Pitching prospects brighten White Sox' future

Updated 8/7/2013 10:47 PM
  • In 2 starts so far for the White Sox, pitcher Andre Rienzo has a 1.38 ERA.

    In 2 starts so far for the White Sox, pitcher Andre Rienzo has a 1.38 ERA. Associated Press

The White Sox have been dealing with another season of harsh criticism aimed at their alleged desolate minor-league system.

While they might not have the quantity of talented young players found in other organizations, the Sox appear to have some quality -- specifically with pitching.

Andre Rienzo looks like an early gem after coming up from Class AAA Charlotte to take Jake Peavy's spot in the starting rotation. In 2 starts, Rienzo has a 1.38 ERA and .188 batting average against.

Down on the farm, right-hander Erik Johnson is 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 5 starts with Charlotte after going 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts with AA Birmingham to open the season.

Charlotte reliever Daniel Webb has not allowed a run over his last 1113 innings and has 19 strikeouts during the streak.

Birmingham starter Scott Snodgress is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA over his last 6 starts, and the right-hander is 11-7 with a 3.67 ERA overall.

While the White Sox' 2013 season has been a nightmare, a host of promising young arms in the majors and minors gives general manager Rick Hahn hope for the future.

Sox pitching coach Don Cooper also likes what he has been seeing, and what is coming up in the future.

"We've got a lot of young guys on this staff," Cooper said. "We started last year, we got more this year, and there might be more come. I'm all for bringing guys up. I like seeing new guys come up here. I like seeing guys fulfill their lifelong dream."

The White Sox play a day/night doubleheader against the Twins on Friday, and they're allowed to expand the roster by one to 26. The Sox need a starter to face Minnesota in Game 2, and Johnson figured to get the nod given his success at Birmingham and Charlotte.

Instead, the White Sox are going to give left-hander Charlie Leesman a shot.

"We've got good reports on Charlie, and let's see what we've got," manager Robin Ventura said.

Leesman, 26, is 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 13 starts with Charlotte this season. He didn't take the mound until May after tearing the ACL in his left knee pitching in the International League playoffs last September.

"Charlie pitched very well last year," Cooper said. "If not for a knee injury in the playoffs, he might have been a call-up. It was his best season to date."

Leesman, who throws a quality changeup, was 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA with Charlotte in 2012. Even if he pitches well for the White Sox on Friday, he's likely to be sent back to Triple-A.

But Leesman could get another look when rosters expand in September.

As for position players, Hahn is going to be busy this off-season trying to improve the Sox' lethargic offense.

Over the final 50 games of this season, keep an eye on outfielder Avisail Garcia, who raised his average to .380 on Wednesday night after going 1-for-2 with 2 walks and 2 RBI for Charlotte.

And keep the other eye on shortstop Marcus Semien, who is batting .310 in seven games with Charlotte after hitting .290 in 105 games with Birmingham.

•Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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