MESA, AZ – The Chicago White Sox took on their crosstown rivals on Monday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona, with White Sox fans getting their first look at top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito.
Giolito took the ball first for the White Sox on Monday, with a tough task ahead of him, opening the game against Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo at the top of the Cubs batting order. Giolito jumped ahead in the count 0-2 against the Cubs lead-off hitter Kyle Schwarber with a fastball on the inside part of the plate, followed by a filthy curveball, before Schwarber laced a line drive into the outfield for a lead-off single.
Kris Bryant matched Schwarber with a hard-hit single of his own, quickly backing the 22-year-old Giolito into a corner in the opening frame. Giolito was helped out by his defense when Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a rocket up the middle, that was snagged by a diving Yoan Moncada who who started a 4-6-3 double play that also saw Tim Anderson absorb the contact of a sliding Bryant as he fired to first base to get Rizzo to complete the double play.
Giolito induced a ground ball out from the Cubs cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist to end the inning, leaving Kyle Schwarber stranded at third base. The Second inning saw Giolito garner mixed results as well, as he left a pitch up high for Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, who smacked a long home run over the left-field fence to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead on the afternoon. Giolito then struck out Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras before working around a two out walk to end the second inning with no further damage. Giolito finished up his first spring outing for the White Sox with two innings pitched, allowing a run on three hits, while striking out two and walking one.
While not a great performance for Giolito, it wasn’t horribly discouraging as he had things working for him, and was able to work around the two base hits in the first as well as the lead-off homer in the second inning. Giolito’s curveball and changeup looked good at times on Monday, while his fastball was lacking velocity and leaving him exposed with his secondary pitches in certain counts, topping out at 93 miles per hour.
Giolito had this to say after the ballgame in regards to his White Sox Cactus League debut,
“I’d say in the first inning, I did an OK job of commanding the curveball for a strike,” Giolito said. “I feel like when I throw it for a strike and show I can throw it for a strike, that’s when I get more swings on it.”
“The second inning, I kind of got away from it. I was kind of yanking them, throwing a lot in the dirt low and away, and a big league hitter is just going to spit on that. I’m just going to continue to work on that, throwing a curveball for a strike, commanding a fastball, especially down and away to righties.”
The packed crowd at Sloan Park played a factor in Giolito “yanking” his curveball at times, with the young right-hander citing a large adrenaline rush as one of his downfalls on the afternoon.
Tim Anderson Impresses on the Afternoon
Tim Anderson continued to impress this spring starting the game off with a lead-off single up the middle in the top of the first inning, and then doubling down on that with his defense in the bottom half of the opening frame when he absorbed the contact on a Kris Bryant slide while turning a double play at second base.
Anderson also logged an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning to get the Sox on the board for the first time on Monday afternoon, before scoring on a Jose Abreu two-run home run to give the Sox the 3-2 lead at that point in the ballgame.
Anderson went two for three with a single, a double, an RBI, and a run scored on Monday out of the lead-off spot for the White Sox, a spot vacated by the departure of Adam Eaton this winter, and a spot that Anderson said he is up for the challenge of assuming in 2017.
Yoan Moncada Gets his First Start of the Spring, Collins to Get a Start on Tuesday
White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada was given his first start of the spring on Monday, starting at second base for the White Sox. Moncada struggled offensively going 0-2 with a pair of strike outs, making him 0-4 with three strike outs, a ground out, and a walk in five plate appearances this spring.
Moncada did flash the leather in the first inning when he made a diving stop on a rocket off of the bat of Anthony Rizzo and started a double play that helped fellow rookie Lucas Giolito escape a first inning jam.
Frazier Working his Way Back, Feels Good after Swinging on Monday
White Sox third-baseman Todd Frazier is doing well in his recovery from a sore oblique that he sustained last week in practice, and took 35 swings and fielded 35 ground balls on Monday. Frazier said he felt good after taking his swings and ground balls, but would like to see how he feels on Tuesday before he starts to think about a return to game action this spring.
Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez Highlight Tuesday’s Split-Squad Action
Michael Kopech will make his first start of the spring for the White Sox on Tuesday when he takes the ball for the Sox in their home match-up with the Seattle Mariners at 2:05 pm (CT) at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona.
The White Sox will send another top pitching prospect, Reynaldo Lopez to the hill in their road game versus the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, Arizona at 2:05 pm (CT) on Tuesday afternoon.
You can watch Michael Kopech in the White Sox home half of the split-squad day via the White Sox live webcast at whitesox.com.
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!