Prospect development most important for White Sox

Perfect season for rebuilding club would be young players improving together

Prospect development most important for White Sox

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: The perfect season

CHICAGO -- For the first time in many a year, the White Sox potentially perfect season will not consist of 80 or 90 victories and a chance for playoff contention.

Where 2017 is concerned, think more about the development of elite prospects such as Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Zack Burdi, Zack Collins and Carson Fulmer, not to mention another step forward taken by somewhat established young talents such as shortstop Tim Anderson and southpaw Carlos Rodon. That work beings Tuesday, when pitchers and catchers will have their first workout at Camelback Ranch.

This team underwent a modified rebuild during the 2013 season and into '14, but it did not feature the broad scope of this current rebuild undertaken by general manager Rick Hahn and the organization. The '17 version of this squad certainly is more about the longer-term picture than a one-year fix.

Across the Majors, goals set for 2017

"The focus of our scouting department, of our player-development people, of the Major League staff is on building something that's sustainable," Hahn said. "In the short term, we might have to pay some price at the big league level.

"Everyone here understands what we're trying to accomplish for the long term. Stranger things have happened in baseball where teams that weren't expected to contend come together and are able to succeed. If that happens, fantastic, and we'll help facilitate it as much as we can. But in reality, we're closer to the start than we are the finish of this process of rebuilding this club."

White Sox stockpiling youth

The team won 78 games last season and already has traded one of the game's best pitchers in Chris Sale and a strong contributor both offensively and defensively in Adam Eaton. The perfect season might also include a couple of more trades to net yet more top-level prospects. Pitchers Jose Quintana and David Robertson are still drawing interest from teams hoping to contend, and slugger Todd Frazier might as well.

So the focus turns to those players acquired or those players already in the system via the Draft. Players such as Moncada, Giolito, Lopez and Burdi figure to get a big league chance at some point in '17. But the perfect scenario would be for this group to continue to learn and improve, developing a cohesive feel.

Much like the Astros and Cubs before them, a White Sox core that plays together, develops together and even loses together some day can win consistently together. That hope becomes the White Sox mantra for '17 regardless of the big league win total.

"I don't see any difference in how I take my job in terms of how we try to prepare players on a daily basis," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "These guys are trying to compete to show you what they're capable of doing, and taking care of moments that are presented to them. When we get a whole lot of good moments, we start winning a lot of ballgames."

"As a veteran guy, just teach them the ropes," said Frazier of his role with the young players. "Adversity is a big thing in this game and causes a lot of people to break down. Show them what you got. Bulldog mentality."

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.