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The minor league season starts today, and in classic White Sox organization fashion, they’ve waited until the last minute to formally announce their rosters for their full-season minor-league affiliates.
In fact, it’s 10:20 a.m., and the Charlotte Knights still only have one catcher on their official roster. I’m taking matters into my own hands in going off the list Jonathan Lee had in his hands during the Knights’ media day. It mostly looks correct, but I’ll tweak it if tweaks are needed.
(Update: The roster is apparently out, although not on the site yet. One change has been made.)
Cease may be the fifth starter in Mark Grudzielanek’s rotation, but he’s the first and foremost starter in the whole system, especially with Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’ll make his Triple-A debut after 10 masterful starts at Birmingham, where he posted a 1.72 ERA with 78 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings. He wouldn’t normally have any restrictions after throwing 124 innings in 2018, but the White Sox might skip him here and there if they want to nurse him through his first-ever six-month season.
Elsewhere in the rotation, Stephens and Adams both return to Charlotte after half-seasons with the Knights last year. Stephens will try to bounce back from his second-half fade, while Adams will try to get more swings and misses after striking out just 42 batters over 90 innings last year. Guerrero had 12 decent starts with Charlotte after his third go-around at Birmingham looked like a disaster (6.06 ERA), so he might end up being the best spot-start candidate of the bunch.
Roach returns to Charlotte after spending half of last season in Japan, giving the rotation some veteran ballast.
Outside of Marshall and Osich, who are more journeymen in nature, and Minaya, who had reasons to be outrighted, the majority of Charlotte’s relievers still have defined prospect profiles to varying degrees.
We’ll get a better idea whether any of Fulmer’s Driveline-inspired offseason changes will take root over the first month in Charlotte. Hamilton might’ve broken camp with the Sox had he not gotten rattled in a car accident, with resulting stiffness that threw off his entire spring. Thompson isn’t on the 40-man roster, but he’s been making his case over the course of the 2018 season and this year’s Cactus League. Turner is a hard-throwing lefty with success in Birmingham, while Vieira throws harder than anybody here, but lacks a secondary offering.
(Updated again: Dylan Covey will end up joining the Knights, as the White Sox optioned him to Charlotte as Tim Anderson returns from the paternity list. They’ll be keeping Jose Ruiz instead. Aaron Bummer remains a notable omission thus far. We’ll see where he ends up if and when other rosters are solidified.)
(Updated once more: Bummer is on the 7-day injured list in Charlotte, as is Zack Burdi, according to the now-finalized online roster. Burdi’s was reportedly a lat strain.)
After a partial season apart, Zavala and Collins are reunited as a catching tandem. Here’s hoping Zavala gets the lion’s share of starts behind the plate, because he’s in line to be the first called up to Chicago in case of emergency. I’d place higher priority on his readiness than the last-ditch efforts to keep Collins behind the plate. The hope is that Zavala’s uncharacteristic .242/.266/.357 line at Charlotte was due to a wrist issue, and not advanced pitching.
Besides, Collins would be the most compelling use of playing time at first base by far. Mendick is the only other infielder of note, a third-day draft pick who has fought his way up the ladder as an older prospect due to a wide set of skills and the ability to play short. Ryan Goins and Alcides Escobar figure to handle the other middle-infield position, and Matt Skole and D.J. Peterson will share the load on the corners.
Everybody in the outfield is keeping their fingers crossed for another chance. Delmonico is the most familiar among them, as his Chicago momentum stalled after a promising rookie season. I imagine he’ll rotate at first base as well to keep his infield glove in action. Tilson got 120 plate appearances in Chicago last year despite posting a .577 OPS in Charlotte. Unlike Delmonico, Tilson has something to prove at Triple-A.
Guyer and Tucker provide a veteran righty and lefty option in the corners, with Guyer returning to the fold after the White Sox released him in the spring. One of those two could find themselves on the way out assuming Ryan Cordell finds himself in Charlotte after the Sox call up Ervin Santana.