Bell: Poreda could be in Majors in '09
Pitcher has slight edge over Beckham among prospects
CHICAGO -- Buddy Bell understands how his primary job responsibilities fall upon White Sox Minor League players and the ensuing decisions to be made with his title of director of player development.
He made that point clear during a Monday conference call to talk about coaching changes within the system, pointing out how decisions for the big league team come from general manager Ken Williams, assistant general manager Rick Hahn and manager Ozzie Guillen. Nonetheless, this highly-respected baseball mind took the time to tout one top White Sox prospect, who could be close to Major League-ready for the 2009 campaign.
That prospect would be pitcher Aaron Poreda. The team's top pick from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft rates a current big league edge in regard to preparedness over infielder Gordon Beckham, the team's top pick from the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
"Poreda is further along than Beckham for the big leagues, there's no doubt about that," Bell said. "Poreda has a real good chance to be in the big leagues at some point next year."
The 6-foot-6 left-hander, who turned 22 on Oct. 1, finished a combined 2008 season at Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham with an 8-9 record and 3.13 ERA over 27 total starts. He fanned 118, walked 40 and yielded just 148 hits over 161 innings.
While pitching for the Peoria Saguaros during Arizona Fall League action, Poreda has made seven scoreless relief appearances and has struck out 11 in seven innings. Working in the rotation as the team's fifth starter or out of the bullpen as a second lefty-hander appear as Spring Training possibilities for Poreda at the next level, depending on how his secondary stuff develops, or he could make an impact later in the season.
"It's not quite as good as it's going to be," said Bell of Poreda's secondary pitches, falling behind his high-octane fastball. "But with the coaching situation involving [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] and Ozzie's patience with young guys, he could develop those secondary pitches in the big leagues.
"At the very worst, he has a chance to make the bullpen. He just has a great arm."
Beckham, 22, has posted a .278 average while working at third base, shortstop and second base during AFL competition. Bell believes that Beckham eventually will be an impact player on offense, but that this defensive versatility could make him a utility player for the White Sox before he becomes an everyday starter.
Bell also took time to praise outfielder Jordan Danks, 22, who is hitting .563 over 16 AFL at-bats, since replacing an injured Stefan Gartrell. Bell sees the same competitive fire in Jordan as shown by his older brother John Danks, one of the American League's top young hurlers.
"We should all be exited about Jordan Danks because he's a really good looking player," said Bell of the team's seventh-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, who batted .325 in 10 games played for Class A Kannapolis. "He's a terrific outfielder, with a good arm, speed and very athletic. He might be the best [defensive outfielder in our system]. He's still got that all-or-nothing type of swing, but he goes out there and gets after it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.