General Manager Rick Hahn and Assistant General Manager Buddy Bell were kind enough to host a conference call with several White Sox blog sites, including FutureSox. Here are some highlights from the call.
On the improvement of the farm system:
Hahn said that he made the farm system a priority because he wanted something “sustainable.” He brought up the 1990’s Atlanta Braves teams that were constantly adding homegrown talent to their core to continue their success. Also brought up Marco Paddy and his success in Latin America, having higher draft picks, and changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
On the possibility that Gordon Beckham is blocking younger players:
Hahn spoke very highly of Tyler Saladino, saying that he could fill the utility role that Beckham was signed for, but believes he has the potential to be an everyday player at multiple positions and would like to get him consistent at bats in Charlotte.
On the arbitration clock for Micah Johnson:
“If Micah puts us in the best position to win that ballgame (Opening Day in Kansas City), then Micah will be there.”
On Carlos Rodon:
Hahn was coy with where Rodon will start the season. However, he did say that if Rodon doesn’t make the team in Chicago, he “believes” he will start the year in the Charlotte rotation. Hahn went on to say that Rodon needs to continue to work on his changeup and fastball command, and he has been working on his fastball in Arizona.
On Erik Johnson:
Hahn revealed that Erik Johnson has a minor injury to his side that has been preventing him from pitching in Spring Training, but said that he will be back in action very shortly with no lingering ramifications.
On potential breakout candidates in the system:
Buddy Bell was quick to say that he was excited to see how 2014 draftees Jace Fry and Spencer Adams would preform in their first full professional season, but he also spoke of the international class, specifically mentioning Micker Adolfo, Amado Nunez, and Jhoandro Alfaro.
On Courtney Hawkins:
Bell had quite a bit to say about Courtney Hawkins, citing his hot Spring Training as an indicator of his talent. He also said that a reason that Hawkins is still in camp is “it is key for him to stay around (White Sox Hitting Coach Todd) Steverson as much as he possibly could.” He said that Todd Stevenson and Hawkins have developed a “great relationship.” In answering a question about Hawkins 2013 aggressive assignment to A+ Winston-Salem, which resulted in a miserable year, Bell said that Hawkins needed to be “humbled a bit.” He also said that their philosophy is to push guys and be more aggressive than the average organization. Bell said that Hawkins “knows he will be in the big leagues, it’s just a matter of when, so just gotta pay attention to that.”
On catching depth chart in the minors:
Bell said he was happy with how much depth they have in Charlotte and Birmingham, citing Rob Brantly as a good veteran acquisition and praising the job Kevan Smith and Adrian Nieto have done. He would not say who was going to what affiliate, but he did say cryptically that “Smith did a really good job in Birmingham last year.”
On Tim Anderson:
Bell said he would like for Anderson to “run a little more” and do a better job of “understanding and maintaining the strike zone.” Overall he was very complimentary of Anderson and repeatedly said he was a very raw but smart baseball player. He also mentioned that Anderson and Jacob May will be sharing leadoff duties.
On Spencer Adams:
Bell said that they will be fairly protective of Adams this year due to his age. Bell went on to say that Adams is “like no other high schooler he’s been around” in the fact that he can be so focused on the mound. He said that Adams does need to work on not overthrowing his breaking ball and create tighter spin on that particular pitch.
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