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This Week in White Sox Minor League Baseball

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Switch-hitters not equal from both sides


This week:

Keenyn Walker is a switch-hitter, but in name only. As I pointed out in my top prospects list, coming into the season his MiLB career line as a right-handed hitter was .235/.318/.299. He's off to a slow start on offense for the Barons this season and a good chunk of that is his continued inability to hit left-handed pitching: .158/.273/.263. If this is all he can muster, I can't imagine how bad he must have been facing them left-handed. It's not unusual to still see somewhat large differences in splits for switch-hitters. To take an example from the White Sox' current opponent, Ben Zobrist is a much better hitter from his natural right side (.834 OPS) than his left side (.772 OPS). But his weaker side is still more than adequate to be able to stay in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, as he showed Gavin Floyd last night. Walker is putting up numbers that, even with his above-average defense, renders him essentially unplayable against left-handed pitchers.

Trayce Thompson's development is probably the most important of any of the upper-level outfield prospects, simply because he's right-handed and hits for power. The other guys, Walker and Jared Mitchell, are both most useful against right-handed pitching and are platoon candidates. And the major league roster also has a left-handed tilt to it in the outfield, though only Alejandro De Aza has proven himself capable at the major league level. The White Sox hope that at least one (preferably more) are ready to start in the majors by 2015, when De Aza would be in his final year of arbitration and Alex Rios would be in his team option year. Thompson hasn't shown much of a platoon split so his presence would alleviate some potential issues in the outfield-of-the-future.

Mitchell strained his right oblique fouling off a pitch and is now on Birmingham's DL. The injury would have been more welcome prior to his demotion when he was scuffling because he had begun to show some signs of life for the Barons, including this awesome catch.

For those of you into such things, I talked about the White Sox and Birmingham Barons on Southside Baseball's podcast (link). We covered a bunch of topics in the half hour show, from Jake Peavy to Vance Law to Jared Mitchell and plenty of places in between. Southside Baseball is a new website that covers the Barons (and UAB baseball). You should follow the site on Twitter to be sure to see their new Barons content as it appears.

Erik Johnson continues to impress: 5 GS, 31.1 IP, 18 H, 9 BB, 32 K and a stingy 1.44 ERA for the Barons.

Micah Johnson, the other prospect son of John in the organization, continues to run wild on the basepaths. He's up to 20 stolen bases, against just 3 caught stealings, and leads all the minors. His offense has given him plenty of opportunities to thieve: .305/.396/.488. But that line is a bit deceptive. He's got a similar problem as Walker - he's a switch-hitter but is significantly worse against lefties (.828 OPS v. .653 OPS in his career). This season he's managed to avoid left-handed pitching, facing it just 9 times - and putting up a .000/.111/.000 against it.

Charlie Leesman was claimed by the Rangers but declined the assignment. After consequently becoming a free agent, he re-signed with the White Sox - who promptly put him on the disabled list. In other roster moves, Brent Morel and Santos Rodriguez came off the Charlotte DL and Rodriguez was sent to Birmingham. Jake Petricka joins Mitchell on the Birmingham DL. Leyson Septimo began a rehab assignment with the Knights.