The Chicago White Sox have finalized the 25 man roster for their AA affiliate Birmingham Barons who won the Southern League championship in 2013. Managing the team again will be Julio Vinas. In 2013, the Barons also had the Southern League’s regular season MVP in 2B/SS Marcus Semien. Semien started for the White Sox Monday on Opening Day.
Like the other previews, let’s start with the pitching staff.
The ace of the staff will be Chris Beck, whom is widely considered a top-ten prospect in the White Sox’ organization.
Last season, Beck threw 146.2 innings with a 3.07 ERA between High-A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham. Another guy who pitched in Winston-Salem and Birmingham was starter Chris Bassitt. The 25 year-old right hander threw 149 total innings with a very nice 3.08 ERA including a sparkling 2.27 ERA in AA. These could very well be the ‘next two’ starters for the Sox, though many think that in the end, they could wind up as bullpen arms. Not yet, though.
A guy who they expect to be better than last season is the big 6’6″ lefty Scott Snodgress. His strikeouts dropped and his hits allowed went up from 2012. He will probably be given a chance to start, but if he struggles he may be sent to the bullpen. He did finish last season with some impressive outings, but the Sox are already stocked as far as lefty starters go.
A reliever that really impressed this spring was Cody Winiarski, he may be given a chance to close with Birmingham. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the Sox at some point late in the season.
Here is the rest of the pitching staff with the Barons to start the season: David Cales, Frank De Los Santos, Terry Doyle, Parker Fraizer, Nelvin Fuentes, Myles Jaye, Nick McCully, Nestor Molina and Kevin Vance with Stephen McCray on the DL.
The most notable of that group is probably Jaye, who was acquired from the Toronto organization with Daniel Webb a couple years back. He turned 22 in January and was very solid throughout A-ball last season. I consider him a breakout candidate for 2014.
The lineup will be lead off by the 2013 Southern League playoff MVP Micah Johnson.
All Johnson did last year was play at three different levels (A, A+, AA) and hit .312/.373/.451 with 24 doubles, 15 triples, 7 home runs and 58 RBI. Oh, and did I mention he had 84 stolen bases?
He will play second base and could wind up in the majors at some point this season depending on what happens with the guys in front of him. White Sox management has said they expect to see some of him in ’14. The club loves what they saw out of him this spring, so he should continue to see his stock rise quickly.
Another guy to keep an eye on is 1B Rangel Ravelo (can also play 3B), who hit .299/.388/.432 between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem at age 21 in 2013. He needs to hit for more power if he is going to be an every day player in the majors, as he was really just a doubles guy a year ago.
Trayce Thompson is back in Birmingham for the second straight season. Still just 23 years old, has the tools to be a very nice ball player for the Sox. He has to hit for a better average to become a regular player. His defense, speed and power are superb.
Here is a look at the rest of the position players …
The catchers are Miguel Gonzalez and Kevan Smith with Luis Sierra on the DL. Neither of them seem to be a long-term option for the major league catcher role, but they’re worth keeping a close eye on because of how thin the organization is there.
The infielders are Johnson, Ravelo, SS Chris Curley, 3B Jeremy Farrell, 1B Christian Marrero, 2B Jaime Pedroza and 3B Daniel Wagner.
The outfielders to go with Thompson are Michael Early, Josh Richmond and Keenyn Walker with Joe De Pinto on the DL.
This Birmingham team isn’t nearly the same team that won last year’s championship, but they do have some talent and there is talent in Winston-Salem that could be moved up to help out.
Watch out for updates on the Barons and their players throughout the season on GrabSomeBench.com.