WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about the Cubs and the White Sox each week
Also, check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
In an effort to turn around its weekend and its wavering playoff hopes, the Chicago White Sox ended a disappointing four-game skid Saturday night, eking out a 2-1 victory in 10 innings over the Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle.
A bad bounce and an error by Mariners rookie Chris Taylor allowed Gordon Beckham to reach in the 10th and Conor Gillaspie followed up with an RBI single that won it for Eric Surkamp (1-0) and the Sox. If not for that bad bounce, the White Sox would still be in search of their first win since Monday’s 5-3 victory over the Rangers, seeing as how a lack of momentum caused the club to fall 4-2 in the series finale at Seattle Sunday afternoon.
I thought the series against the lowly Rangers would be a great opportunity to build some momentum before a really tough road trip at a critical point in the season, and instead, the Sox dropped two out of three games and were brutally outscored in the series, 22-6.
Watching the Sox bullpen struggle through that series was one of the more trying tests of patience that I’ve experienced, so I can only imagine how it was for pitching coach Don Cooper, who has been sidelined with vertigo. In their just-finished series, the pitching improved drastically, but the offense remains absent and the Sox have found themselves on the wrong side of low scoring games.
The road from here doesn’t get any easier either, with the Sox traveling to San Francisco for a two-game set starting tomorrow before returning to Chicago to host Toronto and Baltimore for three a piece. A lot should be determined in the closing weeks of August.
If the Sox keep up their inconsistency and this down streak continues, it might be time to start thinking about 2015 and beyond. If the front office decides to go this route and give a significant number of at-bats to guys currently in the minors, let’s take a look at who could get the call.
Johnson Deserving a Look
Triple A Charlotte second baseman Micah Johnson, is definitely one of the guys we could — and should — see sometime this August or during 40 man roster time in September. Johnson, a 23-year-old left-handed hitter, was the ninth overall pick of the 2012 MLB draft, and according to scouts, has 80 grade speed and a 55 hit tool (20-80 scale). In 2013, Johnson put together quite the campaign, playing at three levels while hitting .312 and stealing 84 bases overall. He’s followed that up with an impressive 2014 campaign, hitting .329 with Double A Birmingham and .289 with 11 stolen bases with Triple A Charlotte.
With his defense steadily improving throughout his minor league career, Johnson could eventually be a significant upgrade from Gordon Beckham, as Johnson’s speed is relatively unmatched and he hits for above average. The Sox currently rank 15th in the majors with 66 stolen bases and 19th in percentage, stealing at a 71 percent clip. MLB.com currently ranks Johnson as the White Sox’ fourth best prospect and the fourth best second basemen prospect in all of the minor leagues.
Jury Still Out on Davidson
Former supplemental round and 35th overall pick of the Diamondbacks, Matt Davidson, put together a stellar 2013 season. Following the season, Davidson was dealt to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed, and thus far, the Diamondbacks may have gotten the better end of the deal, but there’s hope Davidson, 23, can still turn it around. His 2014 numbers are intriguing.
At first look, we see a .201 batting average and the suggestion I make that we could see Davidson in a White Sox uniform this September seems silly. He has, however, still knocked in 18 home runs and 16 doubles and carries a .282 on-base percentage, which isn’t impressive, except when you consider his On Base Percentage is 81 points higher than his average. That’s quite a delta, and could suggest he’s got the batter’s eye to succeed at the next level.
This isn’t so much an part-time promotion I would make because of great performance, but rather to have Davidson get a change of scenery, take away what he can from a few at-bats at the major league level and spend some time with veterans that could offer a piece of advice or two.
One thing is clear: if the Sox still find themselves seven or more games back from the American League Central division crown and a AL wild card spot, those September at-bats could mean a lot more to the Sox future if general manager Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura find a way to give some to the younger guys.
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