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Wart-Free Warthogs?

CHICAGO–Kris Honel is in a hurry. He had hoped to skip the Carolina League and go directly to Double-A after a strong first season as a pro, but he’s making the most of his time as a Winston-Salem Warthog.

Honel, who will pitch all season at age 20, allowed three runs or less in five of his first seven starts in the high Class A Carolina League. He was 4-3, 3.35 after a loss to Lynchburg, but his career ERA was still an eye-catching 2.89.

With his velocity back in the 92-94 mph range to complement his knuckle-curve, the White Sox couldn’t be happier about Honel. They nabbed him with the 16th pick overall in the 2001 draft from Providence Catholic High in the southwest Chicago suburbs. If everything works out, he could be the rarest of commodities–a future ace with hometown ties.

Honel appears ticketed for a step-by-step development. He had hoped to move quicker in an organization where Jon Garland reached the big leagues only 435 innings removed from high school.

"They compare me a lot to Jon, stuff-wise and in terms of body type," Honel said. "I look at him, and I know he struggled a little bit when he got to the big leagues, but he’s starting to come into his own . . . Do I think I can do like Jon Garland? Of course I think I can. But it’s up to the people above me, the higher-ups. I just have to do my job, pitch well wherever I am."

General manager Ken Williams indicates the organization has decided to slow the track for its best pitching prospects.

"We were very aggressive in moving pitchers during that time," Williams said, referring to Garland’s arrival in 2000. "The results were mixed. I think we are probably more conservative at this point in time."

Honel isn’t the only pitcher receiving good reviews at Winston-Salem. Lefthander Ryan Wing, taken one round after Honel in the 2001 draft, was 3-1, 1.71 in 42 innings. He had used his sharp slider and hard, low-90s sinker to hold hitters to a .191 average.

Wing’s mechanics are a work in progress, causing occasional control problems. But he has as much upside as any lefthander in the organization.

Chi-Lites

• The White Sox released smooth-fielding shortstop Jason Dellaero, their first-round pick in 1997. He hit .214 in six minor league seasons and .091 in an 11-game trial with the Sox in 1999. The Sox experimented with him as a pitcher in 2002.

• Second baseman Aaron Miles earned some big league consideration with a fast start at Triple-A Charlotte: He was hitting .375-6-12 in 120 at-bats.

• Previous organization report: Michael Spidale

 
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