Results tagged ‘ Erik Johnson ’

A look around the White Sox system

Each team in the system is at least 10 games into the season, so let’s spin around the organization and see how each team is doing thus far this season.

MLB: Chicago White Sox (7-6)

Former Dash star Jordan Danks (right) is ready to fill in for Avisail Garcia in the White Sox outfield (photo via chicagonow.com).

Former Dash star Jordan Danks (right) is ready to fill in for Avisail Garcia in the White Sox outfield (photo via chicagonow.com).

Chris Sale improved to 3-0 this season after Friday’s outing against the Indians, but the White Sox bats played a big role in the outcome. Sale grinded through five innings, allowing three runs and six hits while striking out five. The ace spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times following his start.

Infielder Marcus Semien has played well of late, recording hits in nine of his last ten games. Among those was this solo homer on Sunday against Cleveland:

In this whitesox.com article, learn more about Erik Johnson’s standing in the Chicago pitching rotation. Plus, Semien takes part in Jackie Robinson Day festivities on Tuesday and who Sale credits for the development of his changeup:

Thanks to the season-ending shoulder injury to Avisail Garcia, outfielder Jordan Danks was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to help fill the void. The Dash alumnus spoke with CSN Chicago about the opportunity:

Triple-A: Charlotte Knights (6-6)

Catcher Josh Phegley is off to a solid start in 2014. His .286 batting average currently ranks second on the team among qualifying players, and he has scored four runs in eight games.

The other BB&T Ballpark looks pretty darn good, too (photo via Charlotte Knights).

The other BB&T Ballpark looks pretty darn good, too (photo via Charlotte Knights).

The Knights opened their sparkling new Uptown Charlotte facility, the second BB&T Ballpark, on Friday night against the Norfolk Tides. For a recap of their historic evening, click here.

Double-A: Birmingham Barons (5-5)

The defending Southern League champions won three of five games against the Jacksonville Suns to reach the .500 mark. The Barons were washed out at Mobile on Monday night, so a doubleheader is on tap this evening.

Former Dash outfielder Trayce Thompson was recently profiled on MiLB.com talking about some of the valuable lessons he learned during Spring Training with the White Sox.

Low-A: Kannapolis Intimidators (4-7)

The Intimidators were swept in a four-game series at Greenville this weekend, the last contest a heartbreaking 5-4 setback to the Drive in 14 innings. Kannapolis looks to regain its footing this week in Hickory. That series opener was also postponed, so the Intimidators and Crawdads will play two this evening.

Infielder Cleuluis Rondon continues his development at the Low-A level. The Venezuelan native, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, is batting .298 with six RBIs, three runs scored and three stolen bases in 11 games.

Stay tuned for a preview of tonight’s homestand opener against Frederick.

- Dave

Recapping the weekend around the system

The rainy off-day for the Dash means that it’s a perfect time to scroll through the White Sox system to see how the teams and some former Dash players are doing.

Chicago White Sox (3-3):

Chris Sale dazzled in his start against the Royals on Sunday, tossing eight scoreless innings while striking out six. Following his outing, Sale told whitesox.com, “You know what you’re getting when you face a team like this and a starter like James (Shields). You’ve just got to bear down and give it everything you’ve got.” Sale is now 2-0 on the season with a 1.76 ERA on the young season.

Marcus Semien has received plenty of congratulatory high fives so far in 2014 (Ed Zurga via zimbio.com).

Marcus Semien has received plenty of congratulatory high fives so far in 2014 (Ed Zurga via zimbio.com).

Infielder Marcus Semien has started all six games, playing at second base and third base. With Gordon Beckham recovering from an oblique injury, the Chicago Sun-Times discussed Semien’s attempt to convince White Sox management to keep him in the lineup.

Erik Johnson struggled in his first start with the South Siders this year, allowing seven runs against the Royals on Friday. Fellow Dash alum Jake Petricka also pitched in that contest. Johnson spoke with the Chicago Tribune following his start, and you can read about that here.

Nate Jones, who pitched with Winston-Salem from 2008-10, allowed four runs in two outings and failed to retire a single batter. He was sent to the disabled list on Friday with a strained hip muscle, and could miss more than two weeks. Before he was placed on the DL, Jones told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes about his discomfort.

Charlotte Knights (3-1):

Dylan Axelrod, who pitched for the Dash in 2009 and 2010, had a solid outing against Norfolk on Sunday, allowing just one run in five innings while striking out seven batters. The Knights won that game, 2-1.

Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome will be tossing the ceremonial first pitch at Charlotte’s home opener in their new ballpark on Friday, April 11 against Norfolk. Thome, who played with the Knights in 1993, spoke with charlotteknights.com about his time there.

Birmingham Barons (1-2):

The defending Southern League champions won their opener against Montgomery before losing two straight games. Following a rainout on Sunday, the Barons are playing a doubleheader against the Biscuits today to conclude their five-game opening series.

Former Dash infielder Micah Johnson is off to a hot start in Birmingham, hitting .462 with a home run, two RBIs and four runs scored in three games. Johnson was recently featured on al.com prior to Opening Day.

Kannapolis Intimidators (2-2):

The Intimidators split their opening weekend series with Greenville and return to Kannapolis for their scheduled home opener against Hickory tonight.

Tyler Danish, a second-round draft pick of the White Sox last year, shined for Kannapolis in their Friday night victory over Greenville. The 19-year-old pitcher struck out six over five innings while allowing no earned runs.

That’s your look around the White Sox system. The Dash will take the field again Tuesday night at Salem, trying to cool off a Red Sox team that started 2014 with a weekend sweep of Myrtle Beach. All three games of that series are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. Join Brian Boesch for the Pregame Dash at 6:50!

- Dave

Checking in with the big club

Erik Johnson will start the 2014 season in the White Sox rotation (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Erik Johnson will start the 2014 season in the White Sox rotation (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

We are taking a quick break on our Carolina Countdown, which will resume later this week. In honor of our exciting announcement today, let’s check in on the White Sox with just six days until their opener and nine until the Dash’s Opening Day.

Erik Johnson makes the White Sox rotation: Right-hander Erik Johnson stormed through the White Sox minor league ranks, including a two-month stop in Winston-Salem. Chicago skipper Robin Ventura announced the rotation today, and the former second-round pick is in it.

This comment from White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin is important to note, too.

Whether the White Sox view Johnson as the fourth-best pitcher in the rotation or not, he will be in the mix to start the 2014 season. Good for Erik, who was an incredibly friendly, yet focused, pitcher during his time in the Triad. Big league hitters will hate seeing his slider.

Micah Johnson still in big league camp: Speedster Micah Johnson, who led all of Minor League Baseball in stolen bases last season, is still a member of big league camp. Only 33 players remain at this stage, which is an incredible accomplishment for a player who started last year in Low-A Kannapolis. Some thoughts via Twitter:

Johnson’s stolen base total in 2013 (84) is good for the second-most by a White Sox farmhand ever. Per these reporters and others, he will probably not be in a White Sox uniform on Opening Day, but his time may come much sooner than people expected this time last year.

A few other notes:
- Great stuff from our friends at FutureSox, who break down why Adrian Nieto made the White Sox, while Dash alum Kevan Smith did not.

- You won’t go hungry at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago this year. Wow.

- Merkin continues his good work with a great feature on Dash alum Nate Jones’ memories from his first Opening Day.

We are into single digits in our countdown to baseball’s return to Winston-Salem. Stay tuned for continuing coverage.

- Brian

Johnson’s catch, Sale’s start and much more

The White Sox are already two weeks into their exhibition slate in Arizona, and some former Dash players are doing their best to impress the big club.

Infielder Micah Johnson is not only batting .455 and leading the team in runs scored this spring, but the 2013 Dash alum is also turning some heads with his defense. Johnson made this spectacular diving catch against the Brewers on Monday:

That catch made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays at #4. Pretty impressive stuff.

A few former Winston-Salem hurlers are throwing well in Glendale. Southpaw Charlie Leesman has posted a 1.69 ERA in 4 Cactus League appearances, tossing 5.1 innings while striking out 5 batters. Despite those numbers, the 2010 Dash alum was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, possibly because he has minor league options remaining on his contract. However, the strong spring showing should keep Leesman on the White Sox radar for the future.

Righty Erik Johnson has thrived in two starts this spring, garnering a 2.57 ERA while striking out 7 batters in 7.0 innings. The 2012 Dash standout is making a bid to join the White Sox rotation in 2014, and manager Robin Ventura has taken notice. “With what he did last year and so far what you see, you like what you see,” Ventura recently told CSN Chicago.

Johnson is also getting some attention for his demeanor off the mound. Check out this recent Chicago Sun-Times article for more on that, which includes comments from fellow White Sox prospect and former Dash teammate Marcus Semien.

