Hudson’s gone, but plenty of White Sox Pitching Prospects Remain

chris sale sox pitching prospect

With White Sox fifth starter/top prospect Daniel Hudson now in Arizona (in exchange for Edwin Jackson), it’s time to think about who’s next in line regarding pitching prospects within the Sox farm system.

And who better to tell us than Kirk Champion, White Sox Minor League Pitching Coordinator.

Champion gave a conference call last week where I was joined on the call by Jim Margalus of Sox Machine, Anthony Mazzuca of Future Sox and South Side Sox, SB Nation‘s White Sox blog.

By Paul M. Banks

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Jeff Marquez makes MLB Debut, then sent back to Charlotte

jeff-marquez

During Friday night’s 8-2 Chicago White Sox win over the Kansas City Royals, a young hurler made his Major League debut: the Sox Jeff Marquez, who came in to pitch the final inning of garbage time before being sent back down to AAA Charlotte the next day.

Marquez was called up for bullpen help last week when Jake Peavy was added to the Sox disabled list and shut down for the season. When it came time for Peavy’s slot in the rotation, Marquez was jettisoned back to Charlotte to make way for top starting rotation prospect Daniel Hudson.

But Marquez still had a chance to throw down in “The Show,” and I had an exclusive with him after he put in his inning of work.

By Paul M. Banks

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Welcome to the White Sox, Jeff Marquez

jeff-marquez

With the detached lat of Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy, a new spot opened up on the Sox pitching staff. Enter Jeff Marquez, 25, is 7-4 with a 4.02 ERA (40 ER/99.2 IP) in 17 starts this season with Charlotte.  The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Marquez allowed 99 hits, walked 31 and struck out 54.  He went 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA (7 ER/24.1 IP) over his last four starts.

By Paul M. Banks

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Taking the 5th, White Sox Starting Pitching Options

Paul M. Banks 

Now that Jose Contreras (0-5, 8.19 ERA) is gone, hopefully, his replacement will keep the White Sox rotation from spinning off its axis every fifth day.

Contreras was contrarian to the Sox winning ballgames, so he’ll go and attempt to work out his issues at AAA Charlotte.

On Wednesday Clayton Richard, the former University of Michigan quarterback, will take his spot in the rotation when the Sox play at Cleveland. Richard was a somewhat effective spot starter and solid reliever down the stretch last season. His rookie season contributions during a division championship run were reminiscent of another rookie in another championship season: Brandon McCarthy, who stepped up down the stretch of the 2005 championship year.

Richard gets the first opportunity, but if he fails, here’s the other “options.

Lance “jazz hands” Broadway- His name sounds like a stage alias in a really bad musical. And his fastball is equally lacking in intimidation. I don’t think Pitching Coach Don Cooper legitimately considers a Broadway audition because his velocity is impressive…if you’re pitching for the Schaumburg Flyers or Gary Southshore RailCats.

Jeff Marquez- Remember when he was considered to be a front-runner for the 5th starter position? Ancient history now as he’s on the DL with a 0-4 record and 14.15 ERA in AAA ball. Forget about the strides he made this spring. Fellow farmhand Jack Egbert was also considered an option earlier this year, but has similarly since fallen out of favor.

Wes Whisler- He has a 3-2 2.12 ERA as a starter in AAA and led the Knights in victories and games started last season- good for 10th in the International League ERA race. The 26-year-old prospect ranked second in wins, fourth in IP and ninth in ERA among all Sox farmhands. He wasn’t initially rated to be much of a prospect, but then again the Sox have fired people in their scouting department in recent years for a reason.

Hopefully, this situation won’t turn into another 2004, when it seemed like there was a new 5th starter every week. One of these youngsters should step up, otherwise it might be time to give the agents of Jason Grilli or Freddy Garcia a call. Lord help us if it someday comes to that.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

White Sox Exchange

By Paul M. Banks and Soxman

(PMB) About a month into the season, the AL Central is exactly like we said it would be: anybody’s for the taking. With all of the teams except last place Cleveland (ironically, my pick to win the division) all bunched up together.

