White Sox minors less depressing than big league club for a change


The majority of the time, rebuilding is about losing.

Drafting high and now, getting large international signing allotments and using it well, are more vital for building an organization than flipping rentals of semi-useful players for middling prospects. Superstars win a lot of championships and it’s hard to scrounge one up in July, especially for what the White Sox have to offer.

With that in mind, it’s not a complete disaster that the White Sox are steaming toward blowing their chances to upgrade their farm system at the July non-waiver trade deadline, but it certainly is a bummer. A step forward for the organization, or just new blood, would be a nice bright spot to offer fans–the ones appreciative of what’s going on, at least–in the middle of the lifeless season.

Instead, Paul Konerko and Jesse Crain are joining Jake Peavy on the disabled list with independence day arriving.

"“If there’s anything that can go wrong this year for the White Sox it has gone wrong and it just keeps on happening,” Crain said."

Well, that’s one way to put it, Jesse.

After making two trips to the disabled list last season, Crain’s injury and scoreless streak luck ran out all at one terrible time. The scariness of a problem like “shoulder tightness” for a pitcher is mitigated somewhat by his Wednesday MRI not causing a huge uproar–beyond him getting DL’d, of course–but he’s far from out of the woods. The plan for Crain to sit out two weeks, have his trade value dinged but remain movable, is very much a best-case scenario.

Konerko, on the other hand, went through the discouraging progression of just needing a few days to rest his back, needing multiple injections to stay off the disabled list, coming back for one uneven 0-4 night and immediately going to the disabled list afterward. Konerko is going to play one game over the course of 24 days because of his attempt to avoid missing time.

Since he’s more expressive about them than the average player, it’s hard to know whether Konerko has more doubts about his ability to continue playing than the average veteran, or is simply articulating it better. Ultimately his standards to continue playing are unknown, but poor performance while dealing with nagging injury while the team falls into the tank and looks to be entering a rebuild, is a combination that would push many veterans–especially ones without a contract–to hang up the spikes.

At least Jake Peavy’s bullpen sessions seem to be going well.

The White Sox are replacing Crain and Konerko with Brent Morel and David Purcey. As much as Konerko had been struggling to fulfill his burden as a middle-of-the-order, power-hitting first basemen masher, Morel is someone who hasn’t hit well enough to stick at third base. Having them swapped for one another is plenty of grisly symbolism if you’re looking for it.

David Purcey is a 31 year-old journeyman going through a particularly decent stretch of minor league results. He’s as unexciting as it gets and represents the Sox for the most part refusing to explore the prospect-side of their upper minors just yet. Jhan Marinez just can’t get right.

Perhaps the White Sox are just trying to keep all the happiness of their organization in the minor leagues for once, after years of pumping their chest about doing the opposite.

Well, it’s not all happiness.

But the Sox website ran a feature declaring July 2 international signing–16 year-old Dominican Micker Adolfo Zapata–as indicative of a new approach. Zapata, ranked as high as No. 2 out of all international prospects by MLB.com (and slightly lower by more dedicated services) for his power potential and bat speed, reeled in a $1.6 million bonus from the White Sox.

It’s the largest bounty the Sox have ever offered to an international amateur and Zapata might be the highest-regarded prospect of his kind they’ve pulled in–at least since these rankings have become reliably present. The article doesn’t add anything more than that, except to heap credit upon the clearly active Marco Paddy, but that’s enough. The Sox are finally casting their net for big fish, and boy do they ever need to be.

Josh Phegley hit his 15th home run of the season for Triple-A Charlotte Wednesday night. His season OPS is still a burly .966 despite a June that was more simply good than fitting along side his torrid start. He’s not going to save the season, so that reason to rush him up has been removed, but his appearance at some point seems inevitable given the sheer misery of the Flowers/Gimenez ticket, it’s just a question of whether it will be more substantive than a September call-up.

The two red-hot months Phegley started with are functionally the only two months where Phegley has been compelling as a prospect, his walk rate has gotten less exciting after the month of April and the defense could constantly be the reason he’s being moved along slowly. Despite that, I have spent way more time thinking about Josh Phegley this season than I would have ever anticipated. The fact that he’s changed his stars to become someone for whom a major league shot is inevitable is quite remarkable.

First-round pick Tim Anderson has a sky-high strikeout rate and a .415 BABIP that even his speed probably cannot maintain at a lower level, but its more or less holding his own through his first two weeks in Low-A ball. It goes without saying, that he could have been assigned lower.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan