The stage for the first glimpse of the White Sox future was an inconspicuous Spring Training game that took place before the calendar even read March and ended in a tie.
The White Sox 4-4 draw with the Cubs on Monday was much like other Spring Training games — that is to say, unmemorable — but similarly noteworthy in that the two most important prospects expected to be part of the team’s next contender were on display for the first time.
Setting aside the excitement that comes with seeing Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada in live game action after a winter’s worth of consuming every word and highlight video produced about the duo, their first starts — Moncada had appeared in each of the first two Spring Training games — weren’t anything more than reps during the long slog toward Opening Day.
Giolito’s two-inning debut was remarkable only in so far as it highlighted the fact that he’s going to be under the microscope — sometimes unnecessarily — for the foreseeable future. This is understandable given his title of Top Pitching Prospect™ and the fact that he’s coming off a year of promise lost.
But what we saw Monday was a guy who seemed focused on working on what Don Cooper & Co. have been preaching to him.
“I didn’t really translate the stuff I was doing in the ‘pen, the stuff I’ve been working on very well in the game,” Giolito said. “I got into the game, and it’s a pretty packed stadium, adrenaline going, I got a little quick, got a little ahead of myself and missed, especially with the four-seam fastball. I missed quite a few. Obviously the homer, the line drive, you could see where the misses were.”
“I did a better job today throwing fastballs away to lefties and inside to righties than the opposite. So we continue to work on that in the pen, but I’ll have plenty more opportunities, a lot of stuff to work on in the spring.”
Results don’t matter in Spring Training (note to self: repeat ad infinitum) so the line is irrelevant. The important thing about Giolito’s first start is that we’ve transitioned from the planning to the development stage.
Moncada’s moment on Monday was one specific instance which was fun enough to get its own MLB At-Bat app push notification. The top hitting prospect is 0-for-4 with 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 R (see: ad infinitum), but made a diving stop on a ball hit by Anthony Rizzo to start a double play.
Every chance to see Giolito, Moncada, or any other of the White Sox young pups in action this spring is worthy of attention, but what’s important in these moments is that the process has officially begun. Overreacting to every ebb and flow throughout that process, no matter how long it takes, is not something I’d recommend lest you want an ulcer, but development time is here, and Monday was just the start.
Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports