Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Meet The New Faces: 5 White Sox Players To Watch In 2024

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Everyone knows about the Luis Robert Jr’s and Dylan Cease’s of the world, but the White Sox roster has changed significantly this offseason. Many of the familiar faces of the past are gone, with new faces and storylines replacing them. Spring training games start later this week, and there are five players in particular that not all Sox fans are super familiar with but should start paying attention to.

#5 – Jordan Leasure

Drafted in the 14th round in the 2021 draft by the Dodgers, the White Sox acquired Leasure at the 2023 trade deadline from the Dodgers in the Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly trade. Leasure has a fastball/slider combination that has produced absurdly high strikeout rates in the minors. His fastball has been compared to Ryan Helsley, while his slider is comparable to Adbert Alzolay. That is good company to be in. He also has closing experience in the minors, with nine for the Dodgers AA affiliate last season and two for the Sox AA affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. Leasure sometimes has issues throwing strikes consistently but should be in the majors sooner rather than later. Making the Opening Day roster is not a guarantee for Leasure, but he will have just as good of a chance to earn a high-leverage bullpen role as anyone else assuming he pitches well this spring.

#4 – Nick Nastrini:

Also acquired in the Lynn and Kelly trade, Nastrini was a fourth-round pick in 2021 by the Dodgers and is a product of their pitching lab. Nastrini is now the most MLB-ready starting pitching prospect the White Sox have. He had a 4.12 ERA in four starts with AAA Charlotte last season, with a 1.02 WHIP and 10.5 K/9. Nastrini has a four-pitch mix, including a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup, and Keith Law ranked him as the #76 prospect in baseball. He most likely will not make the team out of spring training, but we should see him in the rotation on the South Side sooner rather than later.

#3 – Michael Soroka:

Acquired as part of the Aaron Bummer trade, Soroka was an All-Star in 2019 with the Atlanta Braves. That year, he had a fantastic season, pitching to a 2.68 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.45 FIP, 6.1 bWAR, and 4.0 fWAR in 29 starts. Soroka looked to be the future ace in Atlanta until injury completely derailed his career. He tore his Achilles tendon in 2020 and then re-tore it in 2021 and had a second surgery for the injury. He did not pitch in the majors at all in 2021 and 2022 and only pitched 32.1 MLB innings this past season. However, Soroka is still just 26-years-old and seems to be healthy now. He should have a spot in the rotation to start the season. If he can stay healthy, there is significant bounce-back potential here.

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#2 – Erick Fedde:

Like Soroka, Fedde has previous MLB experience. He pitched in parts of six seasons with the Washington Nationals but was not particularly good. The Nationals decided not to tender him a contract following the 2022 season, and Fedde then signed with the NC Dinos of the KBO League for 2023. He was fantastic in his one season in Korea, becoming an All-Star and winning their equivalent of the Cy Young and MVP awards. Fedde added a sweeper and split-change to his arsenal while in Korea, which could explain his newfound success. He parlayed his year in Korea into a two-year, $15 million contract with the White Sox this offseason. There is precedent for pitchers who went to Korea to return to MLB and succeed; Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks is the most notable example. Hopefully, Fedde will follow in his footsteps. It will be interesting to see how Fedde adjusts back to MLB after his stint in Asia.

#1 – Bryan Ramos:

These days, people associate White Sox prospects with Colson Montgomery, and for good reason. But he is no longer under the radar enough to fit into this list. Bryan Ramos is a less highly regarded prospect but still a stud in his own right. Signed by the White Sox in 2018 out of Cuba, Ramos has become a success story for the White Sox development process and is now a top 100 prospect according to some publications. The 21-year-old Ramos hit 14 home runs and had an .826 OPS in just 77 games for the AA Birmingham Barons in 2023, despite being over 2.5 years younger than the average AA player. The likely third baseman of the future, Ramos probably will not be in Chicago until the end of 2024 at the very earliest, but it will be fun to see how he stacks up against MLB competition in the spring. 

Final Word

The White Sox lack talent and will not be good in 2024. That is the unfortunate reality of the situation the organization finds themselves in. Even with a bad season on the horizon, there are some new players to follow starting now. Let’s hope some of these guys put themselves on the map and can become important players for this team moving forward.

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