The only action in the organization on Monday night was in the minors, but there’s still plenty to talk about.
1. Lucas Giolito had his second strong start out of his last three, striking out 11 over 6 innings while only allowing 5 hits 1 run and 2 walks. The White Sox have been very clear that Giolito is a work in progress as they try to overhaul his mechanics. His fastball is no longer the 80-grade offering it was when he was in the discussion for Best Prospect In Baseball, but he could be a good mid-rotation starter as soon as next year, and that’s a really valuable thing. The process is more important than the results at this stage with Giolito…but uh, feel free to explain to me why 11Ks is a bad thing.
2. Jake Petricka is back throwing rehab starts for Charlotte, throwing twice over the weekend. The results haven’t been pretty, but unless you think his health is still compromised or this most recent injury permanently diminished his skill set, these appearances should probably be viewed as one would approach Spring Training. Petricka isn’t a guy who had such a huge margin for error, so any permanent regression could be problematic. However, given his track record, he represents an upgrade over, say, Gregory Infante.
3. Given Jose Quintana‘s struggles, a popular conversation has been whether the White Sox erred in retaining his services into the 2017 season. This topic will be the subject of its own piece, but the only concrete offer that was made public was that the Astros declined the White Sox offer of Quintana for Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, and Joe Musgrove. For what it’s worth, Martes is getting annihilated at Triple-A thus far. It is the PCL, which is an extreme hitter’s environment, but he’s walking almost a batter per inning while also surrendering a billion hits. Tucker dominated High-A and is adjusting to Double-A. Joe Musgrove has been bad.
4. For a second round pick in an until-recently threadbare system, Chris Beck has certainly flown under the radar. And while his velocity jumped when he shifted to the bullpen–which is a common phenomenon, but not a certainty–he got tattooed in his first extended look in the majors last year. Undeterred, he’s posting respectable numbers in 2017 with a DRA of 3.45 and a cFIP of 96.
If Beck can maintain this level, he would represent a solid middle reliever. If he finds any further improvement as he continues to adjust to the deployment of his Reliever Stuff rather than his Starter Stuff, there may be a little more in there. Either outcome would be a very welcome one for any second round pick. Generating depth like this from within is certainly not flashy, but it’s really nice not having to spend resources in trades or free agency to fill out the back of your bullpen.
5. Kevan Smith has struggled with the bat out of the gate. Catching prospects are weird as a general rule and their development can meander all over the place, sometimes leading nowhere, or…well, look at Tyler Flowers. Either way, so far Baseball Prospectus’ defensive metrics rate Smith as an average defender behind the plate. If you can defend the catcher position, you can hit really badly and still have a major league career. It’s an even more impressive result given that he was always considered a huge liability behind the plate, and you can see his steady improvement year-by-year as he worked with the White Sox’ player development staff. Factor in Smith’s physicality and decent minor league track record, it’s not impossible that he scratches out enough offense to contribute value off of the bench.
Omar Narvaez and Smith hardly combine to form Buster Posey, but as with Beck above, if you can generate serviceable options for the margins of your roster cheaply, it gives you a ton of flexibility elsewhere and continues to help avoid the death anchors / black holes that torpedoed the last White Sox would-be contention cycle.
Lead photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports