White Sox eye more pitching for rich system

White Sox eye more pitching for rich system

CHICAGO -- Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez already have become part of the 2017 White Sox starting rotation, joining 24-year-old southpaw Carlos Rodon.

Alec Hansen struck out 182 over 136 innings pitched between stops at Class A Winston-Salem, Class A Kannapolis and Double-A Birmingham. Michael Kopech, the No. 1 pitching prospect in the game per MLBPipeline.com, held opponents to a .184 average over 119 1/3 innings with Birmingham, while fanning 155.

White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell is well aware of the talented arms at the front of the organization's impressive rebuild, with numerous others not mentioned above, and he is extremely pleased by the system's overall development. But Bell still wants more pitching.

"Pitching always trumps everything else," said Bell during a recent interview with MLB.com. "I still would like to see our pitching getting a little bit stronger. I really do. I think that's just kind of the way I am anyway, no matter what.

"Overall, I think we have to get better, pitching-wise. We've added Lopez, Giolito, [Carson] Fulmer in the Draft, Rodon and [Dane] Dunning is another guy. We are better than we were last year, but I still think we can use some. … Every bullpen you look at now, there are guys who don't throw below 94 or 95. And we don't have a lot of those guys."

Bell praised those acquisitions picked up via trade, such as Dunning, Giolito and Kopech. He had equally strong plaudits for the recent Drafts producing Hansen and Zack Burdi in 2016 and Lincoln Henzman, Tyler Johnson and Kade McClure in '17.

Statcast: Kopech's fastball

"Our Drafts have been better, pitching-wise," Bell said. "But we need another Draft or two to really solidify, to make it better, I think."

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who has been in charge of the past two Drafts, which have earned positive reviews, understands Bell's points. In 2017, 11 of the first 16 picks were used on position players focused on power and plate discipline.

"Ultimately when you go in a different direction and take more bats than you do pitchers and you are trying to stock the system with offensive talent, you are going to lose some in the pitching a little bit," Hostetler said. "I also think we've done a really nice job in hitting on some of these pitchers that we have taken.

"Whether we come out and we say it publicly or internally, even if offensive focus is our profile, pitching is still one of the things that constantly gets brought up in the Draft room, like, 'Hey, we have to get pitching here.' We have to continue to add to these pitchers that we currently have."

Hostetler also realizes that a team winning a World Series title -- which stands as the finish line for this White Sox rebuild -- does so with pitching.

"You don't see a ton of 10-9 games in October. You see a whole lot of 2-1," Hostetler said. "You see games getting shortened from guys that maybe throw seven innings a start to now they go five, and power arms go six, seven and eight, and then your lockdown guy at nine. October and winning championships -- it's always going to revolve around pitching."

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.