Kansas City Royals

Composed prospect Reynaldo Lopez's White Sox debut a 'good one'

Composed prospect Reynaldo Lopez's White Sox debut a 'good one'

If prized prospect Reynaldo Lopez felt any nervousness on Friday night it was seemingly undetectable.

The starting pitcher impressed from the outset and energized the Guaranteed Rate Field crowd in his White Sox debut as he pumped 97-mph fastballs while only making a few mistakes. The first player to emerge from the December trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, Lopez lived up to the hype with six strikeouts in six strong innings as the White Sox downed the Kansas City Royals 6-3. At no point did Lopez, who earned a no decision, better demonstrate the poise that made him the No. 59 prospect in baseball than when he pitched out of a fourth-inning jam to protect a one-run lead.

“He got through that great,” catcher Kevan Smith said. “Obviously got a couple hits off him there. He kept his poise. He made some great pitches in some counts he was behind on that I was proud of him about. That was a great inning for him to have there in the middle because he was kind of cruising a little bit. I was like, when’s he going to hit some adversity here? He got through it and it was a good one.”

Solid reviews poured in from every corner of the building for Lopez, who threw 36 four-seam fastballs at an average of 96.5 mph. Working with a three-pitch mix, Lopez started to attack as soon as his introductory applause died down. The right-hander struck out a pair in the first inning and struck out the side in the second inning as well. While Lopez walked a batter in each of his first three innings, he also remained hitless.

“He’s a good pitcher, man,” said Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. “He’s got some good stuff. Great fastball. Great changeup. Great slider. He’s going to be a good pitcher in this league. So you got to tip your hat to him.”

Ironically, Lopez wound up tipping his hat twice to Moustakas after he struck him out in their first encounter. Moustakas ended Lopez’s no-hit bid with one out in the fourth inning with a long home run to right field to get the Royals within 2-1. The blast temporarily derailed Lopez, who allowed consecutive singles to Cheslor Cuthbert and Alcides Escobar afterward.

The third straight hit off Lopez brought pitching coach Don Cooper out to the mound. But Lopez didn’t break as he escaped further damage. Alex Gordon flew out to shallow center and Drew Butera fouled out to end the inning.

“He looked comfortable, too,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He didn't look very nervous to be honest. He looked like he was in the right place. Everything he did was very much under control.

“We were hoping it would look that way.”

Lopez was proud just to have the chance. The effort came only a week after Lopez said he felt like he was ready for a shot at the majors following an outstanding July. Lopez was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month in July after he posted a 2.10 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Having pitched 44 innings in the big leagues last season, Lopez has believed all along he’s ready to be here. He said it had been difficult at times not to already be in the majors but he was happy with the patience he’d shown the White Sox.

Lopez was even happier with his performance on Friday, particularly how he escaped the fourth-inning jam. While he surrendered the lead in the sixth when he allowed a solo homer, Lopez and Smith think the youngster produced a good effort on which to build.

“I know that I’m going to allow some hits,” Lopez said. “But I think that the key is just to keep your focus on the game and keep your confidence and that was what all I did. I gave up three hits in a row but then I kept my confidence and I was able to get out of that inning.

“My key today was just my focus. I was focused all the game and I was able to command all my pitches.”

Melky Cabrera understands White Sox trade, even if he doesn't like it

Melky Cabrera understands White Sox trade, even if he doesn't like it

The rebuilding White Sox continued to load up their farm system on Sunday with a trade that sent Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals.

The White Sox received prospects AJ Puckett and Andre Davis in return, and also picked up half of Cabrera's $5.1 million remaining salary.

Cabrera, who signed with the White Sox in 2014 as a free agent, repeatedly stated that he would like to stay in Chicago for the long term but understands it's part of the business.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this because I love the city, I love the team,” Cabrera said through a translator. “But at the same time you are seeing what’s happening around the team with all the moves, just try to block all those things, but I knew it was a possibility for this to happen.”

Cabrera is headed to familiar territory in Kansas City. The 32-year-old outfielder played with the Royals in 2011, where he had his best statistical season by setting career-highs in home runs (18), RBI (87), and hits (201).

This season, Cabrera has been excellent, recording 13 homers and 56 RBI while slashing .295/.336/.436. In three seasons on the South Side, he racked up 39 homers and 219 RBI but was just as valuable to the team in the locker room.

“As I told Melky this morning, he has been outstanding for this organization since he put on this uniform, not only for his performance in the white lines but for what he did in the clubhouse,” Hahn said. “He’s a great ambassador for the game, very enthusiastic, passionate player and he’ll be missed. That said, as we’ve made no secret about, this is about preparing ourselves for the future.”

The White Sox added a pair of young arms in Puckett and Davis. Puckett was the Royals’ second round pick in 2016 while Davis – a southpaw – was selected in the eighth round of the 2015 draft.

Puckett was the Royals’ No. 13 rated prospect, according to the MLB. With the White Sox, he sits at No. 25. The 22-year-old went 9-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 20 starts this season with Class-A Wilmington. A 23-year-old Davis went 5-4 with a 4.83 ERA with Class-A Lexington.

"With today’s move we were able to pick up another couple interesting arms," Hahn said. "Puckett, the Royals’ top pick last year, a second-rounder, strong pitchability, three pitch mix, commands the ball both sides of the plate, clean delivery. He’s a guy that’s good to add to our mix of young arms. Davis is a lefty that could project for the starter role or the relief role."

Since December, the White Sox have traded nine players off their big-league roster.

Those trades – along with draft picks – has revamped a White Sox minor league system which currently ranks one of the best in the league.

Hahn said that he has been pleased, but not surprised, with the returns from those players.

"This was our mission," Hahn said. "This is what we set out to do. This is what we felt was important for the long-term health of the organization. We had a plan. That said, you need to respond the market. It’s not always the easiest thing to get across the finish line."

By the time the trade deadline is over on Monday, more moves could be made.

“It’s not 3 o’clock Monday yet,” Hahn said. “We’re going to keep on with our conversations and see if they lead anywhere.”

Melky Cabrera becomes the latest White Sox player traded

Melky Cabrera becomes the latest White Sox player traded

Another domino has fallen on the South Side.

The White Sox announced Sunday that they have traded Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for A.J. Puckett and Andre Davis. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox are paying half of Cabrera's $5.1 million remaining salary:

Cabrera recorded 13 homers and 56 RBI this season with the White Sox and slashed .295/.336/.436.

Puckett was the Royals' No. 13 prospect, according to the MLB. The 22-year-old pitcher went 9-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 20 starts this season with Class-A Wilmington.

Davis, 23, is 5-4 with a 4.83 ERA this season with Class-A Lexington.

In a corresponding move, the White Sox have brought back Leury Garcia. He will start and bat leadoff on Sunday when the White Sox battle the Cleveland Indians.