White Sox enter spring loaded with young talent

White Sox enter spring loaded with young talent

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the difference?

CHICAGO -- Gone is Chris Sale, off to Boston. Gone is Adam Eaton, off to Washington. And All-Star hurler Jose Quintana might be traded before he is able to make his first career Opening Day start this April.

So why are White Sox fans brimming with excitement about the deals executed by general manager Rick Hahn, waiting eagerly for the next piece to be dealt away? Quite simply, direction.

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Yes, after years of trying to both contend and reload, the White Sox opted for a full rebuild this offseason. And it's off to a fabulous start. In infielder Yoan Moncada, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and right-handers Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, the White Sox have begun building a core that could make them into a consistent postseason force.

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"On balance, every single guy that's here in the organization is prepared to work together and move forward and help each other out," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Ultimately, we are trying to obtain a goal of being a polished Major League club that can contend."

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"It's exciting," Kopech said. "The fans are very excited and us players are very excited. I mean, we've got a lot of new guys, a lot of young guys that are champing at the bit to get to the Major League level. And a few that have been up and down already. We're ready to all be there and give our team a chance, and I think that's realistic sooner than later."

Six White Sox players were among MLBPipeline.com's recent release of the Top 100 Prospects. Four (Moncada, Giolito, Kopech and Lopez) came via the Sale and Eaton trades, while catcher Zack Collins and right-hander Carson Fulmer were the team's top picks in the last two Drafts. Don't forget the 2016 Draft class as a whole as the backbone of this rebuild, with hard-throwing reliever Zack Burdi and starter Alec Hansen joining Collins at the top of this group.

No timetable exists for any of these players' big league arrival, aside from when they are absolutely ready. Moncada, Giolito, Burdi and Lopez figure to start '17 at Triple-A Charlotte, with Fulmer at Charlotte or Double-A Birmingham, and Kopech and Collins at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

The Major League squad will take its lumps -- the White Sox won 78 games last season, and that was with Sale and Eaton. But for the first time in three years, White Sox fans won't be bothered by a subpar record. They believe better days are ahead.

"There's certainly a level of excitement, not just at the ballpark within the front office, but with some White Sox fans who have taken the time to either stop me on the street or leave voicemails at 2 in the morning," Hahn said. "There's an added level of excitement right now and anticipation.

"Virtually every Sox fan I've had a conversation with understands that and is eagerly embracing this and looking forward to when we start to see the fruits of this labor. They know there's going to be hardship in the short term."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.