White Sox Minor Keys: May 20, 2024

White Sox pitching prospect Drew Thorpe
Drew Thorpe (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

In Toronto on Monday, Pedro Grifol still wouldn’t reveal who would take the White Sox rotation spot the club opened after designating Brad Keller for assignment this past weekend. Daryl Van Schouwen relayed the latest rhetoric from Rogers Centre:

“Right now, it’s TBD,” manager Pedro Grifol said before the White Sox suffered a 9-3 loss against the Blue Jays, their fourth in a row, before a Victoria Day afternoon crowd of 36,993 at Rogers Centre. “Soroka had a good appearance, but I don’t know if he’s going to be the guy we want to do that. We’ll make that move when we have to, which would be Wednesday-Thursday.”

In the process of opening and dodging questions about Keller’s replacement, I think the White Sox have left plenty of room to read between two lines.

The first line: Michael Soroka would be an acceptable candidate for a spot start on Thursday, given that he pitched four scoreless innings in Keller’s wake on Saturday, yet Grifol has refused to take this option on multiple occasions.

The second line: The White Sox are carrying a less-than-full 40-man roster after the Keller DFA, which has been a rarity this season.

If we only had Line 1 to weigh, then you could pretty much limit the conversation to Nick Nastrini and Jonathan Cannon. They’re already on the 40-man roster, and Nastrini’s looked better for another audition of late.

But once you realize that the White Sox aren’t limited to 40-man roster candidates at this moment in time, it looks to me like the White Sox are going to turn to Drew Thorpe.

It’s not a lock by these conditions alone. Grifol would probably be similarly cagey were the White Sox running with Nastrini, because it still requires a corresponding move, and managers typically don’t invite speculation about the currently active pitchers on the chopping block.

Still, I’m thinking it’s Thorpe for a few more reasons:

No. 1: White Sox Director of Player Development Paul Janish has said multiple times that you shouldn’t be surprised if the team promotes directly from Birmingham.

No. 2: Thorpe would be on schedule for a Thursday start. Like Soroka, he also last pitched Saturday.

No. 3: Thorpe has been the farm system’s most impressive pitching prospect, going 6-1 with a 1.50 ERA over eight starts, and with more strikeouts (40) than baserunners allowed (26 hits, 13 walks, one homer).

Thorpe briefly invited doubt two starts ago on May 12, when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks against Pensacola. That’s turned out to be his only non-good outing, because he bounced back on Saturday by throwing 5⅔ shutout innings against Chattanooga.

When you consider all of these circumstances and elements, I would be quite surprised if Thorpe weren’t the next man up. If Grifol can be believed, we’ll find out Wednesday-Thursday at the latest.

ACL Dodgers 8, ACL White Sox 5 (7 innings)

  • Abraham Nunez went 1-for-4 with a walk.
  • Adrian Gil, 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • George Wolkow doubled, singled, walked, got plunked, stole a base and was caught stealing.
  • Stiven Flores went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Sean Burke: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
  • Christian Oppor: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Author

  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Dirt

That lip weasel, tho… yeus

jorgefabregas

First game this season without a strikeout for Wolkow. Up to a 185 wRC+, 8th in the ACL among qualified hitters. Only one of the hitters ahead of him on that list is younger than him.

jorgefabregas

He also has the highest K rate of the top 30 wRC+ leaders for anyone not named Mogollon. But, one step at a time.

John

Where does one find these stats? I looked on milb.com and couldn’t see such things. And baseball reference doesn’t show wRC+ (favoring OPS+ instead and even then not showing it for the minors).

jorgefabregas

Fangraphs!

John

Thanks! And yeesh, don’t know that I’d count the 25-yr old who’s there on a rehab assignment. Talk about wrecking the curve.

HallofFrank

I’ll take a shot and predict it’s Ky Bush, not Drew Thorpe, who’ll start for Chicago this week. Here are some reasons why.

  • Bush has also been excellent and arguably better than Thorpe—the ERA isn’t quite as low, but his FIP (2.62) and xFIP (3.09) both best Thorpe.
  • Bush is a year older
  • Bush has 130+ more IP in AA than Thorpe.
  • As a premiere prospect, they don’t want to rush Thorpe.
  • On that note, Thorpe may have some work to do: his K% is a career low and BB% a career high.

Of course, the caveat is I don’t watch these guys pitch live so the coaches in Birmingham will surely have a say here. But I think the logical choice is Bush (or even Mason Adams) before Thorpe.

That said, I’m a Thorpe fan so I’ll be thrilled if they call him up!

John

Just curious, but why do you think Bush or Adams over Nastrini? Nastrini had an awful April, but has been much better in May. Perhaps he’s figured out whatever mechanical or other issues were plaguing him.

HallofFrank

I accepted Jim’s premise that the guy is coming from off the 40-man.

As for Nastrini, his May’s been better, but we’re talking three starts. On the whole, the AAA record is rocky. He’s giving up a lot of HRs. I know it’s Charlotte, but it’s not inevitable, either. For one comparison, Cannon has given up 1 HR all season in 23 IP; Nastrini gave up 3 HR in his previous start.

As I said at the end of my original post, I’m not watching these guys. So maybe the staff likes what they see in Nastrini and thinks he’s ready. If that’s the case, great. But when looking at the numbers (all I can do), I could see why someone thinks he needs more time.

John

I’d want to be more aggressive with some of their promotions if they had a chance in hell of going to the playoffs. As is, I’d rather keep their prized prospects until they’re absolutely ready, even if it means throwing out Nastrini or Cannon (fodder).

