The White Sox announced a number of roster moves Tuesday afternoon, the bulk of which are unsurprising, although a couple were at least worth some thought. As for obvious moves, the injured Jake Burger was assigned to minor league camp. So too was Jordan Guerrero, who has yet to pitch above Double-A, and defensive specialist Alfredo Gonzalez, who is currently fourth on the organizational depth chart at catcher. The other moves make sense, but were not necessarily as clear cut as these.
Dylan Covey was kept on the major league roster all of 2017, but mostly because he was a Rule 5 pick rather than any present major league success. Now the White Sox can send him to the minors freely, and have done so. Even including Covey’s 83 innings in Chicago last year, he still only has approximately 150 innings above High-A in his pro career and it isn’t crazy to think he would benefit from some learning down in Charlotte. Ultimately, I believe he could have a successful career out of the bullpen without changing much, but if he wants to stick in the rotation he’ll need to make some improvements.
Covey will be joined by Thyago Vieira, the newly acquired flamethrower. Back of the roster decisions can certainly be determined more by contract status than present ability, particularly in a rebuild, but it seemed possible Vieira might crack the Opening Day bullpen. Barring injuries (or in Nate Jones’ case, injury-related setbacks), Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, and Danny Farquhar were all pretty clearly ahead of Vieira. Relievers Bruce Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez, and Xavier Cedeno are all in camp for auditions, as is Hector Santiago (a starter who could potentially be more of a swing-man out of the bullpen) and Vieira’s remaining options may have made it more attractive to stash him in Charlotte until they can sort through these other candidates for the suddenly crowded White Sox pitching staff. All of the above combined with his lackluster 2017 makes Michael Ynoa’s assignment to minor league camp an even easier call.
Charlie Tilson was also sent to Triple-A.
Now, given that Tilson basically hasn’t played since August 2, 2016, it could be as simple as giving him time to knock some rust off without the pressure of trying to win a major league job. Still, Tilson was certainly a candidate to get the first shot at the starting center fielder job, something the White Sox have wanted to see him try since they traded Zach Duke for him what seems like forever ago. Barring some sort of really weird move like signing Carlos Gonzalez to play center field, which he can no longer do, it seems like Adam Engel is going to get one more crack at showing he can hit better than a pitcher before Tilson gets another shot at it.
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