Legendary pitching coach could hold key to White Sox future

Big League Stew

The Chicago White Sox have been very aggressive in their rebuilding efforts, which began when ace pitcher Chris Sale was traded to the Boston Red Sox last winter. Since then, executive vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn have orchestrated several significant trades that have turned veteran assets into a plethora of highly regarded prospects.

According to most prospect analysts, the White Sox will enter 2018 with a top three minor league system. That means a stream of young and potentially difference-making talent is on the way.

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It also means that expectations will rise and that each of those prospects will be put under the microscope as they continue their development. A big key to this rebuild succeeding will be giving those prospects the best tools, proper guidance, and ultimately the right opportunity to succeed. That clearly hasn’t been lost on the White Sox, who on Thursday announced the hiring of one of baseball’s best pitching minds over the last four decades to help oversee much of that process.

Dave Duncan, the pitching coach who was long associated with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, was hired as the organization’s new pitching consultant. With respected pitching coach Don Cooper already handling things at the major league level, the bulk of Duncan’s responsibilities will center around the developmental phase. That includes reviewing and evaluating video, and advising pitching prospects on what they need to work on.

“Given his impressive experience and accomplishments in the game over decades in the dugout,” Hahn said on Thursday. “Dave provides us with another set of valuable eyes to give insight into our major league pitching staff, our minor league prospects, other major league staffs and even some of the amateur arms we might be considering for next year’s draft.”

Legendary pitching coach Dave Duncan could provide a big boost to the Chicago White Sox rebuilding effort. (AP)
Legendary pitching coach Dave Duncan could provide a big boost to the Chicago White Sox rebuilding effort. (AP)

Some are already calling the hiring of Duncan the completion of a pitching coach dream team. Between Duncan and Cooper, they have 70 years of coaching experience and plenty of success to back up their expertise.

Duncan began coaching in 1978. He joined La Russa’s staff with the White Sox in 1983, before following him to Oakland and then St. Louis. Along the way he’s coached four Cy Young Award winners: LaMarr Hoyt (1983), Bob Welch (1990), Dennis Eckersley (1992) and Chris Carpenter (2005). Duncan is also credited with helping to mold the careers of Dave Stewart and Adam Wainwright, both of whom have led teams to World Series wins.

Cooper is no slouch either. He’s been coaching in the White Sox organization since 1988. He was promoted to pitching coach under Ozzie Guillen in 2002, and was a central figure in the team’s World Series win in 2005.

Duncan’s hiring though really could be a pivotal move for Chicago. With Carlos Rodon looking to take the next step, and other young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez poised to break through, Duncan could help put it all together for them. The White Sox also have four pitchers in MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 100 prospects in Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning. They’ll all be spending time under Duncan’s learning tree in the coming months.

As important as acquiring talent is, it’s forward-thinking additions like bringing in the respected fountain of knowledge and wisdom that Duncan is that can help teams get to the next level.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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