On Tuesday, White Sox’ pitching prospect Andre Rienzo made his major league debut versus the Cleveland Indians. Rienzo was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to replace the then scratched Jake Peavy from Tuesday’s start. Now that Peavy has been dealt to Boston, Rienzo figures to make several more starts down the stretch.
Andre Rienzo’s MLB debut went about as good as it could have despite not earning a victory. The Brazilian-born righty pitched seven strong innings, giving up three runs (0 ER), on five hits, three walks, and six strikeouts. The performance shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given Rienzo’s production in the minor leagues over the past several seasons. Over the course of seven minor league seasons, Rienzo has pitched 543.2 innings, while compiling a 37-26 record, 584 strikeouts, a 3.46 ERA, and a 1.30 WHIP. Those numbers at the minor league level don’t necessarily scream “ace-potential”, but Rienzo could turn out to be a solid number three starter.
It should be noted that Rienzo does have some baggage in his past. In 2012, he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs after making four starts for High-A Winston-Salem. After his suspension, Rienzo did recover to make 13 starts at Double-A Birmingham and one start at Triple-A Charlotte. Despite the suspension, Rienzo enjoyed his best statistical season in the minors. In 18 starts, Rienzo struck out 113 batters in 103.1 innings pitched, while sporting a 2.53 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Prior to the 2013 season, Rienzo pitched as a member of the Brazilian National Team during the World Baseball Classic. He performed well in his only appearance versus Team Cuba, giving up just two runs, on one hit, four walks, and two strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched.
As mention above, Rienzo will likely take over Jake Peavy’s spot in the rotation for the remainder of the season. The White Sox have nothing to lose by sending him out their every fifth day, so maybe Rienzo can make a case for a spot in the starting rotation next season. It has been a very frustrating year for White Sox’ fans, but Rienzo could provide some reason for hope during the final two months of the season.
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