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If the Sox are going to make any major additions before the trade deadline, it will require a gigantic risk or major miracle on the part of Kenny Williams, based on what little he has left on the farm.
Not much has changed since the last monthly recap, so I figure that I would focus on which players have done the most to improve or kill their stock. As you might be able to guess, the scales are tipped heavily in favor of the latter.
More than we knewBrent Morel
.291/.329/.418 over 141 ABs in Charlotte
Morel’s tour in Charlotte is progressing like his stop in Birmingham. He had a couple weeks full of outs and singles to start the season, and then started to round out his game with extra-base hits and, finally, walks.
He’s hitting .357/.386/.571 over 42 July ABs, and while he’s hit both his homers at Knights Stadium, he’s shown his good doubles power away from Fort Mill. When he was drafted, there were concerns that upper-level pitchers might be able to knock the bat out of his hands. He’s quieted those, and although his ceiling isn’t particularly exciting (unless Joe Randa makes your knees weak), scouts regard him as a guy whose sum is greater than his parts.
If you missed it, I saw him play a game in Charlotte. He looks like a low-maintenance prospect to me, and with Dayan Viciedo and Daniel Hudson on the 25-man roster, he has the highest trade value of any current farmhand. I don’t think he’d be enough to lead a package for an Adam Dunn type, though.
.333/.392/.486 in 72 ABs; 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 10 K.
It feels like he’s pushing 30, but Martinez will turn only 22 later this month. He’s been out of baseball for two full years, but the Sox aren’t shying away from testing him. He played just 39 games at Kannapolis before his knee injury, but he’s succeeding in Winston-Salem.
That could be a factor of the apparently friendly hitting environment at BB&T Ballpark, but if Martinez can finish the year healthy and hitting like this, the Sox have a genuine outfield prospect in the fold.
52 1/3 IP, 40 H, 17 BB, 65 K, 1 HR, 1.55 ERA
Bellamy just received the call to Birmingham, and that’ll be his third stop so far this season. He’s been terrific at the first two, as evidenced by the above line. As one might expect from a funky sidewinder, lefties hit him better than righties (.282 BAA against .163), but he’s progressing nicely.
.280/.323/.398, 23 BB, 76 K over 368 AB
It’s a pretty sad indictment of the White Sox farm system that Escobar is one of the few players who have changed some expectations, looking at that line. But he has multiple things in his favor — he’s 21, playing a fine shortstop, has improved throughout the season after a .626 OPS in April, and hit better away from Winston-Salem. He joined Bellamy on his trip to Birmingham, where his power will be severely tested to say the least.
The bad news is that BABIP has been on his side (.345) and he’s only 8-for-13 stealing bases. Yet he’s made noticeable improvements that are beginning to justify Phil Rogers’ fandom, as he hit just .256/.300/.328 in Kannapolis last season. He just has a looooooong way to go, still.
Gilmore has been the steadiest of the hot Dash hitters, but he has a sub-.700 OPS on the road and 25 errors to his name. Short’s been way better on the road, but he’s cooled off over the last month and a half and strikes out four times for every walk.
Colligan is having a nice first pro season, hitting .303/.369/.478 with 14 steals in 17 attempts. He’s 23, though, and needs to be pushed soon.
Less than we hoped
.229/.324/.478, 12 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 31 BB, 92 K over 249 ABs
It’s not quite as bad as it looks for Flowers. Take out the disastrous May in which he said he attempted implementing suggested changes from Greg Walker, and he’s hitting .283/.378/.578. Yet strikeouts would still be an issue, with 55 of them over those 193 non-May plate appearances.
Defensively, reports have said he regressed, but I’m not quite convinced, if only because it’s a little convenient that his performance behind the plate has perfectly matched his performance at the plate. Either way, he’s not as enticing as he once was as trade bait, and the Sox are going to have to exhibit a boatload of patience with him if/when he joins the 25-man roster.
