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. This is the final edition of 2014, covering August and the little bit of September. There were some tough calls to make, as two hitters and two pitchers could have easily won the award.
Let’s take a look at who we chose, and who the few closest runners up were for each category. Keep in mind that prospects who didn’t play most or all of the month were not eligible, despite some strong short-term performances (i.e. Tim Anderson).
Note: Stats presented are for August/September in MiLB only unless otherwise noted…
HITTER OF THE MONTH: Eddy Alvarez, SS/2B, Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Stats: .417/.500/.595, 6 2B, 3 HR, 13:10 BB:K, 5/10 SB/ATT in 98 PA
Any player batting well over .400 with an OBP well over .500 for a full month is impressive. Doing so from premium defensive positions is even more so. And when that player went 3.5 years without picking up a bat and just got started again a few months prior, the feat is extraordinary. If people are wondering if this is an illusion at the lower levels, note that Alvarez showed a very solid contact rate and walked more than he struck out. Oh and, in case you weren’t aware, Alvarez’ missed baseball time was spent as a world class speed skater, earning a silver medal in the 2014 Olympics at Sochi just this past February. You can learn more of Eddy’s unique story by reading our interview with him from last month.
Marcus Semien (AAA): .326/.463/.568, 6 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 23:18 BB:K, 5/5 SB/ATT in 123 PA
Andy Wilkins (AAA): .306/.389/.531, 10 2B, 4 HR, 14:10 BB:K in 113 PA
Michael Taylor (AAA): .320/.393/.505, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 13:21 BB:K, 1/1 SB/ATT in 112 PA
Josh Phegley (AAA): .280/.326/.573, 6 2B, 6 HR, 6:17 BB:K in 90 PA
Our Honorable Mentions list is dominated by Charlotte Knights, with all four players listed also getting the call-up to Chicago recently. Marcus Semien had his second straight month of torrid hitting, posting a 1.032 OPS, bashing five homers, walking more than he struck out (as he is wont to do), and threw in a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts for good measure. Andy Wilkins, whose absurd July won him this award last month, continued to pile up extra base hits (14). But even more impressively, the first baseman reversed his season-long trend and started walking at a high rate while striking out only rarely. This is likely in part due to pitchers working around him, given the damage he’d been doing with his bat.
Michael Taylor is getting a second chance in the White Sox organization, after the former Top 50 MLB prospect couldn’t put it together with Oakland. His .898 OPS was enough to convince the Sox to call up the 6’5″ outfielder. Josh Phegley has been on a power surge since May, and he’s in Chicago now making a case to be part of the murky 2015 catching picture.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Andre Wheeler, LHP, Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Stats: 0.69 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, .135 BAA, 7 BB, 27 K in 26 IP (5 starts)
An emerging prospect who got a few votes in our recent Top 25 Prospects list, lefty Andre Wheeler was toxic to SAL hitters in August. Giving up just two earned runs in 5 starts, this 2013 15th round pick struck out better than a batter an inning and posted a nearly 4:1 K:BB ratio. Wheeler had been half of a piggyback rotation slot with fellow lefty Jordan Guerrero, but later in the season started booking solo starts and longer innings with solid results. With about a hundred innings under his belt for the season, Wheeler should be able to stretch out into full time starting for 2015.
Tyler Danish (A+): 1.87 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .168 BAA, 2.00 GO/AO, 9 BB, 30 K in 33.2 IP (6 starts)
Carlos Rodon (A+, AAA): 1.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 1.09 GO/AO, 11 BB, 30 K in 20.2 IP (6 games, 5 starts)
Chris Bassitt (AA): 1.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .225 BAA, 11 BB, 33 K in 29.2 IP (5 starts)
Tanner Banks (Rk, A): 0.96 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, .129 BAA, 1.13 GO/AO, 1 BB, 13 K in 9.1 IP (5 games, all in relief)
Our April Pitcher of the Month and an honorable mention in July, our number 8 prospect in the system finished a very successful season with an August that nearly won him a second monthly honor. His 1.87 ERA was impressive, but posting a sub-1 WHIP while inducing a ton of groundouts and striking out nearly a batter an inning was even better. Speaking of top prospects, concensus #1 Carlos Rodon had one heck of a month, going from A+ to AAA just a month into his professional career. Rodon struck out a whopping 30 batters in 20.2 innings thanks to his devastating slider, and has White Sox fans clamoring for his appearance in Chicago.
Chris Bassitt rose up the prospect ladder quickly in 2013, but he missed the bulk of this season due to a hand injury. After a brief rehab assignment, the tall righty put up five strong starts to re-assert his presence as a prospect to watch. After striking out more than a hitter an inning in Birmingham, Chris got his first call-up to Chicago in late August (skipping AAA). In the rookie level Pioneer League, lefty Tanner Banks gave up just 4 hits and 1 walk in 9.1 innings of relief work while striking out 13 for Great Falls. The team’s 18th round pick this year earned a late promotion to Kannapolis, where he made one solid appearance.
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