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Getz getting comfortable in White Sox role
Former big league infielder takes over as head of player development
03/14/2017 9:29 PM ET
Chris Getz reached Double-A Birmingham in 2006, his first full season in the White Sox system. (Tony Farlow/MiLB.com)

GLENDALE, Arizona -- As the rest of the Minor League world was shutting down for the holidays, Chris Getz was just getting started.

More than 11 years after he was taken by the White Sox in the fourth round of the 2005 Draft, Getz returned to the organization he long called home as Chicago's new director of player development. And accepting the position was just the start.

"I took the job in November," Getz said Tuesday, looking over a back field at the White Sox facility in Glendale. "You're looking at reports. You're watching some video. You're obviously having conversations about the players, so all things considered, [the biggest challenge] really is getting to know these guys."

After three seasons as a player in the White Sox system, Getz reached the Majors in 2008 and played 459 games over seven years with Chicago, the Royals and Blue Jays. Upon retiring in 2014, he returned to the Minors, joining the Royals front office in January 2015 as baseball operations assistant in player development.


"The relationships I had with the Kansas City Royals, whether it's with [general manager] Dayton Moore, [assistant GM of player personnel] J.J. Picollo, [director of Minor League operations] Ronnie Richardson, [assistant GM of baseball operations] Scott Sharp, spending the time that I did with them has been very useful," Getz said. "I still call them and ask them questions because I consider those people all mentors. Now coming over here, I had some strong relationships already in place with people like Buddy Bell, Rick Hahn, guys who obviously are the leaders of the organization. Because I feel very comfortable with them, I'm not scared to ask them questions and things like that.

"Going back to Ronnie, he and I went to the Royals at the same time. He was coming from a prior organization, how they did things with the Atlanta Braves. Just handling some of the newer things that come your way, I definitely leaned on him on how to handle some of those situations."

In his time with the Royals, Getz made others around the game take notice. Following the 2016 season, the White Sox approached him about his interest in filling the role left open when former player development head Nick Capra took over as third base coach on the staff of new manager Rick Renteria. Getz jumped quickly into his new gig.

"It certainly helped coming in November versus, you know, a month ago," Getz said. "We did organizational meetings right when I took the job, so that was another opportunity to spend time with staff. We went through the players, but literally, you're looking at scouting reports and talking about it. It can be a little bit overwhelming, but over time, just through the repeated conversations, it starts to click."

Getz didn't just inherit a system new to him. The White Sox reshaped their Minor League landscape with a series of moves in December, adding four of MLB.com's Top 100 prospects -- second baseman Yoan Moncada (No. 2) and pitchers Lucas Giolito (No. 11), Michael Kopech (No. 16) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 46) -- in a pair of trades. Getz's organization is now among baseball's best and deepest.

"I feel very fortunate and lucky to come in, and then we made those moves in the Winter Meetings and all of a sudden, we have this increase in talent," he said. "It adds to the enjoyment of it, really. I think I have the best job in baseball and, all of a sudden, you're getting guys that you can really envision to become championship-type players. You can't ask for anything better than that."

Much has remained the same since Getz climbed to the Majors, but the 33-year-old has noticed new elements in development for today's prospects.

"I'd say the biggest difference - not that it was too long ago, my first Spring Training was 2006 - I think the technology," he said. "Players are always looking at their swings all the time. They've got their iPhones, iPads, their computer, whatever. They're watching videos, whether it's of themselves or other players. That stuff was around [back then] but not like it is now. You can access it so quickly. It's kind of a good and bad thing. You can make quick adjustments, but also it can take you to a place where you don't need to go either because at the end of the day, you've got to be able to break this stuff down, simplify it and know what you have to do."

The learning curve has been steep. Getz has had to familiarize himself with roughly 180 players over five months and didn't get to see most of them on the field until the last couple of weeks. Now his crash course is paying its earliest dividends.

"There's nothing better than being here in Spring Training to finally spend some time with the players, build the relationships and then on top of that build relationships with the staff who are going to help you in this whole development process," he said. "It's just getting to know these people, what makes them tick. The quicker you can start building those relationships, the faster you can get to where you want to be."

Fulmer's next steps: No. 5 White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer rocketed to the Majors last year in his first full pro season. After starting the campaign with Double-A Birmingham, he jumped directly to Chicago, where he posted an 8.49 ERA in eight relief outings, before moving down to Triple-A Charlotte.

After making 29 appearances, including 21 Minor League starts, across three levels, Fulmer took the offseason to catch his breath and get ready for his final push to a full-time big league job. When he gets there, the Vanderbilt product knows what role he sees for himself..

"I want to start," Fulmer said in the clubhouse Tuesday in an interview for this week's episode of The Show Before The Show podcast. [His former Vanderbilt teammate Walker Buehler expressed a similar sentiment for his development in Dodgers camp on Tuesday.] "That's the challenge I was faced with in college, being stuck in the bullpen early and proving myself to be a starter, being drafted as a starter. Here, it's the same thing. I want to start. I want to take our team late into ballgames, and I feel like I'm working toward trying to get a spot. I feel great. Whatever the team needs me to do, as long as we win, that's the most important thing. But long-term, I definitely would like to start."

Getz agreed with the right-hander's ultimate goal.

"I think it's going to be great for him that he did [reach the big leagues] last year," Getz said. "He got exposed to the highest level. There's some great strides that he's made in his delivery, the tempo of his delivery. He's in a really good spot.

"We view him as a starter. We're going to exhaust everything we can for him to become a starter. The easiest thing to do from an organization standpoint is just to put people in the bullpen and assume that their stuff's going to play up. That might be the case for Carson Fulmer; it might be. But we're not ready to do that. We don't want to do that. We want him to be in the rotation."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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