CHICAGO – For those tracking the White Sox’s rebuild, it’s the halfway point of Year 3.
There have been some expected bumps along the way, and too many catastrophic injuries to mention.
All in all, general manager Rick Hahn likes where the Sox are sitting.
“We’re in a pretty good spot,” Hahn said. “We’ve got multiple players, especially if Tim Anderson (high ankle sprain) were healthy, that are having All-Star-caliber seasons and that we foresee being part of this for the long term.
“In terms of having multiple potentially impactful prospects performing well at the Double-A level or above, we’re well on target. In terms of having every single need addressed that is exactly how it is going to look on a championship club, no, we’re not there. But that was probably never a reasonable expectation for Year 3 of a rebuild. We’re pleased with where we’re at right now. We feel like we’re getting a lot closer to where we need to be.”
The Sox are going to lean on a young core of talent moving forward, and many already are on the roster.
Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito is an All-Star, left fielder Eloy Jiménez is looking like a future MVP candidate, Yoan Moncada has completely turned his game around, and Anderson – currently out with a high ankle sprain – just needs to tighten up his defensive game to reach elite status.
A steady stream of prospects has been landing on the South Side, with starting pitcher Dylan Cease set to arrive Wednesday.
Before long, look for a pair of high-end young players to join the Sox and really give the rebuild a jolt.
Center fielder Luis Robert and second baseman Nick Madrigal are teammates at Double-A Birmingham, and they have been tearing up the Southern League.
Hahn traveled to Birmingham last week for a personal look.
“Both Luis and Nick are progressing very well,” Hahn said. “In terms of where we had hoped they would be over the course of the ’19 season, I’m not sure we could ask for much more. They both, essentially in their first full professional season given Luis’ injury issues last year, have made it to Double-A at a young age and are both performing very well.”
Robert, who agreed to a $26 million signing bonus while joining the Sox in May 2017 at the age of 19, is one of the best prospects in baseball.
For the season, the 21-year-old center fielder is hitting .356/.407/.630 with 15 home runs, 51 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 70 games with Birmingham and high Class A Winston-Salem.
Last year, Robert was limited to 50 games because of a nagging left thumb injury.
“It was something [Birmingham manager] Omar [Vizquel] and I talked about, how [Robert] is interacting with others, how he’s working to learn English. [Vizquel] just couldn’t stop praising the kid,” Hahn said. “With all these guys there is development outside of baseball, but especially with a kid coming from a different country (Cuba) and a different culture, Luis has a lot more on his plate than any of us can really appreciate.
“He’s not only performing very well, as you can see in the stat line, but in terms of the off-the-field growth, he’s coming along really well, too.”
Madrigal, the Sox’s first-round draft pick (No. 4 overall) in 2018, was promoted from Winston-Salem to Birmingham in early June. He had himself quite a month.
The pint-sized second baseman slashed .344/.436/.438 and only struck out twice in 101 plate appearances.
On Sunday, Robert and Madrigal will be in Cleveland for the Futures Game.
“I think that it’s nice we can speak of our own players, give them their accolades, but when everybody on the outside starts to see them and recognize them and what they’re capable of doing, it kind of validates the things that we’ve seen,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s nice to see White Sox [players] in the Futures Game, and these two young men that are pretty much just breaking into the scene.”