White Sox attack early, top Royals 5-4 as part of a Sunday sweep!

Ready to go: Tim Anderson was all smiles before his matchup against the Royals this afternoon (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox had split squad action today, with most of the regular players facing off against the Kansas City Royals at Camelback Ranch. The Royals did the same with their lineup, giving the fans in attendance what was close to an early AL Central matchup this afternoon. The early goings made it seem like this would be a shootout, but with both teams went on to stay somewhat quiet the rest of the way in what ended up being a 5-4 win for the White Sox.

Right-hander Alex McRae took the mound this afternoon. He ran into some trouble in the first inning where he gave up a run on a wild pitch, after allowing the first two batters to reach base. Even though he walked two in the inning, McRae kept the damage to a minimum by only allowing the one run to score. He would eventually settle down and went on to have a pretty good outing where he gave up one run on one hit through three full innings.

Luckily for McRae, the White Sox answered immediately by knotting things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Tim Anderson started the game off with a single and would later come around to score on a fielder’s choice. Anderson, who bobbled a grounder in the top half of the inning, made up for it with his bat and he went on to have a good day in the field. He took charge on fly balls, and nearly nailed a runner as the cutoff man at second base on a deep fly out. And even though he had an early bobble, he kept the ball in front of him and still made the play.

The White Sox continued their early momentum in the second inning by putting three more runs on the board. Luis Robert reached on a dribbler down the third base line in his first at-bat. Robert was driven in immediately by Zack Collins, who had an opposite field, two-run home run off left-hander Kris Bubic. Later in the inning, Blake Rutherford doubled and was driven in on a sacrifice fly by Yoan Moncada. The White Sox jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the second inning and they maintained that lead throughout the rest of the game.

It seemed like both teams got all of their scoring out of the way early, as both the Royals and the White Sox remained relatively quiet for the rest of the way. However, the Royals made things interesting in the eighth inning. With Caleb Frare on the mound, the Royals blasted three solo home runs to make it a 5-4 game.

Fortunately for the White Sox, they added an insurance run in the sixth inning which proved to be needed after the Royals late rally. Jacob Lindgren took over in the top of the ninth and secured the win by striking out two and going 1-2-3. Lindgren, who joined the org last year, has put together a very impressive spring and today was no different story.

[For a look at the White Sox’s 6-0 whitewashing of San Diego, hop over to South Side Sox and check out Year of the Hamster’s take on the game.]

The White Sox will be back in action on Monday, March 9 as they host the Reds at Camelback Ranch. Dylan Cease will take the mound with first pitch set for 3:05 PM CT.

Camelback Confidential: Beefed-up rookies impress

The Magic Man: Nick Madrigal is getting ready to take over second base in the not-so-distant future. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. as pitchers, catchers, and the position players who have reported early took the field this afternoon for batting practice and fielding work at the complex.

What was otherwise a quiet day was broken up at times by Eloy Jiménez‘s laugh and infectious personality, echoing throughout the back fields. He was excited to be there, as well as the rest of the guys, all who appeared to be having a good time. But when it came time to work, they were all business as well.

Speaking of being all business, Blake Rutherford participated in today’s workout and there were mentions of him hitting the weight room during the offseason. After seeing Rutherford in person today, I can confirm that he definitely looks like he’s packed on a lot of muscle and overall, he looks really good heading into the spring. He took batting practice this afternoon and had some of the best rounds among all participants. Even though it’s just batting practice — which can make anyone look good — Rutherford was consistently driving the ball, and the ball was exploding off his bat all afternoon.

After struggling in Double-A last season, the clock is ticking with Rutherford and he needs to find a way to make himself stand out if he wants to earn a role in Chicago down the line. Perhaps today was the start of that for him. His launch angle was solid during batting practice, and if he can continue to do that there’s potential for Rutherford to have a major increase in power this season when factoring in his added muscle as well.

Joining Rutherford in the unofficial White Sox offseason weight club was Nick Madrigal, who also came to spring training looking more filled out. Madrigal has talked about strength training being a focus of his since he joined the organization, and he backed that up by displaying a more muscular build at Camelback Ranch today. Madrigal didn’t hit this afternoon, but he did go through fielding drills, where he excelled just as you’d expect. Madrigal went through standard drills that involved fielding grounders and either flipping them to second base or throwing to first base. He was getting some reps with regulars like Tim Anderson and José Abreu. With Anderson and Madrigal working on turning double plays together, fans in attendance got a glimpse into the future.

