April Prospects of the Month

Better late than never – the FutureSox April Prospects of the Month are here.

After each month of the minor league season, we name one position player and one pitcher as players of the month on the White Sox farm.  On the position player side, there were three players who all could have made a good argument to win the award.  There were fewer stand-out pitching performances, but one did clearly stand above the rest.

Note: Stats below are for April only

Source: MiLB.comHITTER OF THE MONTH: Micah Johnson, 2B, Birmingham Barons (AA)
Stats: .364/.457/.535, 8 SB (6 CS), 3 HR, 16 BB, 16 K in 117 PA

Micah Johnson leaped from the very edge of the prospect radar to a #9 team prospect ranking in the span of his 2013 season.  But given most of his domination came at a level where he was a little behind the age curve, and the decline in numbers as he was promoted, there was some doubt about how he’d fare this year.  Johnson laughed at those doubts on his way to being among the Southern League leaders in average and OBP, while showing excellent plate discipline and some power as a now young-for-level 23 year old in AA.  The speedster isn’t stealing bases at as prolific a rate as he did last year, but he’s now looking solidly like a top 5 prospect in the White Sox system.  See our recent, in-depth analysis of Micah.

Honorable Mentions
Rangel Ravelo (AA): .375/.518/.625, 2 HR, 17 BB, 11 K in 85 PA
Courtney Hawkins (A+): .289/.358/.602, 7 HR, 9 BB, 25 K in 95 PA
Tyler Saladino (AAA): .291/.347/.477, 3 HR, 8 BB, 13 K in 95 PA

One could easily make an argument for either of the first two prospects listed here to have won the award.  Ravelo is a 1B at this point so he’s expected to hit, and the power is still coming along, but his overall offensive results have been almost cartoonishly good.  Courtney Hawkins had a very big month as well, especially when compared to his dismal 2013 results (the improved K rate is especially nice to see).  Read our recent analysis piece on Hawkins, including videos.  Tyler Saladino had nearly fallen off the prospect radar after two disappointing seasons in AA (at least partially due to lingering injuries).  But he’s come back nicely in AAA this year, and is making a case for being mentioned on the list of solid middle infield prospects in the organization.

Source; MiLB.comPITCHER OF THE MONTH: Tyler Danish, Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Stats: 1.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 2.47 GO/AO, .232 BAA, 17 K, 6 BB in 26 IP (5 games, all starts)

This choice was a lot easier to make than the hitters’ award.  Danish was at or near the league lead in ERA, showed good control, a K:BB ratio near 3.0, and got a ton of ground ball outs with his sinker-slider combination and funky delivery.  As a 19 year old in his first full season of pro ball, you can’t ask for much more than that.  There are still some lingering doubts about durability, but at least for now, he’s getting the job done with room to spare.  Danish won’t be in Kannapolis long if he keeps this up.

Honorable Mentions
RHP Jake Sanchez (A): 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 1.60 GO/AO, .066 BAA, 25 K, 6 BB in 18.1 IP (7 games, 1 start)
RHP Scott Carroll (AAA, MLB – AAA stats shown): 1.57 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.69 GO/AO, .228 BAA, 9 BB, 13 K in 23 IP (4 games, all starts)
LHP Jose Bautista (A): 1.26 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.09 GO/AO, .212 BAA, 4 BB, 19 K in 14.1 IP (7 games, no starts)

Jake Sanchez’ numbers were about as good as you can get: he didn’t give up an earned run all month, allowed very few base runners, and struck out well over a batter an inning.  At 24, Sanchez is old for level and clearly able to handle it with ease, so he should move up soon.  Scott Carroll’s numbers in AAA Charlotte were good, but he’s here primarily because he stepped into the Chicago rotation and has been successful there (0.68 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 2 starts) so far against the odds.  He’s got a great back story, and you don’t often see a 29 year old make their major league debut at all, let alone doing it with such solid results.  Jose Bautista wasn’t even on the outskirts of our prospect radar coming into the season, but the numbers speak for themselves and he’s more or less age-appropriate at 22 in Class A.  Effective lefty relievers are always in demand, so he may move up quickly.

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