White Sox keeping an eye out for future closer
One day soon, White Sox manager Rick Renteria hopes to have a lockdown closer on an up-and-coming team.
As he continues to wait, Renteria is doing the best with what he has.
"We've been debuting a lot of guys in that role this year," Renteria said. "I think we're in that stage now where we have an opportunity to see these guys work, see them work under different circumstances and see how they respond, see how they react."
The Sox's 55-year-old manager went through a similar drill last season. After veteran closer David Robertson was traded to the Yankees on July 18, Renteria mixed and matched in the ninth inning before settling on Juan Minaya.
This year, the options are more numerous -- and more promising.
"I think some of the guys we have here have some pretty good arms and hopefully are commanding the zone, trusting their stuff and have the grit to go out and do things like that," Renteria said.
After White Sox general manager Rick Hahn traded Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan and Xavier Cedeno and released Bruce Rondon, the door was open for young relievers like Ian Hamilton, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz, Ryan Burr and Caleb Frare.
"I'm hoping, among all the men we have here, if there is a defined role as a closer that we ultimately have it come from within our system," Renteria said. "And hopefully among the group we find those leverage situation pitchers for us working from the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. That's what we're trying to find out."
So far, Hamilton has looked like the most promising closer of the future.
Joining the Sox's bullpen on Aug. 31 after combining to go 3-2 with a 1.74 ERA and 22 saves in 42 appearances with Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte, the 11th-round pick in the 2016 draft had a 1.59 ERA in 6 appearances with the White Sox heading into Tuesday night's game at Cleveland.
Closing games for the Sox in the future is a definite goal for Hamilton.
"Absolutely," the 23-year-old righty said. "Being that person to go to and depend on like that, and having that trust from the team and everything, that would be great."
Before the White Sox purchased his contract on Sept. 4, Ruiz was a combined 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA and 16 saves with high A Winston-Salem and Birmingham.
"He's a young man that has a little flair," Renteria said of the 23-year-old reliever. "He's a pretty excitable guy out there. Good fastball, he's been working on his slider. When we get opportunities to see him, hopefully he's commanding the zone, trying not to get outside of his delivery too much.
"If he can do that, it's very promising, the possibilities of what he's going to be able to do for us in the bullpen."
Zack Burdi also has closing potential, but the Downers Grove native had Tommy John surgery in July of 2017 and he's working his way back into the mix.
Burdi, who was drafted No. 26 overall in '16, returned to the mound on Aug. 4 and was 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 7 games with the AZL White Sox.
The Sox are sending Burdi to the Arizona Fall League for additional work.