White Sox 2019 first round selection Andrew Vaughn also took the field today to work on defense with the rest of the guys. For the most part, Vaughn had a good day in the field. He scooped up a glove-side chopper on a tough play that drew praise from the members of the coaching staff. Overall, he held his ground during drills, and his throws to second base were almost completely accurate — you can tell that Vaughn played all over the infield while growing up into the game. This marks Vaughn’s first invite to spring training and while he obviously won’t break camp with the team, it will be interesting to see how he handles playing against guys in the majors or close to it.

You can tell that the players who were at Camelback Ranch today are ready to get the season started. In previous years, the vibe was more loose and fun. Don’t get me wrong: There were still glimpses of that same vibe today. However, it seems like these guys are a little more serious this time around, as they get ready to close the book on the rebuild and grow into a winning team.

Hitter’s Camp Day 3: Ricky Renteria

Grinding it out: Renteria took some time at Hitter’s Camp to weigh in on several of the youngest White Sox stars. (Chicago White Sox)


On Day 3 of Hitter’s Camp, White Sox TV caught up with manager Ricky Renteria for his thoughts on the impeccable grinder play of “Mendy” (Danny Mendick), Mendick’s status as a fan and organizational favorite, Zack Collins’ major improvements from his first to second stint in the majors, and Blake Rutherford growing into his body and becoming a professional hitter. 

Hitter’s Camp Day 3: Blake Rutherford

Getting better all the time: Rutherford hopes to make his strong second half in Birmingham last year the template for his entire 2020 season. (Chicago White Sox)


On Day 3 of Hitter’s Camp, Blake Rutherford talks with White Sox TV about what he’s learning at camp under the tutelage of Frank Menechino, the key to his improved second half in Birmingham, the importance of his balance in the batter’s box, and his goals for 2020.

Hitter’s Camp Day 3: batting cages

The sights and sounds of sweet, sweet baseball: Among the players featured at Hitter’s Camp in Glendale is Seby Zavala, shown here working on his swing plane. (Chicago White Sox)


White Sox TV presents some raw looks at several young players at Hitter’s Camp, including Blake Rutherford, Luis González, Danny Mendick, Seby Zavala, Micker Adolfo, Gavin Sheets, Luis Basabe and Yermín Mercedes.

Hitter’s Camp: Day 2, plus Ricky

Moving up together: Frank Menechino tutors ex-Knights pupil Nick Madrigal, who should soon join the hitting coach in Chicago. (Chicago White Sox)


Tuesday was Day 2 of Hitters’ Camp down in Glendale, and the White Sox were kind enough to provide more footage of the proceedings. 

First, a one-on-one with manager Ricky Renteria, who can hardly conceal his excitement over his club turning the corner. Come for the giddiness, stay for the “Gardy.”

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, we have some batting cage footage, including Andrew Vaughn, Nick Madrigal, Frank Menechino, Rick Hahn, Ricky Renteria and Blake Rutherford.

First taste of spring: Batting cages, Camelback Ranch

Meeting of the minds: New hitting coach Frank Menechino and prize free agent Yasmani Grandal offer Triple-A hopeful Blake Rutherford tips in the batting cage in Glendale on Monday. (Chicago White Sox)


With every White Sox fan drooling in anticipation of an exciting summer on the South Side, on Monday the White Sox released some batting cage footage of several earlybirds to spring training. An unofficial head count shows Zack Collins, Danny Mendick, Nick Madrigal, Seby Zavala, Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn, Yasmani Grandal, Blake Rutherford, top brass, manager Ricky Renteria and hitting coach Frank Menechino.

Enjoy your first taste of the signs and sounds of spring:

Deep Dive: Charlotte and Birmingham right fielders

Late blooming: Blake Rutherford, ranked eighth among White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline, hit .307 for Birmingham after May 31.


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

For various reasons, 2019 was a difficult season for these three outfielders. Daniel Palka scuffled after a surprisingly good rookie season in 2018, as he couldn’t slug his weight with the Sox this year and has been removed from the 40-man roster. Blake Rutherford continued to struggle in his attempt to match his top-prospect expectations, and Micker Adolfo played fewer than 40 games. All three have a lot to prove in 2020.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Charlotte Knights

Daniel Palka
6´2´´
220 pounds
B/T: L/L
Other positions played: Left field, First base
Age: 28

After smashing 24 homers in his first two seasons with Georgia Tech, Palka enjoyed his best collegiate season as a junior in 2013. That year, he slashed .324/.436/.637 for the Yellow Jackets in 62 games with 13 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 66 RBIs, six stolen bases, 31 walks and 60 strikeouts. Trusting in his power stroke, the Minnesota Twins selected him in the third round of the MLB draft.

