Twins at White Sox
Setting: U.S. Cellular Field
Season Series: White Sox Lead 1-0
Game Two Matchup: RHP Felipe Paulino (NR) v. RHP Kevin Correia (NR) – 1:10 CT
Paulino Scouting Report: The Twins have seen Paulino before on three separate occasions (1-1, 4.60 ERA, 17 K/3 BB in 14.2 IP), as the 30-year-old right-hander previously toiled for the Royals in 2011 and 2012. In fact, Paulino’s last big league appearance came against the Twins, as he exited after just two-thirds of an inning back on June 6, 2012 with a strained right groin. Paulino then tore his UCL while rehabbing his groin, which required Tommy John surgery. If that wasn’t enough, Paulino missed all of 2013 with shoulder surgery to remove a cyst, as well as rotator cuff and labrum cleanup. When healthy, Paulino can throw some real heat. His average fastball in his career is 95.2 mph. For some context, last year’s MLB leaders in fastball velocity among ‘qualified’ pitchers were Matt Harvey of the Mets (95.4 mph) and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals (95.2). His velocity, repertoire, and workload will both be monitored closely as the season wears on. In the past, Paulino has featured a very good slider (86.1 mph career average thrown 25.5 percent of the time), as well as a changeup (86.4 mph, 8.3 percent) and a curveball (77.8 mph, 7.5 percent).
Game Three Matchup: Jose Quintana (NR) v. Phil Hughes (NR) – 1:10 CT
Quintana Scouting Report: The White Sox inked Quintana to a five-year deal late in spring training, which is a huge coup for a player who had pitched just 48.2 innings above High-A — and at one point was left off the Yankees 40-man roster altogether — prior to making his big league debut with the Sox in 2012. The 25-year-old left-hander quietly threw 200 innings last year, and his 3.7 fWAR tied him for 24th among all big league starters (tied with Homer Bailey, Madison Bumgarner, Patrick Corbin, and ahead of Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Minor). Quintana does it with a low-90s fastball that’s almost exclusively of the four-seam variety. He supplements it with a high-80s cutter, high-70s curve, and a mid-80s changeup. Quintana’s best pitch last year was his four-seamer, which resulted in a batting line of .237/.295/.360 (.291 wOBA). In fact the only pitch he got hit hard with last year was his changeup (.299/.377/.522 | .389 wOBA), which he only threw 10.4 percent of the time. Quintana’s best swing-and-miss pitch is his curveball, which generated a whiff 11.3 percent of the time last year. Overall, Quintana has shown a healthy penchant for grounders (44.5 percent career rate) and strikeouts (6.6 per 9, 7.4 in 2013), and that sort of combination is the holy grail for pitchers. He may not have ace type projection, but he could be a thorn in the Twins side for years to come.
Best White Sox Player You Haven’t Heard of: Marcus Semien, Infielder
Lowdown: Most people have already heard of masher Jose Dariel Abreu, and the answer here could probably be a couple other players — including Paulino if healthy — but Semien gets the nod for right now. The Twins telecast referred to him as a backup second baseman on Monday, but that’s not totally fair to Semien either. He may well beat out Gordon Beckham for regular playing time at second, and is versatile enough around the infield to see time at short and third too.
Baseball Prospectus rated him as the sixth-best prospect in a weak White Sox system over the winter, saying that while he lacks top-end projection, he “will provide a valuable service for a major league team, and given the skill set, has a chance to stick around for a long time.” Patience is wearing thin with Beckham on the South Side, and Semien could force him out sooner rather than later. Beckham is currently on the disabled list (strained left oblique).
Weather (courtesy of BleacherWeather.com): 60% chance of precipitation, 42 high/35 low Wednesday afternoon | 60% chance of precipitation, 40 high/38 low Thursday afternoon.