“Bet these guys weren’t expecting me to THROW A BASEBALL AT THEM.” // Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
There are more prospects coming when the Charlotte Knights’ season ends on Monday. Erik Johnson and Daniel Webb will need 40-man roster spots to get the call, but Hector Santiago and Nate Jones‘ arms ache for their presence and so much of the present group is so gosh-darn DFA’ble, (without naming names I only wish to name once more).
In the mean time, up again is 26 year-old left-hander Charlie Leesman, who has instantly got more run since getting called up this weekend than Jake Petricka got in his first week. Leesman has been a starter in the minors, made a start last month (where he struck out eight of the 24 batters he faced!), but does not project to be a particularly great starter due to the lack of plus velocity, control or a changeup he’s really emphasized at the major league level. With this combination, he struck out no one in 4.1 innings Sunday. As much as Andre Rienzo looked primed for a fall to Earth after his initial success, Leesman’s policy of missing with his slurve until Justin Morneau came up again seemed even more bound for regression.
He probably could have been a major league reliever a while ago, but he’s certainly a reliever for now.
"Leesman, 26, will be working in relief for the White Sox with a chance to figure into the 2014 big league bullpen plan. Manager Robin Ventura said Sunday morning that Leesman probably would get a start in September, but Leesman seems ready for the role change."
Freshly absent a Matt Thornton, the White Sox could use a new lefty specialist and would always prefer to not have to spend free agent money on one. Donnie Veal has been solid since getting recalled in mid-July but very recently demonstrated why penciling him in for 70 solid innings at the start of the season is not the best practice, and I have just the strangest skepticism about David Purcey‘s ability to maintain his 1.65 ERA with a 14/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There’s room for Leesman to build some momentum for himself, and he gets enough tilt on his slurve out of his 3/4 delivery that he could become a problem for lefties if he focused on it, which he seems to be doing. Leesman was billed as a sinker-changeup guy coming up, so his insistence on throwing this slurvey type offering in his call-ups might have a purpose, since it doesn’t seem to give him much of a shot against opposite-handers.
Leesman’s path to the Sox has always differed from their usual m.o. with someone they actually believe in–despite him citing his relationship with the organization as the primary reason he refused his assignment in Texas and returned at the beginning of the season–and his initial return to the big club saw him get the Dylan Axelrod treatment and hung out until he had nothing left on Sunday. Given Leesman’s place on the totem pole and the nature of the innings available, 4.1 frames of mop-up hardly registered as the worst use of his time, but it would be nice to see how he looks when he’s not figuring out how to throw his slurve through a teacup to right-handers.
Bryan Anderson wound up outlasting Hector Gimenez after all, though not in the way that allowed him to collect the most major league checks. He’s now the emergency catcher in a catcher situation that’s been at emergency status since the end of April. Josh Phegley has been really, really terrible at the plate (.221 OBP!!!), but Anderson’s below-average Triple-A line of .224/.302/.400 does little the convince anyone he’s a stop-gap worth looking at over anyone still maintaing a smidgen of prospect shine. Even Tyler Flowers has the advantage of being able to annihilate the balls he comes into contact with. The low-scoring, good-pitching Sox play so many extra-inning games that Anderson is bound to see action at some point, but there’s little impetus to force the issue. He’s here because catching is a dangerous and unadvisable activity for humans.
At least now Conor Gillaspie can rest easy knowing there’s one more body in line in front of him to catch.. Speaking of Gillaspie, it’ll be interesting to see if he continues to get buried despite being a cost-controlled third basemen who has a .742 OPS against right-handed pitching this season.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan