The Chicago White Sox have recalled catcher Josh Phegley to make his major league debut tonight versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Phegley will bat 8th in the lineup tonight, as he and Tyler Flowers figure to platoon the catching position. After a slow start to his minor league career, Phegley has developed into a force offensively. In 61 games, Phegley has hit .316, with 15 HR, 41 RBI, and 39 R. In addition to producing runs, Phegley has also displayed some patience at the plate by striking out only 38 times. Obviously, if Phegley can produce anything close to those numbers at the major league level, then the White Sox will have found their future every-day catcher.
While Phegley has had a tremendous year to date, it should be noted that he was not considered a top prospect heading into the season. Part of that may have been as a result of having relatively mediocre stats during his first four seasons in the minors. However, scouts have never been “overwhelmed” by his skill set. MLB.com rated Phegley as the White Sox’ 15th best prospect prior to the 2013 season, and that number could be even more misleading due to the Sox’ below average farm system.
Here is MLB.com’s assessment of Phegley:
“Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 3/5 | Power: 3/4 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 3/5
It's been a long road for the University of Indiana product, but he's on the brink of helping out at the big league level. Phegley missed a good amount of his first full season because of a blood disorder known as ITP. He's stayed healthy the past two seasons, enabling him to reach Triple-A in the process. Phegley's tools may not jump out at you, but he's shown the ability to shut down the running game, using average arm strength and a quick release to throw out 48 percent of would-be basestealers in his career. His receiving and blocking skills are fringy, but he gets the job done. He does have the chance to hit a little with some extra-base pop, though there hasn't been much in-game power for him thus far. He might be a backup when all is said and done, but the White Sox don't have a lot of depth at this position in front or behind him, so he could get the opportunity to make a bigger impact.”
With that being said, sometimes a player finally develops and reaches his full potential. At age 25, Phegley is not a “young” prospect, but that also means he may have just reached his peak. If that is the case, the Sox will have a player about ready to reach the prime of his career.
Even though Phegley appears to be very polished and “major league” ready, White Sox fans should exercise some patience with their new catcher. Let’s face it; barring a miracle, the White Sox are out of playoff contention. If Phegley gets off to a slow start, then let’s wait a few weeks before we start to bury the guy. He has been called-up to the majors to get acclimated to the big leagues and to show the White Sox what he can do at his level. He has not been brought here to be the “Savior”. Let the kid play, let him get comfortable, and hopefully he will start to showcase some of the talents that he has shown at Triple-A this season. White Sox fans don’t have a lot to look forward, but maybe this will at least help ease some of the boredom.
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