White Sox future not as dark as it might seem
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The White Sox lost again Thursday, this time 6-1 at Cleveland.
The Sox have dropped seven in a row and 10 of 11, and they are on pace to finish the season at 61-101.
White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet Friday and Sunday; WGN Saturday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The White Sox' Hector Santiago (3-6) vs. Doug Fister (9-5) Friday at 6:05 p.m.; John Danks (2-8) vs. Max Scherzer (15-1) Saturday at 6:05 p.m.; Andre Rienzo (0-0) vs. Rick Porcello (8-6) Sunday at 12:05 p.m.
At a glance: While the White Sox have lost seven straight games, the first-place Tigers have won five in a row as they try fending off the second-place Indians and third-place Royals in the AL Central. The White Sox (40-66) are 26 games under .500 for the first time since 1980. The Sox are 3-4 vs. Detroit this season (2-1 on the road). Over his last 5 starts, Santiago has a 2.78 ERA but is 0-1. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera sat out Wednesday with a strained lower abdomen, but he's expected to play this weekend.
Next: New York Yankees Monday-Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field
— Scot Gregor
So, what's to look forward to between now and the June 2014 amateur draft, in which the White Sox should be positioned to snag a can't-miss talent such as California high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood, University of North Carolina starting pitcher Carlos Rodon or Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede?
According to Sox general manager Rick Hahn, the future is not as bleak as it may appear.
"We're starting to transition this club to a new core," Hahn said on a conference call. "We do feel we're in a very good position with our pitching that's going to allow us to be competitive in the very near future.
"But we need to make improvements offensively. We need a more diversified offensive attack. We need better defense. We need a more athletic combination of position players on our roster. And we'll get there."
Most seasons, the White Sox are contending for the playoffs at this point of the schedule. And in September, when 25-man rosters can expand, the Sox typically bring up a handful of minor-leaguers and let them watch from the dugout.
The blueprint will be much different this season.
On Tuesday, the day Jake Peavy was traded to the Boston Red Sox, Andre Rienzo was called up from Class AAA Charlotte to start against the Cleveland Indians.
Blending a plus fastball with a biting curve, Rienzo fared very well in his major-league debut, allowing 3 runs (none earned) on 5 hits in 7 innings.
Erik Johnson is another Charlotte starter who has opened some eyes, and he should also be pitching for the Sox this season.
As for that offense, which ranks last in the American League with 391 runs scored, Hahn has to do a lot of retooling.
Look for Avisail Garcia, acquired from Detroit in the three-way trade that sent Peavy to Boston, to crack the starting lineup in the next week or two. A natural right fielder, Garcia is going to play center at Charlotte for a short period before coming up to join the White Sox.
"He's still a young kid; he just turned 22," Hahn said of Garcia, who was the Tigers' No. 2 prospect. "He's not going to be harmed by a little bit more time in Charlotte as we get to know him and his capabilities as a player firsthand."
In addition to Garcia, other minor-league position players will be joining the Sox over the final two months.
"I do think over the coming weeks you're going to start seeing some of our minor-league talent come to Chicago and start contributing in the way you see (catcher) Josh Phegley and, most recently, Andre Rienzo," Hahn said.
"There are other guys we're excited to see, but until those players, we feel from a development standpoint, are prepared to make that next step to Chicago, we're just going to keep that list close to the vest.
"But they're on their way. There are some pitchers, there are some position players; some of them may be before September, some of them may just be September, and some of them may not be until the start of next season."
Keep an eye on these three position prospects in the coming weeks:
•Marcus Semien: The Sox' sixth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Cal-Berkeley, Semien was promoted from AA Birmingham to Charlotte on Thursday.
In 105 games with Birmingham, the 22-year-old infielder batted .290 with 21 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs, 49 RBI and 20 stolen bases.
Semien plays second base, shortstop and third base, but he led the Barons with 20 errors. Considering how bad the White Sox have been defensively this season, that's an ominous sign.
•Micah Johnson. A ninth-round draft pick last year out of Indiana, Johnson is having himself quite a season, albeit in Class A ball.
The 22-year-old second baseman opened the year with Kannapolis and batted .342 with 11 triples, 6 homers, 42 RBI and 61 — yes, 61 — stolen bases in 77 games.
Johnson was promoted to High-A Winston-Salem, where he's batting .330 with 13 steals in 25 games.
•Brandon Jacobs. Acquired from the Red Sox on July 12 in the Matt Thornton trade, the 22-year-old outfielder has hit safely in his first 15 games with Birmingham and is batting .321 with 1 home run and 13 RBI.
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