White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Michael Kopech, Yoan Moncada among five White Sox prospects sent to minor league camp

Michael Kopech, Yoan Moncada among five White Sox prospects sent to minor league camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The future is on hold — for now.

As expected, the White Sox sent their top five prospects to minor league camp on Tuesday afternoon after a productive first month of the 2017 season.

Shipped to Triple-A Charlotte were second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer, while pitcher Michael Kopech has been re-assigned to minor league camp. Kopech, the No. 16 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com, could start the season at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though all five have more development ahead, the White Sox front office is beyond pleased with what they've observed.

"I have not been this excited about the White Sox future in a long, long time," executive vice president Kenny Williams said. "It's been personally invigorating to see these guys in this clubhouse and on the back fields to see the second wave of guys that will be coming after this first wave of prospects. And to sit down and talk to Rick (Hahn) about the possibilities trade-wise we may have out there in the future, free agency, international signing-wise, we're in full go mode and it's exciting."

Four members of the group were acquired during the winter meetings in trades involving Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. Each earned high marks after getting out to a slow start.

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Lopez, the team's fourth-ranked prospect, is easily the most polished of the bunch, especially after he moved to the middle of the rubber and began to throw the cut-fastball more often. Over his final four starts of spring, Lopez posted a 1.50 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 18 innings.

Kopech had everyone across the Cactus League oohing and ahhing as he put his dazzling arsenal on display. The tall, lean right-hander struck out 11 and walked two hitters in six innings with his fastball touching 102 mph on the radar gun.

While Giolito struggled in his final outing of the spring, he hit his stride in the previous two innings, allowing a run and four hits over seven innings.

Moncada, the No. 2 prospect in baseball, saved his best run of the spring for the final week of camp. He went 10-for-22 with three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs over seven games.

In discussing the group for five minutes, Hahn noted how Fulmer, who finished his first season with three consecutive strong starts, continued to work on the adjustments he made late in 2016.

"All the five of them impressed in different ways," Hahn said.

The White Sox brought their top seven prospects, according to MLB.com, with them to camp last month. Of that group, only reliever Zack Burdi remains in camp. Pitcher Spencer Adams and catcher Zack Collins were sent down in previous rounds of cuts.

"Really positive," manager Rick Renteria said of the group. "All of them actually. They all have certain things to work on. They were all very impressive, and we are really, really happy to have them."

The White Sox have 41 players left in camp after Tuesday's moves.

White Sox notes: Giolito struggles, Rodon progresses, Quintana returns

White Sox notes: Giolito struggles, Rodon progresses, Quintana returns

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lucas Giolito didn’t make it out of the first inning in his start against the Seattle Mariners Tuesday at Peoria Stadium, allowing four runs on four hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Giolito didn’t get a swinging strike over the 30 pitches he threw, and he didn’t finish off his allotted pitch count by throwing in the bullpen after he was pulled. In his previous start March 9, Giolito lasted four innings and allowed one run. 

While it’s unfair to read too much into spring training results, Giolito did issue back-to-back walks to load the bases and then score a run. Seattle went on to win, 7-6.

"It’s hard to pinpoint one issue," Giolito said. "I didn’t really execute anything I was trying to do today. As a starting pitcher, you want to work efficiently, you want to throw low pitch count innings, work through a game and I threw, what, 30 pitches. Didn’t get out of the first inning. Just didn’t do my job." 

Another "simmy" on tap for Rodon

Carlos Rodon threw 64 pitches over four "innings" of a simulated game on Tuesday, but the White Sox have yet to set a date for when the left-hander will make his first Cactus League start of 2017.

Rodon got up and down four times and threw all of his pitches -- he hadn’t thrown his slider before Tuesday -- from the both stretch and windup. Manager Rick Renteria said the White Sox have one more simulated game lined up for Rodon before he could potentially get into a game. 

"(Pitching coach Don Cooper) was really happy with how he looked," relayed Renteria. 

'Q’ back from WBC

Jose Quintana returned to Camelback Ranch on Tuesday after spending the weekend in Miami with the Colombian National Team for the World Baseball Classic. Despite Quintana’s best efforts -- 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the United States on Friday -- Colombia was eliminated from the tournament. 

The White Sox haven’t formulated a plan for Quintana, but he’ll likely stay on the same schedule he had while ramping up for the World Baseball Classic. Renteria said last week the White Sox could look to have Quintana pitch in 'B’ games to keep his intensity level low after he started that higher stress game at Marlins Park on Friday. 

And as for whether or not Quintana will start Opening Day, Renteria didn’t provide an answer: "We’re still setting it all up right now and I promise you guys will get it as soon as I get it."