As we approach the last full month of minor league action, promotions are routine for those who have distinguished themselves so far this season and some of the deserving got theirs last week. The undeserving got theirs this week. Let's start with the headliner: CF Jared Mitchell. He started the season spectacularly, cooled off in May and then fell of a cliff in June. His production increased in July, mostly due to a power surge, but the line was ugly - .169/.321/.462 - because he struck out in a rather astounding 42% of his 82 plate appearances. But the always aggressive White Sox apparently disregarded the production and thought he looked good enough to get promoted to Charlotte. Good luck with that, Jared.
The other notable promotions were for a pair of catchers. Miguel Gonzalez went to Birmingham to make room at Winston-Salem for Kevan Smith. Considering Smith is 24 years old, it was absolutely necessary for him to start climbing the ladder. Without knowing his age, Smith's .280/.342/.419 line for Kannapolis would look pretty good for a catcher. And he played pretty good defense, too. But we do know his age. And so that's unremarkable production. He's still old for High-A but there's nothing he can do about that other than keep hitting.
The fact that Gonzalez and not Mike Blanke was the one to make way is somewhat interesting. Neither of those two were doing anything with the bat for the Dash, Blanke was doing more of the catching, Blanke was routinely getting additional plate appearances as a DH, Gonzalez is 21 while Blanke is 23 and Blanke spent most of last season with Winston-Salem. Given all that, you probably would have guessed Blanke would get the push if only because he's older and maybe Gonzalez is still young enough to benefit from continued development in High-A. Instead, the young Venezuelan will be challenged. Gonzalez is certainly the superior defender and he was throwing out more than half of the runners who decided to test his arm. Such skills can make a long career for a catcher.
There were also more injuries. RHP Simon Castro is back on the DL, joined by Dylan Axelrod. And home plate was a dangerous place on Friday night in Myrtle Beach. First SS Marcus Semien injured his left knee in a collision at the plate. A few innings later CF Keenyn Walker injured his left shoulder on an awkward slide to avoid a tag.
A couple weeks back I highlighted some of the left-handed pitching depth in the minors. You've seen most of the right-handed depth in the forms of Axelrod, Brian Bruney, Jhan Marinez, Brian Omogrosso and Deunte Heath. There is one other guy worth at least a mention: Brandon Kloess. He's mainly a sinker/slider guy. His sinker is low 90s and his slider is low 80s and sometimes he mixes in a four-seamer that's a couple ticks above his sinker. He's an old man at 27 years old but his performance this season across two levels has been enough to at least put him in the conversation should a bullpen crisis strike again. Between Birmingham and Charlotte: 27 G, 55.2 IP, 46 H, 23 BB, 54 K.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow apparently said that the PTBNL from the Myers trade isn't just a throw-in but potentially the centerpiece of their trade return. A PTBNL is usually used for one of three reasons: 1) if a team finds itself short at a position at one of their minor league affiliates, they can cash it in for an organizational player to fill the void; 2) the target player can't be traded yet because he signed his first pro contract less than a year ago; and 3) the target player is injured. If the Luhnow quote is accurate, #1 is out. #2 is also probably out because no 2011 draftee of any consequence was ineligible to be traded and the White Sox don't have many Latin American signees. So that leaves #3. If I were a gambling man, I'd probably put my money on RHP Andre Rienzo, who injured his hamstring the day before the trade. Other possibilities include the injured RHP Gregory Infante and OF Mark Haddow, as well as 3B Rangel Ravelo who is on the restricted list because of a family matter.