Chicago White Sox Spring Training Preview: Catchers

Now we are going to take a look at position players, starting with the catchers for the Chicago White Sox.  There is six catchers in camp for the Chicago White Sox with the two spots on the 25 man roster are filled, but the other four will be trying to impress the Chicago White Sox brass for future consideration.

The Chicago White Sox will have the same man calling the games for the seventh straight season. AJ Pierzynski is one of two players left from the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, with Konerko being the other.  This could be Pierzynski’s last season on the Southside, his contract expires after he makes $6 million this year.  AJ Pierzynski is one of the better catchers in the league at calling games, but struggles with baserunners.  At the plate, I expect AJ to be hitting 7th behind Alexei Ramirez.

AJ Pierzynski’s backup will be Tyler Flowers.  Flowers was acquired a few years back as part of the Javy Vasquez trade with the Atlanta Braves.  Scouts thought very highly of Flowers when he was sent over to the Chicago White Sox, but after a few underwhelming seasons in the minors, his stock fell way down.  He has always been able to hit for power with a good OBP, but his strikeouts are pretty high and his defense is questioned by some.  This is a big season for Flowers as he will be looking to take AJ Pierzynski’s spot as the full time starter with the Chicago White Sox.

First non-roster invitee I will take a look at is Michael Blanke.  He is a big man at 6’4″ 230 lbs and plays good defense.  Scott Merkin already seems to like what he sees from Blanke this Spring Training.   

@scottmerkin  Keep an eye on Michael Blanke–impressive looking prospect

Most scouts have Blanke ranked in the early teens in the Chicago White Sox  farm system.  If he can get his bat going and have a good season at AA most likely, he could push to be the backup next season, while challenging Tyler Flowers for the starting spot.

Next up is Josh Phegley.  Phegley is a very interesting prospect with what he has been through while with the Chicago White Sox.  Phegley was drafted in the supplemental draft in 2009 out of Indiana.  He has a good bat with defense that is getting better.  In 2010 Phegley battled an Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, that cost him all but 48 games that season.  Last season was spent getting back into baseball shape and restarting baseball activities.  The Chicago White Sox are hoping that he is fully healed and ready for a big 2012.

The other two catchers in camp are Damaso Espino and Hector Gimenez.  They are both just camp fillers that may play some in the minors to help fill the depth.

Some prospects to watch this season are Miguel Gonzalez and Kevan Smith.  Gonzalez was highly thought of a couple of seasons ago, but with a couple of disappointing seasons at the plate, his star has weakened.  Kevan Smith is rated as the Chicago White Sox 8th best prospect according to John Sickels.  He could move quickly and be ready before anyone thinks.

Overall, AJ Pierzynski is the Chicago White Sox starting catcher until Kenny Williams tells him he is traded or he will not be resigned.  Flowers, Blanke, Phegley and Smith provide some quality depth over the next few years.

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