White Sox add potential bullpen help in left-hander Xavier Cedeno

SHARE White Sox add potential bullpen help in left-hander Xavier Cedeno
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Xavier Cedeno pitches against the White Sox on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP)

The White Sox added another potential piece to their bullpen by signing 31-year-old left-hander Xavier Cedeno to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. He reportedly will earn $1.05 million if he reaches the majors.

Cedeno, who was non-tendered by the Rays in December after missing most of last season with a forearm injury, has a 3.98 career ERA with the Astros, Nationals and Rays. He has pitched well against lefties (.220 batting average/.286 on-base percentage/.299 slugging percentage) during his career.

Cedeno joins fellow lefties Luis Avilan and Aaron Bummer as possible relief options for manager Rick Renteria. The Sox would like to see Cedeno pan out as well as right-hander Anthony Swarzak did when they signed him to a minor-league deal last January. Swarzak pitched very well before fetching outfield prospect Ryan Cordell in a deadline trade with the Brewers in July.

Hansen impresses

Right-hander Alec Hansen got noticed when he led the minors with 191 strikeouts in 2017. Pitching coach Don Cooper noticed Hansen, who is 6-8, is up there in physical stature, too, when ‘‘I was craning my neck’’ to look at him this week.

With many prospects gathering for SoxFest this weekend, Cooper watched Hansen and other Sox pitchers throw indoors at UIC.

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‘‘He’s a big, strong guy who throws the ball in the mid- to upper 90s, has a curveball that breaks like a freaking firecracker, a slider that is hard and sharp and a changeup that is progressing,’’ Cooper said.

Hansen is ranked 57th on Baseball America’s list of the top 100 prospects. The publication also rated his curveball as the best in the Sox’ system. After appearing at major-league camp in spring training, he is expected to begin the season at Class AA Birmingham.

Hansen once was considered a possible No. 1 overall draft pick, but the Sox selected him in the second round in 2016 after major control problems dropped his stock. Those problems have been solved, and Hansen averaged a combined 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings at both Class A levels and Birmingham last season.

The ‘hometown kid’

Zack Burdi is embracing his role as the ‘‘hometown kid.’’

‘‘It’s cool to be on a team you always cheer for,’’ said Burdi, a 2016 first-round draft pick from Downers Grove. ‘‘[Being] a part of the rebuild on the Sox, it’s something I never really thought I’d be a part of growing up. Now that I am . . . you’re kind of overwhelmed. Like, ‘Man, I’m playing for my home team now.’ ’’

But Burdi, a future closer candidate with a 100 mph fastball, has a long path to travel until he can call Guaranteed Rate Field his home. He is projected to miss the 2018 season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

With all the time off, Burdi said he is mentally and physically preparing himself for his return to the mound.

‘‘It is a time for me to grow and to form into something I want to be, so when the 2019 season comes around, I’m where I want to be,’’ said Burdi, whose brother, Pirates prospect Nick Burdi, also is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Contributing: Madeline Kenney

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com


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