FutureSox Prospects of the Month: August/September 2012

The 2012 minor league season is complete and you can read the season in reviews for each of the six affiliates, but there’s one more piece of order to wrap up coverage of the 2012 season before heading into the Arizona Fall League: the final Prospects of the Month. As usual, the spillover into September is combined into August for this.

As has been discussed in the season in review posts, three White Sox affiliates made the playoffs. Charlotte (20-12 in August/September, 83-61 overall), Winston-Salem (21-10, 87-51) and Great Falls (16-19, 40-36). The Knights and Dash made the league finals before losing while the Voyagers lost in the Pioneer League semis. Birmingham (15-17, 63-76), Kannapolis (14-18, 61-78) and Bristol (9-20, 19-46) struggled down the stretch. The overall record of the six affiliates is at Baseball America, where they compiled the combined records of each team’s affiliates.

Stats listed below do not include playoff stats and came from the great resource MinorLeagueCentral.com. Mistakes have been found with some of the split stats, but they’re very close and far, far easier to acquire than straight off of MiLB.com when adding August and September and factoring in players switching clubs.

Hitter of the Month: Courtney Hawkins
Stats: .294/.333/.600, 18 RBI, 13 R, 7 2B, 5 HR with 4 BB and 21 K in 85 AB

Hawkins finished the season on some kind of tear. The 2012 first round pick moved his way up the system, even earning a promotion from Low-A Kannapolis to High-A Winston-Salem for the Dash’s postseason. Most impressive was that Hawkins contributed to the postseason run despite being the youngest player in the Carolina League and having barely any time to adjust to the level. The 18-year-old slammed two homers and racked up five RBI in seven playoff games.

Honorable mentions
Seth Loman (AA/AAA): .316/.455/.494 with 3 HR, 14 BB and 19 K in 79 AB
Mike Blanke (High-A): .318/.383/.553 with 4 HR, 7 BB and 15 K in 85 AB
Zach Voight (Rk): .339/.534/.441 with 26 BB and 16 K in 59 AB

Loman was a surprise for the Knights, helping them to the IL finals after being moved up from Birmingham. He’s probably not a big league prospect, but he’s certainly proved to be a high quality professional hitter. Blanke’s resurgence shows the Sox do have depth, if not top heavy talent, at the catcher spot in the minor league system. Voight’s display of supreme plate discipline makes him a potential late round sleeper prospect. He got a late start on the season, debuting for Great Falls in August, but an ability to draw walks at that rate makes him a candidate to cruise through A ball.

Pitcher of the Month: Erik Johnson
Stats: 2.65 ERA, 40 K, 7 BB, 34 H in 37.1 IP

Like last month’s winning, Scott Snodgress, Johnson was promoted to Winston-Salem and hit the ground running. Snodgress was also dominant to close the year, giving the Dash a deadly one-two punch in the rotation. Johnson took a while to get going in pro ball, but seems to have settled down and asserted himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the system. The former second round pick out of Cal has yet to pitch 100 innings of pro ball so don’t expect him to rush through the minors, but he seems capable of starting 2013 in AA.

Honorable mentions
Charlie Leesman (AAA): 31.1 IP, 1.72 ERA, 24 K, 8 BB, 23 H
Taylor Thompson (High-A): 13.2 IP, 0 ERA, 20 K, 1 BB, 6 H
Scott Snodgress (High-A): 37.1 IP, 1.8 ERA, 31 K, 12 BB, 25 H

As mentioned above Snodgress matched Johnson start for start for the Dash. However, Winston-Salem also had a loaded bullpen as well, anchored by Thompson in the second half. That 20:1 K:BB ratio is the definition of overpowering the opposition and that’s why he is worth following at the AFL. Thompson wasn’t the only Dash reliever to finish the season on a roll. Terance Marin and Kevin Vance also finished strong and should do well in Birmingham next year. Speaking of next year, Leesman is a guy to watch in Spring Training. He had a strong season on the surface in AAA (2.47 ERA in 135 IP), but 103 K against 52 BB isn’t very inspiring. Leesman is a question mark, but could find a spot with the big league club next year, not that the Sox need more left-handers.

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