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 Talk Podcast: Tim Anderson's new deal, 2017 predictions

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Tim Anderson's new deal, 2017 predictions

On this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien talks with CSNChicago.com White Sox Insider Dan Hayes about Tim Anderson's new contract, Reynaldo Lopez' lights-out performance against the San Francisco Giants, Michael Kopech mowing down the Cubs and much more.

Later, CSN's Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka join the podcast to give their 2017 White Sox predictions.

Finally, CSN's Tom Cooper stops by to discuss if David Ross has "jumped the shark" with the Cubs.

Check out the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast here:

White Sox prospect Reynaldo Lopez pitches six scoreless innings in loss to Giants

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Reynaldo Lopez pitches six scoreless innings in loss to Giants

GLENDALE, Ariz. — You might say that Reynaldo Lopez has responded well to his first dose of adversity with the White Sox.

The pitching prospect delivered his best outing of what has been a very productive spring with six scoreless innings at Camelback Ranch on Monday afternoon. Lopez struck out four and only allowed two hits, though the San Francisco Giants rallied to defeat the White Sox 3-2. The performance lowered Lopez's spring ERA to 3.72.

"The (starts) before were good, but this one was the best because I was able to execute all of the work that I've been putting in during my preparation," Lopez said through an interpreter. "All of the things I've been working on with (pitching coach Don Cooper), trying to move more to the middle of the (rubber), trying to locate my pitches in the right spot — all of those things I was able to execute today, and today was by far my best one."

Acquired along with Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning in the Adam Eaton deal, Lopez had a rough start his first time out for the White Sox on Feb. 28, allowing five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings at the Cincinnati Reds. 

Cooper has since moved Lopez — who despite pitching 44 innings last season for the Washington Nationals had never been to big league camp — over to the middle of the rubber from his former position in the far right corner.

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The adjustment has afforded Lopez better command and improved results. Lopez has a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings over his last four starts, striking out 14 batters and walking just four. Though he'd like to make the team, Lopez said he'd have no trouble accepting an assignment to the minors given the promise he's seen in his performance.

"That wouldn't be a disappointment because I've been taking advantage of this opportunity," Lopez said. "This is my first spring training with a big league team, and I've been trying to do my best and learn from all of the guys and the coaches too. If I'm not with the team, I will be working hard in the minors because I know I can make it to the majors."

Peter Bourjos tripled and scored a run in the loss. Adam Engel and Nick Delmonico had the only other hits for the White Sox.

Corey Luebke pitched a scoreless inning for the White Sox to lower his ERA to 1.04. Michael Ynoa pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the loss.