Four years ago, Chris Sale was in Winston-Salem. On Opening Day2014 , he will be on the hill for the White Sox.

Four years ago, Chris Sale was in Winston-Salem. On Opening Day, he will be on the hill for the White Sox.

Finally, here are a few roster notes. First, the Sox have tabbed Chris Sale as their Opening Day starter for a second straight year. The 25-year-old, who made his professional debut with the Dash in 2010, says he appreciates the opportunity, per this whitesox.com article: “As much as you sit here and say ‘Treat it like another start,’ it’s the first one of the year and you are obviously going to be amped up for it and excited for it.”

The White Sox also made several roster moves on Wednesday involving Dash alumni. Outfielders Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson were optioned to Double-A Birmingham, while catcher Miguel Gonzalez, pitcher Scott Snodgress and outfielder Keenyn Walker were reassigned to minor league camp. This is common during Spring Training, as youngsters get a chance to work with the big club. Here’s hoping these men use their experience well while continuing to climb the minor league ladder in 2014.

- Dave

Johnson, Semien honored by Baseball America

Marcus Semien won the Southern League's MVP award in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Marcus Semien won the Southern League’s MVP award in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Most outlets believe the White Sox farm system has improved significantly over the last couple of years. Even though a system is not completely defined by its top few players, boasting multiple top-flight prospects goes a long way in public perception.

Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospect List in advance of the 2014 season, and the White Sox claimed four of the players on the list. A year ago, Chicago only had one Top 100 farmhand (Courtney Hawkins at 55).

This year, a pair of Dash alumni represented the White Sox. Righty Erik Johnson, who is a favorite to corral a rotation spot in The Show, checks in at 63, while fellow Cal product Marcus Semien, a versatile infielder who had a monster 2013 season, is at 91.

Two newly-acquired prospects rounded out Chicago’s representatives. Free agent signing Jose Abreu, who figures into Chicago’s big league plans this year, was the top-ranked White Sox product on the list by collecting the 29 slot. Matt Davidson, who came over from Arizona in the Addison Reed trade during the offseason, is at 72.

For comparison, here is how the White Sox stacked up to other big league clubs represented in the Carolina League on the Top 100 Prospect List:

Atlanta (Lynchburg) – 2
Baltimore (Frederick) – 3
Boston (Salem) – 8
Cleveland (Carolina) – 3
Kansas City (Wilmington) – 4
Texas (Myrtle Beach) – 5
Washington (Potomac) – 1

Outside of Boston’s significant lead, the White Sox are right there, especially when you consider Texas had two of the last four players on the list. Regardless, the reality is that Chicago’s system is on the upswing, and the talent that could come through Winston-Salem in 2014 is impressive, too. Fans should not be surprised to see even more newcomers on this list from the White Sox system in 2015.

- Brian

Two White Sox farmhands make MLB’s Top 100

Erik Johnson is one of two White Sox on MLB's Top 100 prospect list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Erik Johnson is one of two White Sox on MLB’s Top 100 prospect list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

MLB released its Top 100 prospects Thursday night, and a pair of White Sox prospects qualified for the list.

Right-hander Erik Johnson placed 70th on the list, while newly-acquired infielder Matt Davidson slotted 80th. Last season’s lone White Sox qualifier, outfielder Courtney Hawkins, did not make this year’s Top 100.

At the end of the 2012 season, Johnson was Winston-Salem’s ace, posting a 2.74 earned run average in eight starts down the stretch. Last year, the former California Golden Bear dominated between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte to the tune of a 12-3 record and a 1.96 ERA.

Johnson earned a September promotion to Chicago, where he went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in five impressive starts. He will not be a prospect for long because “Puma” has a great chance to be in the Sox rotation on Opening Day.

And hey, if this baseball thing does not work out for Johnson, he could always go into sales. Check out the great video below of Johnson and former Dash shortstop Marcus Semien making sales calls for the White Sox, courtesy of whitesox.com.

The White Sox acquired Davidson from Arizona for former Winston-Salem flamethrower Addison Reed. Davidson also figures to play in Chicago for some or all of the 2014 season. He hit .237 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 31 games with the Diamondbacks late last year.

MLB.com’s Top 20 White Sox prospect list is available here (which does not jive with the Top 100 countdown, as Davidson tops the group). An impressive 12 players on this list have played in the Triad at some point in their minor league journeys.