And the Indians aren’t that far out, so this horserace is exceedingly difficult to handicap.

(SM)  While I did say “look out for KC” in many preseason interviews, it is interesting to see them on top of the pack right now.  Even with injuries to Alex Gordon, they are popping out enough offense to win.  Zack Greinke and Gil Meche are pitching like a legitimate 1-2 punch, and Joakim Soria is one of the most underrated closers in the game.

Still, all teams in the AL Central have at least 1-2 HUGE holes, leaving this division winnable for any team at his point.

(PMB) Let’s talk injuries, De Wayne Wise was already hurt, and then his replacement Brian Anderson goes down.  At least Dye was ok. Jerry Owens was still as awful at the plate now as he was in spring training, and last year and ’07 for that matter- opening the door for Scott Podsednik, who I think is washed up, and has been for a season or two. (His defense was terrible Monday night) Of course, he’s a sentimental favorite with Sox Nation, with World Series hero status, and there isn’t much else out there, so I totally understand the decision. Can you think of any better scenarios here?   Can the Lilliputian Brent Lillibridge roam the OF?

(SM) If this were a 60’s Batman episode, I would type, BIFF, ZAP, ZOW!!! In response to your rant there.  I think we’ve had some fairly freak injuries occur thus far.  Thome injured his heal running, Anderson hurt his ribcage swinging, and Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch.  While I don’t think Scotty Pods is completely washed up, his days as an everyday player are behind him, and he was always just an average corner outfielder and never much of a centerfielder.  He’s a fourth or fifth outfielder at this point in his career.

Jerry Owens elected to become a free agent rather than return to the minors for the Sox and signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners on May 4th.

Lillibridge is capable of playing CF, but is only hitting .167 on the season.

Brian Anderson was playing the best baseball of the bunch before his injury, essentially abandoning his homerun swing in favor of contact, and was truly beginning to earn my respect as a player.  His on-base percentage was also excellent at .383.

As the Sox have no plans to call on Jordan Danks or Gordon Beckham this season, this is really all we have to work with at this point.  My guess is the Sox will try to float until Anderson or Wise return.  Just beware, shoulder and ribcage injuries are the two worst injuries for a hitter, so the Sox will try to ensure they are fully recovered before rushing them back.

You know how I HATED the trade of Nick Swisher.  The answer?  Swisher could have played the same CF defense as Scotty Pods and is currently hitting: .300, 7 HR, 19 RBI, with a 1.122 OPS!  No use crying over soiled socks I guess.

(PMB)  Is Jose Contreras Contrarian to our cause? He’s been AWFUL!!!! In every start except one in this young season, and he was far from overwhelmingly impressive in that start. I guess we knew that between him and Bartolo Colon, we would only really get one decent pitcher at the back of the rotation, not two. Of course, no one will mistake Colon for Carlston Charles Sabathia, but he has looked like a Cy Young winner compared to Contreras, who’s likely washed up right?

(SM) Colon has made the adjustment from what I call pitching with his arm, to pitching with his head.  For the first part of his career, Colon had overpowering stuff where he could even get hitters out when he threw mistakes.  As weight, injuries, and miles accumulated on his body, he learned to pitch with his head.

Jose Contreras was lit up for seven earned runs on seven hits over a mere 3.1 innings of work on Saturday.  With an 8.31 ERA on the season, is he done?  Maybe, but it is too early in the season to make that judgment for sure.  Contreras is one of the tougher pitchers to coach because he has at least three different deliveries on his pitches, which means his mechanics are that much more difficult to correct.  With the injury he suffered last season, I believe it will be at least another month before the Sox truly know whether he’s done or not.  The question is, can they afford to wait that long?  At 12-12, and only 1.5 games out of first, I think they still have a little time.

(PMB)  Let’s talk about possible replacements.


