The 2014 Chicago White Sox bring the number one weapon to spring training with them, optimism. After a 99 loss season, it is a great feeling to have a fresh start. With some youth in the organization the Sox (and every other team) should feel they have a shot at a World Series Title.
Now that being said, these dreams could be crushed in the first month of the season. The Sox line-up has a few fresh faces and we take a look at who will be on the field on March 31st.
Since the departure of AJ Pierzynski, this position has been borderline disastrous. The Tyler Flowers experiment has not worked and Josh Phegley was good in spots, but neither player is the long-term answer behind the plate. Going into 2014 though, this is what the Sox are working with. Don't be surprised to see a new face at this position come trade deadline.
This is a very exciting position. Jose Abreu was a premier signing this off season and viewed as the Sox top prospect. The problem is he untested in the MLB. Along with having no experience Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are both going to spend time at first as well. Luckily, all three of these players can DH any given day. Hopefully this will not stunt Abreu's growth at the plate and in the field. Overall though, the future at first base is going to start the year at the major league level.
Starter: Abreu (Konerko for home opener)
Gordon Beckham is running out of time. He will be the starter coming opening day but there is suddenly names in the minors (and on the big club) that have their eyes on second. Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien want to prove they can play ever day. If Beckham struggles early his job could be in danger. That being said, Beckham played phenomenal after his injury last season. It is the first time in awhile there is depth at this position. It's a good problem to have.
This position has been a black hole for the Sox. There is an endless pit of names that have played the position since Joe Crede left the organization (most not note worthy). The future of the hot corner is Matt Davidson. The 23 year old has lots of power and talent at the plate. It looks like he will start with the triple-A club but will be in the majors by the end of the year. Semien will have a chance at being the starter but Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie both will get good looks. In a perfect world, Davidson plays so well in the minors they are forced to bring him up and get major league at-bats. Meanwhile, Keppinger and Gillaspie disappear just like Brent Moral, Josh Fields, should I continue?
Alexei Ramirez has been the rock at shortstop. He plays ever day and is very predictable. Ramirez is one of the only White Sox that would play 150 plus games a year and stay healthy. His days being the shortstop are number though. A name that you should get familiar with is, Tim Anderson. He is 20 years old and playing with the single-A affiliate but he is a gamer. I wouldn't expect to see Anderson close to the major this season, but the White Sox love his game and feel that he will be the every day shortstop in years to come.
At first glance, the 2014 outfield looks similar. There are no real new names other than Adam Eaton. Jordan Danks, Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo and Avisail Garcia all return to patrol the outfield. Jared Mitchell might finally make the big club this season and would bring more speed to the lineup. The real exciting names are Trayce Thompson and Courtney Hawkins. Both these players are very athletic and bring a big bat. It won't be long to see an outfield of (left to right) Hawkins, Eaton and Garcia with Thompson and Viciedo off the bench. This outfield has come a long way since Casper Wells...
Starters: Viciedo, Eaton, Garcia
This is defiantly a strong suit coming into 2014. Chris Sale, John Danks, Jose Quintana and Erik Johnson look like a lock to be the top four starters. Andre Rienzo could be in the mix for the number five spot after making a solid impression in 2013. Nestor Molina, Chris Beck and Tyler Danish are names to know moving forward as well.
Starters: Sale, Danks, Quintana, Johnson and Rienzo
The bullpen is a different story. Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom will have to lead the way. There are a lot of young arms that will be making their first appearances in the MLB in 2014. The bullpen is usually one of the last things to fall into place. The Sox have brought in enough young arms to get a feel of who will work and who will not.
Spring is in the air even if it doesn't feel like it in Chicago. Opening day at US Cellular is March 31st.