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This Week in White Sox Minor League Baseball

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The end is a beginning

Maybe, just maybe.
Maybe, just maybe.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

So, on the day that a major baseball site declares the season over for the White Sox, let's contemplate the future.

And the most immediate future, of course, is in Triple-A. Cause célèbre Carlos Sanchez is playing well for the Knights. How well? .407/.432/.582 well, along with his usual plus defense and 5 for 6 in stolen bases. Now, the enthusiasm for that line should be well-tempered by his utterly ridiculous .507 BABIP. But we knew before the season that the 22-year-old Venezuelan didn't need any more time in the minors and he's making damn sure there isn't any lingering doubt about it. With Micah Johnson struggling mightily - as one should have expected from a guy who didn't even play a full season at Charlotte and, regardless, wasn't overly impressive - fans are probably correct to clamor for a change. Sanchez isn't going to overwhelm anyone with his overall production but, with the White Sox defense looking juvenile, he can at least help shore up one major contributor to that sad clown comedy.

There really isn't anyone else who, realistically, would be asked to immediately step up to a major role for the White Sox. The starting outfielders are well-entrenched and J.B. Shuck has done pretty much what he's expected to do. Trayce Thompson has played well - though, like Sanchez, his .326/.365/.517 line is larded by his .422 BABIP. The most important thing for the 24-year-old, however, is that he's kept his strikeout rate to a reasonable (for him) 25.0%. With fewer off days in the future, and the wear of the season starting to mount, the bench is already getting more opportunities to play. Thompson is just about ready to take on what his long-term role in the majors is likely to be - bench outfielder - and he'll be putting pressure on Shuck and Emilio Bonifacio.

Third base and catcher were not addressed in the offseason. This wasn't because the incumbents were good but because other spots needed attention first. With both Rob Brantly and George Kottaras on the disabled list, there isn't currently anything credible on the farm. And one can certainly query whether AAAA retreads can even be credible.

Third base, however, does have resurrected prospect Matt Davidson biding his time. Conor Gillaspie is certainly going to get a long leash (and platoon partner Gordon Beckham is playing ably). And, even if Gillaspie wasn't, I'd expect the White Sox to be cautious with the 24-year-old after his atrocious 2014 season. It's not like he's going crazy like Sanchez or Thompson. His .244/.316/.477 line is well inside the range of his expected performance and isn't fueled by anything out of the ordinary, other than a power-friendly home ballpark. We'll be seeing him in the near-future but, barring injury, we're talking in terms of months.

The White Sox bullpen has played well so far but, of course, the guys deeper on the depth chart haven't really been tested. They've already added Carlos Rodon. Frankly, there isn't much to discuss here other than to say that guys like Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto are down there should the need arise.

On the starting pitching side, however, the White Sox have the two expected weak performers of John Danks and Hector Noesi. Rodon provides the closest source of pressure on their spots but the White Sox will be content to keep him in his tandem role with Noesi (and otherwise in the bullpen) for the near-term. Chris Beck is reinforcing his middling, backend starter profile: 5 GS, 26.1 IP, 31 H, 3.6% BB rate, 16.1% K rate. The more interesting case is the reemergence of Erik Johnson. He still needs to build up his strength after his spring training injury but the results and, more importantly, the scouting reports are positive. The velocity he had in 2013 is pretty much back, resulting in a line of 4 G, 17.1 IP, 13 H, 8.2% BB rate, 26.0% K rate. While Rodon is already in Chicago, Johnson may be the more realistic candidate in the near-term, after he's made 2 or 3 more starts for Charlotte.