What about Lance “Jazz Hands” Broadway? Let’s say it again with loud, musical accentuation…Lance….Broadway!!! I don’t think Cooper is legitimately going to consider him an option because his velocity is….impressive, if you’re pitching for the Schaumburg Flyers. I know you’ve spoken highly of Clayton Richard, the former University of Michigan quarterback with significant starting experience from last season. Any other ideas or free agents out there?

(SM) I don’t believe the neon lights are bright on Broadway from a starting pitching perspective, although he does have a 4.15 ERA since his call-up, which is respectable.  Clayton Richard would be a candidate as well, but my gut says he’ll stay in the bullpen because Ozzie likes having two lefties out there.

Freddy Garcia’s name has been thrown around after he was cut by the Mets last week, however, he’s been horrible in the minor leagues and might retire.

Pedro Martinez and Paul Byrd are trying to pull a Roger Clemens “rent a pitcher” deal with a contender, but Pedro’s asking price is far too high.  Byrd is intriguing but far from a sure thing as well.  That’s really all that’s out there now unless you wanted to take a chance on another pitcher released by another team for being just as bad as anybody on our current roster.

(PMB)  All these issues of depth make me think about the Sox farm system. We know the Sox minor league affiliates are collectively rated amongst the worst by baseball talent evaluators, but there has to be some diamonds in the rough somewhere.

Easter weekend, my girlfriend and I traveled to Charlotte. The “Knight” before the holiday we took in a game at Knights Stadium, home of the Sox AAA affiliate. It’s kind of like what happens when you combine a Medieval Times outing with MILB. It was a lot of fun, even though they’re not located in the Queen City, or even in North Carolina for that matter. They’re actually across the border in South Carolina, past the outskirts of the Charlotte suburbs. I saw by far, the most lopsided baseball game I’ve ever been at. Our Knights lost 19-3; and this was no fluke as the Knights were outscored 61-17 in their first ten. Currently, they’re 9-14 on the season and in last place.

Jeff Marquez (remember when he was considered to be a front-runner for the 5th starter position?) got bombed so badly that he didn’t survive the second inning. This was no aberration either as he’s currently 0-4 with a 14.15 ERA in AAA ball. You understand why I didn’t bring up his name as an option for replacing Contreras. What about Wes Whisler? He led the team in most pitching statistical categories last season and has a sub 2 ERA. Any prospects you have your eye on at this level? Or within the system at all. Scouts are high on Justin Cassell (brother of NFL QB Matt Cassell) and Jon Link. Are they MLB ready soon?

(SM)  Again I shutter at the Nick Swisher trade when I look at the numbers Marquez has put up thus far.

Justin Cassell has an ERA over 6 at AAA.  That does not earn him a roster spot in my opinion.  Whisler is looking good for sure and could earn a call if the Sox want to make a move from within.  Despite not being a top ranked prospect he’s held an ERA in the three’s for most of his career.

Link, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres for Rob Mackowiak, is a relief pitcher and would not be a candidate for the rotation.

Aaron Poreda could draw strong consideration also.  The Sox top pitching prospect has a 1.65 ERA in five starts for AA Birmingham this season. He pitched on Monday and threw a no hitter—sort of!  It was called after the top half of the fifth inning due to rain but it is still a no hitter in the record books!

We can’t forget about our 2009 tradition Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly?  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…
We cursed Scotty Pods and Danks featuring them in Maybe or Mirage.

(SM)  Maybe. Pods is playing CF, and Danks is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA since I said he arrived here last week.


Jayson Nix will supplant Josh Fields at 3B.

(SM) Mirage.  Fields is doing a serviceable job and Nix is more of a natural second baseman.

(PMB) Mirage. Not even a mirage, if Nix is truly healthy then he’s just not ready for prime time yet, Charlotte calls.

Chris Getz will Hold the Lead-off Spot all season

(SM) Maybe.  He needs to stay healthy.  His .358 OBP is respectable.

(PMB) Maybe, especially when you consider “what else do we have?”

