GLENDALE, Ariz. — Thanks to the round of roster cuts the White Sox made Tuesday, the Charlotte Knights will be loaded with talent.
The list of players sent to the Sox’ Class AAA affiliate consisted of players who figured prominently in rankings of top prospects, including second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer.
Development needs and service-time issues are in play, but all figure to reach the majors this season.
All four earned major-league service time last season: Fulmer, 11‰ innings in 33 days with the Sox; Moncada, 19 at-bats in 31 days with the Red Sox; Giolito, 21„ inning in 39 days with the Nationals; and Lopez, 44 innings in 44 days with the Nationals.
Flamethrower Michael Kopech was reassigned to minor-league camp and likely is headed to Class A
Winston-Salem or Class AA Birmingham.
“All five of them impressed in different ways,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said.
None of them will be harmed by more time in the minors and some need it.
For the pitchers, all of whom possess stuff that has them ranked among the top 50 among prospects, it’s all about commanding it.
“Last year, getting a taste, it’s that dream you’ve had since you were a kid,’’ Fulmer said. “You want more of it. It’s not an addiction, but once you get a taste of it you want more of it. All of us young guys are trying to get back to where we’ve been. Time will tell, but we’ll get a chance here soon and a chance to create something special.’’
Moncada is the second-ranked Sox prospect according to MLBpipeline.com, while Giolito is 11th, Kopech 16th, Lopez 46th and Fulmer 71st.
“We’ve got some talent,’’ Fulmer said of the Charlotte roster. “Hopefully guys down there will be able to play for a long time together.’’
Hahn was effusive in his praise of those he sent down.
Hahn on Moncada: “His ability to adapt, his work ethic, his receptiveness to instruction and ability to fairly seamlessly incorporate what we’re trying to get him to do on the fly has been impressive. Everyone sees the athleticism, bat speed and tools that have a lot of people projecting great things. At the same time, he is 22. He’s got about 200 plate appearances above A-ball, so it’s not a surprise that our assessment remained as it was when we got him to camp: Let’s get him playing every day at Charlotte and have him force the issue when the time is right to get to Chicago.’’
Hahn on Kopech: “He acclimated himself very well to a new clubhouse and his very first time in big-league camp and being in this environment. You saw the stuff firsthand out there on the big stage, the game against the Cubs where the place was sold out and a raucous crowd . . . He rose to that occasion. He’s taken quickly to what [pitching coach Don Cooper] is teaching him and will serve him well as he goes back to camp.”
Hahn on Lopez: “As expected, he turned out to be the most advanced of the pitching arms we had. Responded well to adjustments in terms of where he was on the rubber and playing around with the cutter a little bit. He’s a guy with a bright future but we also view him as a starter and taking the ball every fifth day. Right now the opportunity is at Charlotte.’’
Hahn on Giolito: “Very mature, very cerebral, bright guy. Knows his delivery well. Is receptive to instruction and feels an obligation to prove everything right about what has been written about him, and that we showed faith in trading for him.’’
Hahn on Fulmer: “The last few starts last year in Charlotte were a nice step forward for him mechanically. He was able to continue along that path here, and he’s going to take the ball every fifth day there and probably force our hand on it in the not-too-distant future.’’
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