White Sox have fared well with season tickets

660044.png

White Sox have fared well with season tickets

Just a guess, but fans who spoke with White Sox players on Thursday were probably a bit more pleasant this time around.

Players Addison Reed and Gordon Beckham, coaches Daryl Boston and Bobby Thigpen, and CSN analyst and former player Bill Melton spent the lunch hour dialing season-ticket holders and perspective buyers.

Whereas last year was a troubling time on the South Side, after ex-manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle had left for Miami, and uncertainty surrounded new skipper Robin Ventura, the 2013 White Sox have gained a little momentum at the box office. A team, which won a surprising 85 games and saw the development of young pitchers Reed, Chris Sale and Nate Jones, has helped the White Sox retain the majority of their season-ticket holders from last season, said White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer.

Our (season-ticket) renewal rate is well into the 90 (percent) range, Boyer said. And our new season tickets are significantly ahead of where we were last year. Last year no one knew how Robin would be. Obviously for us to be competitive all last season, we have a lot of wind in our sails. Its very encouraging.

When it comes to the gate, the White Sox could use some encouragement. The teams attendance has declined for six straight seasons and last season fell below 2 million for the first time since 2004. In an attempt to win back old fans and create new ones, the team rearranged its ticket prices this offseason, lowering the price of bleacher seats and increased seats closer to the infield. They also have begun to offer seats for 7 in the upper deck and 20 in the lower deck and lowered the cost of parking.

We needed to reverse that trend and draw more fans, Boyer said. We wanted to make a very bold move to not only bring back old fans but new fans.

Reed had an opportunity to speak with a dozen or so fans on Thursday and said the response was overwhelmingly positive.

They were excited and surprised and it was fun, Reed said. They are the whole reason why we play, its for the fans. It was kind of cool to see how surprised they were and have them laugh and being able to talk to them.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."