Hahn on White Sox’ new prospects: ‘They all want to be great’
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox were lauded throughout baseball for the returns they got for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, but, as they say, it’s early.
We’re only three weeks into spring training, and it won’t even be known by the end of the season whether the packages received for the five-time All-Star left-hander and the team’s most productive offensive player in 2016 were wins or losses for general manager Rick Hahn.
For the players involved, Hahn wants this Chicago Seven to know those deals won’t be graded for a good long while.
“The common thread through all seven of these guys is they all want to be great,” Hahn said. “None of them seems satisfied with making it to the big leagues. They all want to have a significant impact on this organization.
“That’s a great thing, but at the same time, we need to impart to them that none of the seven individuals needs to justify the trade, justify the decision.”
The Sox have given Cactus League starts to right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech, and all have had their rocky moments. All have also demonstrated why they’re rated among the best prospects in baseball.
Show us what you’ve got, but no need to break any records now, Hahn said.
“We have to pull them back a little bit,” Hahn said. “Explain to them that lighting the radar gun today or hitting a five-run homer isn’t going to prove to everyone that we were right or you’re the player we believe you can be. Just be yourself, and this will take care of itself at the plate. No one is justifying these moves in the first few weeks or months, probably the first few years.”
Giolito took a 2.00 ERA into his Tuesday start against the Mariners, faced eight batters, gave up four runs and got KO’d. Lopez hopes to do better Wednesday against the Royals, and after the day off Thursday, Kopech is scheduled to pitch in relief against the Cubs. All three are expected to begin the season in the minor leagues.
Now that the Sox have been able to observe the seven in camp, here is what Hahn had to say about each and where they’ll likely begin the season.
Giolito (Class AAA Charlotte): “He had a strong reputation in terms of his makeup, but when you talk to him and see how seriously he takes the craft and how diligent a worker he is, it reinforces what you heard. You can see the stuff is good, and he is open to ideas about improving the consistency and results we all want from him.”
Lopez (Charlotte): “The stuff is eye-popping. One thing we didn’t necessarily see that impressed us more is his aptitude for making adjustments. He has taken to the cutter quickly and mixed it in seamlessly [in his last start against the Brewers]. The last guy we had who took to an adjustment that quickly in spring training was Jose Quintana.”
Right-hander Dane Dunning (Class A Kannapolis): “Has only been on the back fields, but our guys are impressed with his stuff. Heavy sink, and another good kid who has a bright future.”
Infielder Yoan Moncada (Charlotte): “You see the lightning-quick bat speed, athleticism, power, plate discipline, the work ethic. He has roughly 200 plate appearances in A ball, and he’s 22 years old, so we need to slow him down a bit. He’s a work in progress, and there are areas where repetition is going to benefit him.”
Kopech (high Class A Winston-Salem): “Great stuff, extremely impressive from a physical-tool standpoint. A great example of someone at 20 who, whether he starts in A ball or finishes in Double A, nothing is going to be proven this year. This is a development year. He doesn’t need to throw 104 on March 10 to show everybody that he’s that dude. We believe he’ll be that dude in time. If anything, we need to pull him back a little bit.”
OF Luis Basabe (Winston-Salem): “On the back fields, he has excited a lot of people. He brings a legitimate five tools to the table. You see the athleticism, fantastic attitude, gets along well with teammates. Switch-hitting center fielder who can run, play good defense and has some pop. You’re going to see his name a year from now more prominently on these prospect lists.”
Victor Diaz (Winston-Salem): “Big, strong kid with plus-plus stuff. Shows a feel for three pitches, but we project him as a back-end [bullpen] guy. Going to A ball with impressive, projectable stuff.”