The Chicago White Sox are not known for their depth or overall talent level in the minor leagues. The White Sox are, however, supposed to have promising prospects at a few positions.
There are several pitchers, a few outfielders and select infielders whom the White Sox have touted as being major league-caliber prospects.
Headlined by Courtney Hawkins–who checked in at No. 68 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list before the season began—the Sox are counting on them to make strides at their respective affiliates in advance of a promotion to the big leagues.
Unfortunately, many of them are either injured or have underperformed recently.
There are a couple of bright spots, however, as the sixth week of the season begins.
Here is the May 6-12 stock up/stock down report for the White Sox's top 10 prospects (per Baseball America).
Stats: 1 GS, 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 0 K, 4 BB
Chris Beck had a rough outing Saturday against the Portland Sea Dogs.
He gave up four earned runs in only 4.0 innings, while walking four en route to his fourth straight loss. The damage could have been much worse, though, as he also gave up five hits.
Beck struggled from the onset to control at-bats, and the results speak for themselves.
His recent poor performance aside, Beck has pitched fairly well overall this season. While his record is 2-5, he owns a 2.25 ERA, and opponents are hitting a scant .219 against him.
An area that will most certainly hinder his advancement is his control. After walking four during his last start, Beck has issued a total of 16 base on balls in 40.0 innings.
It may be a simple matter of mechanics, but his strikeout-to-walk ration must improve.
Jared Mitchell has had a roller-coaster season to this point.
After lighting up Glendale during spring training—.387 BA, seven steals and a 1.151 OPS—Mitchell earned a spot at Triple-A Charlotte.
That lasted until April 19, when he was demoted to Double-A Birmingham following an atrocious start. He hit .132 with 27 strikeouts in only 53 at-bats for the Knights. The hope was that he would respond with more focused plate appearances.
Mitchell hit a mere .214 in five games before going on the disabled list the final week of April with a strained oblique. He is still listed as being on the seven-day DL, but he has not played in a game since April 25.
When he returns, the onus will be on him to show some improvement. If not, Mitchell may turn into a prospect who is traded, in hopes that a change of scenery may prove beneficial.
For Keon Barnum—who finished with a .279 batting average and three home runs in 43 at-bats last season—the hits just keep coming. Unfortunately, they are not the extra-base variety.
After having surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right hand, Barnum suffered another injury, this time to his knee.
Sox 1b prospect Keon Barnum, who had surgery to repair hamate bone fracture in March, hurt left knee before he was to report to Kannapolis— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 2, 2013
While Barnum has a wealth of talent, his injury issues are becoming worrisome. More will be revealed, but for now his future is uncertain.
Stats: 1 GS, 189.00 ERA, 0.1 IP, 7 ER, 5H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K
You read that right. Andre Rienzo posted a 189.00 ERA during his last start on Thursday against Columbus.
Rienzo’s performance continued a season-long trend.
According to Fangraphs, Rienzo gives up a disturbing 4.22 walks per nine innings and has a .304 BAA. To make matters worse, 51.0 percent of the runners who reach base against him score.
After showing some legitimate promise prior to spring training—most notably, a series of strong starts in the Arizona Fall League—Rienzo has withered under the expectations.
He may be in line for a demotion to Double-A—or an outright release—if the results do not improve.
For the season, the right-hander is 2-2 with an 8.72 ERA and has issued 15 walks in 32.0 innings of work.
Stats: 1 GS, 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
He leads the league in victories with five, is second in starts (seven) and innings pitched (43.0), while losing once and collecting 23 strikeouts.
While not tracked on MiLB.com, Snodgress has four quality starts and is one of the main reasons—along with a top-tier offense—that Birmingham (25-12) is off to a record start.
If the left-hander from Stanford can continue to be this effective, an early call-up to the 25-man roster this season, most likely as a spot starter or in the bullpen, will be in order.
For the season, Snodgress is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA.
Stats: .150 BA, 20AB, 3 H, 10 K 3 BB
Keenyn Walker continues to be maddeningly inconsistent.
He scored eight runs in six games, even though he only had three hits and walked three times. During the game last Friday, Walker scored twice, yet went hitless.
Walker also collected three stolen bases last week. All told, Walkers 15 steals rank first in the Southern League. He has also been able to offset his .195 BA with a .323 OBP by drawing 21 walks.
On the flip side, Walker added 10 more strikeouts to his resume and now has 45 on the season.
His swing is too long, but there is no denying that he has the tools. Sadly, though, he has yet to put them together.
Playing time is not in question, although he needs to find his groove quickly.
Stats: 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 3K, 4 BB
Erik Johnson is having a very nice season for Double-A Birmingham.
Prior to his start last Wednesday, Johnson was near the top of the Southern League with a 1.30 ERA and 36 strikeouts (via Guy Curtright, MiLB.com). For the season, he owns a miniscule .174 BAA.
His slider has been devastating, and much of the credit goes to what Curtright terms “revamped mechanics.” He also noted in his article from May 7, that an improved changeup has hitters “at a disadvantage.”
In essence, the changeup makes the slider look even more dynamic, while his slider makes the fastball look that much livelier. All told, the changeup has completed the repertoire.
To be sure, he was roughed up the last time out, giving up six earned to the Tennessee Smokies in 4.2 innings, which raised his ERA to 2.52, but has otherwise been exceptional.
Stats: .308 BA, 26 AB, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 6 R, 1 SB
Carlos Sanchez had a much better week at the plate.
Sanchez, hit .308 and reached base safely in six out of the seven games he played in. The highlight of the past week was on May 9, against the Columbus Clippers.
Carlos Sanchez with a TRIPLE! Just missed his 1st HR! 3 hits on the evening for Sanchez! #LetsGoKnights— Charlotte Knights (@KnightsBaseball) May 9, 2013
The triple was his first of the season, and he went on to add a double and RBI in four at-bats. The next day, he went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
After a couple of weeks that saw his batting average fall from .333 to around .200, Sanchez is back on the right track.
Stats: .273 BA, 22 AB, 6 H, 6 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB
Trayce Thompson had a good week at the plate. It’s a good thing, too. Prior to the last seven days, Thompson had really been struggling.
He has the ability to do everything. Last Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Smokies is a perfect illustration.
Trayce Thompson legs out an INF single, steals 2nd, takes 3rd on a fly ball and scores on a sac fly by Wilkins as the Barons take a 7-6 lead— Birmingham Barons (@BhamBarons) May 9, 2013
If he can cut down on the strikeouts, Thompson could be in the mix for an Opening Day spot on the 2014 White Sox roster.
Add Courtney Hawkins name to the list of walking wounded.
Hawkins hit another snag when he injured himself diving for a baseball in the outfield.
Via his Twitter feed, Chicago Tribune beat writer Mark Gonzalez noted that Hawkins has a "left rotator cuff and biceps muscle strain" and that he "hopes to return in 3-4 weeks."
It is a fairly serious injury for someone with such a forceful swing. The White Sox will, most likely, not rush his return. After all, they have grand plans for Hawkins and need him to recover fully.
At least he remains confident in himself.
Some things you can't control an just doesn't go the way you want them to but just gotta trust in yourself that it will be alright!— Courtney Hawkins (@CHawkins10) May 5, 2013
Prior to being placed on the disabled list, Hawkins was hitting .177 and had a whopping 45 strikeouts in 79 at-bats.