GLENDALE, Ariz. – Avisail Garcia blasted a two-run home run, Paul Konerko had two hits and Adam Eaton flashed his blazing speed, but still it was somebody who is expected to start the season in the minor leagues that shined brightest during Tuesday’s first intrasquad game.
Right-handed pitcher Chris Beck, who had a breakout season last year while pitching on two separate minor league levels, delivered two scoreless innings as a starter.
The second-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Southern University gave up only an infield single to Jose Abreu, but he erased him on a double-play grounder to face the minimum six batters. The batters Beck faced in order over his two innings: Eaton, Alexei Ramirez, Garcia, Adam Dunn, Abreu and Dayan Viciedo.
“Beck looked good,” manager Robin Ventura said after being asked about the pitching. “We had quite a few guys throwing strikes, throwing well. It’s nice to get them out there in a situation where they have fielders behind them.”
Beck posted a 3.07 ERA over 26 starts last season, starting the year at Single-A Winston-Salem before moving up to Double-A Birmingham. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder could make a return visit to Birmingham again this year, which doesn’t put him as far from Chicago as it might sound.
Erik Johnson started the season at Birmingham last season, pitched for the White Sox in September and now is a favorite to land a rotation spot this spring.
After his solid 2013 season, Beck moved into Baseball America’s top-10 list of White Sox prospects, and pitching coach Don Cooper has often included him when talking about long shot candidates for the Opening Day rotation.
Expect Beck to be sent back to minor league camp at some point after Cactus League games begin, but, in front of an audience of the team’s major league and minor league coaching staffs on Tuesday, he continued to raise his profile.