CHICAGO, Ill — If you were looking for the most positive place in all of Chicago on Saturday, you wouldn’t have to look any farther than the halls of the Hilton Towers hotel in downtown Chicago.
The second day of Sox Fest was filled with determined autograph seekers and fans curious about the progress of the White Sox’ prized farm system. Wearing jerseys ranging from Zack Burdi to Carlton Fisk and Dick Allen, fans stood at the mic and asked General Manager Rick Hahn and Manager Rick Renteria questions ranging from what the Sox offered the Orioles for Manny Machado, to what data programs the White Sox use for their player projections, and of course, when will they get to see their favorite prospects in the majors.
The underlying theme of the 45-minute session was that future is very bright, but Sox fans are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.
One Sox fan stood at the mic and praised Hahn saying “What you have done, is given us hope“.
Judging from the autograph lines for young players such as Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, that fan was not alone in his optimism. Even players who fans won’t see in the majors this year were major draws for autograph and photo seekers.
Fans are not alone in their optimism, and Manager Rick Renteria told fans, “There is an excitement you should have. It’s real. But you also have to have patience.“
This call for patience from fans is nothing new. Hahn constantly repeats that as excited about the prospects as everyone in the organization is, they will not rush the process. Hahn even went so far as to say that if prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech spends the whole year in Triple-A Charlotte mastering his off-speed pitches the team would view that as a positive development, a sentiment many eager fans most likely disagree with.
Nick Hostetler, Director of Player Scouting for the White Sox preached a similar message. He made it clear that he is excited about the prospects, but does not want to rush them at the risk of damaging their mental state. He said no players would be moved up to any level until the team is sure they’re ready mentally to handle the inevitable failures that come with being a professional baseball player.
Another major talking point from everyone in the organization here at Sox Fest is the bond these young players are forming with one another. Manager Rick Renteria told fans that the young Sox prospects are beginning to form into a brotherhood, a notion shared by Hostetler. Rick Renteria acknowledged that while brothers will at times fight with each other, they will always fight for each other, a trait that Renteria values.
Hostetler was similarly optimistic about the bond the young sox prospects are forming, saying that he had never been around a group of kids that had gelled and bonded as quickly as the group at the recent White Sox hitters camp in Arizona.
While the overwhelmingly positive vibes and excitement is shared by everyone in the organization from top to bottom, the Sox continue to preach patience. Fans seem to have no problem waiting for the next wave of highly touted prospects.
While preaching patience Hahn is also always sure to include that “The good ones tend to force your hand“, a phrase every Sox fan is very familiar with by now.
So while we do not know when we are going to see the likes of Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez in the majors, fans are very content with shaking hands and getting autographs from players who they hope are among the next batch of World Series Champions on the Southside.