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Chicago White Sox may not be good, but they’ll be interesting

Lucas Giolito, #27, of the Chicago White Sox

Lucas Giolito, #27, of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning of a Cactus League spring training game against Chicago Cubs on February 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz. Credit: Lucas Giolito, #27, of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning of a Cactus League spring training game against Chicago Cubs on February 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Chicago White Sox have two young pitchers who have thrown baseballs at least 100 mph, one of whom, Lucas Giolito, is the son of a Hollywood actress.

The White Sox have a Cuban infielder, Yoan Moncada, described as the No. 1 prospect in the game.

The White Sox have a manager, Rick Renteria, who was bounced by the Cubs before the 2015 season for Joe Maddon and joins the historic Johnny Evers — “Tinker to Evers to Chance” — in managing both Chicago franchises.

The White Sox have two players with virtually the same name: catcher Geovany Soto and pitcher Geovanni Soto.

What they don’t have, after general manager Rick Hahn traded stars for prospects in December, is a contending team.

This may be 2017, but the Sox are thinking 2019. At least observers are thinking that way. Renteria, elevated from his role as bench coach to replace Robin Ventura, is unconcerned.

“I guess everybody else may not have high expectations for this team,” Renteria said, “but we set a high bar. Everybody’s always scared of high ceilings, that if we don’t attain those, everybody’s going to go into a crumbling mode. That’s not us.

“If we fall short, we fall short, but we’re going to have some new parameters to look at to see what we need to do next.”

What Hahn looked at was a White Sox team that had losing records four straight years (2013-16) and not much of a farm system or future. So in two momentous days during the winter meetings, everything changed.

First the Sox sent All-Star lefthander Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for Moncada, Michael Kopech — whose pitches have been clocked as fast as 104 mph — and minor-leaguers Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz.

Then, within 24 hours, Chicago swapped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for Giolito — the son of actress Lindsay Frost — and pitchers Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

“This is where we are,” Hahn said apologetically at the time. “This is a necessary step in the process, and there are going to be some painful spots along the way.”

The formula was used successfully by the team on the other side of the city, the Cubs, who through signings and trades — and maybe Maddon — ended a stretch of four straight losing seasons in 2015 and, of course, won the World Series for the first time in 108 years in 2016.

The questions: Will the new players, praised for their potential, ever become stars? And if so, how long will it take?

Moncada apparently is close, but Hahn surely will keep him in the minors — just as the Cubs did with Kris Bryant, eventually the National League MVP — to delay his free agency.

Perhaps forgotten is that the White Sox still have first baseman Jose Abreu, who hit 36 home runs in 2014 and drove in more than 100 runs in each of the last three seasons.

Like Moncada, Abreu is Cuban, but with his own strange story of arrival. Abreu told a federal jury in Miami on Wednesday that he ate a page of a fake passport and washed it down with beer while flying illegally from Haiti to Miami in a Cuban ballplayer smuggling operation in 2013.

Can’t make this stuff up.


Chicago’s top-rated prospects and how they were acquired:

From Red Sox for Chris Sale

1. Yoan Moncada 2B

3. Michael Kopech RHP

9. Luis Alexander Basabe OF

From Nationals for Adam Eaton

2. Lucas Giolito RHP

4. Reynaldo Lopez RHP

10. Dane Dunning RHP

Draft picks

5. Carson Fulmer RHP (2015)

6. Zack Collins C (2016)

7. Spencer Adams RHP (2014)

8. Zack Burdi RHP (2016)

New York Sports