Help for Sox may be just a phone call away
Typically, when reviewing the White Sox' minor league system at this stage of the season, it's merely to identify candidates likely to be traded for proven major-league talent.
If you've been watching the Sox lately -- and hopefully the Blackhawks' deep playoff run has provided another option -- you're probably aware this is not a typical season.
The White Sox (29-41) are in big trouble, and Thursday's 8-4 loss at Minnesota dropped them 12 games under .500 for the first time since 2007, when they finished 72-90.
Instead of adding veteran players to aid in a playoff push, look for the Sox to be dumping them. And look for them to give some talented minor-leaguers a chance to show what they can do in the majors.
The obvious question is, do the White Sox have any of those players down on the farm?
We'll all find out in advance of the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, but here are a few names to keep an eye on:
Erik Johnson, Class AA Birmingham:
The big right-hander held his own pitching for the Sox in spring training, and Johnson has dominated the Southern League during the first half of the season.
The White Sox' second-round draft pick in 2011 out of Cal-Berkeley, Johnson is 8-2 with a 2.33 ERA and 3 complete games with the Barons. He leads the league in wins, opposing batting average (. 189), WHIP (0.92) and complete games, ranks second in innings pitched (842⁄3), third in strikeouts (74) and fourth in ERA (2.23).
Josh Phegley, AAA Charlotte:
The Sox are likely to give new No. 1 catcher Tyler Flowers more than three months before deciding if he's the right guy to replace A.J. Pierzynski.
So far, Flowers has struggled on offense with a hitting line of .223/.271/.377 to go along with 58 strikeouts in 175 at-bats. Defensively, he has 7 passed balls and 4 errors in 55 games.
If the White Sox have already come to the conclusion Flowers is not the guy, Phegley is an option.
The 38th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Indiana, Phegley has overcome a rare blood disorder and he's excelling at Charlotte.
In 50 games, the 5-foot-10, 220-pounder is batting .321 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. Phegley ranks second in the International League with a .611 slugging percentage.
Trayce Thompson, Birmingham:
It might seem like Thompson has been in the White Sox' system forever, but he was drafted out of high school in 2009.
The son of former NBA standout Mychal Thompson and brother of current Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, Trayce is taking off as a baseball player this year.
The 22-year-old outfielder is batting .260 with 8 home runs in 68 games with the Barons. He ranks fourth in the Southern League with 48 runs scored and fifth with 38 walks and 40 RBI.
Daniel Webb, Birmingham:
If, more likely when, relief pitcher Jesse Crain is traded, Webb has positioned himself to get a call from the Sox.
Acquired in a 2012 trade from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jason Frasor, Webb opened this season with Class A Winston-Salem and pitched 15 innings of scoreless relief, striking out 19 and walking five.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander was promoted to AA Birmingham, and he has a 1.77 ERA and 4 saves in 13 appearances with the Barons.
Scouting reportWhite Sox vs. Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium
TV: Comcast SportsNet Friday and Saturday; WGN Sunday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The White Sox' Hector Santiago (2-5) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (7-4) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; Jose Quintana (3-2) vs. Wade Davis (4-5) Saturday at 1:10 p.m.; Dylan Axelrod (3-4) vs. James Shields (2-6) Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
At a glance: After being swept at Minnesota, the White Sox are 1-6 on a road trip that started in Houston last Friday. The Sox are 3-3 vs. the Royals this season (1-2 at K.C.). The White Sox have lost 15 of their last 17 on the road. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is having a rough defensive season with 11 errors, but he is 9-for-17 over his last four games. Dayan Viciedo is 6-for-19 during a five-game hitting streak.
Next: New York Mets at U.S. Cellular Field, Tuesday-Wednesday
-- Scot Gregor