On Wednesday, we learned of six more Spring Training cuts the White Sox have made, including optioning three guys to Triple-A Charlotte and reassigning three more to minor league camp.
Two of the most recent cuts chatting on the mound last season. Credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP
Pitchers Chris Beck and Cody Winiarski along with first baseman Andy Wilkins were reassigned to minor league camp, which doesn't surprise us. Although Beck may be the main starter and Winiarski the main reliever prospect to keep an eye on as we head into the 2014 season, nobody expected them to break camp with the team.
Winiarski is 24 years old and has really come on of late. This spring he appeared in six games (finishing four of them). In those appearances he tossed seven innings, letting up nine hits and fanning seven batters (one walk). I wouldn't be surprised if he's the next prospect groomed for a closer role.
Beck, only 23, saw 2013 get his career back on track and may now be the closest guy to the majors that will get a long look in the rotation.
I think we'll see both of these guys in 2014. But the other cuts are what's creating more buzz, as they've given us some clarity as far as the Opening Day roster goes.
Catcher Josh Phegley, along with pitchers Eric Surkamp and Andre Rienzo have been reassigned to Triple-A Charlotte.
You all remember last year when Tyler Flowers couldn't do anything right and Phegley was taking the world by storm over in Charlotte. Well, Flowers is now to be penciled back into the starting catcher role while Phegley's unsuccessful summer tryout last season and sloppy spring to follow it up have him headed back to the minors.
Phegley is still what the Sox view as the next closest thing to an MLB starting catcher in the organization, so it makes sense that if he's not starting on the south side, he's getting regular work in with Charlotte. He actually was OK this spring, tallying five extra-base hits and only three K's in 23 plate appearances ... he was just a mess behind the dish.
Though he's already 26, I'm certain that we have not seen the last of Josh Phegley in a White Sox uniform.
Because of this move, the battle for the backup catcher role seems to be between Rule 5 draftee Adrian Nieto and veteran Hector Gimenez, who started last season with the job.
Nieto, as has been mentioned many times, has never played a regular season game above A-ball and even there never found much success. But the Sox clearly saw something they liked in the former fifth-round draft pick and must still see that shining through. In 15 Spring Training plate appearances so far, he has three singles, five RBI, two walks, and three strike outs. They have been impressed with his work behind the plate, and the fact that he's a switch-hitter only helps his cause.
He'll get an extended look from here on out, as should Gimenez, though the team already knows pretty much everything they need to about him.
The other moves, sending down Rienzo and Surkamp, also verify what we've expected, that Felipe Paulino is this club's number five starter.
In his most recent start on Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers, Paulino finally got the results the Sox were confident he would, completing five scoreless innings.
In his 13.1 innings on the spring he's struck out 15 hitters, so health is not a concern and the ball is definitely coming out of his hand well. His only legitimate competition for the last spot in the rotation was Rienzo, who filled in competently late last season.
Like Phegley, it makes sense to be giving him full-time starter work in AAA. He, along with Surkamp, will be able to fill into the rotation whenever needed, but at least for now it's Paulino's job.
Finally, there was some speculation that Rienzo or Surkamp could finish out the White Sox' bullpen, but it looks like it'll be Donnie Veal taking the last spot.
The Sox now have 38 guys in Spring Training, a number they have to get down to 25 for Opening Day.