Happy Friday, White Sox fans! Well, we’ve certainly had a crazy few days, haven’t we? We’ve had an intense Home Run Derby that reminded us of how much we all love baseball, Avi García participated in his first All-Star Game, and the rebuild continued in full force as José Quintana was traded to the Cubs. However, what we can’t forget is that there’s another half of a season left to play. So, it’s time to refocus on the team on the field and outline what we as fans can look forward to in the “back 9” of our first rebuild season.

Here are five storylines to follow:

1) When do we see the prospects?

We had our first “Moncada Watch” back in May when Cody Asche was sent down (and then again accidentally on Thursday), but since then, it’s been fun to watch the No. 1 prospect have a quality AAA season. Plus, I don’t know about all of you, but the Futures Game matchup between Kopech and Moncada was one of my favorite things to watch in awhile; it re-energized my excitement for the future. When will we get to see Moncada? Who else might we see get called up later in the second-half? Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez, and Nicky Delmonico, among others, could begin to see big league action this season as rosters expand in September and players are traded. Also look for promotions – but not to the majors – for players like Alec Hansen, Zack Collins, Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning, newcomer Eloy Jiménez, and others with an eye on competing at the next level for the full 2018 season. As always, #TrustTheProspects.

2) Who else do we have to say goodbye to?

The first bittersweet goodbye of the 2017 campaign came on Thursday. This will be the biggest trade the White Sox complete during trading season, but it will most likely not be the only one. David Robertson is likely the next player to go, and there are other players who could provide the necessary push for playoff-hopeful teams. Will there be any surprise trades? I’d like to quote Hawk here and say, “sit back, relax, and strap it down,” but I know none of us are able to relax as the Quintana news settles in with the anticipation of future trades. It’s about time to get excited about the prospects the Sox will be receiving back in these trades.

 3) Can Carlos Rodon become the new ace?

Now that the White Sox have traded José Quintana, the Pale Hose’s rotation consists of Carlos Rodon, James Shields, Derek Holland, and Mike Pelfrey. In other words, Rodon will be the ace of the rotation for the first time since his debut in 2015. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Rodon both in past seasons and in the few starts he’s been able to make this season. When he was drafted by the Sox 3rd overall, he was expected to be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, and the Quintana trade finally gives a hopefully healthy Rodon the chance to show that he can lead the White Sox pitching staff into the future.

4) Can Avi and Davidson keep producing, and can Timmy turn things around?

Two big first-half surprises for the White Sox have been the emergence of both Avi Garcia and Matt Davidson. In my last article, I highlighted both the positives and negatives for Avi and Matt, but the question remains: will either player keep their production up? Only time will tell what we can expect from both players throughout the rest of their careers, and it all starts with this second half. If they keep producing, you can look forward to some fireworks.

Unfortunately, a negative surprise has come in the form of Tim Anderson and his offensive and defensive struggles. The bad news: his first half was a struggle for him (and for Sox fans). The good news: he’s young, healthy, and still incredibly talented. Plus, his series against the Rockies wasn’t bad (3-11 with 2 HR… have to start somewhere), and it’s always good for young players to face some adversity (they can’t ALL be Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Aaron Judge). So today, say a prayer to the baseball gods for Avi, Matt, and Timmy, because they all could use a little extra help as they get going tomorrow.

5) What games/series/promotions do we have to look forward to?

I know I might sound like an advertisement in this section, but in order for this rebuild to work, we, as White Sox fans, need to do our part by putting our butts in the seats and supporting the rebuilding process. So, what are some series and promotions we can look forward to? First off, we’re back-to-back Crosstown Cup Champions, so look for the White Sox to try and defend their title when they play the Cubs from July 24-27 (the games at The Rate are July 26-27). Plus, there’s a good chance Quintana pitches against the Sox over those 4 games, which would add a new element to the crosstown rivalry. Let’s pack the stands on both the North Side and the South Side. In addition, we have home series against the first-place Dodgers (July 18-19) as well as the Giants (Sept. 8-10), if you like to see teams and players you don’t often get to watch in person.

Now, let’s look at some of the fun and unique promotions happening. I’m going to start with my personal favorite, “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day”, on September 8th versus the Giants (I wish they still wore those green jerseys… those were one of my favorite). There’s also “Christmas in July” (July 28), “Halfway to Mardi Gras” (Aug. 8), “Beatles Night” (Aug. 21), “Elvis Night” (Aug. 25), “Star Wars Night” (Aug. 26), and many more. Basically, the White Sox are trying to make it fun to be at the stadium even when the team isn’t playoff bound. Plus, eventually Moncada could be in the lineup, and I know you’ll want to go and watch him. I know this season has been tough at times, and it’s going to get tougher, but remember, every game the White Sox play moves them one game closer to being competitive in a few years. Whenever you’re feeling down after a blowout loss, just look up how Moncada, Kopech, and others did that day; trust me, you’ll get excited.

Now, this is where I get to quote Hawk: “Sit back, relax, and strap it down, the second half of White Sox baseball is coming your way!” Enjoy it Sox fans.