With the Chicago White Sox nearly ten games out of first place in the American League Central Division and only six weeks left in the regular season, there is not a lot to be excited about as a White Sox fan. However, there are several things to watch for as the 2014 season winds down.
Although the White Sox failed to make any moves prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, players can still be dealt through waivers for two more weeks. While it seems unlikely that any big deal would be consummated, there is a possibility that general manager Rick Hahn could deal a player or two to a contending team hoping to make a push towards the playoffs.
Avisail Garcia’s Return
To the surprise of many, right fielder Avisail Garcia returned to the lineup Saturday night. Garcia suffered torn labrum in his left shoulder diving for a ball on April 9th. After undergoing surgery, it was assumed that Garcia would miss the remainder of the season, and be ready to go in the spring of 2015. Now after missing the last four months, Garcia will have six weeks to face major league pitching and continue his developmental process. The fact that Garcia was immediately inserted into the cleanup spot speaks volumes of how much potential the 23-year-old possesses.
Paul Konerko’s Final Games
Paul Konerko’s outstanding career is coming to an end, and I’m looking forward to seeing him play as much as possible during the final six weeks. Hopefully, Konerko will play a little bit more often during home games to give fans a chance to give him a proper farewell. Knowing that the next time Konerko hits a home run could be his last one is a bittersweet thought. For 16 years Konerko has been the face of the White Sox and will forever be remembered for his dramatic grand-slam in Game Two of the 2005 World Series. I think I can speak for all White Sox fans that Paulie will be dearly missed.
Potential September Call-ups
As always, MLB rosters will be expanded in September allowing for minor league players to continue playing after their season’s are finished. It’ll be interesting to see who gets called up in September, but the most intriguing names are Carlos Rodon, Micah Johnson, and Andy Wilkins.
Rodon was drafted to slide into the number two spot in the future starting rotation behind Chris Sale, and he may get that chance as early as 2015. Rodon could be promoted in September, but I think he’d probably pitch on the bullpen if that happened. There’s no need to rush Rodon into being a starter this season, and obviously there would be less innings added onto his arm if he pitched out of the bullpen.
Micah Johnson is considered to be the second baseman of the future and will likely take over for Gordon Beckham sooner rather than later. The White Sox should try to move Beckham for whatever they can in the next two weeks or during the offseason to open up a starting spot for Johnson in 2015.
Andy Wilkins is an interesting case because he wasn’t considered a top prospect prior to the season. At 25 years old, the first baseman is not necessarily young in prospect terms, and I doubt he needs more development. At this point, Wilkins has likely maxed out his potential and it is time to find out if he can hit major league pitching. In 115 games this year at Triple-A Charlotte, Wilkins has hit .297 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI. With Jose Abreu firmly entrenched as the team’s first baseman, Wilkins may have to settle on being a designated hitter. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will be gone in 2015, so there is an opportunity for playing time. Considering that Wilkins is a left-handed bat, he has a great chance at getting a shot due to the lack of left-handed power in the White Sox projected roster for 2015.
Jose Abreu’s Historic Season
Jose Abreu is having a historic first season in the major leagues and will undoubtedly win the American League Rookie of the Year award. Whether or not Abreu should be considered a rookie is something that is debatable, but his season is historic either way. While Abreu played professional baseball in Cuba, the caliber of talent isn’t the same, and Abreu had to make a ton of adjustments throughout his first season in the majors. Abreu has exceeded everyone’s expectations by hitting .305 with 31 home runs and 89 RBI. Despite missing two weeks due to injury earlier this season, Abreu still has a chance at 40 homers and 120 RBI. It should be fun to see if he can reach those marks in the final 38 games.