Sunday, May 19, 2024

Jonathan Cannon Draws Comparisons To Former Cy Young Winner After Impressive Debut

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The White Sox informed Jonathan Cannon last Friday that he would be making his MLB debut this week. Cannon was initially slated to pitch on Tuesday. After anxiously waiting three days rain forced him to have to wait another day to deliver his first pitch on a big league mound. 

The extra wait didn’t seem to affect Cannon much. He needed just two pitches to record his first out and retired the first five hitters he faced. That included getting future Hall of Famer, Salvador Perez, to chase after an 81.2 mph sweeper that broke into the opposite batter’s box for his first career strikeout in the second inning. 

Cannon limited hard contact all afternoon as he peppered the zone with strikes. Despite only generating five swings and misses he still managed to throw 68% of his pitches for strikes. Cannon’s five-pitch arsenal featured a sinker, sweeper, cutter, changeup, and four-seam fastball. All of his pitches had pretty good movement and kept Royals hitters off balance for much of the game. 

His 6-foot-6 frame and long windup drew a striking resemblance to former Cy Young winner Jack McDowell. Like McDowell, Cannon brings both of his arms above his head and features a big leg kick before delivering the ball. While his motion features lots of moving parts he is able to keep his long limbs in sync. 

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MLB Pipeline says Cannon has the highest floor among the White Sox pitching prospects. It was easy to see why on Tuesday. Cannon did a good job sequencing his pitches to keep hitters guessing. He balanced his 79 pitchers with 31 sinkers, 16 sweepers, nine changeups, and eight four-seam fastballs. 

The 23-year-old’s debut ended the same way it started, getting Maikel Garcia to ground out. He walked off the mound in the fifth inning in line for the win as his friends and family in attendance cheered him on from a suit. In five innings of work, he limited the Royals to just one run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

The only run he allowed was one that probably shouldn’t have scored. In the second inning, he got Nelson Velazquez to hit what looked like a routine ball to center field. However White Sox centerfielder, Dominic Fletcher slipped on the grass and failed to regain his balance in time to make the catch. Velazquez was credited with a double on a ball that should have been the second out of the inning. He came around to score one batter later on an Adam Frazier single. 

That turned out to be the start of Cannon’s bad luck for the day. After exiting the game in line for the win he was credited with a no-decision after Michael Kopech coughed up the lead in the eighth inning. Despite not earning the win, his performance proved he was ready for the show.

“He’s got really good movement. He’s got weapons and he comes right at you. He’s really aggressive,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said after the game.”He’s got good mound presence.” 

Cannon’s debut came one game after the White Sox  No. 8 prospect Nick Nastrini made his first career start. Wednesday marked the third time in franchise history that the White Sox have had a starting pitcher make their MLB debut in back-to-back games.  Nastrini is slated to pitch again vs the Phillies. However, Grifol was non-commital about whether Cannon would get another start. 

Veteran hurlers Mike Clevinger and Brad Keller are working their way towards joining the club in the minor leagues while Garrett Crochet, Micheal Soroka, and Erick Fedde, who earned the win in the second game of the White Sox doubleheader on Wednesday, appear to be locked into the first three spots of the rotation. The White Sox also have Chris Flexen in the rotation, who could soon be moved to a bullpen role. Decisions will have to be made soon.

“I’m taking it one start at a time,” Cannon told MLB.com on Wednesday. “They called me up to start today, and I was able to put my best foot forward. I was really happy with the performance, and thought my stuff was good.”

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