The White Sox are in a conundrum they haven't been in since 2007: they've got serious pitching issues but don't have much of anything on the farm that can stop the bleeding. 15 pitchers have made relief appearances (not including Leury Garcia), a number the White Sox ordinarily don't exceed until September call-ups - and have often not exceeded during a season. With the addition of Eric Surkamp, who at least has done the courtesy of not sucking immediately, just about all that's left are a bunch of guys who have already failed in multiple chances at the major league level - Deunte Heath, Dylan Axelrod, Maikel Cleto, Donnie Veal, etc. - and injured pitchers.
Taylor Thompson is one guy who doesn't fit into either of those categories. The righty hasn't quite yet earned the title of organizational soldier but he's closing in on it. Twice drafted by the White Sox, he signed after his redshirt junior year at Auburn in 2009. Until the AZL White Sox began play last week, Thompson had appeared for every stateside affiliate at one point or another.
His minor league production is impressive but the 27-year-old fits into the category of a pitcher whose stuff is good enough to get minor leaguers out but probably not quite good enough to get major league ones out. He's got a low 90s fastball that he can sink and a slider that has a good 10 MPH difference from his fastballs but doesn't quite have the requisite bite.
In prior seasons, that profile wouldn't have gotten Thompson a sniff at a spot in the White Sox bullpen. He started 2014 probably 10th on the bullpen depth chart. His results with Charlotte haven't been particularly noteworthy. While he's struck out 27.1% of batters in 38 innings, he's walking an uncharacteristically high 12.1%. But with injury and ineffectiveness all around him, he's found himself rocketed to near the top of the depth chart.
In transaction news, Tyler Danish was placed on the DL with an undisclosed injury. Winston-Salem manager Tommy Thompson said it was "simply precautionary, and it is not expected to keep Danish out of action for long."
With all their pitching issues, the White Sox have had to add to their minor league pitching depth, with fringe AAAA types RHP Henry Rodriguez and RHP Daniel McCutchen signed in recent days.
Age for level is always an important tool in evaluating prospects. With most of the midseason promotions done now that short-season leagues have begun play, it's a good time to revisit the youngest White Sox players in each league:
- Happy birthday to Carlos Sanchez, who turns 22 today. Despite this being his second season with Charlotte, he's still the 5th youngest player in the International League and the 11th youngest in AAA overall.
- With all the disappointment people express with Matt Davidson's season, it's important to remember that he is the 18th youngest player in the league.
- The position player prospect du jour, Rangel Ravelo, is the 10th youngest player in the Southern League.
- Myles Jaye, who was briefly sent to Winston-Salem due to ineffectiveness, is the 19th youngest player in that league.
- While the Carolina League is a comparatively small league with just eight teams, the Dash have quite a few players making the list, headed by Danish, who is the second-youngest in the league and the fifth youngest in all High-A leagues.
- In addition to Danish, Nick Basto (4th), Jefferson Olacio (6th), Courtney Hawkins (8th), Tim Anderson (14th), Jeff Wendelken (18th) and Frank Montas (20th) make the list.
- Trey Michalczewski is the 15th youngest in the South Atlantic League.
- Micker Adolfo is the 18th youngest in the Arizona League.
- In the Dominican Summer League, Luis Aponte is the youngest player; he's also the youngest player in any affiliated league. Also on the list are Nelson Acosta (3rd), Maiker Feliz (5th) and Ylexander Villarroel (19th).