Spring optimism allowed to make appearance with White Sox

Spring optimism allowed to make appearance with White Sox

It looked like Nicky Delmonico became the last reason to throw in the towel on White Sox spring training when he collided with Tyler Saladino on Saturday.

The Cactus League season had already eliminated Jake Burger (ruptured Achilles), Alec Hansen (forearm soreness) and Luis Robert (sprained thumb) from making starts on Opening Day and beyond, and it removed Micker Adolfo (sprained UCL) from outfield duties. For that matter, Eloy Jimenez was limited until one plate appearance before the weekend due to patellar tendintis.

But lo: Delmonico says his injury was finally one that wasn’t worse than it looked:

“I think it was more of a scare than anything,’’ Delmonico said, looking healthy in shorts and a T-shirt after receiving treatment at the Sox’ spring-training complex. “I went down hard on it . . . but everything feels good. I didn’t wake up sore, so it’s good.’’

Delmonico, who throws right and bats left, said the team doctor who examined him said “everything was perfect.”

“The MRI was clean,’’ Delmonico said. “Got treatment twice today, coming in [Tuesday for treatment] and swinging it Wednesday.”

Delmonico isn’t a prospect in the classic sense, but he fits the practical purpose of one, in that he could offer average play from a position while being under team control for six seasons. Assuming Delmonico returns to action on his timeline, maybe this is the tipping point for restoring the usual optimism attached to fine spring performances. It certainly has the makings of a teachable moment, as it underscores why Rick Renteria wants outfielders calling for the ball.

“As much as we work on it and talk about it and have had days where we’ve had bad communication and worked on it the next day and harped on it, those types of plays impact you a little bit more,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’ll be more apt to be able to communicate and still stay focused on the baseball. One thing he was talking about, he said ‘I was really focused on the ball.’ He says ‘I dropped one before, I took my eye off of it. I didn’t want to take my eye off of this one,’ but then he kind of pushed the mute button and didn’t command it. You’ve got to be able to do both. And it’s experience, continuing to be out there and knowing the outfielder has control over everything that’s coming in toward the infield.”

If it weren’t for this hex-looking thing hovering over the White Sox’ younger players, there’d be a number of developments worth some excitement. Jogging through them as I return to regular duties.

Eloy Jimenez: He hit a pinch-hit homer against the Cubs and followed it up with one off Arizona’s Patrick Corbin, but the subsequent triple might come as better news, as it shows his knee can withstand more than a trot.

After striking out in his only plate appearances during the first two weeks of spring play, Jimenez has gone 4-for-6 with two homers, a triple and two walks. He did strike out once.

Dylan Cease: A strong start against the Athletics’ regulars earned him a shot against Seattle’s A-team on Monday, and this one was even sharper. He struck out four Mariners over three shutout innings, holding Seattle to a walk and a hit. He did it primarily on the strength of his high-90s fastball. Look at this thing:

If this is his last start of the spring, look at this line: 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K. But hey, the Oakland start seemed like a one-off nod toward his future, and Rick Renteria gave him another turn, and everybody’s better off for it.

Zack Collins: There may come a point where Collins’ catching determines whether he gets to the big leagues, but his plate presence is still supposed to be his meal ticket, even if contact issues in A-ball disqualified him from the fast track.

Collins spent the instructional league and offseason trying to remove the hitch from his swing, and turning around this up and in fastball from Mark Rzepczynski gives him a highlight to give weight to such hopes, even if James Paxton wasn’t all that excited about it.

Compare that to this video from Collins taking a lefty deep for a walk-off grand slam last July, and you can spot some differences. He’s closed the stance. His bat waggle is less pronounced, both while idling and as he loads up (you can see the bat cross his helmet in the Winston-Salem clip). His hands still travel down and back before he strides into the pitch, but they don’t cover as much ground, and the leg kick is a little bigger and smoother.

I’m not the guy to tell you whether these changes will add up to greater production, but whatever happens in Birmingham, he’ll be going about his business in somewhat of a different way.

