Tyler Kuhn and Jose Martinez were two of the hottest bats in the White Sox organization at the start of this season and both were rewarded with promotions today. Kuhn, who was hitting a whopping .366 for AA Birmingham, joined AAA Charlotte and Martinez, who hit .314 for the Winston-Salem Dash, took Kuhn’s roster spot on the Barons. Both were among their respective league leaders in batting average.
Kuhn led the Southern League batting race by 31 points entering today and finishes with a .366/.425/.500 line. He can play both infield and outfield and played four positions (SS, 2B, 3B, LF) during the past week. Defensively, putting him at shortstop is a bit of a stretch, but he is adequate at those other three spots. The ability to play a variety of positions competently has made many people speculate that he could be a ‘super utility’ player.
Kuhn, 24, was a 15th round pick in 2008 out of West Virginia and hit .424 that year as a senior. He continued his hot year with a strong season at Great Falls and then earned a midseason promotion from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem in 2009. Last year he hit .279/.345/.393 with the Barons to cool most optimism about him, but came out of the gates on fire this year. He hit .333 in his worst month (May) this year and leaves Alabama on a roll. He hit .398 in June and was 7-15 in July. He’s not a power hitter, he has just nine homers as a pro and one in 2011, but he does have 31 extra base hits this season.
Martinez leaves the Carolina League as the active batting leader (overall leader Reynaldo Rodriguez still has enough at-bats to qualify, but was promoted to AA a few weeks ago) and has the most hits in the league. A torn right ACL halted his career (he played just 39 games in 2008, none in 2009 and 67 in 2010), but this year he’s finally fully healthy and playing well again. Once a top 10-rated prospect by Baseball America, Martinez showed that talent by hitting .382/.427/.528 in April. He slumped over the next two months, hitting .260 in May and .275 in June with an OPS below .650 each month, but ends his second stint with the Dash on a hot streak. He was 21-52 (.404) over his last 12 games and 10-20 in July.
The 22-year-old has the best outfield arm in the system according to Baseball America and he tallied 10 assists this season for the Dash. The Venezuelan is a solid defender with good contact skills. Considering he was once a heralded prospect and his only struggles have come in recovering from that nasty injury (he had microfracture surgery), it’s safe to say he’s a prospect worth following. Even a pessimistic view of Martinez has to concede he could be a good bat off the bench due to how well he hits lefties (.400/.422/.545 against them this year in 110 AB).
John Spatola was moved up from Kannapolis to the Dash to take Martinez’s place and Dusty Harvard is up from Bristol to take Spatola’s roster spot.