Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

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Sox minor league update: Saladino, Mitchell going in opposite directions

The White Sox are currently in the midst of another hot streak going into the Midsummer Classic. They have taken five of seven from the two best teams in baseball, including a convincing sweep of the Rangers. Lets take a look at how the rest of the organization fared last week.

Prospect Nestor Molina has seen action at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season and he is 7-7 with a 4.61 ERA. His stats do not exactly jump off the page at you, but he has shown signs of growth and maturation. Unfortunately, Molina was placed on the seven-day disabled list last week. Apparently it's only a minor case of right elbow tendinitis, but it raised enough concern for the club to send him to Chicago for further examination. Molina has recorded 88 innings of work this season and this could simply be a result of fatigue. Never the less, anytime the word tendinitis is thrown into the conversation there is cause for concern.

They say when it rains it pours, and in the case of the case of the Sox minor league system it poured a little bit last week. Top pitching prospect Simon Castro was also assigned to the seven-day DL after pitching lights out in his last start. Castros success in Birmingham has not gone unnoticed, as he was awarded a promotion to Charlotte a couple weeks ago. In his second Triple-A appearance he went seven innings, gave up no runs on four hits and fanned nine. In short, he was dominant. Unfortunately his pitching efforts reaped no offensive support and he was slapped with the no decision, as the Knights fell 1-0 in 11 innings.

As mind-numbingly repetitive as it is to say, Jared Mitchell struggled at the plate this week. The LSU product went 3-for-21 (.143) with eight K's. He did drive in six, and scored five times but as his strikeout total creeps closer to the century mark, his chances at being in the big leagues in the relatively near future diminish. Mitchell has gone down on strikes 98 times (35 percent of plate appearances) already this season, which is second-worst in the entire Southern League. Needless to say, his production is nowhere near where it needs to be and with each unsuccessful hack I am more convinced that we are driving down a road with a possible dead end. Jared Mitchell may be falling out of the picture fast.

Birmingham shortstop Tyler Saladino had the type of week every up and coming prospect loves to have. He went 9-for 25 (.360) at the dish with two doubles, a homer, five RBIs, six runs scored and four swiped bags. Those four stolen bases take his season total to the top of the Southern League with 29. His memorable week at the plate (.995 OPS) was backed up by a solid defensive performance. Its weeks like these that move a youngster very quickly through the system.

Winston-Salem slugger Trayce Thompson saw similar levels of production as Saladino. He also went 9-for-25 (.360) with five RBIs, five runs, and three doubles. On Monday, Thompson went yard twice, boosting his total to 16 on the year. The talented prospects successful week led to a ridiculous 1.233 OPS. Thompson got off to a slow start this season, but he is taking the proper steps to raise his .232 average to where it needs to be.

Rangel Ravelo has been tabbed the man to watch out of the Class-A Kannapolis Intimidators clubhouse. Unfortunately last week he did not fit the bill. Ravelo was 3-for-22 (.136) with no extra base hits, no runs, two RBIs and three strikeouts. One plus is that Ravelo is putting the ball in play and not striking out much. He simply has to find some holes in the defense and if he continues to hit the ball he is bound to break through.

While the White Sox system is not very deep there are some power arms in the organization as evidenced by the number of youngsters who have assumed roles in the big clubs bullpen and rotation. With injuries to Jesse Crain, John Danks, Phil Humber and Brian Bruney, the White Sox needed to find help and with players like Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Jose Quintana doing the job, the drop-off has been non-existent.

Joe Musso contributed to this report.

What White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is doing to combat second-year struggles

What White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is doing to combat second-year struggles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tim Anderson got what sounds like a much-needed day off on Saturday night.

Normally soft-spoken, the White Sox shortstop was even quieter than normal during a pregame media session at Kauffman Stadium. Anderson discussed at length his struggles on and off the field after what has been another few trying days. A day after his mentor Todd Frazier was traded, Anderson bunted into a double play on Wednesday after he failed to quickly get out of the box. He also was surprisingly thrown out on an infield chopper in Friday’s loss, though his manager said that was more about Anderson’s route after he made contact. Either way, Anderson is learning how to handle the grind in a difficult season.

“It’s going to be — it was an up and down season,” Anderson said. “I’ve learned a lot. Just from on a maturity level. And just on the field. I still have to keep working and keep having fun with it.

“It’s easy to lose focus when you are not doing good. It’s something I have to keep grinding through. The game won’t stop for nobody. I have to keep playing.”

Anderson had a trying night during Friday’s four-plus hour affair played in 100-degree plus temperatures. Not only did he fail to beat out the infield chopper in the third, he also had a base running mistake to end the sixth inning. Anderson reached on a one-out single with a line drive to left. But he aggressively tried to advance from first to third on Kansas City pitcher Scott Alexander’s errant pickoff throw not noticing the ball rebounded most of the way back toward first base. Anderson got caught in the middle as Eric Hosmer quickly retrieved the ball and started an inning-ending rundown.