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mikeyb
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mikeyb

I certainly hope his injury wasn’t “finally one that was worse than it looked,” because it looked nasty.

SaintCharlie5
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SaintCharlie5

Farmio needs to calm down on those home run calls, sheesh

katiesphil
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katiesphil

Just the facts, ma’am.

Lurker Laura
Member
Lurker Laura

Perhaps he’s saving it all for the regular season.

I know Farmio’s drier than white toast, but I find something comforting about it. Gives me an excuse to yell at my radio/computer even louder.

Anohito
Member
Anohito

I enjoy his more enthusiastic home run calls, usually on no doubters

“The 2-2 and Abreu puts a charge into this one TAGGED BAGGED . Oh hoho you can forget about this one! All the way into upper seats!”

lil jimmy
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lil jimmy

Farmer is also whiter than white toast. The classic man yelling at a cloud. He’s most of the way off his rocker.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

Any chance Cease’s recent starts vs. quality competition cause him to skip W-S and start the year as a Baron? Having Dunning, Cease and Hansen(fingers crossed) all working together in AA would be cool to see.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

Fangraphs had an interesting article on variance in projections.

Carson Fulmer got a mention for having a wide range of possibilities from not good (5.17 RA9) to mind-numbingly awful (6.71 RA9). So that’s kind of depressing.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

PECOTA is a little bit more optimistic than Steamer on him. With a range of 4.22 ERA (90 pctl) to 6.76 ERA (10 pctl).

Trooper Galactus
Member

I’m legit concerned that Fulmer is going to be something of a bust, even if he’s moved to relief duties.

PopeDonnPall
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PopeDonnPall

I thing Fegan had a great assessment of Cease tonight. Yes, fastball electric. Yes, curve electric. Very impressive. Command was definitely spotty in 2nd and 3rd innings, obviously with falling behind in the count but also Collins set up outside several times and and had to reach back for right down the middle. So to me I now see what everyone’s talking about in that that yeah, his FB and CB stuff’s gonna play up here for sure. The Change up and Command and Endurance TBD. Fun to watch though.

asinwreck
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asinwreck

My hopes for Cease is he can build on his innings pitched from 2017. Not too different from my concerns about Kopech twelve months ago, and I hope we can say the same things about Cease next spring that we say about Kopech now.

Smclean09
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Smclean09

Collins recieving doesnt pass the eye test either. Lost Cease several strikes through just 3 innings.

zerobs
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zerobs

Mariners walked Eloy twice. Are teams already trying to pitch him carefully??

Two homers and a wicked liner from Engel out of the leadoff spot. Obviously he’s only leading off to get as many at bats as possible, but it was nice to see; any positive offensive production out of him will be welcome.

Greg Nix
Editor

27% K, 12% BB rates are encouraging so far. Too soon to draw actual conclusions, but both would be big improvements on last season.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

If Engel can hit enough (read: be maybe 15-20% below league avearge) to be at least a cheap 2-WAR regular, suddenly this future outfield picture takes on a whole new complexion. I love having his glove out there.

Josh Nelson
Editor

Especially if Delmonico is going to play LF. Will need a quality CF to cover a lot of ground.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I’m not convinced Delmonico’s range is all that bad out there. The concerns at this point seem to revolve around errors and arm.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I haven’t seen him in ST, but his routes seemed to suck out there last season.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

He graded out fine in Catch Probability, UZR, and DRS, as far as range is concerned.

Maybe this is a situation where the eye test reigns and the metrics misfired over a small sample, but I’d say it’s decently likely that he’s fine at playing the outfield (at least minus the throwing part) and just has a propensity to occasionally look stupid doing so.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I thought fielding metrics needed over a season to really stabilize into something reasonably predictive and accurate.

Eagle Bones
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Eagle Bones

I kept thinking of Billy Hamilton when you guys talked about this on the podcast. Not that it’s reasonable to expect him to get to that level, but producing a ton of value in the field and on the bases like Hamilton does to combat his horrid bat seems at least remotely possible.