Palka gradually worked his way up the Twins farm system, ultimately making it to making it to Triple-A Rochester in 2016. That year, split between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester, he slashed an impressive .254/.327/.521 in 133 games with 24 doubles, four triples, 34 homers, 90 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 56 walks (9.9%) and 186 strikeouts (32.7%). The following year was a disappointing one for Palka, as he spent much of the season on the injured list. That year in 84 games, he slashed .274/.329/.431 in 84 games with 13 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, one stolen base, 27 walks (7.5%) and 80 strikeouts (22.1%). On November 3, the White Sox claimed Palka off waivers.

After starting the 2018 season well with Charlotte, Palka received the call to Chicago in late April and fared much better than expected. In 124 games for the White Sox, he slashed .240/.294/.484 with 15 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 67 RBIs, two stolen bases, 30 walks (6.7%) and 153 strikeouts (34.1%).

However, he struggled out of the gate in 2019 and never truly gained traction at the major league level despite three different stints with the club. In 30 games with the White Sox, he slashed just .107/.194/.179 with two homers, four RBIs, eight walks (8.6%) and 35 strikeouts (37.6%). For what it’s worth, Palka didn’t let his struggles in the majors affect his performance at Charlotte as he slashed a respectable .263/.374/.527 in 106 games with the Knights by hitting 23 doubles, 27 homers, 72 RBIs, 74 walks (15.3%) and 109 strikeouts (23.1%). Palka was outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, and because nobody claimed him, our favorite aerospace engineer likely will begin the 2020 season on the Charlotte roster. If an injury should occur to a corner outfielder or DH next season, Palka would likely be considered as an emergency call-up.  


Birmingham Barons

Blake Rutherford
6´2´´
210 pounds
B/T: L/R
Other positions played: Left field, Center field
Age: 22

Baseball America noted that some scouts saw Blake Rutherford as a possible “power-hitting center fielder in the Jim Edmonds mold” prior to the 2016 MLB draft. At this point, the White Sox might be happy with Rutherford as a center fielder in the Jim Eisenreich mode.

Rutherford was selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Yankees. By 2017, the lefty was playing for the Yankees A-squad in Charleston when he was traded with Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard to the White Sox for David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier on July 31. That year, combined with Charleston and Kannapolis, he slashed .260/.326/.348 in 101 games with 25 doubles, two triples, two homers, 35 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 38 walks (8.6%) and 76 strikeouts (17.3%).      

Rutherford enjoyed his best season to date in the Sox organization in 2018 with Winston-Salem, as he slashed a respectable .293/.345/.436 in 115 games with 25 doubles, nine triples, seven homers, 78 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 34 walks (7.0%) and 90 strikeouts (18.5%). However, in a far less favorable hitting environment in Birmingham in 2019, he slashed just .265/.319/.365 in 118 games with 17 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 49 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 37 walks (7.7%) and 118 strikeouts (24.6%). While those numbers admittedly weren’t all that good, it could’ve been much worse. Through the end of the May, he was slashing just .185/.228/.291. From June 1 on, something clicked and he hit a much more respectable .307/.370/.401. He did struggle versus strong competition in the Arizona Fall League this year, as he slashed .179/.281/.385 with four doubles, three triples and two homers in 21 games.

In order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, the White Sox added Rutherford to the 40-man roster in December. One thing to watch for in 2020 will be his splits, as he slashed .286/.337/.398 versus righties as opposed to just .216/.276/.291 against southpaws. He currently ranks eighth among White Sox prospects, and third among outfielders (behind only Luis Robert and Luis Basabe) per MLB Pipeline. That site gives him 50 grades in all tool categories (run, hit, fielding and arm) except power (45). In actuality, Rutherford has plenty of power; he just hits way too many balls on the ground. This year alone, he hit grounders 50.2% of the time, while hitting fly balls (30.3%) and line drives (19.6%) at much lower clips.

Rutherford will likely begin the 2020 season at Charlotte, and if he gets off to a great start, he could be considered for promotion due to his status on the 40-man roster if an outfield injury at the major league level should arise. He’s good enough defensively to play all three outfield positions. 

Micker Adolfo
6´4´´

255 pounds
B/T: R/R
Other positions played: None
Age: 23

Thanks in large part to his power bat and arm, Dominican native Adolfo received what was then the highest international signing bonus in White Sox history at $1.6 million on July 2, 2013. However, his professional career has had trouble gaining traction primarily due to his inability to stay on the field. As a result, Adolfo found himself playing for the team’s AZL squad for all of 2014 and 2015, finally earning a promotion to full-season Kannapolis in 2016. Of course, he missed significant time that year as he slashed just .219/.269/.340 in 65 games with 13 doubles, one triple, five homers, 21 RBIs, 14 walks (5.3%)and 88 strikeouts (33.2%). Adolfo played his most complete season to date (112 games) with Kannapolis in 2017 as he slashed .264/.331/.453 in 112 games with 28 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 68 RBIs, 31 walks (6.6%) and 149 strikeouts (31.5%). To avoid the risk of losing him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft that year, the White Sox added him to the 40-man roster.