- Brian

FutureSox releases prospect list

Two weeks ago, Baseball America released its Top 10 White Sox prospect list. While this list is one of the most well-regarded compilations nationally, our friends at FutureSox put together the best list on the internet among White Sox-only sites. FutureSox’s preseason Top 25 is out, and the Dash are well represented.

Of Chicago’s 25 best prospects, a whopping 13 have played in Winston-Salem at some point in their minor league career. This number includes eight alums in the Top 12.

I encourage you to check out the entire list, which includes justification for the top 10 players. Here is the placement of the 13 former Dash players:

2. RHP Erik Johnson
4. INF Marcus Semien
6. OF Courtney Hawkins
7. RHP Chris Beck
9. INF Micah Johnson
10. OF Trayce Thompson
11. RHP Daniel Webb
12. INF Carlos Sanchez
15. RHP Jake Petricka
16. LHP Scott Snodgress
18. RHP Chris Bassitt
21. INF Rangel Ravelo
23. RHP Myles Jaye

A few notes from this list:

  • If it weren’t for the signing of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, Erik Johnson would be the top prospect. The exciting thing for White Sox fans is that both should be in Chicago in April.
  • It has been quite a 12-month period for Marcus Semien. At this point last year, he was coming off a solid season in Winston-Salem. Very few people could have predicted his quick rise near the top of the Sox prospect rankings, but he was one of the hardest workers I have seen in my two seasons here in Winston-Salem. I’m thrilled for him.
  • This time last year, Carlos Sanchez was the hot prospect. Sure, he did not wow in 2013, but the Venezuela native is still only 21 years old. He is still a legitimate prospect in the system despite coming back to earth a bit in 2013.
  • I’m happy to see Chris Bassitt appear on a prospect list. I think people were waiting to see if his strong end to the 2012 season as a starting pitcher would carry over into last season, and it certainly did. He should also appear on Baseball America’s Top 30 rankings, which will come out later this offseason.
  • Do not be surprised to see both Rangel Ravelo and Myles Jaye continue to climb from the low 20s. Both had strong efforts in 2013, and if they can find similar success in Double-A, they will garner even more praise.

As always, thanks to the guys at FutureSox. Matt Cassidy, one of the site’s main writers, visited Winston-Salem late last season and compiled some great videos. They do a great job with their coverage, and I encourage you to check out all their content here.

The first 2014 White Sox prospect list

Micah Johnson is one of six newcomers on Baseball America's White Sox Top 10 Prospects list (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

Speedster Micah Johnson is one of six newcomers on Baseball America’s White Sox Top 10 Prospects list (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

Baseball America is, in many ways, the bible of baseball prospects. Few publications examine Minor League Baseball more thoroughly than Baseball America, which has released its 2014 White Sox Top 10 Prospect list.

Over the last few seasons, Baseball America has been critical of the White Sox system, but the publication believes that the system is making significant progress:

For the first time since at least 2000, when the White Sox had the game’s No. 2 farm system, the organization has prospect depth.

How can one best illustrate this depth? Let’s take a look at Baseball America’s Top 10 list from this time last year and compare it to this year’s.

2013 White Sox Top 10:
1. OF Courtney Hawkins
2. OF Trayce Thompson
3. INF Carlos Sanchez
4. RHP Erik Johnson
5. OF Keenyn Walker
6. LHP Scott Snodgress
7. RHP Andre Rienzo
8. INF Keon Barnum
9. OF Jared Mitchell
10. RHP Chris Beck

2014 White Sox Top 10:
1. INF Jose Abreu
2. RHP Erik Johnson
3. INF Tim Anderson
4. INF Matt Davidson
5. INF Marcus Semien
6. INF Micah Johnson
7. OF Courtney Hawkins
8. OF Trayce Thompson
9. RHP Chris Beck
10. OF Jacob May

Only four members of the 2013 list appear on this year’s edition. This reflects the benefits of the transactions the White Sox have made much more than the struggles of a few of these players over the last 12 months.

Not only have these players impressed the White Sox and other baseball people, but many of them have produced at or near the top of the organization. Three of the current Top 10 have played in the big leagues, with Jose Abreu likely to play much of next season on the South Side. Excluding Abreu, only Tim Anderson and Jacob May have yet to play in High-A, and both could start in Winston-Salem in 2014.

Beyond the Top 10 rankings, Baseball America’s “Best Tools” and “Top 15 Players 25 and Under” lists, which can also be viewed here, feature more of Chicago’s minor league depth.

