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August 13, 2017

The Chris Sale trade. The Adam Eaton trade. The Jose Quintana trade. The trades of Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, and Melky Cabrera. All of these moves to rebuild a barren and long-neglected farm system. They were made with both eyes squarely trained on the future.  

That future is arriving ahead of schedule. Reynaldo Lopez, one of the two prized pitching prospects acquired from the Nationals last winter for Eaton, held his own in his White Sox debut Friday night. The 23-year-old right-hander fired six innings against the Royals, striking out six and allowing just two runs on four hits. Lopez caught a few breaks, giving up two home runs and three walks but escaping major damage by scattering those pitching lapses rather than succumbing to one big, bad inning. Still, we’re talking about a pitcher with a fastball that sits at 96 and touches the high-90s, plus a curveball that scouts love, hurling six competitive innings in his first time out, during a season in which that qualifies as a minor miracle for the Pale Hose.

Meanwhile, Yoan Moncada has also started to impress. The key cog in the Sale blockbuster got off to a horrific start as a White Sock, batting .105 with 16 strikeouts in his first 12 games. He’s shown a much more refined approach since then, batting .314/.442/.457 with eight walks in 10 games, plus some electrifying late-game heroics.

Two players do not a roster make, and the White Sox could use big performances down the road by Lucas Giolito, Blake Rutherford and other newly-acquired prospects if they hope to complete a successful rebuild over the next few years. Still, with the Sox now bottoming out in their quest to rise again, the first small signs of optimism are some of the sweetest.

26. Cincinnati Reds (49–69, minus-91, LT: 26)

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