We're reaching the end of the minor league season. Bristol will finish their season on Tuesday. The regular seasons for the full season affiliates wrap up on Labor Day. And Great Falls' regular season concludes on September 6th. Three affiliates, though, will keep going as they have qualified for the playoffs: Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Great Falls.
Carlos Sanchez hasn't enjoyed his promotion to Charlotte quite as much as his time in Birmingham - .250/.250/.333 so far in three games - but that's not really a surprise for a 20 year old. He confirmed in this interview that the plan is for him to play in the Arizona Fall League.
Trayce Thompson's recent promotion to Birmingham makes him eligible to play in the AFL, as well. Like Sanchez before him, he's enjoying being a Baron. In 50 plate appearances, he's batting .333/.440/.619 with a still high but somewhat palatable for him strikeout rate of 26%. His fast start in Double-A is a continuation of an offensive turnaround the 2009 second round pick began in June. So long as he continues bludgeoning pitches well over the outfield walls, he can distinguish himself from the less powerful centerfield prospects who preceded him (Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell) as a legitimate prospect despite a high strikeout rate.
A topic of conversation later on this week will surely be September call-ups. Kenny Williams said last week that there will be more of them than was originally budgeted for. In 2008, the last time the White Sox were in a real playoff race, they eventually expanded their active roster to 35 players, which was about three more than usual. You can probably expect a similar number this season, after Charlotte has finished their playoffs. Alejandro De Aza, Leyson Septimo and Orlando Hudson will all return from the disabled list next month, with the latter two eligible on September 1. So that leaves quite a few spots for prospects, as well as journeymen, to fill.
A third catcher is a certainty and that will present an interesting glimpse into White Sox thinking. Josh Phegley is the "prospect" in Triple-A. But he hasn't really shown anything that suggests he would actually contribute at the major league level, batting just .263/302/.358, which isn't good enough with his defense. In years past, he might have gotten a chance based purely on the benefit of the experience of being around the team for a month. But the White Sox might actually want someone who could kinda, sorta play. Hector Gimenez has outplayed Phegley: .260/.327/.443 with better defense. And he has also been getting more plate appearances of late for the Knights. The 29 year old has nominal major league experience from 2006 and 2011 and he might be getting more this season.
Brent Morel is another interesting case. A few months ago, I said you could write off Morel for the rest of the season. And my thinking on that hasn't changed. Back injuries are very bad for any player but can be a death knell for the marginal ones. He's been atrocious since being sent back to Charlotte, with an OPS barely above .500, and the best thing for him would be to shut things down and get a head start on an offseason conditioning program that will make or break his career.
The 40-man roster is currently full but there's some dead wood that can be cleared out to free up four spots or so. In addition to the aforementioned Gimenez, the likes of Dan Johnson, Conor Jackson, Jose Lopez and Santos Rodriguez will be eyeing those potential spots. There are a multitude of pitchers that already have a roster spot, most of whom you've already seen (Dylan Axelrod, Jhan Marinez, Brian Omogrosso, Deunte Heath), as well as Charlie Leesman. With Charlotte in the playoffs, the White Sox probably won't strip them as bare as usual. Because they're starting pitchers, Axelrod and Leesman are the most likely to stick around for the full playoff run, which could theoretically last until September 18. That could open up an opportunity for a starting pitcher at Birmingham who could provide long relief help, like Andre Rienzo.