Pre-Season Sox Stock: Starting Pitchers

Chris SaleThe Chicago White Sox did plenty to revamp their roster this off-season. One of the areas in which the team was weak in 2014 was starting pitching. Outside of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, the team’s starting rotation didn’t accomplish very much a year ago. That lack of success could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it basically forced General Manager Rick Hahn to acquire some help in the starting pitching department this winter. Here’s a look at how the starting pitching is shaping up throughout the organization as we head into Spring Training.

MAJOR LEAGUE STOCK: Up and Rising

Looking ahead to 2015, the Sox will likely return four of the five starting pitchers that they finished the season with last year – Sale, Quintana, John Danks, and Hector Noesi. New to the group this year will be Jeff Samardzija, perhaps the biggest name in a long list of notable off-season acquisitions. If all goes as planned, Samardzija will provide the right-handed force in the rotation that the team has been missing ever since Jake Peavy was traded during the 2013 season. A right-handed starting pitcher was atop the Sox bucket list this winter, and the front office answered the bell.

We all can expect productive seasons from the top three pitchers in the rotation – Sale, Samardzija, and Quintana. As Sox fans, we have grown accustomed to consistency from Sale and Quintana over the past three years. With those two guys entering into the primes of their careers, there is no reason to expect that they wouldn’t put together another solid season in 2015. The back end of the rotation, however, is still suspect as the team heads to Arizona later this month. Danks just doesn’t have the same “stuff” he did before his injury, and the verdict is still out on Noesi.

MINOR LEAGUE STOCK: Down and Rising

Part of the reason that the Sox brought Samardzija to town this winter is because the organization doesn’t have another right-handed starting pitcher who is Major League-ready. The team saw some success in 2014 in terms of their home-grown bullpen arms coming into fruition with guys like Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam, but young starting pitching was a different story. Erik Johnson broke camp as the team’s fifth starter last year, and that turned out to be a disaster. The team then decided to promote 29-year-old rookie Scott Carroll and give him a shot, and that didn’t turn out too well eiter.

I’ll try not to get too down on the organization’s young arms, though. There are some prospects who we might see pay some dividends sometime in the near future. Here are some names that, if you haven’t heard already, you might hear very soon.

Carlos Rodon – The Sox selected Rodon with the #2 overall draft pick in 2014. His arm is already considered to be big league-ready, but because of his youth and the “numbers game”, we might not see him until later this season perhaps. He is already drawing comparisons to Chris Sale when Sale was younger. Rodon is the organization’s #1 prospect according to mlbpipeline.com.

Tyler Danish – At just 20 years old, Danish is still yet to reach the upper-echelon of minor league ball; but his immense talent should get him there soon. He has a unorthodox delivery that can pump out a mid-90s fastball. Oh, and he went his entire senior year of high school without allowing a single earned run. Hurry up, Father Time.

Francelis Montas – The Sox acquired Montas in the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in 2013. His resumé is very similar to that of Danish – a young right-handed power arm with a small sample size. Mlbpipleline.com stated that Montas touched 100mph on the radar gun as an 18-year-old, but he has to dail back a few ticks for accuracy purposes. He is rated as the #3 prospect in the organization.