The pitching staff for the White Sox this spring provided us with a look at some of the top talent the farm has to offer. It also provided us with a battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Some of the pitchers were lights-out, while others had an up-and-down Spring Training.
For this review, we will break down the the entire group into four starting pitchers, four bullpen pieces, and four prospects. Let’s take a look how the players performed in this group during Spring Training.
Lucas Giolito entered Spring Training looking to build off of an impressive first season with the club. Out of all the regular roster pitchers, he easily put together the best spring. His goal for Spring Training was to work on his curveball and change up and he had minimal issues with both of those pitches as he struck out 17 batters in 17.2 innings and only issued four walks.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 21, 2018
He finished Spring Training with an ERA of 2.04, 0.85 WHIP, and opponents hit a measly .169 when facing him. Lucas Giolito has the potential to be a top-end rotation piece for this team for a long time and he showed why this spring. He will be the number two man in the rotation this year and he has a great opportunity to remain in that spot, barring any setbacks. Best game: March 10 @ Cubs (4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 K, 2 BB).
Reynaldo Lopez struggled with control throughout Spring Training, but even with the control issues he still managed to put together a decent spring. He finished this spring throwing 18.2 innings, having a 3.86 ERA, 12 strikeouts, and 11 walks. The majority of his runs he allowed (eight ER) came in his last two appearances.
Lopez threw two shutouts during Spring Training and they came in back-to-back starts. Even with the control struggles and bad final two starts, Reynaldo Lopez earned the third spot in the rotation for this season. He’s still young and has plenty of time to develop at the major league level. He has the stuff to become a dominant pitcher in the MLB, but it’s all about development and working on his location. Best game: March 11 vs. Diamondbacks (4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, K, 2 BB).
Carson Fulmer struggled throughout the entire spring season. He was another pitcher that had control issues, but his were a lot more evident and worse. His fastball has lost movement and he hung plenty of pitches as he gave up seven home runs this spring. It took him all the way until his final start to put together a good outing.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 19, 2018
Fulmer finished this spring with an 11.81 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched. He issued 13 walks and registered nine strikeouts. Despite the constant struggles, he will be the fifth man in the rotation this season. If he continues to struggle, we might see him get moved to the bullpen if he wants to have a role with this team in the future. Best game: March 19 @ Diamondbacks (4.0 IP, 0 H, 4 K, 3 BB).
This year the White Sox welcomed back Miguel Gonzalez as they signed him to fill a spot in the starting rotation. For a team that’s rebuilding, Gonzalez will serve as a pitcher who can eat up a lot of innings and also a mentor to the young players on the team. He finished the spring with a 5.40 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched while striking out nine and walking six.
Miguel Gonzalez didn’t have a terrible Spring Training, but if it wasn’t for one bad start, it would’ve been much better. In his start against the Reds, he couldn’t make it through one inning. He gave up five earned runs through 0.2 IP and walked two. He cruised through the rest of his starts. His pitches aren’t over-powering, but he can locate them well. In his first start this spring, he threw a shutout against the Dodgers over two innings of work. Best game: March 22 @ Diamondbacks (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 2 BB).
The White Sox also welcomed back another former South-sider in Hector Santiago. He was initially brought in on a minor league deal and competed for a rotation spot. He offered the White Sox a left-handed option in the rotation while Carlos Rodon is recovering, but he’s been moved to the bullpen for this upcoming season.
Hector Santiago was great this spring and made a very strong case to win the rotation spot. In six games, he threw 16 innings, had a 2.25 ERA, struck out 18, and issued seven walks. There were three separate outings where he didn’t allow a hit.
After his performance this spring, he’s shown that he can be a reliable bullpen piece for the White Sox this season. If there is an injury in the rotation, he also provides an experienced arm that’s available to move into the rotation if needed. Best game: February 27 @ Cubs (3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 4 K).
Nate Jones entered camp this year looking to bounce back from an injury. Given his history with injuries, it was great to see him back out on the field and performing at the high-level that he’s shown flashes of. Through 6.1 innings pitched, Nate finished with a perfect 0.00 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, struck out eight batters, and only walked two.
In four of his appearances, he didn’t allow a hit in what was a total of 3.1 IP. Against the Padres, Nate Jones struck out three of the four batters he faced. He will be a late inning pitcher this season and will likely assume the closer role to start the year. If he continues to stay healthy and perform well, he’s a likely candidate to be moved at the trade deadline if the White Sox decided to ship off some players. Best game: March 4 vs. Padres (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K).
