Join the “TLS” writers in a roundtable discussion every Monday on The Loop Sports! This Week we talk about which players on both sides of town that we’re most excited to watch this spring as the White Sox and Cubs open their Spring Training camps this week.
The Loop Sports Staff Roundtable for the week of February 13, 2017:
Which White Sox player are you most excited to see this Spring?
Patrick Flowers: The White Sox have plenty of noteworthy players to watch this spring, but for me Reynaldo Lopez has to be the most intriguing. As I wrote last week in my Prospect Profile on him, Lopez possesses excellent stuff, that could make him the best of the young starting pitchers that the White Sox have to boast.
Lopez is a three-pitch pitcher who can work effectively on the black, locating his plus breaking ball wherever he wants more often than not, and possessing a mid-high nineties fastball along with an effective changeup. The key to Lopez’s development this spring will be finding a consistent delivery to alleviate his occasional control issues, beyond that Lopez has the potential become a main-stay in the White Sox rotation for years to come.
Anders Johanson: I know a lot of people will be excited to see guys like Giolito and Kopech and Moncada but I’m going with a different choice here. I’m very excited to see how Charlie Tilson recovers and develops in this year’s Spring Training. Tilson came over from the Cardinals as a seemingly low risk, medium reward outfielder and now has a chance to be the starting center fielder for a White Sox team that is entering a season that will be interesting to say the least. Personally I’m very high on Tilson and I think he could be an impactful player for the Sox moving forward. It all depends on how he looks in Spring Training and how far along he is in his recovery but look for him to impress.
Matt Smith: There are many questions regarding the 25-man roster. How healthy is Charlie Tilson? Who is going to back up/platoon with Omar Narvaez? What will the back of the bullpen look like? How is the lineup going to shake out? Can James Shields find some semblance of his old self? Like any? Get through four innings with less than six runs earned by the end of spring? Will Rick Renteria run a tighter clubhouse than Robin Ventura did? Will Avisail Garcia finally…Oh who I am kidding? Avi is terrible and will always be terrible. I’d rather see Leury Garcia get at-bats at designated hitter out of principle.
Anyway, the thing I’m most looking forward to is getting a look at some of the minor league talent. And I’m not referring to Yoan Moncada or Lucas Giolito. I want to see how Jace Fry is throwing the ball after 2015 Tommy John surgery. How will Zack Burdi fare against big league hitters before being sent to minor league camp? What about Spencer Adams and Zach Collins? Was 2016 an aberration for Nicky Delmonico, or was his .837 OPS across two levels last season a sign of things to come? I think each of them represents a part of the club’s future. A good showing will alleviate a few concerns I have.
Matt Grabianski: There is no one answer to this question, because we’re finally going to see the entire collection of prospects that Hahn assembled this offseason. Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada are both so talented and electric, and I’m not only intrigued to watch them play in general but also excited to see how they do against MLB-caliber competition. I know that Patrick is having some sort of baseball love affair with Reynaldo Lopez (you would also know if you listened to our podcast, which you should totally do), so I am also very much looking forward to seeing if he’s everything Patrick has made him out to be. I’m a Cubs fan, but I can not wait until I can see this new Sox core play.
Tim Moran: Carson Fulmer because he has a lot to prove with his bad performance last year. He recently said he changed his delivery back to his old one, so I’m very interested to see if it worked.
Benjamin Davis: Giolito. I’ve been waiting to see if he’ll bounce back from the rough introduction he had to the big leagues. He clearly has the talent, but there is the question of whether or not that talent can translate to success on the mound.
Which Cubs player are you most excited to see this Spring?
Patrick Flowers: I would like to see the Cubs top prospect Ian Happ this spring. Happ will likely be auditioning for a job elsewhere as he is nearly major-league ready, but blocked by a log-jam of current major-league talent on the north side of town, a strong spring should stir up some excitement around the Cubs top-prospect.
Anders Johanson: For the Cubs I will be watching how the outfield log-jam plays out. I think it will be interesting to see what becomes of Kyle Schwarber after Spring Training. As of right now the Cubs don’t really have a spot for him so either they need to make room by trading another player or they need to decide its time to part ways with the cult hero and send him to an American League team where he belongs.
Matt Smith: Meh…
Matt Grabianski: Eloy Jimenez is the next Cubs superstar. I’m already banking on him making the Hall of Fame. Do I have high hopes, perhaps exceeding real-life possibility and almost ensuring my future disappointment? Maybe. But do I seriously think that Jimenez has the talent necessary to fulfill all of my ridiculous predictions for him? Absolutely. He’s 6’4″ 205 lbs., his bat speed is incredibly fast, and his swing is beautiful.
Many of you all will remember his performance in the Futures Game in 2016, when he hit an absolute bomb off of the Western Metal Supply Co. sign at Petco Park. I’m going to have the privilege of attending some games in Mesa in less than two weeks, and if I don’t see Jimenez get an at-bat I will start a riot. As commentator Matt Vasgersian said when Jimenez made a crazy jumping catch over the fence in right field during the Futures Game (oh yeah, he’s not a total defensive liability either), “Eloy’s coming – hide your hearts!”