Update on the minor leagues from Buddy Bell

Friend of bloggers, and man of the people, Marty Maloney set up another interview for the White Sox scribes o' the internet.  This month's subject was Buddy Bell, the Director of Operations for the Minor League System.  Buddy's also served as a manager for the Royals, Tigers, and Rockies after a distinguished career as a player, but now says "I like where I'm at", when asked about managing again by Mark Primiano.

Speaking of Mark, he performed the yeoman work of compiling an entire transcript for the interview.  By all means, read it here.  Also, J.J. broke it down pretty thoroughly as well.  I recommend both these works highly.  This was as lively a discussion as I've been a part of, so much so that my M.O. of 'waiting to ask a question until a pause demands it' fell flat.

No matter, Jim Margalus, Mark, and JJ peppered Bell for updates on the top White Sox prospects.  Here's a rundown of his comments on everyone, as well some words on what's been going on with these guys, as I'm kind of light on minor league coverage.

(All quotes are from Mark [U-God] Primiano's transcript)

Jared Mitchell, CF - High-A Winston-Salem

Mitchell was the 1st round draft pick in 2009 and projected to be a
lightning quick left-handed leadoff man.  Think Juan Pierre, if he were
good.  Instead he missed all of 2010 with a torn tendon in his ankle,
and now he's striking out in 38.6% of his at-bats.  There is concern,
and it's all over our bodies.

"When we sent him to Winston-Salem we were assuming that he was going to have some struggles."

"He's such a raw kind of a player, an athletic guy.  I was talking to
someone the other night, he reminds me a little bit of Adam Dunn
when Adam was at this stage.  He came out of Texas as a football player
and didn't play a lot of baseball, so when Adam came to us when I was
the farm director of the Reds he had no idea of balance and things like that and it just kind of came all of a sudden to Adam."

"We've just got to be patient with him, probably more than anyone else due to his lack of baseball experience."

Bell added that Mitchell won't be demoted and is healthy after his injury.

Andre Rienzo, SP - High-A, Winston-Salem

In a system bereft of starting pitching, the 22-year old Brazilian signing has been a bright spot.  Future Sox thinks he projects as a reliever, and his walk-rate is spiking, but 47 K in 42.2 IP will get you noticed.

"This kid is coming really quick and we have to be careful that we don't
move him too quick because he still has some command issues and he tries
to strike every body out.  We're trying to get him to pay more
attention to getting outs earlier in the count."

"He's a kid with a sinker, a good changeup.  He's getting a good feel. 
His instincts aren't as good as some of the kids we've gotten from the
United States or the Dominican, but that will come as well.  He'll get
over 100 [innings], and there's a chance that he'll get to Birmingham by the end
of the year but we've got kids like (Cameron) Bayne, (Terry) Doyle,
(Hector) Santiago that are probably on a little bit fast track than he

Jordan Danks, CF- Triple-A, Charlotte

Danks was revered in his earlier years for being John's brother
his excellent defensive prowess and was seen as a future #2 hitter. 
But he never developed much power and his strikeout totals ballooned as
he moved up in the system.  Now, he's in the midst of a two-week power
surge and his strikeouts are down....a little.

"Jordan Danks looks better than I've ever seen him"

"I've got my opinions on it, he got way too much coaching in the winter
and he just kept changing his approach and his set up and he didn't look
like he had a feel for his own particular swing.  About a month or
three weeks ago, he basically went "The hell with all this stuff" and
just went after it and that's the kind of player he is.  He's just very
instinctive and he looks really good."

"With Jordan, he's pretty much simplified (it).  It's not coaching, it's
not anything, it's just you've gotta get after it now.  Forget about all
this other crap you've been doing, just get after it."

The idea that Danks has figured it all out suddenly is certainly a
tempting narrative for a team with two sub-replacement starting
outfielders at the moment.  Quite simply, he's struggled too much for
too long to feel great about him for a while.

Tyler Flowers, C - Triple-A, Charlotte

Flowers, the power-hitting, long-swinging, offensive-minded (read:
weak defensively) catcher-of-the-future bombed out in Triple-A in 2010
as he struggled to internalize suggested changes to his swing, and
prompted the Pierzynski re-signing.  Now he's 25 and the "is it ever
going to happen?" talk is mounting.

"He's trying to get there.  He hasn't made the progress that Danks has,
but he's getting there.  His set up is more balanced, he's starting to
buy into what we've talked about the last couple years.  He's very
similar to a lot of our kids.  I think they get proper coaching, I just
think they get too much of it.  And the terminology is different so it
kind of conflicts with what you're hearing.  I saw him last night and he
swung the bat decent last night, and we've got high hopes for him as

As J.J. noted, Bell's tone here was as reserved and lacking in natural
enthusiasm as any of his responses.  That doesn't mean that what he said
wasn't true, but I didn't suspect we'd get an "Oh, that guy sucks" out
of Buddy either.

Dan Remenowsky, RP - Double-A, Birmingham

Remenowsky was undrafted, and lacks the type of stuff that people
get excited about, but there's been no denying his results: 0.54 WHIP

"We talk about him because this guy throws 88-89, maybe tops out at 90 on
his best day, but what we talk about all the time is that we have to
get guys like that to higher levels to see if it's real or not.  He's
shocked us everywhere he's been."

"It's realistic to think, and you don't really want to put him in a
category of a Sutter or a Doug Jones who wasn't overpowering but had
great secondary changes in their split and their changeup so a kid like
Remenowsky who could hit a gnat in the ass on both sides of the plates
to go along with some deception, there is a chance that this kid could
be throwing in Chicago."

"At some point we're going to have to get him to another level to see how
real this really is.  But the hitters normally will tell us this."

Remenowsky wasn't much talked about until this year, and would
definitely buck the Sox' reliance on hard-throwers out of the pen.  He's
not the next closer, but you could see him.

Dayan Viciedo, RF - Triple-A, Charlotte

Dayan can hit.  Dayan can hit a ton.  This much is known.  This bat
is also desperately needed, and the main question was whether he could
actually be trusted to play the outfield if summoned.

"When I heard that they were considering putting Dayan at right field, I
was like 'That can't be true.  This has got to be a typo'."


"He went down to Miami I guess and was working with Daryl Boston. 
Bainesy worked with him in the spring.  I think Joey has a camp of some
sort down in Miami that he spent a lot of time with."

"He's working hard, he's eating better.  I think that adds to the way
he's moving.  Yes, I think he can play every day in the outfield in the
major leagues."

My ears are ringing from that endorsement...and also bleeding.

Thanks again to Marty Maloney for setting this up, Buddy Bell for being
absurdly gracious and insightful, Mark Primiano for the transcript, and
J.J. Stankevitz and Jim Margalus for conducting a great interview.

Mike DePilla is back in the act with two pieces on Morel deserving more playing time, and the McPherson promotion.
J.J. has a video wrap-up of Peavy's shutout.
Jim pleads for the Sox to realize Viciedo's usefulness, and also has a Peavy wrap-up.
Future Sox runs down relief help in the minors.
Gaper's Block gives a take on the 6-man rotation.

Leave a comment