Alexei Ramirez was a one year wonder.

(SM) Mirage. He’s hitting .295 in his last 44 Abs and the weather’s heating up.

(PMB) Mirage. This producto de Cuba will start lighting up like a Cohiba soon.


Wilson Betemit has earned a starting job.

(SM) Mirage.  Sure he’s hitting .310 in 27 Abs. He’s a back-up for a reason.

(PMB) Maybe. We have injuries a plenty and it’s only May. Maybe that’s not “earning it” though.

2nd Place Sox Exchange

By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

For the 2nd straight week, Soxman is once again in the driver’s seat at the Sportsbank, and plays host as Paul M. Banks pulls up a chair to talk 2nd place, 2nd thoughts on Brian Anderson, and a 2nd injury to Chris Getz.  We also move forward with the 2nd week of Maybe or Mirage, the Sportsbank’s White Sox version of ESPN’s 30-second drill.


SM: Well we are almost one month into the 2009 season and the standings say we are just an average team at 9-9.  I’m thinking of writing a book called A Tale of Two Teams to describe our Sox this season.  Want proof?  The Toronto Series.  We have seen some spectacular defense, such as the amazing diving catches by Brent Lillibridge and Jerry Owens, offensive execution and timely hitting in Saturday’s game, and then sloppy defense by Alexei Ramirez and Brian Anderson with offense that was just plain offensive in Friday’s 14-0 embarrassment.   Which performance do you think is reflective of the real team?


(PMB) Like on Sesame Street, “this week’s Sox Exchange is brought to you by the number 2.” I think this “two-faced” team is on pace for a 83 to 85 win season. I think you’re right about the roller-coaster. Expect a lot of results on this team (and in the AL Central overall) to not make a whole lot of sense. Ozzie told the media right before the season started that this team will be faster than last year’s, and that the only slow guys on this team are well, the middle-of-the-order guys we all know and love. This team should be able to move and bump and grind (with apologies to R. Kelly) out a few more runs than last season.

But I think the record will still decline from last year because I have bigger questions about our starting pitching, and as the old baseball saying goes “momentum is only as strong as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” So that’s why we’ll see so much polarity.

SM: Speaking of Brian Anderson, it appears as though he’s making the most of his opportunity to become the everyday CF.  As you know, I have been one of his harshest critics, mostly because of the attitude he carried early in his career.   Don’t look now, but BA is leading the team in BA (pardon the pun), and has walked seven times leading all regulars with a .444 on base percentage (OBP).  Is it time for Soxman to admit that BA has finally arrived?

(PMB) Remember how down you were on Gavin Floyd at the beginning of 2008? His rapid progress shocked you (and pretty much everyone who saw him pitch in the Phillies organization) Still I just criticized BA harshly here last week.  His career batting average (.222) and on-base percentage (.282) are LAUGHABLY bad. However, Bobby Jenks was also once a prospect who seemingly loved the nightlife a bit too much and let it get in the way of augmenting his game. Ozzie helped straighten him out, if Anderson has got his ego in check…Perhaps now he’s matured and is ready to focus on developing his natural talent into making himself a true Major League hitter?

SM: Now onto the player who most resembles my exchange partner, Chris Getz, who could end up on the DL.  Can this kid catch a break (pardon the pun) or what?  He broke his wrist last season, hurt his hand early in the season, and now a broken finger.  He was handling lead-off duties well, hitting .340 with 3 SB and a .404 OBP., second best on the team.  Ozzie said Sunday that Gordon Beckham will not be called up in 2009 leaving Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix as the only viable alternatives.  Who do you think will man 2nd base and the lead-off spot?  Huge swallow…from a speed and statistical perspective, Brian Anderson is currently the best candidate.

(PMB) I’d love to get a Getz jersey t-shirt, but I’m hoping that he can stay off the DL long enough to get them from production to market. Ozzie raves about his potential- especially as a leadoff hitter. He’s certainly paid his dues, perhaps karma is about to bring him some well-deserved and better fortune. Nix’s injury was equally unfortunate and set him way back in the second-sacker race. Perhaps we can move Alexei back to this spot and bring back Orlando Cabrera? It took him awhile to get signed in the off-season…(J/K LOL!) Obviously, we’ll see pigs fly first.

If we could just build a Lillibridge to the portion of the season with a healthier roster and better depth, By that I mean, just tread water with Brent leading off until we have options again, I think it’s our best scenario. BA as the best plann?!?! You just scared the beJesus out of me as well as baseball fans from the South Loop to Tinley Park with that statement.



(SM) Alright lets close this week out with a piece growing in popularity Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly.  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…


Lance Broadway will solidify the innings eater void in the bullpen.

(SM)  Mirage, “Jazz Hands” was 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA (10 ER/16.0 IP) and 15 strikeouts in three starts with Charlotte this season.  Two words:  Aaron Poreda.

(PMB) Mirage. I can’t think of any pitcher named like the lead in a cheesy elaborate big-budget musical who’s ever been good. He’s a bust like Joe Borchard.

Ken Griffey Jr. will hurt the White Sox in his return to Chicago this week.

(SM) Maybe.  Despite hitting just .192, Thomas and Crede homered in their return to the Cell.  Cue the Soul Glow music.

(PMB) Mirage. Jr. back in Seattle is like Willie Mays as a New York Met or The Babe as a Boston Brave: a way-past-their-prime legend returns to the city he started in to finish his career

Paul Konerko is back.

(SM):  Maybe.  A .537 slugging percentage and 13 RBIs in 12 games.  The Paulie wall is once again lit in the Sox Cave.

(PMB) Yes. What’s this? I’m just as optimistic if not more than SM this week! Usually I’m cynical.

Carlos Quentin is hiding an injury

(SM): Mirage.  2 hits in 11 at bats?  Bah.  He learned the damage bats can do. Now someone tell him about fastballs!

(PMB) Mirage. He had 7 HRs in like 10 days, He’s just coming down to Earth after an off-the-charts beginning.

John Danks is the Best Pitcher on the White Sox.

(SM): Maybe. 2-0, and a 0.95 ERA, second best in the AL.  I’m officially on the Danks bandwagon.

(PMB) Agreed. He’s developing into a star, which is especially great because Jack Egbert (6.43 ERA, 1.57 WHIP in AAA ball) and Jeff Marquez (0-3, 13.06 ERA for the Charlotte Knights) don’t seem to be!

Spring Training Sox Exchange

By Paul M. Banks and Soxman

(PMB) Last weekend included St. Valentine’s Day, a time of year that more women than men look forward to quite frankly. But once it’s over, Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training, which is to most guys what chocolate, jewelry and flowers are to women.  Speaking of love, I consulted Soxman, the person who loves the White Sox more than any other individual on this Earth about what occurred in the offices on 35th and Shields this winter. You might recognize Soxman from, well pretty much anywhere local media may roam. We began this exchange by discussing the biggest move of the offseason, the Javier Vazquez trade:

(SM) After his miserable play-off performance, almost every Sox fan would agree that Javy wore out his welcome on the Southside, The trade was crucial in rebuilding our anemic farm system as it yielded two of the top 20 prospects overall in the Braves system.

2B/SS Brent Lillibridge is the player to watch in 2009.  He’s expected to battle Chris Getz and Jason Nix for the starting job at second base.  Kenny Williams believes he’s capable of stealing 40 bases if he gets 500 Abs.

Tyler Flowers could develop into the Sox next big slugger and 3B prospect Jon Gilmore has drawn comparisons to Scott Rolen.

(PMB) The Southside Dark Knight also opined on the signings of the so-called “Cuban Babe Ruth” Dayan Viciciedo and Bartolo Colon.

