“The White Sox have one of the worst minor league systems in baseball.”
Fact or fiction, that’s been the perception for the last five years.
But fresh off claiming the MVP of the Southern League championship series, won by the White Sox Double-A Birmingham Barons, second baseman Micah Johnson has a message for those who feel the Sox farm system is down in the dumps.
"That's crazy," Johnson said in an interview on Wednesday. "I know there's some people who might think the White Sox have a weaker minor league system, but I don't think that. We just won the Double-A championship. [High-A] Winston-Salem won the championship last year. There are a lot of good players. Marcus [Semien] for example is the best. He has more walks than strikeouts. I've never heard of such a thing. Trayce Thompson, I've seen him hit balls at Birmingham in a short period of time. I was like, 'How did you hit that ball out?' We've got a kid who plays shortstop, Tyler Saladino, down in Birmingham. His glove work up the middle--he makes some plays that I've never seen."
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Johnson went on and on, sounding more like a general manager than a 22-year-old infielder with dreams of playing in the big leagues.
While the Cubs farm system has been getting more headlines in Chicago, it was Johnson's Barons who knocked the Cubs' Tennessee Smokies out of the playoffs in the semifinals. Called up to Double-A with only five games remaining in the regular season, Johnson made an immediate impact in the postseason. Batting lead-off, he hit .368 with 12 runs, seven RBIs, seven walks and seven stolen bases - this after he swiped a minor-league high 84 bases for three teams in the White Sox organization as he worked his way up the ladder.
So if there's a player who has a good idea of who and what the Sox have in their system, it's probably him.
"I look at all these players and they're probably the most fun teams to watch play because you have so much athleticism," Johnson said. "Guys are stealing non-stop. [White Sox 2013 #1 pick] Tim Anderson got drafted. I played with him for a little bit. I watched that kid. He was stealing all over the place. It took me a year and a half to figure it out. He did it just like that."
Playing for Class-A Kannapolis, the 20-year-old Anderson stole 24 of 28 bases, batted .277 with a .348 OBP. However, his defense was another story. He made 19 errors at shortstop in 63 games.
While the White Sox are living through a nightmare season in the big leagues, Anderson represents the team's future.
His advice for frustrated fans? Be patient.
"It's unbelievable how good some of these players are in our organization,” Johnson said. “It's only a matter of time. That's all it is."