CHICAGO -- Some of the White Sox outfield of the future figures to be on display during Spring Training 2012, with Monday's announcement that Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson, Jordan Danks and Brandon Short were among the 18 players receiving non-roster invites.
Mitchell, the White Sox top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, looks to bounce back into top form two years removed from a season-ending Spring Training injury. The 23-year-old tore the tendon on the inside of his left ankle as a defensive replacement in a Cactus League game at Diablo Stadium. He returned after the 2010 injury-induced absence to hit .222 with nine homers, 58 RBIs and 183 strikeouts in 477 at-bats for Class A Winston-Salem in 2011. But Mitchell has not lost his confidence to be an everyday player at the Major League level.
Thompson, 20, is the son of one-time NBA center Mychal Thompson and the brother of current NBA players Klay (Golden State Warriors) and Mychel (Cleveland Cavaliers). The 6-foot-3, 195-pound second-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft topped Class A Kannapolis with 95 runs scored, 24 homers and 60 walks. He was named to the South Atlantic League midseason All-Star Team and finished with a .241 average, 87 RBIs and 172 strikeouts last year.
During a recent interview with MILB.com, Thompson spoke of how good he actually can be, and explaining what he learned from watching Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. as a child.
"This [past] year, I'm not going to call it a failure because I got a lot of experience, but I expect a lot more out of myself," Thompson said. "I try to be as much of a complete hitter as I can be.
"Growing up in the Northwest, watching A-Rod and Griffey come up -- I mean, Griffey was my guy; I always wanted to be Griffey -- I realized every hitter has his own identity. As far as a guy I try to emulate, Matt Kemp is a guy who does it all: hit for average, hit for power, hit for extra bases, he steals bases. That's what I feel like I can bring to the table."
Danks, 25, is considered the best defensive outfielder in the White Sox organization at any level, including the big leagues. The younger brother of staff ace John Danks, he hit .257 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs for Triple-A Charlotte last season, but fanned 155 times in 463 at-bats.
These four were among the 10 players getting a non-roster invite from within the White Sox system. Also on that list are right-handed pitchers Brian Omogrosso and Jacob Petricka, catchers Michael Blanke and Josh Phegley and infielders Jim Gallagher and Tyler Kuhn. Gallagher also can play the outfield.
Kuhn, 25, combined to hit .333 with 32 doubles, 11 triples and 70 runs scored over 130 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2011. He topped all White Sox Minor Leaguers in hits and triples and ranked second in average.
Right-handed pitcher Brian Bruney, left-handers Leyson Septimo and Eric Stults, catchers Damaso Espino and Hector Gimenez, infielders Dallas McPherson and Ray Olmedo and outfielder Delwyn Young agreed to Minor League contracts with the White Sox and were given non-roster Spring Training invites. Bruney posted a 6.86 ERA over 23 games for the White Sox in 2011, while Stults has an 8-10 career record with the Dodgers and Rockies, including a 2008 shutout of the White Sox.
White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Thursday, Feb. 23, with physicals and a workout scheduled for the same day. Position players will report and undergo physicals on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The first full-squad workout also will take place on that day.
Assuming the White Sox take 12 pitchers and make no further moves, one relief spot and four bench spots appear to be available. Brent Lillibridge and Tyler Flowers are certain to make the team, with Ozzie Martinez and Eduardo Escobar competing for the utility infield slot. Danks, Young, Gallagher, Bruney and Stults all have chances to compete for these final two openings.