled in the fifth, walked in the seventh and got the cycle with a double in the bottom of the ninth.

Burger's big night came after he had struggled for much of August. The third baseman hit .358/.449/.582 in 19 games in July after getting promoted from rookie ball. However, he slumped in August with just three multi-hit games in the month before Thursday's cycle. Burger, who did show signs of getting out of the slump with a 3-for-4 night on Tuesday, entered Thursday hitting .192 in August.

Burger capped it off by bunting for a single in the 11th to finish 5-for-5 with a walk. Gavin Sheets, the second-round pick of the White Sox in this year's draft, singled home Blake Rutherford for the Intimidators' win in the next at-bat.

As if a cycle from a recent first-round pick didn't make that game notable enough, it also went to extra innings and the Intimidators had a position player, Grant Massey, pitch. Not only did Massey, a shortstop, pitch, but he pitched well. Massey had three shutout innings with three strikeouts and no walks and got the win.

It was an eventful night in White Sox prospect news all around. Also in Kannapolis, Rutherford, the prize piece in the Todd Frazier/David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle trade with the Yankees, had the game-winning hit and went 3-for-5 with a double and a walk in his second game back from the disabled list.

Another prized outfield prospect, Luis Robert, came off the DL on Wednesday as well. Robert went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple on Thursday.

Also, pitcher Alec Hansen is headed to Double-A Birmingham. White Sox director of player development Chris Getz said on the WGN broadcast of Thursday's White Sox game that Hansen will be promoted and make his Barons debut on Monday. Hansen took the minor league lead in strikeouts with 174 after striking out eight on Wednesday for High-A Winston-Salem.