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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Ventura: Fine time to assess younger talent

By Bruce Levine

CHICAGO -- Maybe the White Sox’s veteran players should expect the unexpected in a season during which seemingly little has gone right.

Manager Robin Ventura has made it clear that evaluation of the team’s young players will be of major importance throughout the rest of the 2013 campaign. Ventura on Wednesday started five position players who have less than a year’s experience in the major leagues.

Conventional wisdom this time of the year suggests that if you are out of the race, you must continue to use your veteran players against the contenders. Ventura adhered to that theory -- in part -- by keeping Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko in the middle of the order, sandwiched by younger talent.

“We need to watch them play,” Ventura said before the team’s 145th game of the year. “You are going to [assess] them by how they play. Hitting is part of it and so is defense. We need to see how they play at certain positions, how they do at those positions and how they carry themselves. You are basically watching everything they do.”

For decades baseball men have said that the worst times of the year to evaluate young players are spring training and September. The major reason for the data being skewed is that teams rarely use scouting data on how to pitch a player who has just been moved up from the minor leagues. It takes scouts a couple of weeks to get a firm handle on a hitting or pitching prospect. Once the scouts have the angle on a player, the adjustment period begins. For non-contending ball clubs the scouting of each young player promoted from the minors may go into the next season before computerized printouts are used in game situations.

Ventura believes it is more important for him and his coaches to get a feel for the recently promoted youngsters despite the trappings of September baseball.

“I am not sure it is difficult to [properly appraise], but it is not the same as in the middle of the year,” he said. “Teams like us are playing different people, so with our roster expanded we are playing guys who normally would not be playing. This for us is still the best way to judge them, so you let them play so you can see how they do.”