Even before Carlos Rodon was scratched to open the door
to a screaming hellscape for a sixth-starter battle, ESPN offered a couple other reasons to pump the brakes on what has otherwise been an enjoyable spring training.
The first was Eli Saslow’s article about Yoan Moncada, whose maturity level has been put to the test. Not only did the Red Sox make him baseball’s richest teenager, but he received $31.5 million after making $4 a month with Cienfuegos. It starts with his ordering 10 customized cars before he even had a driver’s license.
I feared worse given that lede, and there are other unflattering personal details you might hear about a moody teenager taken in some extreme directions (85 Twinkies a week; 15 cavities on his first dental visit). That’s balanced, though, by stories of Moncada’s on-field dedication, which ultimately paints the picture that he’ll need help finding an equilibrium as the culture shock settles down.
The story’s one weakness is that there isn’t a direct quote from a White Sox source — the closest it comes is a text from Jose Abreu stressing the White Sox’ ability to connect with Cubans. For his part, Rick Hahn had nothing but good things to say about Moncada’s first spring with Chicago after reassigning him to Charlotte earlier in the week:
“His ability to adapt, his work ethic, his receptiveness to instruction and ability to fairly seamlessly incorporate what we’re trying to get him to do on the fly has been impressive. Everyone sees the athleticism, bat speed and tools that have a lot of people projecting great things. At the same time, he is 22. He’s got about 200 plate appearances above A-ball, so it’s not a surprise that our assessment remained as it was when we got him to camp: Let’s get him playing every day at Charlotte and have him force the issue when the time is right to get to Chicago.’’
Shortly after at ESPN, Jerry Crasnick dropped in on Lucas Giolito and the fluctuation in his prospect stock, resulting in another tough-but-fair story. There’s this:
"Even when he's getting outs and navigating through B-level lineups, he's having to trick hitters and pitch backwards," the scout said. "He looks more like the crafty right-handed veteran than the young guy with the tools we've all heard about -- the big fastball and big breaking ball. I haven't seen much of that. It's been very vanilla."
And there’s this:
Some of the critiques seem harsh given that Giolito is so early in his learning curve. Giolito struck out 397 batters in 369 minor league innings even as the Nationals pushed him aggressively through their system. He had to deal with the trauma of a Tommy John surgery at age 18. And at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he's working through some mechanical issues that are exacerbated by all those moving parts.
"As a 22-year-old who's already missed a year with Tommy John, Lucas Giolito deserves a chance to grow and evolve," an American League front-office man said. "He really hasn't had enough innings to show us what he's going to be.”
The White Sox are playing decent ball in the Cactus League — a 14-14 record, and a fair share of explosive innings from their Triple-A talent, which hasn’t been seen all that frequently in the past. I wouldn’t take these stories as damning, but as a reminder that the road will probably be far bumpier by the time May rolls around.
Rodon “seemed upbeat” according to Scott Merkin, but he says he’s never felt that much tightness in his arm, so he’s heading to Los Angeles for a visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, which are five words that never look good together.
Given an opportunity for at least one start with the White Sox after Opening Day, Dylan Covey threw 32⁄3 scoreless innings against the Indians, doubling his spring strikeout total in the process.
While Nick Cafardo’s column covers a lot of the same ground, this item of information is actually kind of specific: “The hang-up has been the Astros’ reluctance to part with righthanded pitching prospect Francis Martes.”
I think I see what Steve Stone is doing here (and I think I really saw it before the quote was pared down after an edit):
‘‘You can’t teach a sense of humor, and he has a very good one. You have to entertain the fans. That’s one thing younger broadcasters have a hard time with, but Jason doesn’t. He understands we’re baseball broadcasters and we’re in the entertainment business.’’
- Brady Anderson’s role with Orioles a topic of debate - Fox Sports
- What is Dan Duquette really saying about Mark trumbo, Jose Bautista and Orioles fans — SI.com
Because they’ve been pretty good over the last five years, it’s easy to overlook just how strangely the Baltimore Orioles operate. The Anderson story in particular is like Drake LaRoche on the other side of the age curve ...
Some players, too, are uncomfortable with Anderson’s presence.
Anderson last played for the Orioles in 2001, but he has a locker inside the team’s clubhouse at Camden Yards, where he gets into uniform to coach.
... but this kind of stuff can be overcome or shrugged away when teams routinely get surprisingly good performances out of veteran acquisitions, rather than historically abysmal ones.