White Sox fans everywhere are starting to get a little frustrated with catcher Tyler Flowers. While filling the shoes of the departed AJ Pierzynski in your first season as a full-time big league starter is a difficult task, Flowers’ play both at and behind the plate have left a lot to be desired, as fans are questioning the organization’s ringing endorsement of Flowers as the club’s backstop of the future.
However, it’s beginning to look more and more like Flowers is no longer the only option for the White Sox in terms of future catchers.
You may have seen in recent GSB! Farm Reports many mentions of catcher Josh Phegley. That’s because he’s on an absolute tear for AAA Charlotte, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Over the past 10 games, Phegley has hit .429 with six, yes, six home runs and fifteen RBIs while hitting mostly out of the fifth spot in the order.
While that’s impressive, what the former Indiana Hoosier’s full body of work looks like from 2013 may be even better.
On the season, the 2009 first-round sandwich pick is hitting .342 (fifth in the International League) with 10 homers (fourth in the IL), 26 RBIs (tied for tenth), and an incredible OPS of 1.099 (second). At just 25 years old, Phegley has some years ahead of him to grow, which would presumably mean the White Sox don’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, locked to Flowers.
Yes, Phegley’s numbers in AAA are impressive, but is it just a flash-in-the-pan like we have seen with so many potential prospects?
Well, Phegley’s power surge does look to be a little misleading, as his .693 slugging percentage and .351 ISO (Isolated Power: which is slugging percentage – batting average) are WAY above his minor league track record or what scouts have assessed as his power potential. However, his BABIP (batting average of balls in play) of .337 isn’t astronomical, showing that Phegley’s numbers aren’t really a product of luck either.
In fact, his BABIP is actually below his batting average, which is rare and would seemingly suggest that Phegley’s luck has been bad rather than good.
Also, he’s striking out just above 14 percent of the time, which is exactly where he was at last season when he hit .266 for the Knights.
The numbers basically mean that while Phegley’s power could be a bit of a mirage this season, the high average and all of the other production may not be. When you take that and add it to the fact that his strongest asset is supposed to be his arm and defense (won the Gold Glove in AAA last season), the White Sox may actually have something here.
So when can we expect to see Phegley? It definitely won’t be until after at least June 1st, as a call-up before then means that his arbitration clock a year sooner.
However, if Flowers continues to struggle and Phelgey continues to produce, he could be coming to the Cell sooner than you think.
The team most certainly will not call up Phegley unless he’s going to have the full-time gig because someone like him needs to be given the opportunity to grow on a daily basis. So with a few Sox hitters seemingly turning their seasons around in the right direction of late, even more pressure has been put on Flowers’ shoulders to follow in their footsteps.
Now, it’s likely all up to how Tyler performs throughout the next few weeks if he wants to continue to further his career as a major leaguer.