With summer winding down, Marcus Semien has been heating up at the plate. The Charlotte Knights infielder has been on a tear offensively and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Berkely, California native. September call-ups are just around the corner and Semien has no doubt positioned himself to be one of the players making the jump. Given all that the organization has asked of him this season, you can’t help but be happy about his recent success.
2013 was an eventful year for Marcus Semien, as he advanced through two minor league levels in one year, playing for Double-A Birmingham, Triple-A Charlotte, and the White Sox. In 2014, Marcus began the year with the White Sox while Gordon Beckham and Jose Abreu dealt with injuries. He struggled at the plate, hitting .218 with 57 strikeouts in 43 games played, according to BaseballReference.com. After a healthy Abreu returned to the lineup June 1st, Semien was sent back to Charlotte. An injury to Avisail Garcia and inconsistent production from outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza spurred the White Sox into using Semien’s time with the Knights as an opportunity to try the versatile youngster in the outfield. Not only had Semien already been tasked with being a utility infielder, but he was being asked to become a comfortable outfielder as well.
Understandably, the constant change and new defensive assignments may have made it difficult for Semien to focus on his approach at the plate. He struggled through June and began July hitting only .188 for the Knights, according to MiLB.com. He was up and down for much summer, but showed slow and steady progress, raising his batting average as high as .241 on July 30th. What he has done since August 10th, though, has been better than anyone could have expected.
In 18 games since August 10th, Marcus Semien is batting .426 with a .527 on-base percentage (OBP). He has also raised his on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) from .782 to .879. Maybe Semien is gaining comfort at the plate as he makes himself at home playing shortstop, his natural position, or maybe he’s feeling a sense of urgency with the Knights’ season set to end on September 1st. With Micah Johnson sidelined the rest of year, Semien will likely be called up by the White Sox September 2nd. He will see plenty of playing time in the last month of the major league season. Hopefully that means we’ll get so see more of this when he does…
If Marcus Semien continues his torrid pace at the plate in the majors, the question then becomes, what do the White Sox do with an aging Alexei Ramirez? With Carlos Sanchez hitting .381 since being recalled on August 22nd, Micah Johnson figuring into the White Sox plans for 2015, and 2013 first-round pick Tim Anderson healthy in Birmingham, the middle infield at US Cellular is looking pretty crowded. It may be a question for another day, but it’s a good question to have to ask.