Since today is September 1, the White Sox have called up Erik Johnson, Leury Garcia, Frankie Montas, and Rob Brantly with their expanded roster.
We're all acquainted with Erik Johnson from his time with the Sox the past two seasons. While no one is specifically saying what happened last year outside of the mercurial idea of "mechanics", this year has been much more the Erik Johnson we were expecting to see at Charlotte at least. Earlier today, he was named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. That's something you'd expect for a starting pitcher with a 2.37 ERA and 2.57 FIP. Even though he's pitching in a hitter friendly park, his HR/9 was just 0.34 and increased his K/9 to professional highs. He's really got nothing left to prove now in the minors. A moderately resurgent John Danks and an injury free starting rotation is all that kept him at Charlotte all season.
We're all familiar with Leury Garcia too. After spending the whole season with the White Sox, he spent only a few weeks with the Sox this season with the balance of the time in Charlotte. He has hit well at Charlotte putting together a .298/.340/.395 season. With Saladino, Sanchez, and Micah Johnson all spending time in Charlotte, Garcia really hasn't been stuck in one position too long. Since his role in the majors is probably as a utility guy, that's probably been to his advantage.
Frankie Montas spent one day with the Sox after the All-Star game without getting to pitch. He also played in the Futures team this season for the World team where he was got as high as 102 mph on the radar during the game. At Birmingham, he finished the season with a 2.97 ERA and 3.02 FIP and gave up only three home runs in his 112 innings. That innings total is also a source of good news and bad news. The 112 innings so far stands as a career high for a single season. The problem is that inning total is a low for a guy on the cusp of making a major league roster. Over 23 starts, he averaged under five innings per start. He's also had two starts under four innings in the past month. While getting a start in the majors would be great to see where he's at against major league hitting, getting him more opportunities for reps even in the bullpen will be important.
Finally, Rob Brantly is the last of the four guys to be called up. The Sox picked up Brantly off waivers during the Winter Meetings last December. At the time, getting him and adding him to the 40-man roster was a sign that someone was going to go. That turned out to be Josh Phegley. Brantly was injured during spring training and ended up being out until the end of May when he went to Birmingham, moving to Charlotte in the beginning of August. Between the stops, Brantly hit .310/.335/.483. The eight walks in 215 plate appearances are a bit of a concern, obviously, but his play behind the plate is a concern too. Over 2012 and 2013 with Miami, he gave up over a full win from his receiving as a backup. So, don't expect to see him throwing to Chris Sale, but a stronger showing is needed for him to be more than a AAA catcher.
Just as important as who's here is who isn't here. Micah Johnson leads that list. While his .270/.333/.297 earlier this season could be explained off as a hitter getting used to a new level, his defense couldn't be explained off. He had accumulated a -7 defensive runs saved before being sent to Charlotte. He was a pace for -39 defensive runs saved, or -22.9 if you prefer UZR, over the whole season. He'll need to show some improved defense this time and a lot of offense to compensate. His hamstring issues also returned which raises the injury concerns with Johnson as well. It's hard to say this is make or break for Johnson, but with Saladino and Sanchez showing the ability to at least be role players on a major league team, his window of opportunity could be closing. While this may be temporary, Charlotte does still have almost a full week to play still, the lack of a move here seems to say a lot about the Sox' feelings towards their former starting second baseman.
None of these moves required any changes to the 40 man roster, keeping it at 38.