Most of the White Sox have been in camp for close to a week now, but Monday was the official first full-squad workout, with everyone reporting save for Jose Rondon, Bruce Rondon, Jose Ruiz, and Alfredo Gonzalez, all of whom have been delayed because of visa issues. With actual baseball activities finally in full swing, let’s take a swing around all the news to come out of camp Monday and over the weekend.
1. Avisail Garcia attributed a new offseason program and 17-lb. weight loss to his surprising turnaround in 2017. On Monday, he reported to camp seven lbs. lighter, according to him, with eyes toward turning his improvements at the plate last season into more power in 2018.
We joked a lot last season about how long it would take the most stringent Garcia doubters *raises hand* to finally come around to him being an above-average contributor, but the fact that his breakout at the plate was fueled by an insane .392 BABIP leaves reason to believe regression will come. Indeed, PECOTA expects a .275/.329/.431, 1.6 WARP season out of Garcia, down from .330/.380/.506, 3.7 WARP a year ago.
Considering where Garcia came from (he had never been so much as a 1 WARP player before last season) even those numbers would be acceptable when you consider the fact that he was borderline DFA-able a year ago, but it’s clear he’s still kind of in the “prove it” phase of his supposed turnaround. If he can indeed add some more pop (his .176 ISA in 2017 was slightly above average) it would certainly make the expected did in his batting average more tolerable.
2. When Corey Dickerson surprisingly hit DFA Land on Sunday, it brought about the usual flurry of rumors about where the 2017 All-Star could land. Dickerson had been a solid if unspectacular outfielder for most of his career before last season’s breakout in which he hit .282/.325/.490 with a career-high 28 home runs and an ISO on par with the likes of Justin Turner and Chris Davis. He was worth 3.9 WARP, although like Garcia PECOTA projects some regression (1.0 WARP).
It’s borderline sacrilege of me, the world’s staunchest Nicky Delmonico supporter, to suggest a move that would shuffle him to the bench, but one wonders if someone like Dickerson, who will be 29 in May, might be of interest to the White Sox. He’d be under team control for the next two seasons and, depending on what the White Sox think of Delmonico, could be a short-time contributor or a long-term solution. This all, of course, depends on Tampa’s asking price, but the Rays aren’t operating from a position of strength following the DFA, and surely want to get something for instead of letting him hit the open market for nothing. I’d be surprised if it’s not something Rick Hahn & Co., are at least considering.
3. One of the more intriguing new faces in White Sox camp is Thyago Viera, the flame-throwing reliever the White Sox acquired for international money from Seattle during the Mariners’ ill-fated pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. Viera is the type of highly-volatile arm that’s easy to dream on, but while he’s maybe more interesting than most players acquired for $500K and nothing else, there’s a reason he was available for exactly that. His fastball touches 100 and he has a developing slider, his BB% has never been lower than 9.0. His lineout in the BP Annual sums it up:
Thyago Viera has the potential to be a bullpen weapon if he can harness his command, which is something that can be said about dozens of other minor-league relievers.
That potential is the reason you write about someone like Viera, of course, and if there’s anyone capable of harnessing Viera’s command it would seemingly be Don Cooper. The uncertainty in the White Sox bullpen is such that Viera will likely get his share of opportunities (if you’re a fantasy player you could consider him a deep sleeper closer candidate if things break right for him and if something were to happen to Nate Jones and/or Joakim Soria), and if he lives up to the potential the White Sox have in him, it will aid their bullpen rebuild a lot quicker than anticipated after last season’s clearing house sale.
4. Speaking of fantasy baseball, Baseball Prospectus came out with its Dynasty 101 on Friday, which is the fantasy-focused version of their Top 101 prospects list. The list features six White Sox, No. 5 Eloy Jimenez, No. 12 Michael Kopech, No. 19 Luis Robert, No. 53 Alec Hansen, No. 75 Jake Burger, and No. 80 Dylan Cease.
From a purely baseball perspective, the list isn’t a whole lot different from the Prospect Top 101, which isn’t unexpected. (Good prospects are good prospects, fantasy or otherwise, ya know?) But given how combustible pitching prospects are, it’s understandable that Robert and Burger are higher than the other list while Hansen and Cease are lower. The fantasy team on the main site provides good coverage all season long, if you’re into that kind of thing, and I hope to supplement it with some White Sox-specific fantasy thoughts this year as well.
5. Speaking of Burger (dang, you are killing it with those transitions today, Collin), James Fegan’s feature story on the White Sox most recent first round pick makes him sound like an sponge for information. Burger moved to Arizona over the offseason and spent time with Mike Gellinger, the White Sox minor league hitting instructor whom both Matt Davidson and Nicky Delmonico have credited with helping them develop within the organization.
The spring, of course, is filled with optimism from a number of players confident that the work they put in over the summer will translate to success on the field. As James notes, Burger’s draft spot was considered high by many observers and he has plenty of doubters among professional scouts and analysts. But his profile is such that, if all of his hard work truly translates as he moves his way through the season, he’ll wind up a helluva find for the White Sox.
Lead Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports