White Sox general manager Rick Hahn met with reporters yesterday as pitchers and catchers reported to camp, touching on a number of topics pertaining to a bolstered 2021 roster. Perhaps most notably, Hahn indicated that top prospect Andrew Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2019 draft, is “very much in the mix” to make the Opening Day roster (Twitter link via Daryl Van-Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Chicago was at times connected to potential DH candidates throughout the winter, but part of the reason the Sox opted not to bring in a dedicated DH was due to their belief that Vaughn could emerge as early as this season.
While the 22-year-old still has just 55 professional games under his belt thanks to the absence of minor league play in 2020, Vaughn fared well in that time, slashing a combined .278/.384/.449 with six homers, 17 doubles and nearly as many walks (30) as strikeouts (36). Vaughn’s numbers at Cal teetered on absurd, as he batted .374/.495/.668 with 50 long balls in 745 plate appearances. He’s universally ranked among the game’s Top 30 or so prospects, and once he makes the roster he could split time with Jose Abreu between first base and designated hitter.
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- The White Sox will be without lefty Jace Fry for the first month of the season, Hahn also announced this week (Twitter link via James Fegan of The Athletic). The 27-year-old underwent a back operation over the offseason and isn’t expected to be an option until at least May 1. Fry has been a high-strikeout, high-walk part of the Chicago ’pen for the past few seasons, working to a combined 4.43 ERA and 3.92 SIERA with a 29.6 percent strikeout rate but a 13.7 percent walk rate. Between Aaron Bummer and 2020 first-round pick Garrett Crochet, the Sox should still have a pair of lefties to put in the bullpen.
- Speaking of Crochet, while the organization views him as a starter in the long run, Hahn indicated that the lefty could be used in multiple roles, including a bullpen setting, for the coming season as the club monitors his workload (via MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, on Twitter). The same is true of top prospect Michael Kopech, who’ll be back in the mix for a spot on the pitching staff this spring. Kopech, also regarded as one of the game’s best pitching prospects, underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season, missed all of 2019 and opted out of the 2020 campaign.
- Though there are still more than a few unsigned players of note, Hahn suggested that the bulk of the White Sox’ offseason work is complete, Merkin tweets. While the Sox are still in touch with several free agents, Hahn said that the “expectation is that any additions would be more of the non-roster invite variety if at all.” The ChiSox added Liam Hendriks and Adam Eaton via free agency over the winter and also swapped out righty Dane Dunning for Lance Lynn in a trade with the Rangers. While they’ve been connected to other potential free agents along the way, though, it seems their roster is largely set.