GLENDALE, AZ – While Monday was filled with heavy doses of infield drills, including White Sox Manager Rick Renteria inserting himself into the fielding drills for instruction, and then informing the media that the team will skip intrasquad games this spring to increase time spent on drills, Tuesday was a day that featured a healthy amount of live batting practice.
Two of the White Sox best young arms, Michael Kopech and Zack Burdi took part in the live batting practice sessions on the back-fields on Tuesday, by showing off their arms against their teammates. While Matt Davidson took Kopech deep in their session, Zack Burdi drew compliment from White Sox Manager Rick Renteria
“Burdi had a couple of ball get away in the total sequence which gets hairy,” said Renteria. “But for the most part, down in the zone, both sides of the plate. Mixed in some changeups, which for him are still high velocity.”
The White Sox also spent a fair amount of time performing baser-running and relay throw drills during Tuesday’s practice with new White Sox base-running coach Aaron Rowand.
Trade Talks Returned to Camp on Tuesday
With the news of the Washington Nationals signing veteran catcher Matt Wieters on Tuesday, the David Robertson to the Nationals began to resurface, mainly because the Nationals now have somewhat of a log-jam behind the plate that includes Pedro Severino the Nationals eleventh ranked prospect, a player rumored to be on the White Sox radar this spring.
Severino was signed by the Nationals as an amateur prospect in December of 2010, and has played 18 games at the major-league level during two brief stints in late 2015 and 2016. The 23-year-old backstop has a .313 batting average over that small sample size to go along with two home runs, three doubles, and four RBI in just 38 plate appearances.
Over the course of his minor-league career with the Nationals, Severino has a career batting average of just .243 with very below-average power numbers, showcasing 19 home runs in nearly 1,500 at-bats. Severino is viewed as a catcher with excellent defensive tools, that lacks offensive output at this point, but some believe that his bat will come around to outperform his less than stellar minor-league production at some point.
The Nationals are in need of a closer, and Robertson would fit the bill, but the idea of a straight one for one swap of the two seems to be something that would hinge upon the White Sox eating the majority of the veteran closer’s nearly $25 million dollar salary, something that the White Sox have been rumored to be less than interested in at this point.
Lucas Giolito Continues to Make Strides this Spring
Lucas Giolito expressed confidence in his work thus far to shed the mechanical changes that were willed upon him by the Nationals late in 2016, saying this about the old mechanics as well as his progress,
“I made things worse, so this year I did a lot of dry work in the offseason, a lot of things where I could just feel my mechanics off the mound,” Giolito said. “For me it’s about just being able to repeat and stay in line. I’m focusing on those two keys and everything falls into place after that.”
“The main focuses are commanding the fastball low and away to a right-handed hitter and throwing off speed pitches for strikes,” Giolito said. “That’s what I’m continuing to work on and trying to get better at.”
If you were of the belief that Giolito is the most major-league ready of the bunch as far as White Sox pitching prospects are concerned, Giolito is making sure that you were correct in your assumption this spring. Continued work on the current plan for Giolito at this rate will make him an excellent candidate for the first of the pack to break into the major-league rotation later on this season, but don’t expect that move to come until after mid-May for service clock reasons.
Zack Collins Drawing Praise for his Defensive Improvements this Spring
While the thought on Zack Collins outside of the White Sox player development staff has been that the young backstop wouldn’t be able to stick as a catcher due to his lacking defensive skills. Outside of his strong arm Collins lacks necessary skills in the receiving and blocking areas to this point.
This spring Collins has made tremendous strides according to White Sox catching coordinator John Orton. Orton highlighted Collins’ progress to this point by saying,
“He’s a sponge right now and he’s athletic so he’s picking things up quick,” Orton said. “At this point he looks good defensively.”
Good news out of White Sox camp for their 2016 1st round draft choice Zack Collins as far as his desire to remain behind the plate is concerned.
Stay with us here at The Loop Sports all spring as we will be providing frequent updates of the happenings around Camelback Ranch, Cactus League game recaps and analysis, and deep-dive analysis into the story-lines to watch for this spring!