By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (670 The Score) — The prevailing sentiments of hope returned to the downtown Hilton on Friday as the White Sox were back in town.
SoxFest this weekend is a sold-out event, a sign of belief in where the White Sox are headed. While the fans lined up in the Continental Ballroom and awaited their team, the White Sox of the future reconvened in the lower level and looked ahead to their future together.
“We have something special here,” said right-hander Carson Fulmer, the team’s first-round pick in 2015. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
The second year of the White Sox’s rebuild features even more promising prospects, forming a farm system believed to be one of baseball’s best. There are outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, pitchers Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning, catcher Zack Collins and third baseman Jake Burger among so many more. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez already arrived in the majors.
Baseball America had five White Sox prospects — Jimenez (4), Kopech (11), Hansen (57), Robert (58) and Dunning (82) — rated in its top 100, as unveiled earlier in the week. There are plenty of other promising players working their way up through the system.
The White Sox could be really good in the years to come.
“We all get really excited talking about it,” Kopech said. “For us to kind of get to be around each other and build that camaraderie more and more, it’s really exciting for what we have an opportunity to do in the future.”
Like so many others, general manager Rick Hahn, the architect of this bold blueprint, is eager for what could be to come. The White Sox debuts of Moncada, Lopez and Giolito brought great excitement to Guaranteed Rate Field last summer. Kopech and Jimenez could be next up in 2018.
Hahn often has to remind himself to exercise patience in this process. After all, he’s invested in young prospects who need the right time and structure for development, and a general manager can’t plan on all prospects panning out.
But it’s reassuring to Hahn when he sees these prospects in the same room mapping out plans to be great. They believe in what he’s building.
“The young guys have taken a great deal of pride in this,” Hahn said. “You hear them talk about themselves as a group. They say things like ‘We’re building something special’ or ‘We’re going to be really good’ or ‘We want to win multiple championships.’ It’s not necessarily about their individual performance. It’s about how, together, we’re going to grow and win together in Chicago.”
Part of that is scouting the human element, something the White Sox have done well under Hahn’s watch. This is a day and age for baseball in which sabermetrics and Statcast measure every movement a player makes on the field, yet culture is just as important when building a young team.
Maybe there’s an element of truth to “TWTW” — the will to win. Hahn recognizes it’s not just a camaraderie in place but a team already coming together.
“It’s once these players are brought in and sort of become part of this culture that’s now perpetuated itself,” Hahn said. “It’s only then that you see not only did we identify some of the right guys but they’ve grown as men as they’ve become part of this organization.”
The White Sox have talented prospects in line for every slot in the batting order and have tremendous pitching depth. It’s just a matter of who will solidify those roles during the trek through the minors. This stage of the rebuild will certainly be defined by that growth.
Internal competition will be a constant because there are only nine slots in the lineup and five starters in a rotation. But right now, the White Sox of the future are dreaming of what they can accomplish together.
“We’re definitely going to grow,” Fulmer said. “We definitely see a bright future ahead. We just can’t wait to get on the field and start playing with each other.”