7/20/2014 7:23 P.M. ET
Rodon impresses Sox Minor League field coordinator
Champion says club's top pick in '14 Draft has all the tools to be successful
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Kirk Champion watched Carlos Rodon throw his first side session, featuring fastballs and changeups, with Class A Winston-Salem last week. And Champion liked what he saw from the White Sox top pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and the No. 3 selection overall.
"Just an impressive kid, makeup-wise and strong, arm strength, all the things that everybody has seen the last couple of years," said the White Sox Minor League field coordinator of Rodon. "He's just trying to learn, listen. He's very respectful and respects the game. A lot of attention goes with where he was taken, but the first impression is good."
Rodon threw another side session Wednesday with the Dash and then a third Saturday in Arizona. He figures to make his Minor League debut this week with the Arizona Rookie League squad and then the road to the Majors begins.
There's an inherent high level of expectations built into a high-level talent such as Rodon, but the first objective simply is to get him back into action after not pitching in a game since May 16 with North Carolina St. Champion gave credit to White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann, assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler and all involved in bringing the left-hander to the organization.
"When you are in a position like that, there's a lot of scrutiny of who to take and who fits in the organization quicker than other people," said Champion, who was with the big league club this weekend. "This was the guy and they didn't flinch when he was available.
"They had a plan and Doug Laumann and Nick Hostetler and all those guys went over it a long time. That was the pick, he was available and that's who they went with. We are certainly excited in the Minors and I know they are, too, at this level."
Thompson, a 44th-rounder in '09, makes debut
CHICAGO -- It took parts of six Minor League seasons, but Taylor Thompson's perseverance paid off Sunday in making his Major League debut during an 11-7 White Sox loss to the Astros at U.S. Cellular Field.
Thompson, pick No. 1,333 overall in the 44th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte before the contest, hurled 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for starter John Danks and struck out two.
Once the nerves settled down, Thompson got into a groove over 19 pitches in the fifth and sixth innings.
"Of course I was nervous," Thompson said. "I didn't really feel how my body was in those two innings. But it was good to get it out of the way, get those first-outing jitters. So, now I can go out the next whenever I go in and just feel normal again. It was awesome. I can't complain. I've been waiting my whole life to do that right there.
"When I got out there in the warmup pitches and the first couple of pitches I threw, it was like, 'OK, this is a little different.' But I got it under control, got out of that first inning and I was able to settle down a little bit. Still nerve wracking, but fun."
The White Sox had been going one bullpen arm short for the first two games of the second half, with Carlos Sanchez serving as an extra utility infielder. They had Scott Carroll in relief in an emergency, but with Carroll's start coming up Tuesday, the White Sox needed reinforcements.
"He throws a lot of strikes," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Thompson, who moved to the 40-man when Felipe Paulino was placed on the 60-day disabled list. "You are kind of getting guys that when we send a guy out, he's the best guy pitching down there right now."
"Just a quality guy," said White Sox Minor League field coordinator Kirk Champion of Thompson. "Player development is pulling for him because of the person he is, let alone that he has thrown well."
Thompson, 27, posted a 2.61 ERA and six saves for the Knights, with 53 strikeouts over 48 1/3 innings. Much like Zach Putnam, Thompson has reintroduced a split-finger into his repertoire this season that has paid dividends.
"I hadn't thrown it for the last few years, and I brought it back this year to try to give me another edge," said Thompson of the split-finger. "It's really helped me out. I'm glad I brought it back for sure.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time," added Thompson, who got the good news from Buddy Bell. "I pitched well down there and I was just waiting on my call, so when it came, I was pretty much speechless, nervous. It was all good, all fun."
Ventura reflects on Big Hurt's place in Sox lore
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura truly appreciates the career numbers produced by former teammate Frank Thomas during his Hall of Fame career. The fact that 16 of those seasons came on the South Side of Chicago gives Thomas' induction next weekend an extra special feeling.
"You see his career and the numbers that go with it. But the fact that most of it was done in a White Sox uniform is special," Ventura said. "For him to do it and have that productivity over that period of time, win MVPs and things like that, he was a dominant player in his era. That will stand the test of time as far as his place with the White Sox."
Thomas holds nine career offensive records with the White Sox. Tony La Russa, who began his managerial career with the White Sox in 1979, is also part of this year's class, which will be inducted next weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Lindstrom getting closer to return
CHICAGO -- Matt Lindstrom threw another successful bullpen session Saturday, covering 30 pitches. The right-hander will throw another bullpen Monday and then throw live batting practice to Avisail Garcia next weekend when the White Sox are in Minneapolis.
If all goes well, a Minor League rehab assignment will follow. Lindstrom has been out of action since May 20, having had surgery on his left ankle that he injured while pitching May 19.
"We're going to do a rehab assignment for sure to simulate that game speed," Lindstrom said. "There really is no way to do that other than in a game. I've done some rehab assignments before in my career, so I know what to expect. Just hopefully I don't have to do three or four. Maybe one or two will be good."
Manager Robin Ventura postponed the decision as to whether Lindstrom would resume his closer duties upon return. Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka are handling that role, with Lindstrom just trying to get back into action.
"I'm so eager to get back with the club," Lindstrom said. "I see we are playing pretty good ball since the break started. I don't know, it's been a long time. It seems like I have been away longer than two months. For me, I just want to play, so that's the main thing."
Third to first
• Ventura reiterated that Avisail Garcia only will be going on a Minor League rehab assignment if he's 100 percent healthy.
"For us, it's always good if he's playing," said Ventura of Garcia. "But you want him playing where he's 100 percent healthy. You can get hurt doing other things, but in the end, if it's anything that will jeopardize that same injury, you don't want to send him out there."
• Hector Noesi's fourth win of the season Saturday night tied his combined win total from 2011-13.
• Former White Sox hurler Gary Peters threw out one of Sunday's ceremonial first pitches.
• White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper missed Sunday's 11-7 loss to Houston due to illness.