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2013 Charlotte Knights: Season Preview

Triple-A affiliate provides the readiest reinforcements to the White Sox

Simon Castro
Simon Castro

The White Sox Triple-A club will have quite the packed outfield to start the season. Jared Mitchell, Blake Tekotte and Jordan Danks are all legitimate center fielders. I'd expect Mitchell and Tekotte to get the most time, as Danks is beginning to look like he's going to get the dreaded AAAA tag. Mitchell (still) needs to cut the strikeouts and Tekotte needs to rebuild his swing.

The infield is less crowded, with Carlos Sanchez the only prospect to watch. He had a poor spring training but the Venezuelan is still just 20 years-old. He could afford it without denting his standing with the White Sox. Hopefully he'll continue to pepper the ball all over the field with the same ferocity he did across three levels last year. Defensively, he's pretty darn good and he'll probably see time at shortstop and second base (and maybe third base).

The other infielder to watch is, of course, no longer a prospect and that's Brent Morel. Way back in 2010, he had a superb campaign with the Knights, which propelled him to the starting third baseman with the White Sox the following season. He's going to need to recapture that form because anything less will put him out of the major league picture for good.

Handling the catching will be Josh Phegley and Bryan Anderson. After being drafted in first supplemental round in 2009, Phegley was billed as an offense-first catcher. That hasn't come to pass, as he's a career .253/.302/.383 hitter and his line for the Knights in 2012 was almost spot-on that. One would hope that this second full season in the International League will bring far better results.

Anderson did all he could to try to steal the back-up catcher role from Hector Gimenez. While the 26 year-old former Cardinal ended the spring with the better offensive numbers (.959 OPS v. .826 OPS), Gimenez shut the door with an excellent first half of March. Anderson first reached AAA in 2008 so, while he moves from the Pacific Coast League to the International League, he will be expected to hit.

The rotation will, of course, be headlined initially by the rehabbing John Danks. But he's going to be accompanied by some guys who are jockeying for position on the organizational depth chart. Dylan Axelrod is the clear #6 starter right now, and will be filling in for Danks in Chicago. But, even if Danks successfully returns to the major league rotation and pushes Axelrod back to Charlotte, spot starts (at a minimum) are likely to come up.

While it's often luck of the timing of the major league club's need (and not strictly quality) that determines who gets the call-up, RHPs Simon Castro and Andre Rienzo will both be looking to impress in the hopes of mid-season phone calls for their services. LHP Charlie Leesman is going to start the year in extended spring training while he continues to rehab from offseason knee surgery. But he'll likely join the starting pitcher scrum sometime in May.

The bullpen has quite a few guys with major league experience - notably RHPs Brian Omogrosso, Deunte Heath, Jhan Marinez, Ramon Troncoso - but there's a bit of question mark about the depth chart among southpaws.

While there will certainly be some jockeying as the season wears on, Omogrosso right now is the guy who would get the call should a right-handed reliever be needed. But the left-hander would be anyone's guess. Santos Rodriguez has slowly climbed the organizational ladder and will be looking to reduce the walks in the hopes of bringing his mid 90s fastball to Chicago. Daniel Moskos and David Purcey will be looking for another shot at the big leagues.