The Mailbag: Sox Prospects Ain’t Gettin No Respect!

carlosrodon

Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.

If you’d like to submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag it’s pretty simple. Either ask the question on Twitter using the #AskTCH hashtag — as long as you use the hashtag I will see it — or send an email to TCHMailbag@gmail.com.

I’m somewhat surprised by all of you. The Bears played their first preseason game this week, and you didn’t send a whole bunch of Bears questions. I got a couple, but I received more questions on White Sox prospects as I did on the Bears.

Think about that for a second.

So this is going to be the new White Sox fan insecurity, huh? Sox prospects aren’t getting enough respect? Don’t do this to yourselves. Please. It’s just silly.

Carlos Rodon wouldn’t be any more hyped if he were a Cubs prospect than he already is.

Just because you’ve heard more about Cubs prospects doesn’t mean people don’t think Carlos Rodon is good. Just use a little common sense. The reason you hear so much more about Cubs prospects is because when it comes to the Cubs what the hell else are you supposed to talk about? The Cubs have been in the process of a major rebuild for a few years now.

Cubs prospects are the stars of the franchise! I’d rather have Jose Abreu and Chris Sale, personally.

Meanwhile, Carlos Rodon was just drafted by the White Sox in June and has pitched a grand total of nine whole innings in the minors. Yes, he’s a top draft pick, and he’s going to be one of the top prospects in baseball next spring when the new rankings are released. But there’s not a whole lot to get hyped about at the moment.

Meanwhile guys like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell have been putting up big numbers in the minors for at least a year. So of course they’re going to get more prospect love. If Carlos Rodon spends the entire 2015 season in the minors making hitters look stupid, he’ll get just as much hype.

Cubs prospects aren’t receiving so much hype because they’re Cubs prospects. They’re receiving that hype because they’re good prospects. And they’re the story with the Cubs.

Andy Wilkins is seriously tearing the cover off of baseballs in Charlotte, but not much is said about him, possibly because he is 25 years old. Could he be a realistic option as a full-time DH next year with the departure of Adam Dunn? – renfromc

For those of you unfamiliar with the great Andy Wilkins, he is indeed hitting the shit out of the ball for the Charlotte Knights. He’s a first baseman/designated hitter type who has put up a slash line of .295/.339/.571 with 28 home runs and 75 RBI in 108 games.  The home run and RBI totals both lead the International League, while his .910 OPS is second in the league.

But does he have a shot at being on the roster next season?

I wouldn’t say the odds are great, but it depends on what the White Sox do this winter. Jose Abreu has been better than advertised at first base, but I don’t think he’s a long-term first baseman as much as he’s the future designated hitter. The problem with Wilkins is that he wouldn’t be much of a defensive upgrade, if he was one at all. Now, the fact that Adam Dunn, as well as Paul Konerko, will both be gone does open a door for Wilkins that’s never been open to him before, and increases his chances.

I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Not just because he’s 25, but because Wilkins strikes me as one of those Four-A type players. He’s good enough to kick ass in the minors, but not quite good enough to cut it against Major League pitching.

But he will get the invite to spring training, and I suppose it’s possible he could force his way into a spot if there’s one available to him.

Man, people can’t stop talking about these White Sox prospects! When will the Cubs farm system get some god damn respect?

Yes, I assume we’ll be seeing Micah Johnson in September. He’s been the guy that the team has been pushing as the “next big thing” for the Sox out of their system, and while I’m not quite as sold on Johnson’s prospects, they’re going to want to see him get some action before the year is over. Get him some at bats against MLB pitching for a while to prepare for next spring when Johnson will go to Arizona competing for a spot on the White Sox roster, as I think it’s safe to say Gordon Beckham will not be back, and the second base spot will be open.

Though Johnson may not be destined for second base. He could find himself in the outfield, though he really doesn’t have the kind of power you’d hope for in a corner outfielder, and Adam Eaton seems to have the centerfield job for the near future. You know, assuming he doesn’t try to tackle an oncoming train or something.

But Johnson will be up.

As for who else we should expect, I’d say we’re going to see Matt Davidson, even if he’s had a disappointing season down at Charlotte. We’ll also see guys like Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien, Erik Johnson, and the previously discussed Andy Wilkins.

All will be asked to carry Paul Konerko around US Cellular Field during the final home game of the season.

OH MY GOD YOU PEOPLE CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT WHITE SOX PROSPECTS.

What happened to Josh Phegley? He died. Coal mining accident. Sad story. RIP Pheezus.

