With the return of baseball slowly marching onward in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, one more step to normalcy was taken on Sunday afternoon. At 3 pm Central Sunday, all MLB teams had to report their initial (up to) 60 man rosters for Summer Camp. A full rundown of the rules is here courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, but here is a basic rundown of the rules:
- Rosters are capped at 60 players, although teams do not need to name 60 players. Only players listed on the 60 man roster can participate in the upcoming Summer Camp.
- Players on the 60 man camp roster do not need to be on the team’s 40 man roster, unless they are at some point added to the active MLB roster. If you’re so inclined, the White Sox 40 man roster as of June 28th is here.
- If a player is removed from the 60 man roster (outside of injury or a few other circumstances), the team loses control over the player.
With these rules in mind, there were some things to consider for a team like the White Sox, with young players in the minors. Would any recent top draft picks from 2019 (Andrew Vaughn, Matthew Thompson, and Andrew Dalquist, primarily) or 2020 (Garrett Crochet or Jared Kelley) be added to the 60 man for experience? In the case of Vaughn or Crochet, would they have any shot at making the big league roster in 2020? What about the glut of AA outfielders?
Well as it turned out, we had to wait until Monday to get these answers, with the White Sox not publicly releasing their camp roster until 10 AM central (a perfect time for a scheduled tweet, I may add).
The #WhiteSox have announced the following 44-man roster for the club’s 2020 Summer Camp, which is scheduled to begin Friday, July 3, at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox will announce additional players who will be invited to join the taxi squad in the near future. pic.twitter.com/KrIixQjNXk
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 29, 2020
Unlike the North Siders who announced their South Bend site invitees simultaneously, the Sox only announced their initial 44 man big league camp. While the taxi squad will certainly add some context to this initial group, here are some of my main takeaways from the initial White Sox Summer camp roster.
The Camp Roster is Relatively Uneventful
All things considered, the 40 man roster is constructed…well, as expected. While there are certainly some exciting young names to watch, the initial roster was really lacking any big surprises. Like I mentioned above, this would have come in the form of recent draft picks Garrett Crochet or Jared Kelley, or 2019 prep picks like Thompson, Dalquist, or James Beard. Beyond that group, seeing a young hitter like Gavin Sheets, Luis Gonzalez, Micker Adolfo, or Blake Rutherford get some reps in Big League camp would have been cool. Although, none were exactly screaming for big league reps, based on 2019 production (with all due respect to Luis Basabe).
While none of those guys (with the possible exception of Crochet) would have remotely sniffed the majors in 2020, it still would have been exciting to see. We will likely see a few of those guys on the Taxi Squad, it’s still somewhat of a let down to not get at least one big shot. I would say Madrigal is exciting to see up, but if they kept him out of Big League camp that would have been straight up incompetence.
At least we’ll get to see more of Andrew Vaughn in camp to continue the good looks we got of him back in Arizona *checks notes* three months ago.
Andrew Vaughn doing Andrew Vaughn things. pic.twitter.com/T8Alrb6jlp
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 7, 2020
The Catching and Outfield Groups are Absolute Polar Opposites
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; hope, and despair. As far as roster construction goes, the catching and outfield groups could not be further apart.
First, the happy side of things – the catching group is pretty stacked! When you have a 2019 All Star behind the highest paid free agent in club history, both of whom are blocking a former first round pick, that’s about as good as it gets. Hell, even Yermin Mercedes can hit the ball a hell of a long way.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 9, 2020
Rough for Seby Zavala, but you really can’t get much better than this.
But, we already knew that coming into camp. On the other side of the field, we have the outfielder group. There are, of course, reasons to be excited, but a big one to be nervous. I can best describe those fears with one gif.
That, my friends, is a visual interpretation of what happens if Eloy Jimenez can’t stay on the field, Nomar Mazara backpedals in his development, or Luis Robert struggles and/or gets hurt. After those three (mainly Robert/Jimenez), there isn’t much on the way of depth. I’m not the first person to say this, I won’t be the last, but that lack of depth is incredibly concerning (with all due respect to Nicky Delmonico’s hot spring).
Again, we knew this going into camp, but it’s still very much a concern in a pedal-to-the-metal 60 game sprint of a season. A two-week IL stay for any of these guys could spell big time trouble.
The Pitching Depth is Going to Be Fun*
*assuming no one gets hurt (or re-hurt)
In my opinion, the pitching rotation is the most fascinating part of the White Sox roster in 2020. What seemed like a glaring void of depth without Carlos Rodon or Michael Kopech to start the year is now relatively full, especially for a 60 game season. I’ve written about it before, but the Sox really could have fun with how the rotation is deployed this season.
Outside of the seven man band of starters, seeing Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert on the camp roster is also good to see. Despite missing all of 2019 with Tommy John Surgery, Dunning still holds his pedigree of a former top-100 prospect, and if he can rediscover that form in a hurry, he could be an intriguing piece in 2020. Lambert, likewise, had a promising start to 2019 get derailed by Tommy John surgery, but him being good to go for camp about a year out is about as good of a sign as you can get.
Yes, the pitching still has a lot of unproven options needing to take a step forward and is relying heavily on a rock solid Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito’s continued ascension to ace status, but it should still be a fun staff to monitor. Plus, in a shortened season we should see more gas from Michael Kopech.
Who doesn’t want that???
Michael Kopech is on the mound and sitting OVER 100 MPH pic.twitter.com/XMVari1YKZ
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 10, 2020