Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Sox prospect watch: Surprise callups?
By Doug Padilla
Andre Rienzo, who pitched for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic, has been dominant for Triple-A Charlotte recently..
CHICAGO -- During the final month of the 2011 season, the Chicago White Sox gave a 22-year-old right-hander the chance to pitch in a handful of games in order to get him a glimpse of life in the major leagues.
One year later, Addison Reed became the team's closer and this season he has continued to establish himself in one of baseball's key roles, all at the tender age of 24.
With trades and a retooled roster likely on the horizon, the White Sox figure to be in position to give more young prospects a chance to get their feet wet at baseball's highest level. This time, though, there could be a full two months available for the next generation of White Sox players.
With a rocky start to the season behind him, Rienzo looks to be headed toward a promotion to Chicago. The Futures Game participant is rolling now with a 2.05 ERA over his last 48 1/3 innings at Charlotte. In his final start of the first half before heading to New York for the Futures Game, he gave up one run on four hits in a complete game against Buffalo. The 25-year-old native of Brazil has 96 strikeouts this season in 100 2/3 innings.
ERIK JOHNSON, RHP
Heading toward the major leagues with a bullet, Johnson was slowed recently by a groin strain that landed him on the minor league disabled list. The White Sox will be careful with a rising star like this, so a little extra time to heal probably will be the preferred route. The fact that he is only in his second full minor league season is another reason not to rush the Northern California native so his realistic arrival is at least a year away.
DANIEL WEBB, RHP
The reliever, acquired in the trade that sent Jason Frasor to the Blue Jays before the 2012 season, has also been coming on fast. Eight scoreless outings at Single-A Winston-Salem led to a promotion to Double-A Birmingham where he posted a 1.77 ERA in 13 outings. That took him to Triple-A where it hasn't gone as smooth, but is getting better. He has a 9.35 ERA over his first eight outings at Charlotte, but appears to be figuring out the new level with consecutive scoreless outings and two earned runs combined over his last four outings. If the route from Single-A all the way to the major leagues in one seasons seems a little fast, remember that Reed also took that route in 2011.
CARLOS SANCHEZ, INF
Known for defense and his ability to hit for average, Sanchez hasn't been at his best this year in either department. In his first full season at Triple-A Charlotte, he leads the Knights with 11 errors at second base and an improvement at the plate this month has his batting average up to .242. With less than 350 at-bats at the Triple-A level, his promotion figures to be an in-case-of-emergency scenario only.
ANDY WILKINS, 1B
The future is looking bright for Wilkins, who has 13 home runs and 57 RBIs in a combined 87 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. Over a 162-game schedule, those numbers would project to 24 home runs and 106 RBIs. The 24-year-old, who was a fifth-round pick in 2010 out of Arkansas, batted just .239 at Double-A last season, but has improved that to .280 this year. He closed out the first half Sunday with two home runs and five RBIs in Charlotte's easy victory at Norfolk. Minimal Triple-A experience hurts his chances for a promotion.
JARED MITCHELL, OF
The former first-round draft pick hasn't been able to catch a break during his minor league career, first suffering a torn ankle tendon in 2010 and then dealing with an oblique injury this season after the White Sox development staff raved about him this winter. After his demotion to Double-A Birmingham earlier this season, his struggles have continued with a .199 batting average and 55 strikeouts in 49 games. The reality is that Mitchell is at least a year away from arriving.