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Article posted: 7/11/2013 9:09 PM

White Sox offensive prospects still need time

By Scot Gregor

Adam Dunn is as hot as any major-league power hitter not named Miguel Cabrera or Chris Davis, but he's still trying to climb out of the massive hole he dug in April and May.

Paul Konerko is on the disabled list with a bad back, and the White Sox' 37-year-old captain never seemed to be 100 percent healthy during the first half. That would explain Konerko's .249/.314/.368 hitting line and first negative WAR rating (-1.0) since 2003.

Jeff Keppinger … has anyone seen Jeff Keppinger?

Batting average-wise, Alexei Ramirez is having a decent year (.282), but the 1 home run, 20 RBI and .309 on-base percentage are head-scratchers.

Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza, erstwhile No. 1 catcher Tyler Flowers, Alex Rios before his 6-for-6 night Tuesday at Detroit, they are even more Sox hitters who have failed to produce up to expectations during a season that is already lost.

Winning two of three against the Tigers at Comerica Park this week is not going to salvage anything. Speaking to Sox beat writers Wednesday in Detroit, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn admitted as much.

"We've earned that record (36-53)," Hahn said. "You've seen the way we've played. We sit where we sit in the standings because of our performance. Looking at these guys right now, to say we should be contending, there is strong evidence of their performances against that right now."

Moving forward -- and up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline -- Hahn strongly hinted that the White Sox pitchers who are contractually "under control" offer hope for the future and are unlikely to be moved.

That should end any trade rumor involving Chris Sale, John Danks, Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago, Addison Reed, Nate Jones and possibly Jake Peavy (signed through 2014), but the offense is another matter.

Catcher Josh Phegley, who hit a grand slam in Thursday's 6-3 win over the Tigers, isn't going anywhere. Second baseman Gordon Beckham (.342) also figures to stay put.

After that, every White Sox position player appears to be in play on the trade front. It's up to Hahn and his staff to retool an offense that hasn't consistently produced all season.

And it sure looks like the GM is going to have to go outside of the organization for new hitters.

"We're not going to rush guys up because there is an opening at position X," Hahn said. "We aren't going to put our best guy in the (minor-league) system in the big leagues because there's a need. We'll have to be careful these guys develop at their natural pace.

"We tend to be aggressive and give guys opportunities as soon as they prove they can handle it. But when a guy is going to make that jump to helping us in Chicago is going to be dictated by more their personal development case as opposed to our need."

Simply put, Phegley was the only minor-league prospect who was major-league ready this season. The 25-year-old catcher was brought up from Class AAA Charlotte last Friday.

Here are five more prospects to keep an eye on:

ŸTrayce Thompson. The 22-year-old outfielder is having a so-so season, his fourth full year on the farm.

He batted a combined .253 with 31 doubles, 25 home runs, 96 RBI and 21 stolen bases with Class A Winston-Salem, AA Birmingham and Charlotte last year.

This season he's back at Birmingham and batting .241 with 9 homers and 51 RBI. The 88 strikeouts in 320 at-bats are a concern.

ŸJared Mitchell. After batting .196 at Birmingham to start the season, the White Sox' 2009 first-round draft pick is batting .132 at Charlotte. The 24-year-old outfielder has struck out 78 times in 196 combined at-bats.

ŸCourtney Hawkins. Last year's first-round pick (No. 13 overall) has 15 home runs and 41 RBI in 55 games with Winston-Salem. On the flip side, the 19-year-old outfielder is batting .191 and has struck out 95 times in 194 at-bats.

ŸMicah Johnson. If Ramirez is traded and Beckham moves to shortstop, Johnson eventually could slide in at second base.

Johnson opened the season at Class A Kannapolis and batted .342 with 61 stolen bases. He was bumped up to Winston-Salem and is batting .345 through seven games.

ŸTim Anderson. Offensively, this year's No. 1 draft pick is off to a promising start at Kannapolis, batting .320 with a .395 on-base percentage in 19 games.

Defensively, the 20-year-old shortstop already has made 10 errors.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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