White Sox spring training is less than three weeks away and we finally know who the non-roster invites are. These are all players not currently on the 40 man roster but are invited to participate in spring training in order to show the team that they can contribute right out of the gate (for the veterans) or that they have great potential (for the prospects). Some of the 19 players invited to attend spring training are from the farm system and some are free agents signed for just this year. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Tuesday, February 14, including physicals and a workout. Position players will report and undergo physicals on Saturday, February 18. The first full-squad workout also will take place on the 18th. Per White Sox Media Relations, the Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms on minor-league contracts with the following eight free agents: infielders Cody Asche and Everth Cabrera, left-handed pitchers David Holmberg and Cory Luebke, catcher Roberto Pena, right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, catcher Geovany Soto and right-hander Anthony Swarzak.
All eight players, in addition to 11 others from within the organization, have received non-roster invites to the club’s spring training camp in Glendale, Ariz. Right-handed pitchers Spencer Adams, Zack Burdi, Michael Kopech, left-handers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, catcher Zack Collins, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes and outfielder Courtney Hawkins received invites to major-league camp from within the system. Four of the 19 invitees are rated among the club’s Top 10 Prospects by Baseball America and MLB.com entering the 2017 season, while nine have major-league experience.
There are several names that should garner significant interest from White Sox fans. Below is some information about the most interesting few, along with some statistics according to White Sox Media Relations.
· RHP Spencer Adams: Rated by MLB.com as the No. 7 Prospect and Baseball America as the No. 9 Prospect in the White Sox organization; selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. A forgotten man after the flurry of trades brought highly ranked prospects Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Reynaldo Lopez to the organization. Adams still has middle of the rotation potential and has impressed at every level in the minors. Last year in AA he pitched to the tune of a 3.9 ERA but his season was cut short due to injuries.
· INF Cody Asche: Appeared in 371 games with Philadelphia from 2013-16; selected by the Phillies in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. See, a previous Chicago Sports Nation article for more details. https://chisportsnation.com/2017/01/07/3-fresh-moves-stay-true-to-the-rebuild/
· RHP Zack Burdi: Rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 Prospect and MLB.com as the No. 8 Prospect in the Chicago system; recorded 51 strikeouts in 38.0 IP (26 relief appearances) between the Arizona Rookie League White Sox, Class A Winston-Salem, Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte in 2016; was selected by the White Sox in the first round (26th overall) of the 2016 draft.
· C Zack Collins: Rated by Baseball America as the No. 4 Prospect and MLB.com as the No. 6 Prospect in the White Sox organization; selected by Chicago in the first round (10th overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.
· INF Nicky Delmonico: Appeared in 110 games between Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte in 2016; led all White Sox farmhands with 17 home runs last season.
· OF Courtney Hawkins: Rated by MLB.com as the No. 20 Prospect in the White Sox organization; spent the entire 2016 season with Class AA Birmingham; selected by the White Sox in the first round (13th overall) in 2012 draft. White Sox fans have been waiting for Hawkins to put it all together ever since 2013 when he has his first full professional season. The strength and athleticism has never been a question for Hawkins but not making contact continues to hold him back.
· RHP Michael Kopech: Rated by MLB.com as the No. 3 Prospect and Baseball America as the No. 5 Prospect in the White Sox organization; was acquired by Chicago with infielder Yoan Moncada, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and right-handed pitcher Victor Diaz in exchange for left-hander Chris Sale on December 6, 2016. While Kopech will not break with the major league team at the end of spring training, he will most likely start at AA, I am sure he will be the most talked about pitcher at spring training as fans are going to love a guy who can consistently throw over 100 mph.
· LHP Matt Purke: Made 12 relief appearances with Chicago in 2016, his first major-league season.
· C Geovany Soto: Appeared in 26 games with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016; spent the entire 2015 season with the White Sox, appearing in 78 games. For more information on Soto, see https://chisportsnation.com/2017/01/07/3-fresh-moves-stay-true-to-the-rebuild/
Putting to the side Geovany Soto and Cody Asche (who may be the White DH very soon), the players listed above will not be in the running for many major league roster spots. While some of them may make it to the back end of the bullpen (Matt Purke, Zack Burdi) most of these players will be showing the Sox what they can do for the team down the road. As for Sox fans, we really need to get comfortable with gazing towards the future.