After dropping 8 runs on Dallas Keuchel on Tuesday night, the White Sox scored another 7 against the Astros on Wednesday, cruising to a 7-1 victory over the American League’s best team.
1. It was another big night for the potential bats of the future. Yoan Moncada raised his line to .196/.366/.321 by going 1-for-2 with two walks and a scorched double on the night. Tiny sample size and arbitrary end points ahead, but he is hitting .389/.560/.444 in his six games since returning from injury. Similarly, in his last seven games, Tim Anderson has hit .355/.355/.710, including a 2-run home run to open the scoring against the Astros on Wednesday.
It will take a lot more of that for Anderson to get his year-end statistics to a positive place, and there are still significant flaws in his game. But as Collin pointed out, there are reasons to cut Anderson some slack, and over the past week we have seen a dramatic reminder of the dizzying potential that the White Sox’ middle infield of the future holds.
2. Adam Engel and Nicky Delmonico don’t have the prospect pedigree of Moncada and Anderson, to say the least, but 2017 has represented a year of significant progress towards establishing themselves as major leaguers.
In Engel’s case, so far he has shown that he can convert his speed into plus range in center field. FRAA agrees, having him as plus 4 already in very limited playing time. Engel turns 26 this winter and his bat inspires healthy skepticism, but at the very least he has flashed some hitting ability during hot streaks in the minors, and he’s bigger and more physical than most speedy / glove-first center field options. Engel may already have shown enough to get future looks as a bench bat, particularly for an NL team, but even if he is a .550-.600 OPS plus glove in center he would represent an upgrade over some of the back-up plans we’ve seen the White Sox deploy at that position.
Delmonico is hitting a totally sustainable .400/.455/.533 as he is clearly the second coming of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Unless something changes and his power takes a leap forward, Delmonico looks like a guy who can play mediocre defense at all four corner positions while making good contact from the left side. He also has the scrappy part of the bench player down, as he is already 2-for-2 on bunt singles to punish infield shifts against him.
Engel was a 19th round draft pick, Delmonico was a minor league free agent, and they both look like major leaguers, albeit as backups, which is a fantastic outcome in both scenarios. Moncada and Anderson are infinitely more important to the future of the organization, but the White Sox continue to demonstrate an organizational leap forward in finding and developing complementary pieces with minimal investment, which could be a huge part of building the next playoff team.
3. Miguel Gonzalez continues his roller coaster 2017, holding a stacked offense to 1 run on a solo homer across 8 innings of very efficient work. Gonzalez struck out four while only walking one. He occasionally missed his spots with his fastball, but it had enough life on it that he got away with it, and was able to steal strikes and get swings and misses with his breaking pitches. Since coming off the DL, Gonzalez has pitched two very good games with more walks than usual, one absolute disaster, one decent outing, and then one gem.
There are still three weeks until the waiver trade deadline. The Cardinals have surged back into the NL Central division race, and good stretches from the Twins, Orioles, Mariners, and Angels have six teams within 2.5 games of the second wild card spot in the American League. Whether the White Sox get offered anything they think is worth having to find someone else to pitch Gonzalez’ innings remains to be seen, but he would be able to help out a lot of teams trying to sneak into the playoffs.
4. Catcher defense is a complicated thing, but by our metrics, Kevan Smith has thus far been virtually neutral as a pitch framer. FRAA is still bearish on his defense given his shortcomings in other aspects of catching, but by all accounts the pitching staff enjoys working with him. Smith is already 29, but again, represents a big league return for a late draft pick, and there have been really good teams with worse catching situations than the White Sox currently possess.
5. Reynaldo Lopez will make his major league debut on Friday, August 11. Even after a shakier outing on Sunday, Lopez’ has pitched to a 2.70 ERA across his last eight starts, holding opponents to a .193/.262/.339 line in the process. There are still plenty of doubters as to whether Lopez can remain a starting pitcher, as he did not crack our Midseason Top 50 list for precisely that reason. He has done everything the organization asked of him, the stuff is certainly there, and the results have matched the stuff for some time now in Triple-A, so now all that’s left is to see what he can do against major league hitting.
Lopez will join the growing list of players that are worth watching every time out on a team that is losing an awful lot of games this year.
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