Quarterly Progress Report: Surprise Performers Leading the Way for the White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have officially eclipsed the quarter mark of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, with 38 games in the books entering play on Thursday evening and a couple more pushed back due to rain, the White Sox have completed the first leg of the 2017 campaign.

To this point, they have been for the most part, especially as of late, exactly what I thought they would be this season. A team in transition, in the earliest stage of their rebuild, essentially holding open auditions for players who may be staying as well as live showcases for those who may be going. After being swept by the Los Angeles Angels in their last three game series the White Sox currently sit at 17-21 on the season as they prepare to open a series with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle.

To this point it’s been a crop of surprising players that have led the way for the White Sox in 2017, headlined by Avisail Garcia, who last winter was dangerously close to being released, but is now finally showing us the potential that we originally hoped would come to fruition. Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia have also been pleasant surprises, and of course who can forget about Anthony Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle in the White Sox bullpen.

While these players weren’t anyone’s pick-to-click before the season started, they are doing exactly what I forecasted someone on this team would do. Take their open audition and run with it, knowing that this may be their only shot at solidifying a place on this ball club moving forward.

As a progress report of sorts, I’m going to give you five players for each of the following categories- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America)

Avisail Garcia: Avi has easily been the best hitter on the club throughout the first quarter of the season, hitting .348 through his first 37 games played while slashing a solid .395/.553/ .948 with six home runs and 28 RBI. Garcia has 49 hits in his first 141 at-bats, 15 of those going for extra bases. Not only is Garcia on pace to earn a nod to the All-Star Game if he continues his current production, he will be a strong candidate for a Silver Slugger Award.

Yolmer Sanchez: Carlos who? Yolmer is making fans forget about his former name and performance with every at-bat this season. Sanchez is second on the team in hitting with a .334 batting average through his first 26 games this season, and is now occupying the two-hole in Rick Renteria‘s lineup on a daily basis. Sanchez has a pair of home runs, five doubles, one triple and 11 RBI and is regularly barreling the ball up.

Leury Garcia: Outside of the fly ball to the kisser on Tuesday night in Anaheim, Leury Legend has been firmly planted as the White Sox lead-off hitter since the departure of Jacob May at the end of April, and taken advantage of his playing time. Garcia is hitting .301 through his first 34 games and slashing .339/ .469/ .808 to this point, and like Avisail and Yolmer, playing the best baseball of his career. Garcia has four long-balls, seven doubles and 14 runs driven in to date.

Anthony Swarzak: Wednesday night’s three-run home run off of the bat of Angels’ superstar Mike Trout was the only runs that Swarzak has allowed to this point in 2017. Swarzak has been nothing short of lights-out, entering play on Tuesday with a 1.37 ERA over the course of 19.2 innings pitched. Swarzak has recorded 22 strikeouts to just two walks, and opposing hitters are hitting only .113 against him.

Tommy Kahnle: The 27-year old reliever may be making himself a part of the White Sox bullpen moving forward if he continues to pitch like he has this season. Through his first 15 innings of work he has notched 27 strikeouts while walking only four hitters. To go along with his superb 1.80 ERA, Kahnle boasts an opposing batting average of just .157 with a WHIP of 0.80.

The Bad

Credit: Anders Johanson/ The Loop Sports

Tim Anderson: Sophomore slump, trying to live up to his newly inked long-term deal, who knows what it is, but Anderson has struggled to start the season thus far. Since coming back to from his friend’s funeral this past weekend Anderson has looked like the ballplayer that we know he can be, but prior to that he struggled mightily, beginning the season at the top of the order and eventually being dropped down to the lower third due to his inability to get on base and poor pitch selection. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason to worry that Anderson will not continue to climb out of his slow start.

Tyler Saladino: Saladino, like Anderson has had his spot in the order dropped and his role reduced with the emergence of Yolmer Sanchez. Saladino is hitting just .202 through his first 28 games for the White Sox, striking out 34 times in his first 104 at-bats this season.

Melky Cabrera: In his final season of his three-year deal that he signed in the winter of 2015, Melky Cabrera has struggled to say the least thus far, and been streaky at best. Through his first 35 games, Cabrera is hitting just .243 with two home runs to go along with .291 OBP. The White Sox had hoped that Cabrera would be able to perform well enough to be included in a trade, unfortunately that isn’t looking highly likely at this point.

Dan Jennings: One of the better performers in the White Sox bullpen in 2016, Jennings has been under-whelming to date in 2017. Jennings has allowed seven earned runs in just 12.2 innings of work and currently sports an ERA just a tick under five at 4.97. Jennings has been hit hard this season, with opposing hitters hitting .327 against him.

Omar Narvaez: Narvaez is looking more and more like a long shot to be anything more than a back-up catcher with the White Sox in the future thanks to his poor performance thus far, coupled with the excellent strides that Zack Collins has made behind the plate in the minor league’s this season. Narvaez is hitting just .217 with no home runs and three RBI. With Geovany Soto on the 60-day disabled list, Narvaez will get his opportunity to show what he can do as the everyday catcher.

The Ugly

Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images North America

Cody Asche: Through his 19 games with the White Sox, Asche managed to collect only six hits in 57 at-bats, good for a miserable .105 batting average and a demotion to Triple-A Charlotte. Asche was also out-righted off of the 40-man roster, and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Charlotte this past week. Hopefully we have seen the last of the strikeout machine at the major-league level.

Dylan Covey: The rule-five pick from this past winter, Dylan Covey has been awful during his first stint at the major-league level. Currently sitting at 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA through his first 29.1 innings of work (six starts), Covey has allowed 26 runs on 42 hits and 13 walks thus far.

Mike Pelfrey: Equally as awful as Covey, has been the veteran starter Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey, who made his way to Chicago to replace the injured James Shields last month has lost four of his five starts and owns a 5.70 ERA. Pelfrey has shown an inability to pitch beyond the fifth inning of ballgames, or past the second time through the opposing batting order. Opponents are hitting Pelfrey hard and he is struggling to work in the strike zone, issuing 10 walks in 23.2 innings of work.

Todd Frazier: Frazier has battled a series of minor nagging injuries and illnesses this season, and the numbers have reflected such when he has been in the lineup. Checking in with a .187 batting average through his first 30 games this season, Frazier has been a strikeout and pop-fly machine. Frazier has only managed 20 hits in his first 107 at-bats this season, but has managed to make those hits count, driving in 14 runs to date.

Jacob May: May was the story of the spring for the White Sox in March, but quickly came back down to earth in April during his first sting at the major-league level. May collected two hits in 36 at-bats before being sent down to Triple-A Charlotte to take a breather and get some consistent at-bats in after losing his starting role with the White Sox.

 

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