That play came three innings after Anderson hit an infield chopper that Alcides Escobar fielded near third base and fired to first just in time. Manager Rick Renteria said Friday he was a little surprised Anderson wasn’t safe but attributed it to his route out of the batter’s box. Renteria said it’s an adjustment the team is working on with Anderson.

“He's got a tendency to run out of the box, almost like he's going to start rounding a banana, and he does that a lot,” Renteria said. "We're trying to clean him up from going out and creating a straight line. I don't if it's because he ends up finishing his swing, he starts to fall out toward that side. But once he got down there he was busting his butt. I thought he got down there once he got himself back on track and line to try to give himself a chance and beat it out. Was I surprised? Yeah, it was close.”

Anderson said there’s been some discussion about his route from the box to first base but not a ton. He also said it’s an involuntary action.

“I don’t feel it,” Anderson said. “It’s something I’m still working on. I don’t feel it coming out of the box.

“When I get down the line a little bit, I kind of feel it. But I don’t feel it directly when I come out of the box. 

“Sometimes my finish could throw me back a little bit and kind of take me to that route.

“It’s just naturally.”

It’s only natural that Anderson is down about Tuesday night’s deal that sent Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees. Frazier has taken Anderson under his wing since the second-year player arrived in the majors last June.

Anderson said Frazier helped him improve his positioning and was a constant presence with their ongoing conversation.

“It’s tough to see people like him go,” Anderson said. “He’s kind of the voice of the locker room. So, it’s kind of, I’m on my own really. Just trying to figure it out myself.” 

Anderson’s had plenty to deal with already this season. The sudden death of his friend, Branden Moss, in May is well documented. He’s also struggled at the plate and in the field as the league adjusts to him. Renteria doesn’t think any one thing is responsible for the toughest year of Anderson’s life as a professional.

“There’s probably multiple factors,” Renteria said. “There are a lot of things going on in his life this year. I think the opponents are adjusting to him a little bit more. I think he’s having to deal with the newness of trying to also make his own adjustments. I’m sure he’s frustrated at times and still trying to kind of put himself in a position where he feels good about how he’s handling his at-bats. The truth is, though that’s the nature of the game of the big leagues.

"We’ve talked about process obviously, but we’ve also talked about, you’re always going to be making adjustments, but you’re also looking at some form of a finality in terms of trying to figure out exactly where you’re at and who you are as a hitter and as a player. And even then, you’re still always evolving, because the game’s always changing; the opponent’s always changing. You’re always having to make adjustments along the way and what will be I believe a very good and long career for Timmy.”

How Yoan Moncada's first hit stacks up against all-time White Sox greats

How Yoan Moncada's first hit stacks up against all-time White Sox greats

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yoan Moncada broke the seal in a big way on Friday night.

Facing Kansas City’s Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy at Kauffman Stadium, baseball’s top prospect delivered a three-run triple in the top of the third inning to earn his first hit with the White Sox. Moncada’s two-strike, two-out, opposite-field triple to left-center field arrived in his fifth plate appearance with the White Sox.

Below is a chart of how the top 11 White Sox in Wins Above Replacement, according to baseball-reference, notched their first hits.

Player, WAR

date | venue | inning | outs | opponent | pitcher | result | plate appearance

Luke Appling, 74.5 WAR

9/10/30 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Red Sox | Danny MacFayden | 1B | third PA

Frank Thomas, 68.2 WAR

8/3/90 | County Stadium | T7 | 2 outs | Brewers | Mark Knudson | 3B | seventh PA

Eddie Collins, 66.6 WAR

4/14/1915 | Sportsman’s Park III | N/A | N/A | STL Browns | Carl Weilan | 1B | N/A

Nellie Fox, 46.95 WAR

5/18/50 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Senators | Sid Hudson | 1B | fifth PA

Minnie Minoso, 41.36 WAR

5/1/51 | Comiskey Park | B1 | 1 out | Yankees |  Vic Raschi | HR | first PA

Robin Ventura, 39.37 WAR

9/12/89 | Memorial Stadium | T4 | 2 outs | Orioles | Ben McDonald | 1B | third PA

Luis Aparicio, 35.28 WAR

4/17/56 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Indians | Bob Lemon | 1B | third PA

George Davis, 33.09 WAR

1902 | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A

Fielder Jones, 31.81 WAR

1901 | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A

Carlton Fisk, 28.8 WAR

4/10/81 | Fenway Park | T3 | 1 out | Red Sox | Dennis Eckersley | 1B | second PA