Due to elbow pain, Adolfo missed the first half of the 2018 season with Winston-Salem, and when he returned he was limited to DH duties. Despite his injury, he still posted a career-high .833 OPS by slashing .282/.369/.464 in 79 games with 18 doubles, one triple, 11 homers, 50 RBIs, 34 walks (10.1%) and 92 strikeouts (27.4%). After undergoing arthroscopic injury during the offseason, he was limited to just 36 combined games with Birmingham and AZL (rehab assignment) and produced subpar results as he tried to shake off the rust. Despite hitting four homers in 15 games in the Arizona Fall League this year, his results were still lacking as he slashed just .167/.262/.389.

Since Adolfo turned pro, he’s missed time due to injuries in each of his six seasons. Based upon his massive potential, however, he still finds himself ranked 10th among White Sox prospects per MLB Pipeline. Not including 2019 due to its small sample size, Adolfo had been gradually improving his walk and strikeout rates. It’s hard to believe, but he is still just 23. MLB Pipeline gives him an impressive 70 grade for arm, which makes him an ideal right fielder and is no doubt where he’ll play in 2020. His power is graded 55 as would be expected; his running and fielding are both graded 50, however, which is actually quite good considering his size. His weakest tool is a hit tool of 45, based in part to his large strikeout totals.

Due to only playing 23 games in Birmingham last year, Adolfo likely will begin the 2020 season there; however, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him promoted to Charlotte fairly quickly due to his 40-man roster status.


 

 

 

 


 

Surprise, Surprise! The Dogs win their second straight over the prickly Saguaros

No messing around: Blake Rutherford walloped his first homer in the Arizona Fall League to help propel the Desert Dogs to victory. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)

Glendale Desert Dogs 2, Surprise Saguaros 0

Blake Rutherford (CF) 1-for-3, R, HR (1), RBI (3), BB, K (.207 BA, .826 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 1-for-3, 2B (3), BB (.200 BA, .529 OPS)

The White Sox prospects didn’t mess around in this game. With one out and nobody on base in the top of the first, Blake Rutherford pulled a bomb to right field — igniting the Desert Dogs with a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Saguaro starter Glenn Otto, fearful of anything White Sox, subsequently walked Gavin Sheets with two outs and nobody on.

Reds prospect Jonathan India clubbed a solo homer in the top of the third, which gave the Dogs a 2-0 lead. The score would remain that way for the remainder of the game.

The two White Sox prospects tried to add an insurance run in the top half of the eighth frame, as Rutherford led off the inning with a base-on-balls. Alas, he was thrown out trying to steal second base on a call that could easily have gone the other way. After India popped out to second, Sheets walloped a near-homer to right, ultimately settling for a double. Unfortunately, he was left stranded thanks to a Stuart Fairchild strikeout.

Aside from the White Sox prospects and India, there wasn’t much to write about either team offensively. The Dogs’ dominant pitching was spearheaded by Victor Castaneda, Mitchell White and three other pitchers. Glendale had just six hits on the day, but that works when you can hold your opponents to four.

Glendale is now on the rise, creeping to a 5-9 record and now within four games of the prickly AFL West-leading Saguaros. The Desert Dogs next play at home Sunday afternoon, as they hope to sting the 7-6 Scottsdale Scorpions in their quest for a three-game winning streak.

Desert Dogs sneak a win from the Eagles

Glendale Desert Dogs 7, Águilas de Mexicali 2

Bennett Sousa (RP, 9th) IP, H, 3 K, 15 pitches/13 strikes (0.00 ERA)
Blake Rutherford (LF) 1-for-4, R, BB, 3B (1), GIDP (.158 BA, .554 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI (1), BB, K, GIDP (.133 BA, .321 OPS)
Micker Adolfo (RF) 0-for-2, R, 2 BB, K (.125 BA, .864 OPS)

The Desert Dogs drew first blood against the Mexican Pacific League Eagles, with a 7-2 win on Tuesday. The two clubs face off again on Thursday.

Rutherford tripled, but later grounded into a double play.

Sheets again assumed the cleanup role and had two hits and his first AFL RBI. He too later GIDP’d.

Adolfo played another flawless game in right field (no assists though, the scouting report on his arm is getting back around!) and got on base twice with walks.

Sousa struck out the side in the ninth, as Mexicali struck out for eight of its final nine outs and the final six batters of the game.

Glendale hosts Salt River tomorrow and sees the Águilas again on Thursday, as they enjoy a mini-homestand this week.