The second month of the season has looked much the same as the first did for White Sox prospects.
The same big names are doing well and, for the most part, the same big names are struggling. It sounds like some promotions may be in order soon for some of the prospects on the good side.
As for the teams, Charlotte (24-34 overall, 16-13 in May) is struggling to match last year’s success and sits 12.5 games back in the International League South. Birmingham (36-20, 19-10 in May) has opened up a seven game lead in its division. Winston-Salem (29-26, 14-14 in May) is treading water just above .500. Kannapolis (19-35, 9-19 in May) is last in its division.
Hitter of the Month: Josh Phegley
Stats: .356/.381/.722, 19 RBI, 19 R, 10 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 3 BB, 15 K in 90 AB
Phegley almost won in April, but was passed over for Micah Johnson. Both players put up better offensive numbers in May, but this time Phegley couldn’t be ignored. The catcher is having a breakout year so far and is garnering calls for his promotion to the South Side. The question is whether it is truly a breakout year for a player that may finally be healthy after years of not playing at 100 percent or if it’s simply a fluke. After two months with an OPS over 1 (Phegley entered June 3 with an OPS of 1.005), sample size is starting to turn in his favor. It seems only a matter of time before he makes his big league debut if he keeps this up.
Brent Morel (AAA): .296/.397/.500 with 3 HR, 16 BB and 27 K in 98 AB
Andy Wilkins (AA): .316/.384/.531 with 5 HR, 12 BB and 24 K in 98 AB
Micah Johnson (Low-A): .357/.446/.509, 27/36 in SBA with 17 BB and 18 K in 112 AB
As mentioned, Micah Johnson continues to tear up the South Atlantic League. He is putting up the dominant hitting numbers to go with the flashy stolen base numbers. The 22-year-old needs to move up the system.
Morel and Wilkins are stretching the definition of prospect at this point, but both are high enough in the minors to think they have at least a chance at contributing in the big leagues. In Morel’s case it would be a return and he is heating up since a slow April.
Pitcher of the Month: Jake Cose
Stats: 0.88 ERA, 41 K, 11 BB, 19 H in 30.2 IP
While a pair of the hitters above appear ready for promotions, Cose already got his. The 22-year-old right-hander was promoted from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem on May 31. He was a 27th round pick out of junior college in 2011 and struggled in 11 innings out of the bullpen for Bristol that summer. Last year he started for the BriSox and posted solid peripherals (64 K, 21 BB, 2.44 GO/AO in 61.2 IP), but still had an ERA of 4.38 in 12 starts. This year, the peripherals are nearly identical (63 K, 21 BB, 2.60 GO/AO in 57.2 IP), but his ERA sits at 1.72. This could be explained by a better defense being behind him as he moved up to full season ball. Either way, the 6-foot-5 Cose is getting a chance to prove he’s a legit prospect with Winston-Salem.
David Purcey (AAA): 12.2 IP, 2.84 ERA, 15 K, 2 BB, 11 H
Erik Johnson (AA): 36.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 32 K, 6 BB, 31 H
Nick McCully (AA): 19.2 IP, 1.37 ERA, 18 K, 4 BB, 7 H
Johnson continues to be a bright spot this season. Going back to late last year, he’s been on a big time roll. Like Phegley, he seems a decent bet to see the Majors at some point this season.
Purcey isn’t a prospect, but is a player with the potential to impact the big league club. Lefty relievers aren’t easy to come by after all.
McCully has been off the radar, but he’s transitioning to a starting role with the Barons and succeeding. At 24 and in AA he could have a shot. He’s not going to make any top prospect lists, even in the White Sox organization, but guys who throw strikes and succeed in AA always have at least a small chance (see Dylan Axelrod).