The White Sox added another late inning pitcher when they brought over Joakim Soria. his Spring Training debut didn’t go as planned, but he was able to comeback and finish strong in his spring. In his debut, he was unable to record one out as he served up five hits and four earned runs against the Dodgers.
As it was previously mentioned, he would bounce back and go on to throw four shutout innings this spring. The shutouts came in four separate appearances with one inning of work in each of the appearances. Joakim Soria finished Spring Training with 4.0 innings pitched, four earned runs, one strikeout, no walks, and an ERA of 9.00. Best game: March 22 @ Diamondbacks (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, K).
Luis Avilan was acquired by the White Sox in a trade with the Dodgers. He provides the Sox with another reliable left-handed arm in the bullpen. In six games this spring, he threw 5.2 innings, gave up two hits, walked one batter, struck out nine, posted a perfect ERA, and had a WHIP of 0.53.
Known for his off-speed, Luis Avilan was constantly fooling batters with his curveball and change up this spring. His fastball isn’t over-powering as it sits in the low-mid 90’s and that’s why he relies on his off-speed. Opponents had a hard time putting the ball in play against him, as they hit .100 with Avilan on the mound. This is another player that will likely be a trade candidate if the White Sox decide to move some players this season. Best game: March 7 vs. Reds (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 3 K).
Michael Kopech entered Spring Training as the White Sox highest rated pitching prospect. There were times where he pitched like it and others when he did not. His main goal for this spring was to work on adding a change up to pair with his 100+ mph fastball. His change up looked good throughout Spring Training and once it becomes consistent, he will be even more dangerous on the mound.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) February 26, 2018
Michael Kopech cruised through his first two starts only allowing one run between both outings, striking out three in each game, and only giving up one total run. After that he began to struggle. He got tagged for five earned against the division rival Kansas City Royals. In a game against the A’s where he entered as a reliever, he couldn’t get through one full inning and gave up a grand slam. His control started becoming an issue against both teams as he walked three batters in each appearance. Final Spring Training stats: 7.0 IP, 11 H, 13 R, 9 ER, 7 BB, 7 K, and an ERA of 11.57. Best game: February 26 vs. A’s (2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 3 K).
Dane Dunning was once considered a “throw in” piece in a trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals. Now, he is considered to be one of the top pitching prospects for the White Sox thanks to a breakout 2017 season in the minors. He’s been a starting pitcher during his minor league career, but for Spring Training he assumed the role of a reliever.
Dane Dunning is known for being great at locating his pitches and that’s why he’s been able to pile up strikeouts in the minors. He struggled at times against major league talent this spring, but it’s understandable since he hasn’t pitched past High-A yet. In 9.0 innings of work, he finished Spring Training with an ERA of 7.00, struck out four, issued four walks, and surrendered nine earned runs. In two of the five games he appeared in, he was able to pitch a shutout. Best game: March 16 vs. Cubs (2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB).
Dylan Cease is often overshadowed by the name of Eloy Jimenez since they both came to the White Sox in the same trade package. However, after a stellar Spring Training, he is flying up the radar and is going to be one prospect that people will frequently pay attention to. He was the most impressive pitching prospect this spring, even though his time in camp was short lived.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 6, 2018
As you can see, Dylan Cease had no trouble blowing his electric fastball by hitters this spring. His power curve is nasty and had quite a few hitters in a daze as opponents were only able to hit .143 when facing him. He posted a perfect 0.00 ERA and a WHIP of 0.95 in 6.1 innings pitched. He struck out nine batters, walked three, and only gave up three hits during Spring Training. Best game: March 12 @ Mariners (3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K).
Alec Hansen is a prospect that a lot of people were excited to see this year because it was his first Spring Training with the team. Last season he lead the minor leagues in strikeouts and was looking to make a lasting impression with the team coming into Glendale. Unfortunately, he was only able to make one appearance this spring due to forearm soreness and was assigned to minor league camp for precautionary reasons.
In his one appearance, Alec Hansen threw 1.2 innings, gave up three hits, three earned runs, walked one, and struck out three batters. He finished Spring Training with a 16.20 ERA since that was his only appearance. The highlight of his spring occurred when he struck out Joey Votto. It was tough to see him only get one appearance in his first Spring Training, but not risking any further injury to a potential member of the future starting rotation is completely understandable.