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White Sox Thu Sep 10 2015
With the exception of a few long balls and a sea of red Ks, there hasn't been too much to be proud of on the South side. The White Sox came into the season with high expectations and the club has been one of the league's biggest disappointments. This seems to be the Sox MO the past few years and it may be time to give the kids a shot. Pumping in some talent from the farm could give the club a shot in the arm and give them a better idea of what direction to go next year.
At the beginning of September, clubs are allowed to call up a few players from their minor league teams to pad their lineup. Sometimes this is a good time to give starters a rest if they have a comfortable lead in their division or give rookies a shot at the big leagues if the playoffs are not attainable. The White Sox are in the latter of this discussion and this month could provide some options heading into the offseason. Hopefully they have a contingency plan because coming into the year, their farm system ranked 20th in the league, according to Baseball America, but is a step up from 2013's abysmal ranking of 29th. The team has already called up one prospect, who has been a stud so far and has made the call for four other guys. The jury is still out if these kids can play.
Trayce Thompson (OF, Age 26, Selected 61st Overall in the 2009 MLB Draft)
Thompson wasn't exactly lighting it up down at Triple-A Charlotte. In 104 games with the Knights, the outfielder had a mediocre slash line of .260/.304/.441. That's why his promotion to the big club came with a whole bunch of shrugs and people saying "oh that's Klay Thompson's brother." The team was pretty much out of the playoff race by the time he was called, so general manager Rick Hahn was probably thinking 'what the hell?' But since coming to the big league roster on August 3rd, Thompson has been on a tear in limited play. He's hitting .408 and has an OPS of 1.167 in only 23 games. Plus he has hit a few homers, which has won the admiration of his teammates. Expectations are not very high for the 24-year-old and he has surprisingly surpassed the little he had. Thompson may get a spot start and an opportunity to pinch run here and there, but won't be setting the world on fire.
Frankie Montas (RHP, Age 22, Acquired in 2013 in the Jake Peavy Trade)
The White Sox currently have three of their top five prospects on the big league club. Carlos Rodon has had some growing pains with his 3.94 ERA, but has found a groove over his last few starts. Micah Johnson was heralded as the second baseman of the future, but that was before his .267 average and shoddy defense got him sent down to Triple-A. Both of these players have had different results, so it will be interesting how number five ranked prospect Frankie Montas will do. The youngster was pretty good at Double-A Birmingham as a starter, posting a 2.97 ERA in 23 starts and 108 strikeouts. But those stats may be a bit deceiving as his walk rate was hitting 10.3 percent for the Barons, according to Fangraphs. Not necessarily the control you want to see from a hopeful future ace, but it isn't time to abandon ship on Montas just yet, as he is still quite young.
Leury Garcia (UTL, Age 24, PTBNL in 2013 Alex Rios Trade)
You never think too much about a player who is acquired in the process of dumping another. That is the case with Leury Garcia. The Dominican-born utility man was the player to be named later in the Alex Rios trade in 2013 and has been nestled in Charlotte for quite some time. Garcia has become a jack of all trades in the minors, playing all outfield positions, a few starts on the dirt and has backed up his durability with a decent offensive showing of a .298 average and 19 doubles. While he may not be swinging an intimidating bat, Garcia could be a nice bat off the bench.
Rob Brantly (C, Age 26, Claimed Off Waivers from Marlins in 2014)
You can never have too many catchers, especially if your team has two of them who are flirting with the Mendoza Line. Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto have been pretty good in calling games for pitchers, but you could basically pluck anyone out of obscurity who could hit better than them. Well, the White Sox did that with Rob Brantly and they may have to keep searching. The 26-year-old was a waiver pick up over the winter from the Marlins and was hit and miss down on the farm. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Brantly hit a respectable .310, but his on base percentage of .335 is a little underwhelming. If he can call a game as good as his counterparts, then he will fit in just fine.
Erik Johnson (RHP, Age 25, Selected 80th Overall in the 2011 Draft)
Some September call ups are constantly trying to prove to the front office that they deserve a spot on the main roster. They may kill it in the minors or during spring training, showing coaches that they deserve a roster spot, but sometimes their success in tryouts won't translate to the show. That is the case with Erik Johnson. The right-hander has been called up by the Sox before, but has never seemed to have any prolonged success. In 2013, Johnson made a case to stay in the rotation by going 3-2 and having a 3.25 ERA in five starts. That was enough to punch his ticket to the big leagues in 2014, but his earned run average ballooned to 6.46. Johnson didn't let it deter him as he took his demotion in stride and bounced back in 2015 by going 11-8 and striking out 136 batters in 132.2 innings pitched for Charlotte. We'll see if Johnson can earn his way back into a permanent spot in the rotation, but it's a little dicey so far as he gave up three earned runs during six innings pitched during a start on September 6. There's still a whole month of baseball left to play and Johnson could try to impress the White Sox brass again. It would be nice to see a righty in the rotation instead of five left-handers in the coming year.