The White Sox had a tough 2013 in The Show, but the farm system should instill plenty of hope in the fan base for 2014 and beyond.

- Brian

Prospect All-Stars, Top 20 rankings

Adam Heisler and four Dash teammates from 2013 on the Organizational All-Star roster (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Adam Heisler and four Dash teammates from 2013 appeared on the White Sox Organizational All-Star roster (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

October is a time for reflection in the baseball world. Fans and organizations can look back at what happened this past season and how the system looks moving forward.

The 2013 season was a productive one for many White Sox prospects, and MiLB.com honored some of these players on their Organizational All-Star team. One player represented each position, and five of them played in Winston-Salem for part or all of this season:

Catcher – Kevan Smith
Second baseman – Micah Johnson
Third baseman – Chris Curley
Outfielder (1 of 3) – Adam Heisler
Relief pitcher – Daniel Webb

Four other alumni appeared on the All-Star team:

First baseman – Dan Black
Shortstop – Marcus Semien
Left-handed starter – Spencer Arroyo
Right-handed starter – Erik Johnson

In other words, nine of the 12 players on this All-Star team have played in Winston-Salem, and two of the remaining three thrived at lower levels and are on track to play at BB&T Ballpark soon.

So, what did the 2013 season do for these All-Stars and others in Chicago’s system? TopProspectAlert.com released their offseason Top 20 White Sox prospect list, and half of them have played in Winston-Salem during their professional careers.

Erik Johnson headlines this list as the Sox top prospect, and he joins Micah Johnson (3), Courtney Hawkins (4), Marcus Semien (5) and Scott Snodgress (6) as a Dash alumni quintet in the top six. Only Tim Anderson, the White Sox first-round selection this year and a player on the Dash’s radar for 2014, is among the six best prospects in the system without a trip to Winston.

You can view the entire list here, which features six Dash alumni in the top 10.

More prospect rankings will be published throughout the offseason, but it is always fun to take a look as they are released.

- Brian

Top 10 of 2013 – #4: Four alumni promoted to MLB

MG_EJ_MS_DW_MW_jmywk7bg_c5w9htu6The 2013 season is over, but there were plenty of memorable moments. Over the next two weeks, we will count down the Top 10 moments of the Dash era’s fifth season.

Previous Top 10 Moments:
#10: Dash clinch winning record
#9: Comeback in Delaware
#8: 17 runs in six innings
#7: Buckner sets RBIs record
#6: Attendance record on July 4
#5: Beck, Blough toss gems

Moment #4 – September 3
Four alumni promoted to big leagues

At times, cheering for a Minor League Baseball team can be frustrating. Many players advance to a higher level once they become fan favorites due to their production. However, this fandom frustration goes away whenever one of this temporary favorites jump to the highest level.

The 2013 season was a great one for Dash alumni. In early July, Josh Phegley became the 13th Dash alum to play in Major League Baseball, and he began the pipeline from Winston to the bigs. Andre Rienzo followed suit later that month.

In August, Charlie Leesman made his debut as a spot starter, while Jake Petricka joined the White Sox bullpen for the first time.

However, with respect to these four men and their incredible accomplishments, the biggest day in terms of big league promotions came the day after the Dash concluded their 2013 season. It’s one thing to see four alumni climb to baseball’s grandest stage during the course of the season. It’s much different to hear four former players moving to the big leagues on one day, which is something the White Sox strongly hinted a few days before the official transactions.

Because of Chicago’s rare rough season, the front office aimed to get some young players a taste of the Majors. Miguel Gonzalez, Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien and Daniel Webb benefited from this opportunity with a month of big league experience.

All four players flashed the potential that Winston-Salem fans witnessed over the last few years. Here are their numbers after earning promotions:

- Gonzalez: .222 (2-for-9) in 5 games
- Johnson: 3-2, 3.25 ERA, 27.2 IP, 18 K in 5 starts
- Semien: .261 (18-for-69), 2 HR, 7 RBI in 21 games
- Webb: 0-0, 3.18 ERA, 11.1 IP, 10 K in 9 appearances

The Winston-to-Chicago pipeline had never been busier than it was in 2013, and never was that fact more evident than immediately after the regular season came to an end in the minors. Four men who suited up for the Dash in either 2012 or 2013 were big leaguers. It does not get much better than that.

Only three more moments remain in our Dash Top 10. What will number three be? Find out tomorrow.

- Brian

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 86 other followers