The White Sox don’t have a lot of depth at middle infield, but let’s take a look at the few that could make an impact in the coming years.
Best prospect: C.J. Retherford
2009 in review: More of the same from Retherford last year. He practically duplicated his ’08 numbers, but this time he was in AA Birmingham. The former Arizona State Sun Devil went undrafted, but has done nothing but produce in the minors. His 2009 season put him one step away from the Majors.
What he needs to improve: Retherford has never been one to walk much. He projects as a utility player so this is picky, but given his limited athleticism he does everything else at least fairly well. He hits for a decent average, doesn’t strike out much and brings decent power for a middle infielder. If he could develop a little more patience he might be able to turn himself into a starter.
What to expect in 2010: C.J. will play a lot of positions in Charlotte. Buddy Bell said the Sox view him as a super utility player in the Majors. He will still be a regular in the Knights’ lineup, but his position may switch frequently.
What makes a successful season: Retherford needs to position himself to make the 2011 White Sox roster. He was assigned to minor league camp a few days ago, but that doesn’t mean his spring wasn’t a success. He put his name in consideration for this year’s team and he has a good shot to get a promotion in the case of an injury to one of the current White Sox backups. If Retherford replicates his production from the last two seasons, he will be in the Majors in 2011.
All defense, no bat: Eduardo Escobar
2009 in review: The Venezuelan had high expectations after bursting onto the scene in 2008, but Escobar struggled to hit South Atlantic League pitching for most of the year. He’s not going to be a power hitter, but his .334 slugging is just awful. Escobar had an amazing August, but the rest of the year was atrocious. However, he’s only 21, plays great defense and has good speed.
What he needs to improve: Considering he’s never going to hit for power, it’s all about batting eye and plate discipline. Escobar doesn’t walk much and strikeouts a bit too much for a slap hitter. He also needs to improve his base stealing ability. He has the speed to be a base stealing threat.
What to expect in 2010: Escobar is a bit of a wild card because he’s been streaky as a hitter. His glove can take him to the Majors, but his bat just had to hold its weight. It’s likely he will actually start in Winston-Salem because his defense can make him valuable there, but a third straight year in Kannapolis is also a possibility.
What makes a successful season: He shows improvement in his strikeout and walk rates. He’s never going to be valuable as a hitter, but if he can be competent that’s good enough with his defense.
Unproven talent: Juan Silverio
2009 in review: Silverio found himself in the Dominican Summer League, where he put up an impressive line: .321/.366/.547. Most of the story behind his 2009 season revolves around why he was in the DSL to begin with. Age questions and rumored visa issues could be the cause, but all we be forgotten if he hits well in the U.S. this year.
What he needs to improve: His defense is probably the top priority because he really struggled in Bristol at shortstop in 2008. He may move to third down the line, but until we find out more about his bat his defense is his biggest question mark.
What to expect in 2010: He will turn 19 early in the 2010 season so he’s still young enough to be playing in rookie ball. He only hit .228 with Bristol, but that was two years ago. Improvement will be expected.
What makes a successful season: Silverio puts up number similar to 2009 instead of 2008 and shows improvement with his defense. It’s ALL about projection with Silverio and we don’t know enough about him other than that he supposedly has great talent.
Good luck finding another prospect here. Middle infield might be thinner than left-handed starting pitching in the White Sox system. The Sox will likely make second base and shortstop a priority in the 2010 draft. They definitely need some talent up the middle.