This Week In White Sox Minor League Baseball

This week:

With September quickly approaching, we're coming to the end of the minor league baseball season and, for a select few players, the beginning of a major league cameo.  September call-ups are an annual rite and let an organization (and its fans) see a few of the club's near-ready prospects up close.  It also serves as a reward for those players.  Obviously the majors are the goal for any player and attaining a major league roster spot (even with expanded rosters) is something that can never be taken away from them.  Also, they'll make about as much (or more) in that month than they make in the entire season. With recent injuries, some of the players who would have been call-ups are already here (Tyler Flowers, Dayan Viciedo, Donny Lucy, perhaps Josh Kinney). So the number of players who come up September 2, or in the ensuing days after minor league seasons are over, will probably be smaller than in recent years. Let's take a look at some of the candidates:

  • Let's first get a few of the non-call-up moves out of the way. The White Sox will use the expanded roster to bring back A.J. Pierzynski on September 2 (assuming no issues on his rehab that starts Monday). Phil Humber will be joining A.J. with Charlotte for a rehab start on Tuesday.  He's expected to be back September 5.  Carlos Quentin's return is more debatable.  He's eligible to be back September 5.  But I would consider that optimistic.  Ramon Castro (remember him?) is a possibility for the second half of September, though likely only as a favor for the free agent to showcase his health.
  • Bullpen reinforcements will also be arriving.  I canvassed the 40 man roster inhabitants last week and that's where this inquiry should always start.  In that, I identified Gregory Infante and Nathan Jones as possibilities.  Infante, also a call-up last season, is the better (perhaps sure) bet.  While the results this season haven't been overwhelming, he still has stuff about as good as anyone in the system.  Jones is less certain.  He's really come on strong in the last few months, and he's an organizational favorite, but he may be a victim of the numbers game.  The existence of Kinney (and, considering the state of the organization, the additional cost) may block a deserving player.  Hector Santiago, the lefty seen earlier this season, also has a chance.  However, this is his first season as a starter and he's piled up the innings.  Without a real playoff possibility to consider, and with the bullpen already featuring three lefties, it may be best to just let him finish out the season with the playoff-bound Barons.  The results this season at Birmingham - 114.1 IP, 101 H, 47 BB, 105 K - have vaulted him to the title of top lefty in the system.  And Santiago makes that no longer a tallest midget contest, just an unopposed one.
  • Now we come to the interesting case.  Addison Reed, based on both results and pure stuff, is the most deserving of a call-up.  However, the righty isn't currently on the 40 man roster and one needs to give some thought to the idea that, if things don't go to plan next season for whatever reason (injury, performance), the White Sox may burn an option in 2012.  The team usually doesn't think that way, though, and they probably shouldn't.  Reed has been utterly filthy.  Appearing at all four full season affiliates, Reed's combined line is 42 G, 76.1 IP, 42 H, 14 BB, and 110 K - for a cool 11.0 K/BB rate.  His fastball/slider combo is major league ready now and testing him at that level should be a priority.
  • The White Sox need an infielder - dear god, do they need an infielder who can play shortstop. Omar. - and there is only a single candidate for that, Eduardo Escobar.  The natural shortstop is nothing special with the bat (emphasis on the nothing).  While he was hyped this offseason based largely on, you guessed it, a fine 120 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, the switch-hitter was back at his usual level during the regular season: .259/.296/.351.  The 22 year old Venezuelan's defense is above average and he cut down a bit on the silly errors this year.  He could use another half or full season at Charlotte but lack of other options may make him a favorite for a major league bench spot next season.
  • For the outfield, there's also probably only one candidate left, Jordan Danks.  And, first, let me apologize to him for screwing up his season by writing a faintly laudatory post about him earlier this month.  Literally ever since that post, he's been awful.  In any event, after two full seasons in AAA, it's about time to see what, if anything, he can contribute at the major league level.  He's a plus defender at all three outfield positions, bats left-handed and has some decent speed.  He's shown some improvement in power this year but, overall, the strikeout rate remains too high resulting in a rather uninspiring offensive profile.  Nevertheless, a .253/.340/.430 line with a 28.5% strikeout rate is what passes for a top prospect in the system these days and we can look forward to some big brother, little brother stories as the beat writers also play out the string.
  • There are other possibilities, and the White Sox sometimes surprise (like with Infante last year).  Tdogg is still hot for Lastings Milledge (.286/.354/.430) and there are some fringe pitcher types who someone in the organization may be hot for (like a Dylan Axelrod, Shane Lindsay or Brian Omogrosso).  I'm sure either Jim or me will cover them, as needed.
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