White Sox’ rebuild shifts into a higher gear

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PHOENIX — These are invigorating times for the White Sox and general manager Rick Hahn — and for a hopeful fan base, too.

The bold trades Hahn made in December — dealing left-hander Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton and netting second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handers Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez, among others — are working out. And the 2016 draft was a good one, too.

Those two advances have given the Sox a farm system that is rated as high as No. 3 by MLB.com, a hefty climb from one that has languished in the bottom third of the majors for much too long.

And that rating doesn’t even take into consideration the Sox’ latest score, the addition of Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, 19, a five-tool prospect whose signing is expected to be made official and announced in the coming days.

Hahn isn’t talking publicly about that yet, but it’s obvious he is pleased with the rebuilding progress the front office has made in the last six months.

‘‘We were obviously thrilled with the draft last year [led at the top by catcher Zack Collins and potential closer Zack Burdi], and we’re getting ready to hopefully repeat that in the coming weeks,’’ Hahn said before the Sox opened a three-game series Monday against the Diamondbacks with a 5-1 loss at Chase Field. ‘‘We’ve been able to do some things internationally that — umm — nice additions to the system, potentially.’’

That was probably a veiled reference to Robert, who at the least will be a top-30 prospect in baseball when he’s added to the pool, prospect experts say. But the Sox also are making better hay all around Latin America under the leadership of Marco Paddy, the special assistant to the GM in charge of international operations.

‘‘We knew this [rebuilding] was going to be a difficult process at times, perhaps,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We knew it was going to be difficult, perhaps, at the big-league level. The way [manager] Ricky [Renteria] has them playing, it’s been a little less frustrating than people have anticipated.’’

Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke (6-2) fell an out short of a complete game, allowing four hits and striking out 12 in 8‰ innings to halt the Sox’ winning streak at three. A three-run home run by Daniel Descalso in the fourth broke a scoreless tie, and Paul Goldschmidt added a solo shot against Miguel Gonzalez (3-5) in the sixth. Leury Garcia’s homer in the fifth accounted for the Sox’ run.

Hahn, meanwhile, sticks to the process, saying he needs to back up the last 10 or 11 months with another strong 10 or 11 months. And the fan base seems to buying in. The signing of Robert had them celebrating all weekend.

A national writer reminded Hahn his team isn’t all that far out of first place. But Hahn knows what’s up and won’t be suckered into giving an inch on the goal of building something sustainable. The Sox haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, and their 2005 World Series is getting to be kind of a long time ago.

‘‘We are competitive,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We know where we are at in this process right now, and we are committed to seeing it through properly.’’

Hahn has veterans he can move to beef up the farm system even more. And while the trade market isn’t expected to perk up until after the draft June 12, he said he has gotten a lot of phone calls ‘‘because of the talent on this roster.’’

‘‘We’re remaining very open-minded about whatever opportunities make us better for the long run,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Our focus is on doing something that’s more sustainable than one season. We’re in the same mode we were in this past offseason, looking for opportunities to find some long-term pieces to put us in a place to contend on an annual basis.’’

NOTE: Moncada was in Chicago having his left thumb checked by Sox doctors. Sightings of the prized prospect initially set off speculation that he would be called up, but Hahn quickly dashed that. Hahn said it was the kind of routine checkup minor-leaguers customarily undergo while on the disabled list.

‘‘It started getting a little more swollen and aggravated him a little more,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘He wanted to keep playing and didn’t want to go on the DL. But we decided to take a little time here, get it 100 percent, before he gets back out there.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com


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