What do the White Sox have at each position after the 2014 offseason? The picture has gotten a bit clearer with the recent cuts and reassignments. Let's take a look at the White Sox's second base position to see how it stacks up for 2014 and beyond.
Beckham and Semien
Gordon Beckham has started at least 100 games at second base for the big league club in every season since 2009. However, he has only been above average offensively in one season over that period; his rookie year. He has been fine defensively but a seemingly never-ending series of adjustments has left him without answers at the plate. And now he is injured, which could cause him to start the season on the disabled list. This is likely a make or break season for Beckham as he is already making $4.175 million this year and is set to get another raise through arbitration next season, which would make his 1 WAR/year production less of a bargain than it already is.
A DL stint for Beckham could be the best thing that has happened for Marcus Semien. He appears to be slated as the Opening Day starter at second base if Beckham isn't ready to go. Let's just make that official as this tweet just came through as I was writing this post
Semien, who is 23-years-old, is often described as a solid, all-around baseball player. He can give you some of everything. He has a little pop demonstrated by his .193 and .200 ISOs in Double-A and Triple-A respectively. He had an ISO of .145 in his short stint with the big league team last year. He is also competent defensively at all three non-first base infield positions. Semien can even runt the bases well, as he stole 26 bases while getting caught seven times between the minors and majors in 2013.
Leury Garcia could be mentioned in a blog post about nearly any positions on the field except pitcher or catcher but I'll throw him in with the second basemen as it sounds like he will be splitting time with Semien. Garcia is only 23 years-old as well but has seemingly reached his potential offensively. He hasn't hit at any level in the minors or majors except for a half season at Rookie Ball in 2011. What Garcia lacks in the bat, he makes up for with his defense and base running. He is the definition of a glove-only infielder.
The White Sox signed Eric Patterson to a minor league deal this offseason. There isn't a lot to say about this 30 year-old minor league journeyman. He is a depth signing and with so many guys ahead of him on the depth chart it's doubtful he will leave Charlotte. Jaime Pedroza is another minor league depth signing. The description above for Patterson can essentially be pasted here except for the fact that Pedroza is three years younger.
With Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien both slated to join the major league squad for opening day, Carlos Sanchez is the only true prospect at second base in Charlotte and his stock has dropped significantly since last spring. In his first full year with the Charlotte Knights in 2013, Sanchez hit .241/.293/.296. While his defense was still above-average, he lost his ability to make contact and continued his career-long trend of avoiding the walk. This combined with very little power (0 HRs in 479 PAs) led to Sanchez providing essentially no value with his bat. Sanchez did play quite well in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason but with Garcia and Semien ahead of him on the depth chart he will have time to develop.
Double and Single-A
MIcah Johnson reached prospect status after a superb 2013 campaign. He stole 84 bases, although he was thrown out 26 times, while hitting .312/.373/.451 over three minor league levels. He will start this year in Double-A Birmingham. He will be interesting to watch to see if 2013 was a fluke or if he is the real thing.
At Winston-Salem, Joey DeMichele mans second base. He was drafted by the White Sox in the third round of the 2012 draft. DeMichele flashed some power in his 2012 rookie season but struggled in 2013 when he was promoted to High-A Winston-Salem. His future at the big league level appears to be that of a utility infielder.
Cleulius Rondon, who was part of the three-way trade with Detroit and Boston, will likely start the 2014 season in Kannapoils. He is another glove-only infielder who also does not have a history of stealing bases.
Second base has some depth both at the upper and lower levels of the system. If Beckham doesn't improve this year, Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien are waiting in the wings to take his place. Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson have some prospect potential but both are still young and need more time to develop. Cleulis Rondon could move quickly through the system if he can learn to make more contact but he has not proven that he can do that thus far in his career. Overall, second base is one of the deepest positions in the organization.
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