Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown for 2020


That is what this reconstruction is about.

When you start building from the bottom, the name of the game is to acquire young and talented players, develop them, and watch as they hopefully start winning baseball games and eventually World Series titles. The White Sox, despite the hype, have obviously not gotten there yet, unless I have somehow missed a parade.

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But they are getting there. They may be very close. And throughout the list, players who once described themselves as prospects with bright futures have stepped into those futures.

That includes Tim Anderson, who went from a .240 hitter in 2018 to a .335 hitter last year, that batting average high enough to win the major league batting title.

What follows for Anderson remains to be seen: The White Sox and their fans want to see a defensive upgrade to go along with their big jump at the plate, but the guy running the show is over the moon when it comes to his shortstop and growth. even Anderson done in recent years.

“I was looking at it a little while ago. Man, it looks great,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday. “This young man is … he is a man. I think he has grown as much as a person, as a player. I am anxious to see what comes next for him. I have a lot, a lot of confidence in the maturity that took place. In recent years. He has worked Very tough. I think, and still believe, that this guy is an All-Star quality shortstop.

“When I see him working, I see some things he does, and every day I’m impressed. I expect a lot from Timmy. More importantly, Timmy expects a lot from himself. I know he wants perfection, and he’s continuing to grow towards it, but this Boy, he’s pretty good, and I’ll keep saying that while I’m here.

“Timmy is a pretty good player in the Major League Baseball, and I think he will be there for a while.”

Anderson also sees that growth when he looks around the field, and like many fans and watchers, he sees this group of White Sox able to finally make that leap out of rebuild mode and into competition mode this year.

“I think we have all matured,” he said. “As the years go by, we have all matured and grown into better players. We all had a great season last year. I think it is exciting to see us continue to grow and continue to unite as a team and grow as men.

“I think it is very good and we have an opportunity to basically strengthen this link over the next few years to do something that is really special.”

That jump was supposed to happen this season. With the young core emerging in a big way in 2019 and Rick Hahn’s main office working during the offseason, bringing veterans with winning experience, the rebuild was supposed to start bearing winning fruits in March.

Then the pandemic stopped baseball.

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The game is back, at least for now, with the league’s “Summer Camp” starting Friday morning on the South Side. Finally, the White Sox were back together again, ready for a season of high expectations.

However, much has changed since March, both in baseball and in the world at large. For the White Sox, the 162-game season they were created and accelerated for in March has been reduced to a 60-game schedule in a two-month sprint to the postseason.

The next stage of growth for these White Sox, whose most recent regular-season action was the end of an 89-loss season nearly 10 months ago, is learning how to win. They thought they would have six months to solve it. Instead, they have two.

“‘Learn to win,’ I guess that’s a very good way of saying it,” Renteria said. “Our boys have been growing together. I have been very fortunate to be here to watch them grow, and in recent years they have had the opportunity to experience playing at the Major League level, going through some ups and downs, learning what they are capable of. of doing.

“At the end of the day, their talent has to meet the moment and be prepared for it and allow themselves to trust what they are capable of.”

If the state of the pandemic allows the 2020 season to take off, the initial test results announced Friday by Major League Baseball were encouraging, with a positive test rate of just 1.2 percent, we will discover exactly what they are capable of. do.

But as mentioned, that growth is still happening across the list. Anderson, entering his fifth major league season, has grown. Even Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada have thrown up the unpleasant results of their 2018 seasons to get to a much better place. But Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech have only a handful of major league games under their belts. Eloy Jiménez is entering his second season. Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal have yet to see a major league pitch. And there’s more behind them, with last month’s first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet, who has already described himself as a potential quick player for the major leagues.

That’s part of the plan, of course, for the window to remain open for years as the waves of talent continue to pour into the South Side and become high-end major league players. And if the abbreviated 2020 season features the White Sox finally making the playoffs or not, Hahn sees value in that overall goal as the boys continue to grow.

“We have a limited sample here. Let’s make the most of it from a development point of view,” he said Friday. “Whether the young guys have their Major League Baseball experience and deal with whatever adjustments have to happen throughout the league, or teach some of the guys who have been around a little bit longer what it takes to win and play intense atmosphere given the magnitude of each and every game and ideally a competing pennant race on the stretch so there will be many long term benefits of making these boys come back here and play. “

RELATED: Michael Kopech Absent From White Sox Camp, Adding Another Unknown For 2020

But as growth continues, there are good reasons to finally be excited about the present. Anderson sees what’s possible, even in this unusual season, as he looks to continue evolving as the White Sox begin to win.

He’s also not enthusiastic about his defense, made 88 combined errors in his first four major league seasons, and is looking to do the same kind of work that turned his offensive fortune around last year.

“Nothing was natural. I worked to get to where I am. But I will continue working,” he said. “That is a part of my game that is definitely missing. However, it is not far away. I am getting where I need to be.”

“I will continue to work, I will continue to improve. I will continue to learn the game. Each and every day, come to the stadium ready. As it matures and grows, it will continue. To improve. You will see. You have seen it. Every aspect of my game.

“As long as you keep improving, keep growing, and keep learning and working hard, that will come too.”

And it won’t say no to another batting title, either. However, it is not that it is Priority No. 1.

“I hope I can get a ring out of him,” he said, “and if the batting title comes back, then great.

“We’ll see what happens in the late 1960s. Hopefully it’s not just 60.”