(SM) Sox fans should not expect Viciedo to immediately perform like Alexei as he’s only 19. There’s a ton to be excited about however.  He slugged over .500 in two of the past three seasons in Cuba and was an All-Star in Cuba’s top league at age 16.   Colon is exactly the type of pitcher I expected Williams to sign.  The once awesome, now aging pitcher plagued by injuries trying to revive his career…at an ultra cheap price.  In limited action with the Red Sox last season, he looked very good.

(PMB) In the case of Bobby Abreu and Jermaine Dye, we spent weeks listening about trade deals and prospective signings only to see no moves made. It kind of felt being stood up on a date. So what does the love interest of female Sox fans everywhere think of the non-deals- the trades that didn’t happen.

(SM) I was surprised the Sox did not go after Orlando Hudson as he still has not signed with a team, Soxman saidI think that the deals Kenny was interested in just didn’t materialize. With the economy it is pretty much a buyers market right now. I think Kenny will see how the 2-3 position battles pan out and if any bargains fall his way, he’ll pounce.

(PMB) Last week Baseball Prospectus predicted the Chicago White Sox to win just 74 games and finish dead last in the AL Central. Although the formulae and prognostications of these sabermetrician geeks sounds bleak, we must remember that almost no one predicted the Sox to win the AL Central last season. In the World Series year of 2005, most people predicted the pale hose to finish third! Also, lots of people forecasted the Sox to win the division in ’06 and ’07, yet they controlled the division for just 36 combined days in those two seasons. In summation, it’s all wide open

One guy with White Sox knowledge second place to no one is Soxman who sprang into action with his take on the Sox spring prospectus.

(SM) There are a ton of question marks going into 2009 that should make for an exciting spring. I can’t remember a time where there were so many position battles.

CF will be fun to watch, where Jerry Owens is expected to battle Brian Anderson.  The early favorite to win the job is Owens as we also expect him to assume lead-off duties.  However, Getz and Lillibridge could also factor in as Ozzie claims that speed alone does not entitle Owens to bat atop the lineup.

3B is Josh Fields to lose, but if he does, Wilson Betemit could slip right in.  The Cuban Babe Ruth, Dayan Viciedo may need some minor league seasoning before being considered a serious threat to assume full-time 3B duties.

There is also a back-up catcher position open and 1-2 spots in the bullpen.

If that’s not enough, it will be interesting to see how Alexei Ramirez handles fulltime SS duties, how healthy Bartolo Colon is, and how well Scott Linebrink’s shoulder has healed.

Soxman sees the White Sox lineup shaking up this way:

The everyday line-up will truly reveal itself during the final days of spring training, I’m really hoping that Ozzie does not decide to hit Thome, Konerko, and AJ back-to-back.”

This is the projected line-up as of today:

Owens- CF
Ramirez- SS
Quentin- LF
Thome- DH
Dye- RF
Konerko- 1B
AJ-C
Fields- 3B
Getz/Lillibridge- 2B

(PMB) With the Cuban Missile Alexi Ramirez moving over to shortstop, second base will be see a wide-open and heated competition for playing time.

(SM) It’ll be a wide-open between battle Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, and Brent Lillibridge.  All three players combined have 61 games of MLB experience and just 143 Abs.  While none of the candidates are proven, this is one of two open positions where the Sox should get a speed boost.  While Getz has the early edge, this is truly anyone’s job to win.

(PMB) Another issue on all the minds of Sox Nation is the battle for the fifth starter. Although Jose Contreras is now supposed to be way ahead of schedule, the Sox will still need major innings from one of the prospects such as Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard or the man with the most alternative lifestyle sounding name in White Sox history, Lance Broadway.

(SM) After his heroic performance in September, Clayton Richard is the early favorite to win the 5th spot but will likely be challenged by Aaron Poreda and Jeff Marquez.  Broadway will likely battle the losers of the rotation competition for the long relief spot in the bullpen.  Poreda likely has the most long-term upside, but is likely to start the season in AAA.

Editor’s note: a version of this story ran on NBC 5’s webpage, that you can read here and here.