2/26/2014 5:52 P.M. ET
Changeup giving Snodgress new tool on the mound
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Already the owner of a worthy curveball and a Major League fastball that touches the mid-90s, White Sox pitching prospect Scott Snodgress believes he made significant progress over the winter with his third pitch, a changeup he figures could make him much more dangerous on the mound in 2014.
"It's going to be a big pitch for me this year, I think it might even be a strikeout pitch," Snodgress said. "I worked on it a ton, and I feel like I'm throwing it with a lot better arm speed. I've been talking to some of the hitters who have seen me throw it and they've said how good it looks, too. I'm excited about it."
Ranked the No. 12 prospect in the organization's system last year by MLB.com, Snodgress spent the entire 2013 season with Double-A Birmingham, finishing 11-11 in 26 starts with a 4.70 ERA over 143 2/3 innings. The southpaw, a fifth-round pick out of Stanford in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, saw his strikeout rate drop from 8.2 per nine innings in 2012 to 5.6 last year, so an improved changeup might bring that number back up.
Snodgress worked two innings in the intrasquad game on Tuesday, and although he surrendered a homer, he punched out three batters.
Standing 6-foot-6, it has taken Snodgress a while to get fully comfortable with his mechanics, but as he has worked to duplicate his motion over and over again, his command of not only his changeup, but his other two pitches as well, has increased dramatically.
"The biggest thing is just being consistent with your delivery," he said. "Once you can repeat that every time, you hit your spots more often than not. I'm at the point right now where I feel pretty confident with what I'm doing mechanically."
In his second big league camp, Snodgress is on the outside looking in as far as 25-man roster spots go, but he isn't worrying about that at all. He's too excited about his progress and looking forward to seeing some action in Cactus League games.
"I'm not getting ahead of myself," Snodgress said. "My goals are daily. I think things are coming together really nice, so I'm just trying to keep that moving."
Plenty of time for Belisario to get ready when he arrives
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Although the White Sox would prefer to have offseason acquisition Ronald Belisario in camp by now, the reliever's absence caused by visa issues in Venezuela isn't causing too much distress to general manager Rick Hahn just yet.
"You have to keep in mind we're dealing with a relief pitcher," Hahn said. "He just needs to get stretched out to one inning, maybe two, by the end of camp."
As an example, Hahn pointed to last spring when Jesse Crain was sidelined for much of camp with a strained right adductor but still wound being on the Opening Day roster after appearing in just four Cactus League games.
"My understanding from his representatives is that he has been throwing down there, so once he gets here we'll get going on that process, but it's not that long of a process," Hahn said. "There's more than enough time left in camp to get a relief pitcher ready."
Belisario, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the White Sox in December, has gone through immigration issues in the past with the Dodgers. The most recent incident occurred in 2012, when he was detained in Miami after spending the All-Star break in Venezuela.
"It's not entirely unexpected," Hahn said. "There are multiple appointments and thresholds that need to be met. He's still not all the way through.
"It's certainly not something that's in our control, but it's something that we hope will come to a resolution in the coming days. I don't have a timeframe that I'm able to share right now, but I do know there has been some progress."
Avisail to get look as No. 2 hitter in lineup
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, White Sox outfielder Avisail García doesn't exactly have the traditional look of a two-hole hitter. But when the topic of potential lineups came up Thursday, manager Robin Ventura talked about the intriguing possibility of Garcia hitting second.
"I think there's really an opportunity for him if we want to bat him second, he has that kind of approach at the plate, he does have some speed that we can utilize there," Ventura said. "When you look at it, you like what you see when you see him in there. It might happen."
Acquired from the Tigers last season, García hit .304 with five homers and 21 RBIs over 42 games for the White Sox. In the club's intrasquad game on Wednesday, the 22-year-old hit third and smacked a home run to center.
In 95 career Major League games, spanning parts of two seasons, García has never been penciled in second in the starting lineup. The majority of his at-bats have come in the six-hole, where he has appeared 39 times. García does have 78 Minor League steals to his name in six seasons.
"They'll be a lot of different lineups down here [in Spring Training]," Ventura said. "We're going to need to mix and match to give guys an opportunity and see what happens."
White Sox claim prospect Cleto, designate Elmore
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox took a flier on a flame-throwing right-hander Wednesday when they claimed Maikel Cleto off waivers from the Royals. To make room on the 40-man roster, Chicago designated infielder Jake Elmore for assignment.
Cleto went 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 35 games (10 starts) last season between the Cardinals' and Royals' Triple-A affiliates. The 24-year-old has appeared in 13 Major League games over three seasons, striking out 26 batters in 15 2/3 innings but allowing 18 runs.
Although his fastball can be overpowering in the upper-90s, command -- 7.3 walks per nine innings last year -- has been a big issue for Cleto.
"He's got a big arm, he can touch triple-digits, he can flash a plus-slider, but it's a bit of a project," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "He's a little inconsistent with his delivery. At times he doesn't quite know where it's going. But our coaches have a pretty good track record of helping guys, so why not bring in another big arm at low cost and see what we can figure out over the next four or five weeks?"
Asked where he thinks Cleto will end up going when camp breaks, Hahn said, "We'll see how it plays out."
Last June while playing for the Cardinals' Triple-A team in Memphis, Cleto was part of a bench-clearing brawl after hitting a batter with a pitch earlier in the game. The White Sox, though, don't seem to believe there are any character issues.
"Our guys do a pretty good job on background, so we tend to make our own judgments," Hahn said. "You don't know about a guy's makeup for sure until you have him, until you're with him day in and day out."
Elmore, whom the White Sox claimed off waivers from the Astros last November, will likely be traded in the coming days.
"We're at a point right now where we're blessed with a little bit of middle-infield depth, so Jake unfortunately got squeezed out," Hahn said. "They'll be some interest in him and we'll probably be able to swing a small deal in the next couple of days. He's a good kid, high energy, but with our depth, he got squeezed out."
Third to first
• With the White Sox set to open their Cactus League schedule on Friday against the Dodgers, manager Robin Ventura plans on giving his team a short day of work on Thursday.
"They've worked hard, everything has gone great, so I'm going to give them one last time where they'll be able to take a little bit of a breather," Ventura said. "They'll come in, do stuff in the morning then after that take off and get what you need done because once Friday gets here, it's long days."
• The White Sox will be rather active this spring when it comes to scouting other teams and their assets both in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida.
"We have a number of scouts out right now, you won't be able to throw a stick at some of these games and not hit a White Sox scout," Hahn said. "That doesn't mean there's anything imminent, it just means we're out there doing our due diligence. We'll be everywhere we need to be and exhaust all our options."
• Still working his way back from a glute strain experienced earlier this month, reliever Nate Jones threw his third bullpen session since the injury. Ventura guessed Jones would be about a week behind once games start.
• The White Sox introduced their new "batterman" hats to add to their 1983 alternate jerseys. The uniforms will be used as alternates this season.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.