March 2, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Emmanuel Burriss (78) steals second base in front of Chicago White Sox shortstop Marcus Semien (83) in the fifth inning during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Now that the all-important Charlotte Knights season has ended, September call-ups can begin in earnest. Charlie Leesman and Bryan Anderson, fine professionals they might be, are not “in earnest.”
However, four Charlotte Knights are headed to New York if we agree with Dan Hayes’ assumption that the White Sox would not just make locker room plates for no reason at all.
Marcus Semien – IF
He’s easily the most interesting name because he’s a White Sox hitting prospect who seems to be progressing. Semien rose from the rather humble beginnings of being taken sixth round of the 2011 draft primarily for his defense, to destroy Double-A pitching to the tune of a .290/.420/.483 batting line where he walked more than he struck out. After some early adjustment struggles, he finished the year with a .262/.333/.459 line for his 31 games in Triple-A showing more good patience and more very good power for a middle infielder.
That said, where’s this dude playing?
He’s committed to the Arizona Fall League, so it’s not like the White Sox are hard-up for opportunities to see him in action and he’s already exceeded all previous lifetime highs for games and plate appearances in a year. Robin Ventura is already trying to find opportunities to shove Leury Garcia into the lineup between two middle infield regulars who figure to be here next season. Unless the White Sox want to set off on some ramshackle effort to make Semien their Opening Day third baseman, this could get difficult.
Erik Johnson – SP
Here’s a man who will actually figure prominently in the rest of the White Sox season. Johnson was selected in the second round of the same draft as Semien, but sat out most of 2011 with an injury. Since then, he’s done nothing but dominate every level of competition he’s been placed in with a four-pitch mix that doesn’t light up the wires with glowing reports nor the radar guns, but has been getting outs with too much consistency to be ignored. He recorded a 2.23 ERA over 84.2 innings in Double-A Birmingham this season, got promoted and got better. He’s struck out a batter per inning in 57.1 frames of work in Charlotte and allowed just 10 earned runs.
Johnson last pitched on Aug. 29 and can easily slide into the Wednesday opening. A flagging Hector Santiago seemed like a good candidate to receive a more substantial break, but Andre Rienzo has also flown past his career-high in innings this season, and this arrangement still allows for Santiago to receive an extra day of rest. Going forward, both Johnson and Leesman–and the games not meaning anything–give the White Sox the flexibility to respond to any starter fatigue with a substitution.
Daniel Webb – RP
“Future Closer” is a tag you get when you can hit 100 mph, or when you strike out 78 batters in 62.2 innings across three levels. Webb is still figuring out the whole dealio where he throws the ball in the place that the catcher designates ahead of time and still needs to hash out something beyond his fastball-slider combo if he wants to retire left-handers, but he instantly becomes one of the most exciting watches on the roster while giving Robin Ventura another alternative to riding Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom into the ground.
Whether Webb will get the same kid gloves treatment that Jake Petricka received, where he sits for a week until the perfect low-leverage opportunity reveals itself, is another question.
Miguel Gonzalez – C
This guy has a big throwing arm, and it’s not like the White Sox catching depth is made up of Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza, but there’s a difference between a .221 OBP in the major leagues and being the backup catcher of the Birmingham Barons like Gonzalez was before waves of promotions moved him around. Gonzalez is the third catcher now because Tyler Flowers is out with a shoulder injury and having three catchers is something that’s done when there are expanded rosters, but he will be overmatched against big league pitching.
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