As for Nastrini, I think he made 5 starts in the minors in April, 3 in May, and has 2 starts in the majors, one of which wasn’t bad. For the minors, he got roughed up in 3 of the April starts and his last one, so four bad starts and four good ones on the year. Maybe you’re right, though. Bush has almost as much minor league experience and has been better. But either way, I don’t want them pushing Thorpe just yet. Let him go to AAA and if he’s still dominant, call him up after the trade deadline. We’ll need all the pitching we can get then.

HallofFrank

50% “good starts” isn’t a good hit rate, especially in the minors. Nastrini would be fine, but my point is I can see why they’d prefer to keep him in the minors right now.

I can see the argument for Thorpe. I just think Bush makes a little more sense at this point. I’m not particularly worried about “rushing” either one.

HallofFrank

Counter-counterpoint: If he’s getting that many outs in fewer pitches, it isn’t showing, since Thorpe/Bush are almost identical at pitches per inning (15.54/15.57). So if he is getting a lot of early outs, he’s apparently also struggling to put guys away later in the count, too.

I’ll grant the elite changeup point and there’s something to be said for prospect pedigree, too. If I were a betting man, I’d bet 20 Thorpe starts in MLB would be better than 20 Bush starts. So maybe that reasoning will win the day.

However, I wanted to throw Bush’s name out there since I haven’t heard it as an option and I think there are reasons to prefer him to Thorpe and/or Mason Adams (one of which being Thorpe is too good of a prospect to rush).

John

Personally, I’d bump up Nastrini to the majors and Thorpe to AAA. Thorpe’s certainly impressed, but I don’t want to rush him. It’s not just about service time, but it’s also about giving him too big a challenge too early. The Sox have a history of rushing pitchers to the majors and Thorpe has been flashing ToR stuff. Don’t know if he gets there, but I believe more in his ceiling than in Nastrini’s, so I’d rather bring Thorpe along slowly and make sure he’s ready for each successive test. That said, he’s definitely earned a promotion to AAA. There’s nothing left for him to prove at AA.

knoxfire30

do the other 29 teams in baseball always make things such a mystery too… seems dumb, just announce the freaking starter…

thorpe would be the most interesting, but could see if being bush, nastrini, cannon as well, putting soroka back in the spot would certainly be the more boring move

JazznFunk

They could also go with Shuster though he may not be very stretched out. They have had a surprising number of roster crunch situations for such a bad team. For once they have a spot open for when really need it. I would think they would want to hold off from adding a guy at this stage.

Last edited 30 days ago by JazznFunk
knoxfire30

didnt factor schuster but they could do that, although I semi like how effective he has been in the pen recently, wouldnt mess with that, it could be his future role

JazznFunk

If the Sox want to keep Drohan, they will need to take him off the 60 day before too long. That would be one roster spot they need to account for.

GrinnellSteve

What if they announce it’s Thorpe, and then he is struck down by the comet Kahoutek today?

Teams don’t make roster decisions in advance because so much can happen to the entire roster in the interim that changes the calculus.

upnorthsox

If they get rained out Thursday then it’s a wasted roster move or at least one that doesn’t need to be made now. There’s nothing to be gained by announcing now.

knoxfire30

I think what I am saying and the logical strategic things too do could be solved with a simple….

“right now we are planning to go with thorpe, the official announcement will be made prior to thursday game” kind of statement,

but maybe im just being cranky today about anything whitesox news related

upnorthsox

Understood, that was me yesterday as I hate losing to the Yankees and getting swept is just painful.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

The last thing they should be doing is rushing guys who have not pitched an inning at AAA and get into wasting a year of team control on this turd trainwreck. None of their best guys should be up much before 2026.

Then again considering the psycho dysfunction of this franchise it hardly matters. Jerry and co will just make sure to ruin anything good anyway. I spoke to a woman recently whose son was a pitcher in college. He got hurt and was not drafted, but would have been had he stayed healthy. She said the Sox were one of the teams that reached out to him, and that he did not want to wind up with the Sox under any circumstances. I laughed and said it’s not just the fans who know how bad this rotten ownership and their player development is. Their bad reputation is real, which means no good free agents are coming here anyway, as if Jerry not paying for anybody better than Benintendi isn’t enough reason. Even with some good pitchers their team on the field is probably going to remain awful. Their only hope is to get a bunch of good prospect hitters for Fedde, Crochet, Pham, DeJong, Robert, Kopech, etc, and have Jerry sell or die before they are ready.

Warren Z

I think that Thorpe should make at least five Triple-A starts, maybe even 10, before being promoted to the MLB level. So, he should be on his way to Charlotte.

There’s no reason at all to rush him to the majors right now. But because promoting him to the big leagues would be an unwise move, the Sox very well might do that.

We might as well give Soroka a few more starts to see if he has turned things around after his encouraging bullpen outing the other day. It kind of helped Flexen to miss a start or two and spend a stint in the pen, so maybe Soroka will show similar improvement if he returns to the rotation.

Because of key injuries and horrible performances by some key hitters, along with Grifool’s stupid managing, we lack any hope of playing any meaningful games the rest of this season. Usually, even bad teams are somewhat in it until mid-June, but we are worse than bad. And that is disappointing.

However, let’s not compound matters and make this horrible season even worse by rushing prized prospects before they are truly ready.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I concur. I don’t know how service time rules work nowadays, but they should not be thinking about jeopardizing losing a year of team control with any of these guys before 2026. Esp for anybody who has not even played an inning at AAA.

But as you say, b/c it would be stupid, we can probably expect to see some of these guys way before they are ready, for no reason whatsoever other than that their big league roster absolutely blows, and every major decision maker in their org is a complete tool.