.245/.314/.381, 30 BB, 110 Ks over 318 ABs, 14-for-18 SB
Buddy Bell absolutely wants to marry Lantern Jaw Junior’s defense:
“Sometimes we forget to be patient with Jordan because he’s been on such a fast track,” Bell says. “He’s already one of the best outfielders in baseball, including major leaguers. Now there are going to be people who hear that and say I’m (crazy), but it’s a fact. Jordan is as athletic as they come, he’s as instinctive as they come, and he plays as hard as anybody.
That could very well be true, but as long as he’s striking out in 35 percent of his at-bats, we’re never going to find out for sure. According to that article, he’s fought “nagging injuries,” but that would be the second straight year he’s done so. If that keeps up, that’s yet another red flag.
.208/.258/.315, 15 2B, 6 HR,17 BB, 64 BB over 308 ABs
He only struck out 70 times over 478 at-bats at Birmingham last year. He’s on pace for 100, and is striking out more after his demotion to the Barons. The downfall is dramatic.
84 2/3 IP, 98 H, 6 HR, 44 BB, 39 K, 5.10 ERA
Organizational favorite Leesman hasn’t been able to string successful starts together this year, and his performance against righties may be a big reason why. He doesn’t have a huge split in terms of batting average (.292, compared to .274), but he can’t miss their bats. He’s struck out just 20 of the 273 righties he’s faced this year, compared to 33 walks.
But if you’re wondering whether the Sox still like him, he received a promotion to Birmingham, too.
.220/.263/.301, 11 BB, 45 K over 209 AB
Gonzalez is still 19, and he’s throwing out over 40 percent of attempted basestealers. But he’s had a Gordon Beckham-like season at the plate — absolutely tractionless, and the thought has crossed me mind that he’s another Francisco Hernandez, who hit .338/.390/.509 at rookie ball at ages 18-19, and never could get it going in Kannapolis.
Marrero is a completely different player — he went from a 1:3 BB-K ratio to 1:1, and has lost nearly 200 points of slugging in the process. Shelby has bottomed out, whiffing seven times for every walk and succeeding on only half of his steal attempts.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Looking back at our preseason Most Important White Sox poll, it looks like we tagged Carlos Quentin absolutely right as the most important offensive piece. But Jake Peavy was the most important overall, so we’re going to see how true that is.
The other thought — Paul Konerko was 12th, or one behind A.J. Pierzynski. Looks like he was underrated just a tad.
*Jake Peavy underwent surgery, and doctors said it revealed little or no muscle damage on his latissimus dorsi. He hopes to be throwing by February.
*Sergio Santos is coping well with an unprecedented workload.
*J.J. posts a defense of Matt Thornton in the wake of his poor national debut.
Minor league roundup:
- West Tenn 12, Birmingham 7
- Leesman’s Double-A debut: 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
- Escobar’s Double-A debut: 1-for-5 with a double, RBI and strikeout.
- Marrero went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
- Justin Greene had two singles and a strikeout in five at-bats, striking out once.
- Retherford singled, walked three times and struck out twice.
- Salem 4, Winston-Salem 0
- Jose Martinez singled twice and struck out once.
- Brandon Short went 0-for-4 with a strikeout; Jon Gilmore 1-for-4 with a K.
- Terry Doyle’s fine effort was in vain, as he struck out seven over seven innings, allowing just a run on five hits and two walks.
- Lakewood 7, Kannapolis 2
- Ryan Buch, starting in A-ball for the first time: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
- Tyler Saladino went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his A-ball debut.
- Colligan tripled and walked over four PAs.
- Nick Ciolli was 2-for-4 with a K.
- Brady Shoemaker and Miguel Gonzalez were both 0-for-4 with two K’s.
- Princeton 5, Bristol 1
- Matthew Heidenreich allowed two unearned runs on four hits and a walk over five innings, striking out two.
- Rangel Ravelo was 2-for-3 with the lone RBI.
- Casper 4, Great Falls 3
- Thomas Royse: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
- Ross Wilson went 3-for-5 with a triple, RBI and strikeout.
- Andy Wilkins singled, drove in two and struck out twice over four ABs.
Also, added to Charlotte’s roster: Jeremy Reed! With this move, Williams is one step closer to re-acquiring all the principal players in his two Freddy Garcia trades, including Garcia himself.