The White Sox dropped their fourth straight in Houston on Sunday afternoon and have now lost nine of their last 11 games. They remain on pace to win 50-something games, which is apparently not even noteworthy as they are still five games ahead of the hapless Orioles and Royals. Unlike those squads, the White Sox don’t look to be selling anything of significance, and they look to have pieces to promote which will help, so one would expect that gap to widen as the season progresses. In other news:
1. Jose Abreu was voted as the starting first baseman for the AL All Star team, the first White Sox player voted to start the game since Frank Thomas in 1996. Ironically, it comes as he is having the worst year of his career, but given that there aren’t really any other standout years of consequence, it’s perfectly fair to give the nod to the steady and much-loved Abreu.
2. Dylan Cease and Luis Alexander Basabe were also selected for the Futures Game. Basabe has cooled off somewhat in the weeks before his promotion to Birmingham, and continued to scuffle in Double-A. Still, he is an exciting athlete who got off to a good enough start, and one can easily imagine him putting together a highlight or two in the game itself. As for Cease, five more innings and he will match his single-season career high in pro ball. After being brought along very cautiously by the Cubs, Cease carved through his first look at High-A and has gotten off to a strong start in Double-A. That Cease is putting himself in the picture for a big league arrival in 2019 is a pleasant surprise, particularly given how many other White Sox prospects have been derailed by injury.
3. Between James Shields always pitching at least six innings a game and the White Sox losing so much on the road, their bullpen is still only 17th in the majors in innings pitched. Still, as the season has gone on, Rick Renteria has leaned more and more heavily on Jace Fry and Xavier Cedeno. They’ve acquitted themselves well, but Bruce Rondon, Chris Volstad, and Hector Santiago have struggled. All of this brings me to Ian Hamilton, as the 2016 11th round pick continues his march to the majors. After 25 dominant innings in Double-A, he has yet to allow a run in 6 2/3 Triple-A innings, boasting a K:BB ratio of 9.00. As much as I appreciate the White Sox giving run to a loyal organizational soldier like Volstad, Hamilton and others not far behind him may squeeze him out before we get to September.
4. After 2016, we thought we had a good idea of who Avisail Garcia was. Then in 2017 he went nuts and challenged for the batting title and seemed to cash in on his massive potential, although he did so in a different shape than we’d thought, as his raw power indicates a classic corner outfield masher rather than an off brand version of Tony Gwynn. So 2018 was a chance to get an answer to the question: Who is Avisail Garcia? We may still not know! He was horrible and then hurt … and then since he got back from the DL he just started hitting for all of that massive power we knew was in there but seemed inaccessible. Coming into Sunday’s game, Garcia had hit .333/.348/.803 with eight home runs in his 16 games post-hamstring strain. Sure. Why not?
5. Omar Narvaez has also thoroughly broken out, following a June where he hit .391/.440/.522 with a scorching start to July as well. Unfortunately, our framing metrics still have Narvaez as one of the worst in the majors, but this is the most power he has ever shown (a low bar, but still) and he’s coming up on 600 PAs as a .273/.360/.352 hitter. Neat trick for a catcher. Maybe he can pull a Welington Castillo and randomly fix his framing in his late 20s. Not the steroids thing.
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