I have entered the Pit; I have seen what lies beneath. I traced the career path of the third basemen with the most playing time each year for the Charlotte Knights since 2006, Joe Crede’s last really good year with the Sox. And have I come out better for it?
We’ll go backwards in time.
2016: Matt Davidson. What does the name Matt Davidson evoke in you? Dwindling hope or profound disappointment? Was he finally figuring it out or did he trade his foot to a swamp witch for another cup of coffee? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s plausible that it’s because he found a genie lamp and wished that he would have the highest single-season batting average ever (a genie probably would not have a good understanding of batting title qualification rules). That .500 in two big league at-bats this year is writ large on baseball stat websites forever. 2016 side note: someone named Marcus Lemon played a little third for the Knights and I’m surprised it took the Sox until 2016 to find him.
2015: Matt Davidson. He has an outside chance to start next year as the designated hitter, depending on the Justin Morneau situation. Unless something happens on the Todd Frazier front, however, he won’t be the Sox third baseman. Just like a thousand other prospects won’t be the Sox third baseman. Also me, and I’m doing it for free.
2014: Matt Davidson. He’s 25. I mean, Mike Trout is 25 and is worth 48.5 bWAR already. But, like, we can’t all be Mike Trout, who was drafted two slots after the White Sox drafted Jared Mitchell in 2009. Jared Mitchell has never played third base for the Charlotte Knights, and is currently playing indy ball, if anyone’s wondering.
2013: Brent Morel. Remember Brent Morel?? He now plays for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. The only time Brent Morel’s OBP was above .300 in his 6-year MLB career was 2013, in 12 games, when it was .333.
2012: Dallas McPherson. Wow! The blasts from the past keep coming. He hasn’t played baseball since 2013 (coincidentally, that season with the same indy ball team as Mitchell, the York Revolution), although apparently he hasn’t officially retired yet. He was a minor league veteran; a failed former top prospect. Of course he found his way to the White Sox. Give us your tired, your poor.
2011: Travis Dawkins. I’ve never heard of Travis Dawkins. What was I doing in 2011? Looking at his baseball-reference page, he provided a position they needed in AAA, I guess. He hit .233 in 2011 at 32 years old. His last major league game was in 2003 with Kansas City, and his last minor league game was, uh, in 2011 with Charlotte.
2010: Brent Morel. That’s three years removed, and that’s not, good. Thinking about Brent Morel is exhausting. I must move on.
2009: Javier Castillo. Google tells me that the most famous Javier Castillo is not the one who played third for the lion’s share of Charlotte’s 2009. The first milb.com result that comes up is also not him; in fact, that Javier Castillo turned 11 that year. Castillo was released from the Knights in April 2010 and has resided in anonymity since.
2008: Josh Fields. Three years earlier, he was regarded as a top prospect. In 2006, he had a great year (spoilers!). His last activity on baseball-reference is with a Mexican League team in 2015, hitting .245 with Campeche, which followed AAA stints with the Phillies, Dodgers, and Rockies, plus a year with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
2007: Earl Snyder. I didn’t know anyone named Earl was born after 1960. My sources tell me that his middle name is Clifford. The odds were stacked against him from the start; of course he’d play third base in the Sox system. 2007 was also his last year in professional baseball. Are you noticing kind of a trend here?
2006: Josh Fields. Oh boy. He hit .305 that year with 19 dongs. He was 23 years old. He was a White Sox top prospect, and he crashed and burned. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Below, I’ve listed the names of every single person to play third for the Knights since 2006; feel free to trace every branch of this tree which bears mostly dead fruit. It’s a list of disappointment, over and over again. Names you’ve forgotten about already. Dayan Viciedo. Wilson Betemit. Chris Stewart! The White Sox can’t grow a third baseman and it took them ten years to find one elsewhere. Why, before 2016, was third base a blast pit? Who sowed the salt?
Trey Michalczewski is the top White Sox third base prospect now, over Davidson. He spent 2016 in double-A Birmingham, where he hit .226 while striking out 153 times, although at 21 he was young for the league. He’s not a lost cause yet; he still has a chance to transcend the wailing ghosts of the past. But, I’m a White Sox fan, and as the tattoo on my forehead says, I’ll believe it when I see it.
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