When the Chicago White Sox demoted second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A Charlotte in the middle of May, some could have viewed it as a bit unfair. Yes, he struggled a bit in the field and on the base paths. But didn’t we know that would be the case coming into the season?
The potential of what his speed could do for the White Sox everyday lineup won him the starting job at second base in spring training. Even though Carlos Sanchez performed just as well offensively during that time frame and was the superior defender.
Now we can all go back and say Sanchez should have started the season as the team’s second baseman but the fact of the matter is that the White Sox have him here now in place of Johnson. And while his glove has been spectacular (one error in 39 games), his .164 batting average, four walks and zero stolen bases says that he isn’t getting it done either.
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The thought of being a scapegoat in the White Sox awful season should prove as plenty of motivation for Johnson to go down to the minors and play with an edge. And so far, that looks to be the case.
In June, Johnson hit .295/.339/.393 with two home runs, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He also was 12-14 in steal attempts in those 28 games.
His best game of the month came on June 21st when he went 3-4 with a walk, two home runs (watch him go opposite field in the video below), three RBIs and two runs scored. It was one of six games in June in which he had at least three hits.
For the year, Johnson is hitting .285/.343/.386 with three home runs, 18 RBIs, and 21 runs scored in 40 games. He also is 15-18 in stolen base attempts and his .976 fielding percentage is up from what he was doing with the big league club (.969).
It is just a matter of time before the White Sox call him back up to the majors and the second time around, you can expect him to stay for good.
Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher George Kottaras poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The White Sox struggles at the catcher position for not only this season, but ever since the team parted ways with A.J. Pierzynski has been well documented by us all here at Southside Showdown. In an article earlier this month, I proposed a potential solution to this problem and his name is George Kottaras.
Kottaras was signed in spring training to compete with Geovany Soto for the role of Tyler Flowers‘ backup. What ended up happening however was a disappointing spring for Kottaras and then an injury after just two games while playing at Triple-A Charlotte.
Fast forward to today and Kottaras is one of the best hitters on the Charlotte Knights roster. He is also head and shoulders above the production we have all seen from Flowers and Soto.
In June alone, Kottaras is hitting .333/.529/1.000 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 walks.
His best game also came on June 21st when he went 3-3 with two home runs, two walks, six RBIs and two runs scored. It was also his second straight game with at least one home run and six RBIs.
The one bad number for Kottaras was nine. That was the number of games he played in June.
The veteran catcher is currently is splitting time with Kevan Smith who despite his struggles this season, is coming off of three consecutive strong seasons in the White Sox minor league system.
At 27, Smith could still have a foreseeable future with the ball club so him getting time over the 32 year old journeyman makes sense.
One place where he could get time is with the major league team. The White Sox wouldn’t be wrong to designate any one of the their two major league catchers for assignment and turn to a platoon with Kottaras.
For the year Kottaras has played in 22 games and is hitting .317/.494/.667 with six home runs, 18 RBIs and 23 walks. He isn’t and never has been the strongest defender but there isn’t many of those in the organization all together.
Triple-A player notes
Outfielder Trayce Thompson got consideration for honorable mention after hitting five home runs and scoring 17 runs in June. He leads the Knights by a wide margin in runs (43) this season… June has been Matt Davidson‘s worst month so far this season highlighted by his .222 batting average and 10 RBIs in 28 games… Another notable player who struggled with the bat in June was Tyler Saladino (.217 average in 26 games). He did however go 15-15 in steals and for the season is 22-24.