By Nina Zimmerman on March 19, 2014
A lot of strong and surprising prospect performances came out of Camelback Ranch this year. At this point late in Spring Training with only a few weeks left before Opening Day, a majority of the Chicago White Sox' top prospects have already been reassigned to minor league camp. Here are five players who I think made an impression on the field and also have a shot at making an appearance at the major league level at some point in 2014.
Ranked No. 3 in the organization by MLB.com last year, Johnson debuted last September and will begin the 2014 season in the starting rotation alongside Chris Sale, John Danks, Jose Quintana and Felipe Paulino. In two spring starts, Johnson has a 2.57 ERA and seven strikeouts while walking just two batters in seven innings pitched.
Semien’s .370 batting average this spring and consistent defense at third base, second base and shortstop, paired with injuries to infielders Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger, make him a strong candidate for starting the season in Chicago. Ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the White Sox system last year by MLB.com, Semien hit .284 with 32 doubles and 19 HRs between double-A Birmingham and triple-A Charlotte.
Beckham’s injury allowed the White Sox to take a longer look at Johnson, who’s spent the majority of his career so far in single-A. Possessing excellent speed and a good glove at second base, Johnson also boasts a .350 spring batting average with two stolen bases and eight runs scored. He will probably begin the year at double-A Birmingham, but his speed could make him a major leaguer come September.
Despite being optioned to the minors recently, 21-year-old Sanchez made a positive impression thanks to his agile fielding and punch at the plate. He hit .538 in 13 at-bats before being reassigned, and manager Robin Ventura said recently that he expects to see Sanchez in the majors soon.
Wilkins’ .467 batting average this spring is second on the White Sox only to Sanchez’s .538 mark. He spent time last year at both double-A Birmingham and triple-A Charlotte, hitting .277 with 17 HRs and 79 RBIs, and has not made his MLB debut yet. Though blocked at first base by Jose Abreu, if Wilkins keeps up his hitting this season, he could be in a position to move into the role of backup first baseman when Paul Konerko retires this year.
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