On December 7th, 2016 the White Sox changed courses and a new era had begun: a rebuild on the south side of Chicago. The White Sox had been attempting to compete with quick fixes and stop gap measures for a long time, and only saw a few successes. Totaling only 3 playoff appearances since 2000, and none since 2008. 10 years later, and still no playoff appearances, but finally we have movement in the right direction.
If you’ve followed the White Sox or even baseball for the last 2 years, you’d know how the White Sox jump started their rebuild. Chris Sale was traded for the top prospect in the game, Yoan Moncada, as well as fireballer Michael Kopech. Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz were the secondary pieces the White Sox acquired in the deal.
Then, Adam Eaton was shipped off to Washington for a package similar to what was offered for Sale. Headlined by top pitching prospect Lucas Giolto, the White Sox also snagged Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. The last big piece in the White Sox fire-sale was Jose Quintana, who was sent to the Cubs in July of 2017. He was dealt for a package that included prized prospect Eloy Jimenez. The team also added Luis Robert, the top international prospect available, and drafted players like Jake Burger and Nick Madrigal to bolster their farm system.
Now, a rebuild is never perfect, some players will disappoint and struggle, others will surprise and succeed. Prospects in baseball are arguably the most hit or miss, with their path to the “big leagues” a lot longer than the NBA or NFL. With that being said, let’s take stock of how the first year and a half of the rebuild gone for the White Sox.
Reynaldo Lopez: Lopez is looking to be a true centerpiece of a future competitive rotation, flashing signs of dominance through his first full season on the south side. The righty is 4-6 with an ERA under 4 in his first full season at the age of 24. He has shown signs of struggle at times, but that can be expected with his age and his inexperience.
Yoan Moncada: Moncada has shown flashes of brilliance, showing how high his ceiling truly can be. In his first full season in the big leagues, Moncada is hitting .231/.295./407 through 83 games. He has gone hot and cold, and has been very streaky. Much like Lopez, this can be expected from a player who has minimal experience a the big league level. Moncada is still just 23 and has less than 150 MLB plate appearances.
Luis Gonzalez: Gonzalez, a 2017 third round pick out of New Mexico, has had a very solid first full professional season. The 22 year old is hitting .305/.355/.487 across 71 games between Kannapolis (A) and Winston Salem (A+). He was a mid season all star for Kannapolis, happening just before a promotion to the Dash, where across 16 games, has not slowed down.
Spencer Adams: Adams, who joined the Sox in 2014 after being drafted in the second round, has had his ups and downs through the minors, but is looking to be knocking on the door fairly soon to join the White Sox. Adams started the year in Birmingham(AA), notching 53 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. His performance there allowed him to be called up to Charlotte(AAA), where he has been dominant, having an ERA below three, and holding opponents to just a .231 batting average against.
Joel Booker: Booker, a 22nd rounder from 2016 out of Iowa, has been a pleasant surprise. The dude can just hit. He continues to move up the system, and does not stop hitting along the way. Currently with Birmingham, through 17 games, he’s hitting .284/.312/.432. Though his OBP has taken a little bit of a hit since being promoted (his career OBP is 70 points higher than his average). He is a little bit older at 24, but as a late round draft pick, any value that could come out of Booker is great value.
White Sox trades:
Two trades that have happened seem to have worked out nicely for the White Sox, though it may be a little too soon to completely write them off. Jose Quintana has been underwhelming for the Cubs, while Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease look to be true centerpieces for contending teams in the future. The bigger “win” though, has to be the trade with the Yankees. Blake Rutherford has turned around from his 2017 lackluster season, and is proving to be a true prospect down in Winston-Salem. Meanwhile, the Yankees did not re sign Todd Frazier, David Robertson hasn’t been totally lights out, and Tommy Kahnle got sent to the minors. The White Sox were able to get the most out of talent before it blew up in their face.
Yoan Moncada: Yes, Moncada has been good and bad. Here’s my reasoning: He looks completely lost from the right side of the plate, and his batting average is nearly 100 points lower than it is from the left side. He’s struck out over 1/3rd of the time, and sometimes he looks completely lost at the plate for an extended period of time. He can certainly rebound and prove to hit his ceiling, but hopefully there will be more good than bad as Moncada’s career continues.
Lucas Giolito: Giolito has looked pretty bad. The Nationals ticked with his delivery, which everyone believed to be the reason for his initial failure at the major league level, but it seems to be more than that. Even with more seasoning in the minors, he has been wildly inconsistent at the major league level. He had a 2.38 in seven games last year, but his ERA of 6.59 is worst in the league among qualified pitchers.
Carson Fulmer: Fulmer’s year has been ugly, to put it nicely. The 24 year old righty was 2-4 with an ERA over 8 before being sent down to AAA to work out the kinks. Since joining the rotation in AAA, he has a 5.8 ERA to go with a batting average against that is nearly .300. Fulmer can have a future on the team, as he has seen success pitching, but it may be time to throw him in the bullpen and see his energy he constantly exerts goes into short outings, rather than long ones.
The injuriesOh my, the injuries. It started last July with former first rounder Zack Burdi, then Jake Burger, then Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Micker Adolfo, Dane Dunning, Alec Hansen and Kade McClure. The list goes on and on. Jimenez, Dunning, and Robert hope to return this season and continue to move up in the system, though the White Sox will keep a careful eye on them to make sure their futures aren’t at risk. All of these prospects seem to have a promising future in the system and with the team, and hopefully these injuries are minor setback in a long, successful career for all of these prospects.
Many people are quick to judge teams, whether it be one extreme or another. “White Sox are 2020 World Champs!” and “White Sox rebuild is cancelled we’ll suck forever” can come out of one fans mouth in the same week. These players will require patience, and White Sox fans will need to stick through with them through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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