As it were, Friday was the White Sox day for adding vaguely promising minor-leaguers to the 40-man roster. With the winter meetings looming, these additions specifically indicate who the White Sox will be protecting from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Every minor league player not on the 40-man roster who was signed at age 18 or younger and has spent 5 years in the organization, or was signed at age 19 or older and has spent 4 years in the organization, is eligible to be selected by other teams. I shouldn't have to tell you that the White Sox have a lot of those guys.
Who the White Sox neglected to add to the 40-man is a lot more interesting than who they added, and a lot of that has to do with the two guys added being Charlie Leesman and Deunte Heath. Heath and Leesman? That's not the name of a surely-canceled buddy cop TV-show, that's the proposed name of buddy cop TV-show that gets shouted down and laughed at in the pitch room.
Leesman will be blowing out 25 candles mid-way through next year's Spring Training, struggled with his control this past season in Double-A, and one wonders how much he's profiting from Regions Stadium's spacious accommodations. Still he's left-handed and hasn't been given up on as a starter yet. I have received verification that this qualifies as "something".
Heath is a 26 year-old righty whose 10.26 K/9 in Triple-A in 2011 becomes less interesting when paired with his inability to keep balls inside the Knights Stadium walls or over the Knights Stadium plate, and that's pretty much been the case for him at every level. He's having a stronger winter season in Venezuela, but it's too soon to say that former prospects with prior arrests for soliciting prostitution on the internet is the new market inefficiency.
There'd have to be Soviet Union-level purging of the relief corps for Heath to have even a shot at the Opening Day roster, and it's hard to imagine the situation being much different across the league. Any Rule 5 draftee needs to stay on the major league roster of the selecting team for the whole season or else they're returned, so protecting anyone in this system is likely to be overly cautious. That's reflected in the pragmatism showed elsewhere, as everyone else got left available so that 4 spots on the 40-man could stay open.
Brandon Short and Terry Doyle are about as good as any prospects the White Sox have, and were certainly their best two performers in the Arizona Fall League. Short has decent power but not nearly enough to make up for his strikeouts and general impatience, unless of course he had enough speed to play centerfield...which, no, not really.
Doyle has had consistently solid results, and just wrapped up a fantastic Arizona Fall League where he posted a 1.98 ERA in 27.1 IP with 22 K and 5 BB. His velocity and average stuff have don't project well to the majors, and neither does his being 26 years-old and only now graduating to Double-A.
It's somewhat jarring to see the only players of note in the system be tossed up for grabs, but it'd be equally jarring to see a team commit a major-league spot to one of these guys. Even if an absolutely pitching-starved squad wanted to give Doyle a look based off the strength of his AFL season, the likeliness of his sticking for all 162 is remote, and the White Sox would likely learn more about how his "Just throw strikes, baby" approach would translate to upper-levels for their trouble.
The same goes for Tyler Kuhn, the 25 year-old utility man contact-hitter who struggled mightily after a late-season promotion to Triple-A. Who the hell gets promoted after slugging .359 in their first visit to the International League?
OF Jordan Danks is a plus defender in centerfield, so perhaps some team might like him as a reserve outfielder so long as they didn't mind getting absolutely nothing out of his bat, which is probably what ~30% strikeout rate at Triple-A portends. As Jim Margalus posited, even that small risk registers as the White Sox eschewing the bargaining chip they had with older brother John.
Or they don't see this move as risking that bargaining chip at all. With Jordan, and the rest of these types, the White Sox message is clear; these guys aren't good, they aren't ready, and not worth the roster flexibility they'd cost. Act accordingly.