In a bit of a surprise, reliever Gregory Infante was called up to the White Sox today with the roster limit expanding to 40. Infante wasn’t even on the 40-man roster, but has a high 90s fastball and apparently the Sox like his arm a lot. Fellow reliever Clevelan Santeliz was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man. Tyler Flowers and Alejandro De Aza were also brought up to the bigs.
Infante, 23, signed from Venezuela in 2006 and broke into the professional ranks primarily as a starter. He spent 2007 in Bristol and after struggling with Kannapolis to start 2008, was sent back to the BriSox in 2008. Last year he had a solid campaign with Kannapolis (3.26 ERA, 75 K, 37 BB in 88.1 IP), but struggled with his control after being promoted to Winston-Salem (23 BB in 20.2 IP).
After his awful finish to 2009, the Sox converted him to a reliever and the change has made a world of difference for the 6’2″ right-hander this year. He struck out 35 against 15 walks in 33.2 IP for the Dash, earning a spot on the Carolina League All-Star team and a promotion to Birmingham in July. Infante handled the transition to AA well, striking out 34, walking 12 and posting a 3.42 ERA in 26.1 IP.
Reports came out about 100+ mph fastballs and he received some attention in prospect circles. Baseball America listed him in a group of top relief prospects (subscription required), saying he has a 94-98 mph fastball and an inconsistent, but occasionally sharp curveball. When he first pitched with the Barons this year, JPN said:
He has a smooth, easy delivery and he throws in the upper 90’s effortlessly. He didn’t pitch lights out, but he definitely flashed some serious talent. The White Sox made a good decision moving him into a closer role starting this season.
It’s surprising that Infante is up this year, but the Sox could certainly use an extra bullpen arm.
DFA’ing Santeliz is a mild surprise as well. Baseball America and others had him as a top 10 prospect for the Sox entering the season, but he is still erratic with his control and has given up too many home runs. Santeliz likely garnered a bit too much credit for his 0.96 ERA last year despite walking 35 in 56.1 IP. The numbers evened out this year. His peripherals are almost identical (8.8 K/9, 5.9 BB/9 this year vs. 8.3 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 last year), but his ERA is 4.65.
He turned 24 today, bad way to spend a birthday. It’s likely another team will give him a shot, though. His stuff should tempt teams.