Another losing season looms, but Chicago White Sox's future looks bright
Most SoxFests are the same.
This year's was different, in a good way.
Much like spring training, SoxFest is typically a time for fans to think big. It's a time to see only the best in every player signing autographs or sitting in on a seminar while conveniently choosing to forget all of the flaws.
Considering the Chicago White Sox have had a losing record for five straight seasons and haven't made the playoffs since 2008, you'd think fans would have had plenty of pointed questions for general manager Rick Hahn at the Hilton Chicago over the weekend.
Instead, there was 100 percent support for the overdue rebuilding effort and plenty of patience.
Tearing everything down and building it back up is all the rage in professional sports these days, and it can be a taxing, tedious process.
Since this is the first rebuild in Sox history -- at least in recent memory -- it has been very well received. And so far, it has been very well executed by Hahn and his staff.
Baseball America recently released its Top 100, and five Sox minor-leaguers made the cut.
Outfielder Eloy Jimenez ranks No. 4, starting pitcher Michael Kopech is No. 11, starter Alec Hansen is No. 57, outfielder Luis Robert is No. 58 and starter Dane Dunning is No. 82.
On MLB.com's Top 100 list released Saturday, Jimenez is No. 4, Kopech No. 10, Robert No. 28, Hansen No. 54, starter Dylan Cease No. 61, Dunning No. 92 and outfielder Blake Rutherford No. 99.
Prospect rankings don't guarantee anything, but both lists show the depth of young talent now playing in the White Sox's system. And don't forget the Sox have the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
The White Sox may very well have a sixth straight losing season this year, but the future looks incredibly bright.
"If we really want this team to be a competitive team for a long period of time and to win several championships, we have to be patient," said 22-year-old second baseman Yoan Moncada, baseball's No. 1 prospect last year before joining the Sox on July 19. "The talent is there, and it's going to come. Everything is going to come soon."
There were so many young faces on display at SoxFest this year, and there also was 76-year-old Ken "Hawk" Harrelson.
While he has primarily called road games the last two seasons while easing into retirement, Harrelson is still going to be a part of the White Sox's broadcast team.
Harrelson said he will be in the booth for Sunday home games this year, and he also will sit in with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone for the April 5 home opener against Detroit and broadcast the three home games against the Cubs (Sept. 21-23).
Harrelson is always fired up about the upcoming season at SoxFest, and that didn't change this year, even with most of the club's best talent still ticketed for the minor leagues.
"I've never seen a redo like they've done," Harrelson said. "I mean, you can't go from being ranked 29th and 30th by every baseball poll of organizational prospects to No. 1. That's never been done.
"I think it's going to for the next decade. Let's face it, the Cubs are good and it's going to be fun playing them for a few years. It's going to be fun to kick their butts for a few years."
No static at all:
The White Sox's radio deal with WLS-AM 890 could end Thursday after parent company Cumulus Media filed motions with U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking to void the final four years of their contract with the Sox.
A person in the know at SoxFest indicated the White Sox's new radio home this season and beyond could wind up on the FM side of the dial.