While the White Sox players were probably enjoying the last day of the All-Star break, General Manager Rick Hahn appeared to be hard at work. The team made many moves throughout the minor league system today, and a few of them should be taken note of.
White Sox Sign Travis Ishikawa
Hahn acquired a first baseman earlier today, signing the well-traveled Travis Ishikawa. He will report to AAA Charlotte.
Ishikawa is the true definition of the term “journeyman,” as the White Sox will be the 29-year-old’s fifth organization of his career. In fact, it will be his third this season, as Ishikawa has spent time with both Baltimore and the New York Yankees in 2013.
The Seattle native spent most of his career in the Giants organization, as he was a 21st round pick in 2002 and was in the system until after the 2011 season. He spent parts of four seasons with the big league club, including appearing in over 100 games in both 2009 (was the team’s opening day starter at first base) and 2010.
After leaving the Giants, he appeared in 94 games for the Brewers last season. Lifetime, he is a .260 hitter with 19 home runs in 774 career at-bats.
He was hitting .316 with seven homers for AAA Norfolk in the Orioles system this season, and that’s a significant upgrade over who the Charlotte Knights have used. Andy Wilkins, Mike McDade, and Lars Anderson have all struggled, so Ishikawa is presumably who the Sox would turn to first if Paul Konerko and/or Adam Dunn are moved. It also helps that Ishikawa bats left-handed, as the White Sox probably would like to replace Dunn with another lefty if he goes.
To make room for Ishikawa, the White Sox released the aforementioned Lars Anderson, who was hitting a measly .194 in 66 games.
Earley Promoted to AAA, Jeff Gray Released
The Charlotte Knights will also be welcoming a new outfielder: Michael Earley. In AA Birmingham, Earley was hitting .282 with four home runs and 29 RBI while playing mostly right field.
Earley has been a nice surprise for the White Sox, as he’s a 29th round draft choice from back in 2010. Typically, players chosen that late don’t make it this far, but the former Indiana Hoosier has certainly played his way into the promotion. After hitting .261 for Rookie-level Great Falls in 2010, he hit .307 there in 2011 and .291 with 13 homers and a .819 OPS in 2012 for High-A Winston-Salem.
He figures to slide right into the Knights lineup as the starting right fielder. His ceiling isn’t really that high, but if he handles AAA pitching with the same consistency he did at the other levels, he maybe could play himself into an opportunity for a September call-up.
To make room for Earley, Jeff Gray was released by the Knights. Gray, who briefly pitched for the White Sox in 2011, had a 3.27 ERA in 17 relief appearances for Charlotte.
Pitchers on the Move: McCully, Thompson, Bassitt Promoted
A few pitchers were rewarded for strong performances in the first part of the season. Nick McCully and Taylor Thompson have been called up to AAA Charlotte, while Chris Bassitt was promoted to AA Birmingham.
McCully and Thompson have both done a fine job for AA Birmingham this season, and both recently competed in the Southern League All-Star game. After starting the season out in the bullpen, McCully was moved to the rotation and has put up some impressive numbers (7-3, 3.08 ERA, .191 batting average against). He’s not a power arm (48 strikeouts in 79 innings pitched), but the ninth round draft choice from the St. Louis Cardinals has shown he’s ready for the promotion.
Thompson has been the Barons’ main closer this season, compiling 12 saves with a 2.15 ERA. He’s proven to be tough to face late in the ballgame, holding opponents to a .185 batting average against. Like Earley, he’s continually played his way into promotions as he’s a 44th round draft choice from back in 2009.
Bassitt making the jump from High-A Winston-Salem to AA Birmingham, and he was 7-2 with a 3.46 ERA for the Dash in 18 starts. The 2011 16th round pick will presumably take the place of McCully in the Barons rotation.
Lower Level News: Ortiz to Winston-Salem, Bucciferro to Kannapolis
In some news from the bottom levels of the organization, pitchers Braulio Ortiz was moved from Class-A Kannapolis to Winston-Salem, and Tony Bucciferro was promoted from Bristol to take his place.
Ortiz is a power right-hander who recently moved into the Kannapolis rotation, so he should take the place of the spot vacated by Bassitt’s promotion to AA. The Dominican Republic native was 0-4 with a 3.45 ERA for the Intimidators, but recorded 74 strikeouts in just 62.2 innings with a .196 batting average against.
Bucciferro, a Joliet, Illinois native and 2012 14th round pick, will be joining the Intimidators for the third time this season. He’s 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA with Bristol in three starts, but 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four appearances (three starts).