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Pitching prospects Erik Johnson, Scott Snodgress looking to impress White Sox

Erik Johnson

Erik Johnson

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Updated: March 27, 2013 6:23AM



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The first impression right-hander Erik Johnson made on White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper in 2013 was a good one. Left-hander Scott Snodgress showed Cooper something, too.

It’s early, and both have more steps to take and consistency to gain, but the Sox’ top two pitching prospects suggested they could be with the big-league club sooner rather than later with what they showcased Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

‘‘I can’t help but talk about Johnson and Snodgress,’’ Cooper said Monday. ‘‘There are other guys, but I really liked what they showed me [Sunday].’’

Johnson, a second-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Cal, started and allowed one run and four hits in three innings. While there’s little chance he’ll make the Opening Day roster, there’s a good chance he’ll get a shot at some point this season.

‘‘He’s got a major-league curveball,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘As soon as he gets his changeup done and the consistency of the slider for strikes — which everybody has told me is his second-best pitch — he’ll have two off-speed pitches with the curve and change and two power pitches [fastball and slider]. So he has the arsenal.’’

Cooper likes Johnson’s quiet
intensity and was impressed with the ‘‘guts’’ he showed, telling Cooper he wanted to hear nothing but the truth when they spoke during the offseason.

‘‘I told him he wouldn’t have to worry about that,’’ Cooper said.

Johnson said he picks Cooper’s brain every chance he gets.

‘‘It felt good to get out there against some real competitive players and hitters in a big-league game,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘I’m thankful for the opportunity. I just wanted to go out there and pound the strike zone and attack hitters and keep the ball down, let my defense play behind me.’’

Snodgress was drafted in the fifth round in 2011 out of Stanford. The 6-5 lefty’s control improved
after college, and he now projects as a starter after initially being thought of as a reliever.

‘‘With Snodgress, it’s being consistent with the curveball for strikes and continued changeup
development,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘It looks like the changeup might be ahead of the curve.’’

Here are Cooper’s capsule summaries of most of the Sox’ other pitching prospects, based on what he has seen this spring:

† Right-hander Dylan Axelrod: ‘‘This kid can pitch. If your world revolves around the radar gun, you’re not going to like him. But he knows how to pitch.’’

† Right-hander Jake Petricka: “Showing us more aggressiveness. We want him to show everybody his good, live arm and show everybody who’s boss.’’

† Right-hander Deunte Heath: ‘‘Good arm. Looking for more consistency with all his pitches, but he continues to show us more and more.’’

† Right-hander Brian Omogrosso: ‘‘Did a great job for us last year. [On Saturday against the Dodgers], he got the first two guys out, then threw a 3-2 changeup up 7-0. That’s rousing the baseball gods to wake up. He did something he shouldn’t have done, but he got out of it.’’

† Right-hander Zach Stewart: ‘‘Since he returned, everything has been at the bottom of the
zone. We’re going to continue to run him out there.’’

† Right-hander Jhan Marinez: ‘‘Good arm, good stuff. Brought a curveball back from the Dominican. I like his curve for a strike pitch and out of the zone late. I like his slider as a put-away pitch better.’’

† Left-hander Daniel Moskos: ‘‘Got our first look. No negatives. Need more information.’’

† Right-hander Simon Castro: ‘‘Starting against Texas [on Tuesday]. Real evaluation when we see more in games.’’

† Left-hander Santos Rodriguez: ‘‘Live arm. His second-best pitch is his changeup. We’re going to try to improve the slider. We need more strikes. With an arm like that, the minute you throw more strikes, you’re going to be on the brink.’’

† Left-hander Leyson Septimo: ‘‘Continues to improve. Throwing more and more strikes. Has enough stuff but needs consistency.’’

WHITE SOX 9, GIANTS 9

FOR THE RECORD: The Sox played to a draw for the second consecutive day, this time rallying from a 9-0 deficit.

PROSPECT WATCH: Jared Mitchell missed a cutoff man from right field, and second baseman Carlos Sanchez made a throwing error in the Giants’ three-run second. Mitchell tripled in two runs with two outs in the sixth and Sanchez had a single in three at-bats.

MR. FEBRUARY: Minor-league first baseman Seth Loman hit his second tape-measure home run in three games, a three-run shot that capped a seven-run eighth to tie the score. Loman connected against Brett Bochy, Giants manager Bruce’s son.

ALL EYES ON RIENZO: A large contingent of Japanese media was on hand to watch Sox prospect Andre Rienzo pitch in relief. Rienzo, who will start the opener for Brazil against Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, was tagged for five runs, failing to retire any of the five Giants he faced. “I don’t know if [Brazil manager] Barry Larkin saw the game today and changes it,’’ Rienzo said. ‘‘I hope not.’’

IN SUM: Three Sox errors made it look sloppy, but scoreless relief work from Matt Lindstrom, Jesse Crain, Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Leyson Septimo cleaned things up.

ON DECK: At Rangers, Surprise, 2:05 p.m. Nestor Molina and other prospects will pitch against the Rangers, who will start Yu Darvish.



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