The White Sox’ well-known way is to move their top prospects along the fast track to the majors.
But they say they’ll resist the temptation to rush now that they’re in a full-fledged youth movement, so expect them to be patient with Yoan Moncada, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and the others in a fine collection they’ve assembled via their last couple of drafts and the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.
That said, the Sox wasted no time getting their future on camera this week, using Downers Grove’s very own Burdi, a first-round draft pick in 2016, and Kopech, acquired in the Sale deal, on their phone-call task force to connect with season-ticket holders from Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday.
TV cameras rolled and reporters’ tape recorders captured lively sound bites from these future Sox, who, equipped with 100 mph right arms and gusto to match, are fast becoming the faces of a franchise in flux.
On Thursday morning, Moncada, an infielder generally regarded as a top-three prospect in all of baseball, and Giolito, a 6-6 right-hander and the Sox’ No. 2-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, joined shortstop Tim Anderson and manager Rick Renteria as they visited patients and their families at Lurie Children’s Hospital. The young players and Renteria spent real sit-down quality time with the kids. Afterward with the media, Moncada said all the right things and Giolito sneak-previewed a personality as big as his arm.
Inside the ballpark’s cramped office cubicles, Kopech, who unabashedly compares himself to Noah Syndergaard, looked the part of the Mets flamethrower while gracefully making calls to adults twice his age, his long blond locks flowing from beneath a Bulls winter hat.
“I’ve been a Bulls fan for a while, mainly because of Michael Jordan,’’ Kopech, 20, said. “I’m a fan of greatness.’’
Kopech sort of played the part of the great “Thor” a couple of weeks ago when he touched 110 mph throwing an underloaded ball from a running start in his first winter workout.
Sox pitching coach Don Cooper was none too thrilled about that show of force and exuberance in January, but he is excited about Kopech’s delivery.
“Yeah, I think I scared a few people there,’’ said Kopech, the Sox’ No. 3 prospect. “A lot of people didn’t realize it was an underloaded ball, so you’re going to throw it harder. That was just my first max-velocity workout of the year, trying to get my speed back up.
“I didn’t know my trainer was going to put out a video.’’
“That dude slings it, huh?” said Burdi, who has touched 100-plus off the mound. “I watched some video of him; it’s really impressive. The way the ball jumps out of his hand, everything is electric. Even his changeup is electric.’’
Burdi said being part of a core group of prospects, which is expected to grow with more trades, “is awesome.”
“To be part of a rebuild but also be surrounded by a bunch of good, young dudes is something to look forward to,’’ he said.
“We are all young,” said Anderson, 23, almost striking a veteran presence with more than a half-season of experience, “so we’re going to be together for a while.’’
When SoxFest gets underway at the Hilton Chicago late Friday afternoon, 2016 first-round catcher Zack Collins will join the group, as will 2015 first-round right-hander Carson Fulmer and Charlie Tilson (acquired at last summer’s trade deadline for Zach Duke), who stands a shot at being the Opening Day center fielder.
The Sox are presenting this youth movement front and center.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of it moving forward,” Renteria said.
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