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updated: 7/5/2011 10:29 PM

If Sox' Mitchell misses, maybe Walker's a hit

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  • Center fielder Brent Lillibridge misses a flyball that went for a triple by the Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar in the second inning on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.

      Center fielder Brent Lillibridge misses a flyball that went for a triple by the Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar in the second inning on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

The White Sox figured they landed their leadoff hitter of the future when they selected LSU star Jared Mitchell on the first round of the 2009 draft.

Just to be safe, they drafted Keenyn Walker with their first pick this year.

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The Sox haven't pulled the plug on Mitchell yet, but the outfielder missed all of last season with an ankle injury and is struggling at Class A Winston-Salem this year.

Mitchell did have a big game for Winston-Salem on Monday, going 3-for-3 with a home run (No. 8), 2 doubles and 3 RBI. That boosted his batting average to .225.

Walker batted .402 for Central Arizona Junior College this season and is going to begin his pro career at Advanced Rookie Great Falls after passing his physical and agreeing to a $795,000 signing bonus.

"I think I can add my speed and hopefully develop more as a power guy," said Walker, who was drafted No. 47 overall. "Shoot it gap to gap. Other than that, just play ball."

As a switch-hitting athlete, Walker is not expected to stay at Great Falls for long.

"He's a talented kid," said Doug Laumann, the Sox' director of amateur scouting. "The ability that he has to make contact and to run and play defense puts him a little ahead of the curve because he's going to be able to contribute even if his bat struggles at times.

"The fact that he's a switch hitter, sometimes when you're a young hitter, the hardest thing for that young hitter to do, especially when you're hitting right-handed, is handle that tough, hard slider, a pitch you don't see a lot in college or in high school.

"That adjustment for him doesn't really exist because being a switch-hitter, he's hitting from the left side so he doesn't really have the difficulty with that pitch. I expect him to move fairly quickly. We're still real confident in Jared Mitchell, they're similar type players and we think they both have the chance to be center fielders, top of the order guys and that's what we're looking at for Keenyn. Now we've got two of them, so it's not a bad problem to have."

The daily Dunn:

Adam Dunn was cheered like a hero Monday night after getting only his second hit of the season off a left-handed pitcher (Jeff Francis) and lifting a 2-run homer to help the White Sox beat the Royals.

Before Tuesday's loss, Dunn didn't even try to hint his miserable season has been salvaged.

"It was great," Dunn said. "But I'm trying to handle it like I do every day. That was (Monday) night. Hopefully we can do it again today but that was definitely something that felt real good."

On Tuesday, Dunn was 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts and he was hearing the boos again.

Around the horn:

Paul Konerko still leads in the American League Final Vote for the All-Star Game. Detroit's Victor Martinez is second and Kansas City's Alex Gordon third. Voting ends Thursday at 3 p.m. Chicago time ... Alex Rios, who has 3 hits in his last 29 at-bats, wasn't in the lineup Tuesday. Brent Lillibridge started in center field and was 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts ... Infielder Tyler Kuhn was 0-for-4 in his first game for Class AAA Charlotte Tuesday after being promoted from AA Birmingham, where he hit .366.

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