CHICAGO – As recently as last month, general manager Kenny Williams scoffed at the notion that the White Sox’s farm system had nothing much to offer.
“I hear that [criticism], but we have this guy, and this guy and that guy,” Williams said.
Axelrod was the latest of the White Sox’s young pitchers to impress over the last two months, giving up just two runs over six innings to the Detroit Tigers. He was left with a no-decision when the bullpen couldn’t protect a three-run led in the ninth inning. The Tigers won it 6-5 in 10 innings.
"It's nice to get individual accolades like wins and things but it's a team game,” Axelrod said. “Unfortunately we came out on the losing end but I was happy with what I did and just want to continue to build off that.”
Armed with what appeared to be nothing more than a 90-mph fastball, Axelrod proved that looks can be deceiving. In his second career appearance and first career major-league start, the right-hander changed speeds and used pinpoint accuracy to befuddle the hottest offense in the game.
“He threw great; he deserved a win,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “He pitched really well. He changed speeds, moved the ball in and out, up and down. He threw really well for his first big league start to go out and pitch the way he did. It was fun to watch and nice to see.”
OK, so maybe there wasn’t Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and White Sox killer Ryan Raburn in the Tigers’ lineup, but Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez did occupy the heart of the order. Raburn and Avila came in later to hit ninth-inning home runs that tied the game.
Axelrod is expected to get another start on Tuesday during a doubleheader at Cleveland.
“Well you know, it's a shame,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This kid's pitching very well and all the sudden we just blew it for him. It was a very nice day. You see this kid having success in his first time in the big leagues and all of the sudden, poof, another bad day for the White Sox.”
There might be less of those bad days of Stewart, Reed and Axelrod keep improving. Reed is starting to look like he could start next season in the White Sox’s bullpen.
The right-hander, who was drafted in the third round last season, has delivered three consecutive scoreless outings after giving up a run in his big-league debut.
Where Axelrod’s road took him from independent baseball to the White Sox in just two years, Reed might have had an even more impressive road by moving from low Single-A, to high Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A this season alone before landing with the White Sox.
“He has a great future,” Guillen said of Reed. “I saw him go through the minor league system so fast and I wonder why. That’s why. This kid every time we put him out there, he looks better. He has been facing pretty good hitters too. He’s another good one that comes up.”