No, he’s fine. He’s alive and he’s actually doing pretty okay for himself down in Charlotte. Remember earlier when I mentioned that Andy Wilkins was second in the International League in OPS? Well, Phegley is third at .894, and he’s somebody you can probably expect to see up in September as well.

As for him doing alright last year, I’m assuming you stopped watching after his first week with the White Sox? Because by the time the season was done Phegley had a line of .206/.223/.299 and had struck out in nearly 20% of his at bats. It wasn’t pretty, and he’s no where near good enough defensively to stick around with offensive numbers like that.

Now, if he could bring his minor league numbers to the Majors….

You’re right, that is a dumb question. I have no fucking idea how many home runs that Javier Baez is going to finish his career with, but I’ll say at least three.

Now, as far as projecting him based on what we’ve seen and know, Baez certainly has the bat speed to hit 500 home runs in his career. We just have to wait and see if he ever develops enough patience as a hitter to last long enough to make that kind of contact. As I wrote in the mailbag a few weeks ago, Baez strikes me as the Cubs prospect most likely to bust, because he really is a boom-or-bust type of hitter.

I suppose that depends on your definition of worth watching. Personally I find all college football to be worth watching. You may not agree. So I’ll just answer this from a “will any local teams be any good this year” kind of angle.

I’ll look at four teams: Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Notre Dame. Notre Dame is local to me, damn it!

Illinois: I wouldn’t go expecting the Illini to win the Big Ten, but they will actually compete for a bowl game this season. Now, ordinarily that wouldn’t be anything to be pumped about, but considering the Illini have won a grand total of one conference game the last two seasons, that’s kind of a big deal in Champaign. The offense will be good, but the season will be defined by whatever kind of improvement the defense can make.

Northern Illinois: I really have no idea what to expect from the Huskies this year. The MAC itself is so hard to predict on a yearly basis thanks to all the coaching turnover, but this year the Huskies won’t have Jordan Lynch. Now, the program had good seasons under Jerry Kill before Lynch came around, but Lynch is what took this team to a fucking Orange Bowl. I still think they’ll be good, but just MAC good, you know?

Northwestern: Another team I’m not entirely sure of. Had a bad season last year following a couple of really good seasons, and I see a lot of people just expecting the Wildcats to bounce back this year. I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. I’m guessing a 7-5 season or something like that.

Notre Dame: Notre Dame has the talent to win another 10 or 11 games this season. The problem is the schedule is fucking murder. Look at these teams Notre Dame has to play this season: Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville and USC. Their fifth easiest game is fucking Michigan! So while this is a 10-win team in a vacuum, I’m guessing it’s an 8-win team in reality.

It was only one game, but from what I saw out there it seems pretty obvious to me that Jimmy Clausen is the second-best quarterback on the roster. Do you agree? What else did you see from anybody that stood out to you? – Eric Stone

I tweeted out this photo during the game the other night that should let you know whether or not I agree about Clausen.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 12.02.54 PM

Now, you’re right. It was only one game, but to me Clausen seemed much more comfortable back there than Jordan Palmer did, and they were both playing behind the same shitty reserve offensive linemen.

I just think Jimmy Clausen has a much better shot to be successful in an NFL game than Palmer does. Everything from having the arm to the intangibles. Palmer looks like he’s freaking out back there, and like he’s always looking for the checkdown immediately. Clausen will get himself in trouble sometimes because he believes in his arm — like Cutler does — but he can also make some throws that Palmer’s too afraid to even try.

As for others who stood out, I was trying to keep my eye on Will Sutton because everybody knows Will Sutton is my favorite. Sutton actually struggled a bit to get off blocks at times, but he also got some pressure on Mark Sanchez and forced him to get rid of a pass earlier than he wanted to.

Of course, watching Sutton had me watching the defensive line closely the entire night, and I do have to say I was pleased with what I saw. It certainly looked a lot better than last season, and it did all that without Jared Allen available to play.

What was your favorite play that you missed during the Bears game because of the shitty satellite feed? – Krieger

I mean, fuck you, Fox.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 12.08.12 PM

What annoyed me the most about this — you know, besides missing the majority of the first team offense’s snaps — was that Fox refused to even acknowledge there was a problem. Sam Rosen and Jim Miller just kept talking like nothing was happening, as if by not saying anything they just hoped nobody at home would notice.

As for which play was my favorite, you know the one. The one where the thing happened and then the pink line caught that pass. It was awesome.

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