Chicago White Sox: 3 Minor Leaguers Who Will See Time in the Majors This Season
The Chicago White Sox have a young team, and with the rash of injuries to key components, they are getting younger.
Already, Avisail Garcia has been lost for the season, while Felipe Paulino, Nate Jones and Chris Sale have been sent to the disabled list with a variety of ailments. Add the lingering injuries Conor Gillaspie and Adam Eaton are dealing with to the mix, and the White Sox appear in for a long season.
That means that minor leaguers from the suddenly resurgent farm system are being called upon sooner than expected to play an important role this season. Charles Leesman and Andre Rienzo, for example, have already made starts, and Zach Putnam, who was a late addition to the organization, is making his presence felt after Donnie Veal was designated for assignment.
So with those three players off the board already, let’s take a look at three other prospects who will likely see time with the White Sox before the roster expands in September and two who could but, for varying reasons, probably won’t be with the team until after then.
Frank De Los Santos is pitching admirably this season. In six appearances across two levels, he has a 0.87 ERA, 0.968 WHIP and has been keeping the ball on the ground.
With the probable return of Nate Jones from the disabled list, however, the bullpen already has one too many arms. The left-hander will likely have to wait until September.
It would be an oversight to not mention Matt Davidson, but also a bit disingenuous. See, Davidson is not playing very well at all.
In 72 at-bats, he has a .181/.263/.306 slash line with only one home run and six doubles. With his production being as poor as it is, waiting until the roster expands is the only way Davidson sees U.S. Cellular Field this season.
3. Micah Johnson, IF
Micah Johnson is a complete ballplayer. Sure, his defense may not be worthy of a Gold Glove Award at the moment, but the entirety of his game is impressive.
Going into play on Wednesday, the speedster had a .356/.453/.507 slash line with two home runs, nine RBI and seven stolen bases. His line only tells part of the story, though, because Johnson is most effective in the clutch.
In 43 at-bats with the bases empty, for example, he has an .854 OPS. In 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position, however, that number jumps to 1.078 and, with runners on base in general, it balloons to 1.114, according to Johnson’s player page at MiLB.com.
With his performances over the past two seasons, which MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo opined is “far from a fluke,” he has passed Carlos Sanchez on the organization’s depth chart, even if the latter is at Triple-A Charlotte.
2. Trayce Thompson, OF
Trayce Thompson is in the midst of a career resurgence. That may not be the most appropriate term, actually, because he never really surged in the first place, but the point remains that the right-handed hitter has quickly become the No. 1 outfield option in the minor leagues after Jordan Danks was promoted.
In 68 at-bats for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, Thompson has a robust .324/.418/.426 slash line with four doubles, nine RBI and has scored 14 runs. More impressive, he has increased his walk rate and lowered his strikeout rate compared to the previous two years, according to FanGraphs. To be sure, the season is young, but Thompson looks like a different hitter.
And there’s no doubt about it: He is an injury away from becoming the club’s fourth outfielder. That is, of course, unless general manager Rick Hahn decides to keep his arbitration clock static by promoting someone like Blake Tekotte.
That would be a mistake, though.
The time has come to see if Thompson can get rid of some of “the stink” surrounding the outfield prospects in the minor league system, Jim Margalus from SouthSideSox.com wrote about following the injury to Avisail Garcia.
1. Scott Carroll, SP
Frankly, I was surprised that Scott Carroll didn’t get the call to fill in for Chris Sale when the staff’s ace went on the 15-day disabled list. Make no mistake, Charles Leesman earned his promotion, but Carroll is simply pitching better.
In four starts for the Charlotte Knights covering 23.0 innings, the right-hander has a 1.57 ERA, 1.174 WHIP and has not allowed a home run. True, he has only notched 13 strikeouts, but he is controlling the pace of the game and each at-bat quite well, needing only 76 pitches to complete seven innings in a start last week versus the Norfolk Tides.
With starting pitching at a premium this season and major league-ready talent in short supply in the minors, expect to see Carroll get a shot at a spot to start or to fill in for an injured pitcher at some point this season.
Carroll, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and was recently named the International League Pitcher of the Week, according to the Knights’ team page. It seems that after years of toiling away in the minor leagues, his time is at hand.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of Wednesday, April 23. In-game information is courtesy of MiLB.com. Transaction and injury information courtesy of MLB.com.