Anohito
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Anohito

It’s only spring but Engel bringing a bat with that defense would be so nice

sausalito pale hose
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sausalito pale hose

Much rather see how Cordell works out in center. If Engel had a fifty point increase in his BA, which is highly unlikely, he would bat 206. I can’t see him being taken North with club. Like to see him start in Charlotte to see if he can perfect his ‘stroke’.

Trooper Galactus
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Actually, given the sample size from last season and the jump in competition, a drastic increase in his BA/OBP isn’t entirely out of the question. That’s not to say it will rise to acceptable levels, but I could see a 50-point increase being perfectly manageable for him (still bad, but not on an epic scale).

Right Size Wrong Shape
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Right Size Wrong Shape

So you’re saying that it wouldn’t be the largest increase in major league history?

35Shields
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35Shields

PECOTA actually gives him a 40% chance of increasing his BA by 50 points compared to last year.

L2R
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L2R

if the law of averages exist, maybe we have taken our worst lumps for awhile. I’d like to see everyone getting reps all year long and see how the team develops. Coach has to be excited to be in this position after getting the boot from the north side of town. Hope he gets the last laugh.

zerobs
Member
zerobs

We’ve got some lumps coming when the season starts, this team is destined for 100 losses as the youngsters crawl before they can walk. The only consistent producer on the team is Abreu, everyone else has yet to come up with two consecutive years of league-average production. My hopes are high for 2019 and 2020, but we’re going to have to swallow 2018 first.

L2R
Member
L2R

I don’t know that we lose that many, 90 seems to be tossed around by many. No doubt I have to focus on player improvement more than the score if I am to keep my sanity. If I can see some flashes of greatness inside a losing game, then I can ignore the score. I do expect to see a gradual improvement over the course of the year and would hope to see competitive games in August and September regardless of the final score.

35Shields
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35Shields

Fangraphs Depth Charts (combo of Steamer and ZiPS) gives us 96 losses. So 100 losses isn’t totally out of the question.

Marty34
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Marty34

There are too many teams tanking for there to be incentive for the Sox to lose to get a higher pick. They also have too many options at Charlotte to put up with underperforming spots on the roster. That and Detroit and KC are going to be bad. With health this is a 75-win team at worst.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

Our opening day starter is James Shields. Carson Fulmer, who couldn’t even manage a sub-5.00 ERA in Charlotte, is our fifth starter. Our presumptive CF couldn’t even hit within 30 points of the Mendoza Line last year. Our DH just set a record for the worst K-BB% while hitting like a shortstop. Our shortstop was replacement level. Our 3B and RF were garbage until last year. Our LF doesn’t really know how to play LF.

I think it’s pretty easy to look at this team and see how they could be much worse than a 75-win team. Even the most optimistic projection system puts us at 71 wins.

Trooper Galactus
Member

That’s really part of the excitement for me with this year’s team; the understanding that there is a very wide variance for how many wins we can expect. Sure, if Shields turns back the clock to 2016, MiGo goes straight to the DL, Avi goes back to replacement level, so on and so forth, this could be a 100-loss season. On the other hand, if the veterans hang in there and guys like Giolito, Lopez, Kopech, Moncada, and Anderson all have crazy breakout seasons, they could similarly be over .500. At a minimum, nobody should be rooting for a tank: success with this lineup would be the absolute ideal, especially as it would help attract free agents to an up-and-coming powerhouse in 2019 and 2020.

Greens
Member
Greens

I thought one giveaway with Engel was his protest of the catcher foul tip on his one strike out. Someone who isn’t feeling it in ST does not debate that. He’s confident. 

Greens
Member
Greens

He wanted to hit

Trooper Galactus
Member

“Mr. Baseball” Adam Engel.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Oh man, the sound of that Cease fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt. That is a thing of beauty.

MrTopaz
Member
MrTopaz

I believe the word “report” is applicable.

Trooper Galactus
Member

BING!

winningugly
Member

NICKY IS INDESTRUCTIBLE. ARE YOU SURPRISED? DO NOT BE.