Spring Training is in full swing for the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. A few key players are still slowed by injury and spots are up for grabs for the opening day roster. A few games have also been played as well which have brought on promising development and debate.
RHP Lucas Giolito has been slowed by a chest strain to open spring training but he has been making progress. He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday working on his slider and curveball. As of now he is on track to make his Cactus league debut later this coming week.
White Sox big fish free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal has been eased in so far as he’s dealing with a calf strain. He has yet to play in Cactus League games but has been catching bullpen sessions for fellow White Sox hurlers and participating in batting practice. As of now he is slated to get some game action this week with the “B” squad. In the meantime 2019 all star James McCann, 2016 1st rd pick Zack Collins and catching prospects Yermin Mercedes and Seby Zavala have been holding the fort down behind the plate in games.
It was revealed Thursday that lefty specialist Jace Fry is dealing with back soreness and he will be sidelined temporarily for now. Slugger Edwin Encarnacion was scratched from Friday’s lineup with a stiff back and is day to day as of now. Southpaw Gio Gonzalez threw his first bullpen session of the spring Friday as well as he is working his way back from shoulder discomfort.
Active rosters for 2020 have been extended to 26 men. There are a few notable names vying for a spot on the bench. So far there are 2 locked spots at the end of the roster for the southsiders: backup catcher McCann and “swiss army knife” utility Leury Garcia. There is a plethora of options who are in the running for the last 2 spots.
Catching prospect Mercedes flashed his “light tower power” in game action vs the LA Dodgers when he launched an absolute tank to left field. Mercedes can also backup 1B/DH due to his raw power but has yet to make his major league debut entering his age 27 season.
Fresh off shoulder surgery, OF Nicky Delmonico is poised for a healthy 2020. He had a 3 for 3 day with 2 doubles against the Dodgers showing off his tweaked swing mechanics.
Speedy OF Adam Engel has been up and down from the minors throughout his Sox tenure and will look to stick in 2020. Newly hired hitting coach Frank Menechino has worked with him on his swing down in AAA Charlotte as he had a solid September in 2019 as a result. He also hit 3-run homer in Friday’s game against the Royals.
Catcher Zack Collins, corner infielder Danny Mendick and 2018 4th overall pick 2B Nick Madrigal are also legitimate options to round out the roster. It is expected Madrigal will open the year with AAA Charlotte for service time considerations along with Collins, who is currently behind Grandal and McCann on the catching depth chart.
Madrigal, despite the service time, and Mercedes are my picks to round out the 26 man Roster. Mercedes will be a useful power bat off the bench and can give veteran 1B/DHs Jose Abreu and Encarnacion a breather from time to time. Madrigal is arguably the best 2B in the organization due to his elite hitting tool and gold glove caliber defense.
With the newly expanded roster rule there are eight spots in the bullpen to fill. Aaron Bummer, Steve Cishek, Alex Colome, Jace Fry, Kelvin Herrera, Evan Marshall, and Jimmy Cordero all should make the pen barring injury out of camp. The elusive eighth spot is indeed up for grabs for quite a few arms.
2015 1st rd Pick Carson Fulmer has struggled to stick in the majors throughout his career. Off to a rocky start to the spring, he has managed a line of 3.0 IP, 3 Hits, 1 ER, 3 Walks, 1 HR and 3 K’s in 2 relief appearances. He has come to camp in a good place mentally to compete for that last bullpen spot.
2016 1st rd pick Zack Burdi, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor league career that include a Tommy John surgery in 2017 and a torn right patella in 2019, has yet to make his major league debut with the Sox but has managed a 4.31 ERA, 55 BB’s, 139 K’s with a 1.405 WHIP over 100.1 career innings throughout all levels of the minors. Now that he is throwing at 100% health and given the experience he has a shot to open the season with the big league club.
Flamethrower winter acquisition Tayron Guerrero, RHP Jose Ruiz, 2016 11th rd pick Ian Hamilton, who is coming back from jaw surgery, and LHP Caleb Frare round out the legitimate options all competing for the 2020 opening day bullpen. Given the experience and draft pedigree, Burdi is my choice to get the last spot in the pen as the rest have struggled to stick in the majors.
Opening day on March 26th is drawing near as the White Sox open the 2020 season at 35th and Shields against the division rival Kansas City Royals. With solid off season acquisitions that were brought in to augment the talented young core the 2020 White Sox are poised to enter the mix for their first postseason spot since 2008.
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