The White Sox entered this season with more outfielders than they could really hope to spread work to. With Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton installed as franchise fixtures, and Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza in an unwieldy arrangement where two imperfect starters would serve as overqualified platoon. The plan hardly left time for Quad-A side projects like Leury Garcia, or, gulp, Jordan Danks.
Two months in, and the Sox are trying to get their Opening Day second baseman some time in the outfield in Triple-A. It makes sense in context.
Semien's rapid ascent through the minors was pushed along by an infield that was ready to provide a space for any bat that offered a sliver of hope. Instead, every entrenched starting infielder has circled the wagons and then some, and made the collection of Micah Johnson, Carlos Sanchez, Semien, and Tim Anderson down the line look more like a luxury than a group that needed to produce a starter immediately.
Back in the day, that was the same type of lax expectations placed on the outfield prospect pairing of Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker, with earlier, more skeptical hope of major league status placed on Danks, Jared Mitchell and Brandon Short, and a more immediate replacement role designated for the converted Viciedo. It wasn't an unbelievable group at the time, and it certainly doesn't look any good now, but with the light smattering of positional prospects available, outfield easily had the most raw talent collected.
Of this group, Viciedo is looking like the biggest success story by far, and he's yet to contribute a season of average value as a starter. Danks is a de-facto taxi squad player, Mitchell and Short (since injured and released) are on their way out of MiLB baseball. Walker and Thompson have both bumped their heads repeatedly at Double-A. The concentration of talent the Sox had in the outfield never converted into graduated talent, which is the difference between prospects and actual organizational depth that people care about.
Gordon Beckham was a mild example, Viciedo was a more obvious one, but Semien and Johnson, and even Matt Davidson, depending on his own progress and the Sox first base situation going forward, all potentially represent the Sox big league offense just having to plug any MLB-ready player they come across into wherever there's room, whether they are potentially athletic enough to handle the transition (Johnson) or blatantly not (Viciedo).
At present, Leury Garcia could wage a decent playing time argument over De Aza, and Viciedo has yet to find the offensive foothold to make his 'first baseman out of water' act palatable. If the 2015-looking Sox still find themselves without even a semi-reliable source of ~.720 OPS with defense that doesn't kill them, their replacement plans (Semien, Johnson) for the endless tenure of the Beckham-Ramirez double play combo, become mobilized to throw at a crisis that's suddenly taken center stage, all in a matter of months.
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