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.