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White Sox reportedly find radio home on WGN

Also, KATOH has some edgy opinions on Sox prospects

Tribune Media To Sell Iconic Tribune Tower In Chicago
Tribune Tower, where a new flag could be hoisted soon
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you’ve been deeply concerned about where—or whether—you would be able to listen to White Sox Baseball on the radio this season, fret no more. While nothing is official at this point, Bruce Levine is reporting that WGN Radio is close to acquiring the rights to broadcast Sox games for the 2018 season and beyond.

This change was necessitated by WLS parent company Cumulus Media filing bankruptcy and being released from several of its most unprofitable contracts, including those with the White Sox and Bulls. The teams spent just two years on WLS despite signing a six-year agreement and are now being split up, with the Bulls joining the Cubs on WSCR The Score and the Sox headed to WGN.

It’s welcome news for those living well outside Chicago, as the Sox were reportedly shopping around on the FM side of the dial, which would have been difficult to pick up in the outer reaches. WGN has a huge coverage area, though, so no need to worry about that. It could also be an opportunity in terms of other White Sox-related programming:

Of course, the grand irony of all of this is that WGN is a station so strongly associated with the Cubs. It was the Cubs’ exclusive radio home from 1959 to 2014, and was broadcasting Cubs games long before that. (Of course, the Tribune Company also owned the team for 30-odd years.) It’s certainly going to be strange to hear the White Sox on WGN with the Cubs on WSCR, the Sox’s radio digs for 11 years.

FanGraphs’ KATOH and White Sox prospects

White Sox Nation can’t get enough prospect talk this offseason, and thankfully prospect coverage has been ramping up around the baseball blogosphere. We’re keeping up the Composite Top Prospects List as a one-stop shop for rankings and comparisons, and the rest of it should fill in soon.

It’s also Prospects Week at FanGraphs, and today they released their KATOH Top 100. KATOH is a projection system that attempts to predict a range of outcomes for how much value a player will provide on his six-year rookie contract. Like any projection system, it’s a black box of data inputs compared across thousands and thousands of players longitudinally to find patterns and predict future performance.

KATOH’s idea of a top prospect often looks pretty different from your typical scouting-based evaluation because it’s quantitative and objective (at least once the inputs are set). Sometimes the system can identify a player whose statistics indicate that he could be a valuable major leaguer even if the scouts don’t see it.

This year, KATOH put (only) three White Sox prospects in the Top 100. Care to guess where they fall? Well, you’re wrong.

3. Michael Kopech
43. Alec Hansen
79. Eloy Jimenez

Maybe this isn’t all that surprising if you consider that several of the team’s top prospects have a lot of projection; that’s something that good scouting can better pick up on. Consider also that Luis Robert doesn’t really have much in the way of statistics to evaluate. Then consider that 12 catchers landed in the Top 100, which is, you know, a lot.

Even with all that, it’s interesting that Jimenez is as low as he is. It would be interesting to hear what KATOH has to say about him, considering that he’s hit for average and power, he’s 21, and he’s kept his strikeouts under control while increasing walks. Then again, has dropped a Jorge Soler comp on him in the past, and we see how well that’s turning out.

Luckily Eloy Jimenez don’t need no KATOH, because Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, Keith Law, and MLB Prospect Pulse all think he’s Top 6. BA just named Jimenez the best corner outfield prospect in baseball, although that might have been obvious from their Top 100. Still, KATOH is a different look, and it’s a bucket of cold water to the head in an offseason of unfettered optimism.