GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox gave up a lot to pry Nestor Molina from the Blue Jays farm system, so it's safe to say the right-handed strike machine is being watched closely in camp.
"He looks like he's throwing a ton of strikes, like knows what he's doing,'' Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said Monday morning. "His delivery is fine, he's quick to the plate, he gives you the impression his walks to innings will be good. Now I'm anxious to see him in games.''
Molina, acquired in the trade for closer Sergio Santos in a deal that surprised some because of Santos' credible performance in his first year as a closer and because of Santos' team-friendly contract, is a converted infielder as Santos was. He moved up near the top of the Sox' prospects lists when he changed teams.
If he makes the team out of camp, it would be as a reliever, although his future is in starting. His sights are set on starting his major league career as soon as possible.
"I would definitely be disappointed if I didn't make the team because I came in here with the mindset that I'm going to be on the roster,'' Molina, 23, said. "But if I don't make it, I'll work my butt off in the minor leagues and I know there will be an opportunity sometime during the season where I'll be able to move back up."
Molina best pitch is his splitter, his best asset his command. He walked 16 batters and struck out 114 in 130 innings combined in Class A and AA last season. He pitched 22 innings in AA, so he may need more seasoning at that level.
Here is a Molina scouting report from Baseball America in December:
"Prior to 2011, Molina had made just 77 career appearances, four of which were starts. Toronto had their sights set on giving him a chance to start, assigning him to the high Class A Dunedin rotation. He flourished in the move, throwing 130 innings between Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire while striking out more than a batter per inning and walking about one per nine. Molina has above-average command of a fastball that ranges from 88-93 mph. He originally tried to turn his slurvy breaking ball into a slider, but he has shifted to using a curveball now. Molina has a legitimate out-pitch in his splitter, and he also shows feel for a straight changeup. His secondary stuff doesn't jump off the page, but his fastball command helps it play up. He profiles nicely in the back of a rotation and will likely make his big league debut in 2012."