The future seems to be now for Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter September 3, 2013 10:53PM
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Updated: September 4, 2013 9:40AM
NEW YORK — What better way to soften the blow of a season gone bad and a road trip started wrong than by looking ahead.
What else are the White Sox to do?
After bringing up Avisail Garcia on Aug. 9 and calling up infielder Leury Garcia, left-hander Charlie Leesman and right-hander Jake Petricka later in the month, the Sox brought up right-handers Erik Johnson and Daniel Webb and infielder Marcus Semien on Tuesday. Catchers Bryan Anderson and Miguel Gonzalez also are here from the minors.
The Sox are wasting no time getting Johnson, who looks like a natural fit for their 2014 starting rotation, on the mound. They announced Tuesday that he will make his debut Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s a great opportunity,’’ Johnson said. “If you ever wanted to start somewhere in your major-league debut, this would be it.’’
Semien, the Southern League (Class AA) most valuable player, wasn’t in the starting lineup Tuesday but will play soon.
“As soon as guys get here, I like to get them out there as quick as you can,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
Here’s a breakdown of the three brightest hopefuls brought up Tuesday:
Erik Johnson: A second-round draft pick out of Cal in 2011, Johnson is the organization’s top pitching prospect. A four-pitch righty with low-90s velocity, he projects as high as a No. 3 starter.
Johnson had control issues in college but looks to be straightened out.
“It’s just really working ahead, first pitch and two out of the first three pitches for strikes and get guys out in three pitches is what I try to do each time,’’ Johnson said.
Johnson, a sturdy 6-3, 235-pound 23-year-old, was 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA with 131 strikeouts and 40 walks in 142 innings between Birmingham and Charlotte.
Daniel Webb: An 18th-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2009, Webb came to the Sox as an A-ball prospect in a 2012 trade for Jason Frasor and, after converting from starter to reliever, climbed rapidly from Class A to Class AAA this year, posting a 1.77 ERA at Birmingham and striking out 38 in 271/3 innings to go with a 2.96 ERA at Charlotte. With an upper-90s fastball that at times touches 100, Webb has the potential to be a closer. He also throws a slider and changeup that are said to be better than average.
Marcus Semien: A teammate of Johnson’s at Cal, Semien, 22, was a sixth-round pick in 2011. But he didn’t create a buzz until this year, when he hit for average and power — a plus for a middle infielder. He was named Southern League MVP on Tuesday after hitting .290 with 15 homers, 49 RBI, 90 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in 105 games. He hit .264 with four homers and 17 RBI in 32 games at Class AAA. He walked 98 times between the two levels. Semien, a natural middle infielder, said it was big to see action at third base as well this season. He’s probably ahead of Leury Garcia.
“It’s every ballplayer’s dream,’’ he said while walking around the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. “Now you do what you can to try to stay here.’’
Ventura and the rest of the Sox’ brain trust will keep their eyes open looking ahead to next year. Twelve rookies were in uniform Tuesday.
“That’s where we’re at right now,’’ he said before the game. “That’s part of doing it in the situation we’re in with the guys that we have and that we bring up. You want to get them into as many situations as you can. You’re looking into the future for what they might be doing and what you might need to fill.’’