White Sox turn back clock with heightened focus on prospects

Trades before deadline replenish needy farm system.

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White Sox catching prospect Korey Lee was acquired in a trade for pitcher Kendall Graveman.

White Sox catching prospect Korey Lee was acquired in a trade for pitcher Kendall Graveman.

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ARLINGTON, Texas — So what do the Sox have to show for the unloading of Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn from the starting rotation, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Keynan Middleton and Reynaldo Lopez from the bullpen and slugging infielder Jake Burger from the lineup?

Mostly promise in the form of prospects. Promise in the form of what general manager Rick Hahn pledged when the Sox embarked on a rebuild during the 2016 winter meetings.

Based on what talent evaluators say about the prospects the Sox added to their farm system, Hahn and Sox scouts and the brain trust Hahn lauded after making the deals did fine. Maybe a little more than fine, supplementing recent draft classes with upgrades in the desperately needing catching and pitching departments.

But look no further than Yoan Moncada, considered the No. 1 prospect in the game when he was acquired in the Chris Sale rebuild trade with Michael Kopech, before elevating optimism about the Sox’ future.

Moncada’s health history, underachieving performance and the $25 million he’s owed next season made him impossible to get traded.

So, much falls on the shoulders of the player-development department to cultivate the young talent, and not just the newbies.

For what it’s worth, five of the minor leaguers acquired are now listed in MLB Pipeline’s top 14 on the list of Sox prospects.

Here’s the best of the lot added to the farm system:

1. Edgar Quero, 20, catcher at Double-A Birmingham. Sox’ No. 2-ranked prospect behind shortstop Colson Montgomery, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2021.

2. Jake Eder, 24, left-handed pitcher at Birmingham. No. 3-ranked prospect.

3. Nick Nastrini, 23, right-hander at Birmingham. No. 4-ranked prospect.

4. Ky Bush, 23, left-hander at Birmingham. No. 7-ranked prospect.

5. Korey Lee, 25, catcher at Triple-A Charlotte. No. 14-ranked catcher.

Right-hander Jordan Leasure, 24, is at Charlotte. He’s ranked 27th. Righty Juan Carela and lefty Luis Patino round out the group.

Hahn said the Sox solidified their future with the acquisitions. They prioritized pitching and added two catchers.

“Over the last several weeks it’s been, we put ourselves in the best position to execute this deadline effectively,” Hahn said. “We felt we’ve done that.”

Rest for Robert, Jimenez

Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jimenez, the 3-4 hitters in manager Pedro Grifol’s usual lineups, were given a rest day following a night game. Robert has played in 106 of 110 games. Jimenez pinch hit and grounded out in the eighth inning.

Whiff or whiff out you

Rangers pitchers totaled 42 strikeouts in the series, the team’s second-most in a three-game series. Max Scherzer’s nine strikeouts in six innings were one shy of his season high, and his 21 swings and misses were his second highest whiff total of the season.

The Sox scored in two of the 27 innings of the Rangers’ three-game series sweep and had one extra-base hit, Seby Zavala’s homer in Wednesday’s 11-1 loss.

The big hurt

Grifol saw the writing on the wall for closer Liam Hendriks, who had Tommy John surgery Wednesday, “as soon as he said ‘this really hurts.’

“If anyone can play through pain, it’s him. Never complains, always takes the ball,” Grifol said. “But this is just a hurdle, what he’s gone through in his life the last year [beating cancer], Tommy John is not going to keep him away from doing this again at a high level.”

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