The White Sox are excited about the promising upside of young position players like Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson.
Turning to the starting rotation, the Sox have already witnessed Chris Sale not only reach his potential, but continue to rise.
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Still only 24 years old, Sale has already established him as the White Sox' ace and he's far and away their best player. He's also one of the best starters in baseball, not that Sale is looking for all the pomp and praise he's been receiving.
"I'm just doing my job," the 6-foot-6, 180-pound lefty said after his final start last season. "Whatever title that falls under, that's for you and I guess fans of baseball to say stuff. For me, I just show up every day and try to do the best of what I'm supposed to do."
In his second full year in the rotation, Sale's 11-14 record was a harsh reflection of the Sox' 63-99 season. But he tied for the American League lead with 4 complete games, was third in strikeouts (226) and WHIP (1.07), fourth in quality starts (23), fifth in innings pitched (214.1) and seventh in ERA (3.07).
Sale also made his second straight All-Star Game appearance and earned the win while finishing fifth in Cy Young Award voting.
"Those are all things to build off of," Sale said of his impressive numbers and accomplishments. "I guess you can say it's something to strive for in the future, not only to reach that but to surpass those as well. You can strike out as many people 6as you want, but you have to win some games. That's something else I'm waiting for next year."
Sale is so good, the Sox were going to keep him at the top of the rotation even if they signed Masahiro Tanaka, who ended up with the Yankees.
And while they couldn't match New York's seven-year, $155 million offer to Tanaka, the starting five is still the White Sox' strength heading into the season.
"We feel good about it," Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "I don't think you ever feel comfortable you have enough pitching, starting or relief. That said, with Chris and Jose (Quintana) at the front and John Danks 18 months post-op (shoulder surgery), we feel real good about what those three are going to give us. And having the competition between Erik Johnson, Felipe Paulino, (Andre) Rienzo, the kid (Eric) Surkamp we took off waivers from San Francisco and Charlie Leesman, we've got interesting guys with some upside that could help us."
Quintana is coming off an odd season. Good, but odd.
The 25-year-old lefty was 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA in his first full year in the Sox' rotation, and he established an AL record with 17 no decisions. A lack of offensive backing hurt, as Quintana was fifth among AL starters with a 3.78 run support average.
Danks was expectedly inconsistent after joining the rotation in late May following shoulder surgery. The left-hander was 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA, and Danks was the only starter in the major leagues to allow more home runs (28) than walks (27).
Johnson, the likely No. 4 starter, was 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA pitching for Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte before making it to the majors in September.
In 5 starts with the White Sox, the right-hander was 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA.
The No. 5 job in the rotation is up for grabs, and Paulino failed to make a positive first impression Sunday in his first Cactus League outing, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 1 walk in 1.2 innings.
Paulino had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and made 7 minor-league rehab starts with the Royals last season. Before injuring his elbow two years ago, Paulino was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 7 starts.