How do White Sox prospects fit Chicago's needs?
Johnson, Davidson among youngsters who will give South Siders a new look
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the White Sox:
The White Sox are a team in transition. They are dedicating roster space to young players, while retaining the elder statesmen as role models that provide a high-quality presence in the clubhouse and on the field. This season should only be the beginning of the new-look team.
Right-handed starter Erik Johnson should claim a role in the club's rotation this year. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Johnson has a strong arm with good command. He made five Major League starts last season, pitching to a very solid 3.25 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. Johnson yielded five home runs and 11 walks in his 27 2/3 innings.
PROJECTED '16 WHITE SOX LINEUPProjecting the 2016 lineup based on players in the White Sox system.
|RF||Alejandro De Aza|
Johnson throws his fastball at 92 mph. He also has a changeup, a curveball and a cutter. Johnson's cutter is a main component of his arsenal. Watching him in Spring Training, I've been impressed with his "take charge" mound demeanor and his physical presence. He's a no-nonsense guy.
Offensively, the White Sox invested heavily in right-handed-hitting Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, a big man at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds. There are multiple scouting reports of Abreu's power and overall abilities at the plate. That power should play well at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
On the negative side, Abreu is slow. And he may scuffle a bit with inside, higher-velocity fastballs. I've seen several of Abreu's games this spring, and he is an impressive and dangerous hitter.
Matt Davidson is a third-base candidate the team acquired from Arizona for pitcher Addison Reed. Davidson played for the D-backs at the end of last season, hitting .237 in 87 plate appearances. He hit three home runs and knocked in 12 runs. The right-handed-hitting Davidson is another player who might benefit from hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. Davidson, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, won the All-Star Futures Game MVP Award and the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby in 2013.
It may be determined that Davidson could benefit from more Minor League seasoning at the start of the season.
Infielder Marcus Semien went to the plate 71 times for the White Sox last season. He hit .261 with four doubles and two home runs among his 18 hits. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed-hitting Semien has a chance to win a roster spot this spring. He can play second base, shortstop and third base. After watching Semien in the Arizona Fall League, I believe he projects best as a second baseman.
Right-handed-hitting Carlos Sanchez is a good infield candidate with lots of obvious tools. His main position is second base. The 21-year-old Sanchez has played five seasons in the White Sox system and has a career batting average of .281. He has some speed, as his 16 stolen bases at Triple-A Charlotte in 2013 attest. But Sanchez has little power.
Sanchez is a solid player both on offense and defense. When I saw him play, he showed natural ability, with a flow to his game that made things look easy.
Prior to leaving with an injury to a nerve in his elbow during this past Arizona Fall League season, second baseman Micah Johnson made quite an impression, too, especially with his speed. The left-handed-hitting Johnson is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Johnson stole 84 bases this past season, playing for Kannapolis (Class A), Winston Salem (Class A Advanced) and Birmingham (Double-A). He hit a combined .312 in 601 plate appearances.
Center fielder Courtney Hawkins was the team's first-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed hitter has played parts of two Minor League seasons. Most recently, he hit .178 at Winston-Salem in 425 plate appearances. Of note, however, were Hawkins' 19 home runs. He struck out 160 times.
Chicago's 2013 first-round selection, shortstop Tim Anderson, hit .277 with 24 stolen bases playing at Class A Kannapolis last season. He may be on a fast track.
Trayce Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed-hitting outfielder, played at Double-A Birmingham last season and showed his power, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 73. He also stole 25 bases.
Right-handed starter Chris Beck is a pitcher with promise in the organization. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Beck has thrown 187 Minor League innings so far, with an ERA of 3.42 in his 32 combined starts in two seasons.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.