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Josh Phegley's season on the cusp

Catching prospect discusses his breakthrough progress, his health, and trying not to think about the call

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Josh Phegley picked a good time for his breakout season.

Tyler Flowers has battled problems at the plate (which was expected) and behind it (rather surprising and that has opened the door for Phegley to build a surprising groundswell of support thanks to his performance at Triple-A Charlotte. He's hitting .313/.376/.604 with 15 doubles and 12 homers over 48 games, and that even includes a cool start to his June (.208/.310/.375).

The 38th overall pick in 2009 out of Indiana, he and Courtney Hawkins talked to White Sox bloggers as part of a draft-themed conference call. Mark wasn't on it, so I'm eschewing the full transcript format and breaking them into separate posts for separate situations

On his offense

"We tweaked little things in my swing -- my load, how I get ready for the pitch. I don't think there's ever been anything wrong with my swing. I've always had some power, good eye-hand coordination, but I think my biggest step was to get into a good position to hit.

"That's made a world of a difference -- seeing pitches, swinging at pitches I want to swing at, not chasing other things they want me to swing at.

"Other than that, just being patient and relaxing and playing my game. I can't really think about anything else. I can't think about getting called up, or how I'm doing and watching stats and all that. Just taking every game for what it is, and trying to put together a tough at-bat."

On his defense

"[I'm working on] trying to catch the ball clean. Being such a long season, you kinda get into funks behind the plate just like you would at the dish. Just trying to relax and let the ball travel and let it come to me and receive it as softly as I can.

"Other than that, just working with this staff. I know we're having some ups and downs this year. We haven't won too many games, but just trying to get our staff to battle and get through these games and keep us in a position to win the game. It's been kind of an uphill battle this year."

On being one call away

"Some of [his Charlotte teammates] have come and gone up and down a few times. You just learn from them that it's not really in your hands. You just have to show your skill set and showcase your abilities, and if they feel they need you and you can help them win at the time, you're going to get the call. And if they feel someone else is in a better position to do that, then maybe you'll get sent back down to Triple-A.

"But I think with the White Sox, when they need somebody they call them. So you can't get too bummed about coming back down, because we've seen guys come down and go back up within a week's time.

"I think it's just managing that kind of expectation and just playing your game. That's the only thing you can control yourself is how you perform on the field. You've just got to keep your mind focused on your daily activities."

On his readiness

"My experience with the major leagues is zero, so I'm not totally sure what that jump's going to be like. All I know is that I'm trying to do everything that they want me to do to be ready, and if I get that call soon, then I'm assuming they feel like I can handle it and I'll be ready for the job."

On getting healthy, then getting up to speed

"The blood disorder (ITP) in 2010 was tough because I came out of spring feeling really good. I had a few guys saying I was swinging the bat tremendously throughout camp, and I was ready to get that season going -- my first full season in pro ball. Then it was cut short. I came back that year late and actually hit pretty well for that short amount of time."

"The next year, starting in Double-A, I think not having a full season in High-A and seeing those pitchers ... there's a huge jump every year or two; how smart the pitchers get, their command, what pitches they can throw for strikes. I think I had some ups and downs that season, definitely chasing a lot of pitches. The wrist (injury at the end of 2011) was kind of a minor thing toward the end of the year that I had to take care or it was just going to get worse.

"I think last season was the first season where, you know, I'm in Triple-A for the full year, I'm facing these guys that have big-league time, guys that have been there and done well, and just seeing what they have. There's a huge confidence boost when you can see these guys and you know, 'I can hit this pitching on a daily basis.' I still had my struggles last year at times, but I think I improved and got a little more settled.

"This year, I think it definitely shows that I've come in -- I've been in this league before, and I'm feeling very confident."

Toughest pitcher to catch

"I caught [Chris] Sale in 2010, in a bullpen when he was just drafted, and then I hadn't really seen him much until this last spring. As good as he was when I saw him in 2010, he's gotten a ton better, and he has some pretty nasty stuff that's tough to handle -- that big slider is a tough pitch to follow."