Johnson, one of the top position player prospects in the system, will be shut down for the season with a strained left hamstring. He was batting a combined .294 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season and had been struggling through leg pain of late.
“The other day during an at-bat, he actually felt something in the front by the knee, which led to him being pulled out of the game and being brought to Chicago for evaluation,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. “It turned out that even though the pain was from the front of the leg, it was actually related to the same hamstring strain. So we’ve elected to shut him down. We’re going to give the strain four to six weeks to heal, and we expect he should be 100 percent and go into next season without restriction.”
So who will the White Sox call up?
The team needs pitching help, especially in the bullpen, but the system is thin on major league-ready arms. First-round draft pick Carlos Rodon remains a strong possibility to see time in a White Sox uniform next month, possibly as a reliever.
Rodon made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night, and the left-hander gave up one run over three innings for Charlotte.
“There has been a lot of speculation about our plans for him in September,” Hahn said. “There is nothing set in stone in terms of him coming here or not coming here. The decision is going to be made strictly based upon his development and his long-term fit for us. If we feel that he has the ability to come up here and compete, excel and learn from the experience, then it’s something we need to talk about internally and make a decision.”
Two likely roster additions will be infielder Marcus Semien and catcher Josh Phegley, who are both on the 40-man roster. Infielder Carlos Sanchez also could be recalled, and Hahn even talked about the possibility that outfielder Jared Mitchell comes up. Mitchell’s minor league career has been marked with ups and downs, but he is currently hitting the ball well in Charlotte.
Another intriguing roster addition would be first baseman Andy Wilkins, who is putting on a power display at Charlotte with 29 home runs, 35 RBIs and 82 RBIs, while slugging .568. The problem with calling up Wilkins is that the White Sox would first need to add him to the 40-man roster.
While the club already has had internal talks about who to add to the roster, Hahn said nothing has been finalized.
“I don’t have an answer on that yet,” he said. “It’s going to be more than a couple. Historically, we’ve been in the five-to-eight range, and we’ll probably be back in that range this year.”
One delicate issue with the extra bodies is that regulars will start losing playing time. Semien could be starting over Gordon Beckham at second base, and Phegley could be cutting into Tyler Flowers’ playing time behind the plate.
“I'm going to talk to [Hahn] about it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When you get closer to September, if guys are going to get called up and it's going to affect them, then you start talking to them about it. I don't think we’re there right now.”