8/31/2013 7:43 P.M. ET
Time is now for prospect Mitchell to figure it out
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The regular-season schedule for full-season Minor League teams comes to a close Monday, and some of the White Sox top prospects apparently have work to do for 2014 and beyond based on their '13 statistics.
Courtney Hawkins, rated No. 1 among White Sox Minor Leaguers per MLB.com's rankings, has 19 homers and 62 RBIs for Class A Winston-Salem, but he also has 156 strikeouts in 373 at-bats and a .177 average. Keenyn Walker, another top talent who could be part of the White Sox future outfield, swiped 38 bases for Double-A Birmingham but also hit .204 with 148 strikeouts over 451 at-bats.
Part of these struggles simply fall under the development and growing pains category, with Hawkins in his first full Minor League season and Walker, No. 10 among the club's prospects according to MLB.com, in his second. For a more experienced Minor Leaguer such as Jared Mitchell, the time is now to produce.
Following an outstanding Spring Training showing, there was some talk that Mitchell might be able to help the White Sox later in the season. Instead, he struggled through a .132 performance over 53 at-bats with Triple-A Charlotte and was moved to Double-A Birmingham.
Mitchell, the team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, has a combined .166 average with five homers, 23 RBIs and 119 strikeouts in 290 at-bats.
"Mitch just has to figure out a consistent approach," said White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell of the left-handed-hitting, powerfully-built outfielder. "He changes way too much. He changes on his own, which is fine. We like that in a way.
"But a lot of these kids that are so athletic, they just kind of think that it's, they don't have to deal with the mechanics of things. This game is way too fast to really believe you can do it that way."
A torn ankle ligament cost Mitchell the entire 2010 season and really set him back two years. He also battled an oblique injury this season but hasn't progressed as expected.
"I love Mitch and I think he's going to be good," said Bell, including Mitchell on the list of prospects who have to "pick it up."
"You want to be patient, but there comes a time when you have to say, 'OK, now is the time.' For him, I think that's kind of where we are at right now," Bell said. "Mitch has got to figure it out."
Cooper frustrated by Santiago's wildness
BOSTON -- Don Cooper does not like walks.
The White Sox pitching coach made that point abundantly clear during a colorful pregame interview Saturday at Fenway Park. Extend that particular concept out a bit, and he certainly was not satisfied with Hector Santiago's five walks over 3 2/3 innings in Friday's loss to Boston. That frustration manifested itself in Cooper slamming the dugout phone to the bullpen during one of Santiago's wilder moments.
"That's not a good game. That's a messy game," Cooper said. "That wouldn't work in [Class] A ball. It's not going to work against any good team in the big leagues.
"Unacceptable. Not good. I expect to get better, not do that. You know, heck man, we gave the other team too many opportunities. Good pitchers only give you one shot at them. Every inning last night was a problem.
"It's making me think that maybe he's hitting a little bit of a wall physically and we are going to have to come up with something," Cooper said. "I expect guys to be able to get up on Christmas Eve and throw the [ball] over the plate, and make them swing the bat."
Cooper's criticism was not limited to his starting pitcher. Although he didn't mention the White Sox shortstop by name, Cooper didn't like Alexei Ramirez swinging at Ryan Dempster's first pitch and grounding into a double play after Dempster walked Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham to start the game.
"Some of the stuff that is showing up in games, it's just we got to eliminate it," Cooper said. "We cannot give teams runs. We aren't that good. We gave them runs because our pitcher was unable to throw consistent strikes."
Santiago surpassed his single-season high for professional innings with his work Friday night, and there has been talk that he could be shut down or skip a start as September progresses. In a less fired-up portion of Saturday's interview, Cooper rightfully praised Santiago for a great first season as primarily part of the starting rotation.
And the criticism he presented to the media also was told directly to Santiago, who ranks 39th in the American League with 4.13 pitches per batter. He has the tools to be a frontline starter, but as Cooper bluntly explained, he needs the control to go with it.
"Let me tell you something. Good arm tools, the roadsides are strewn in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the United States of guys that had good arms that couldn't throw it over," Cooper said. "He's a Major league pitcher. He's trying to be a starting Major League pitcher which is in charge of 120 [pitches].
"There have been many games where he has done well. Last night might have been [his] worst I can remember. That's painful to watch."
Lindstrom feeling strong despite heavy workload
BOSTON -- Any day off is a brief but necessary spot of rejuvenation for relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom, who entered Saturday tied with Joel Peralta for the American League lead in games pitched at 66.
Despite the heavy workload, Lindstrom reports no issues.
"I'm feeling really good," Lindstrom said. "My body is handling it pretty good this year. I just hope to keep getting better and make a final push through this last month of September and try to help the team win.
"I know that sounds cliché, but we have a really good bullpen and a really good group of guys down there. We are going to continue to learn and try to get better."
The White Sox purposely stayed away from Lindstrom during the second game of the Astros series, after the right-hander worked on Aug. 21, 22, 24 and 25 and pitched two innings on Aug. 18. Lindstrom had a team off-day Thursday and came back to throw a scoreless frame Friday at Fenway Park, one of 13 scoreless frames in 14 August appearances.
Along with the games pitched, Lindstrom sits atop the AL in double plays induced by relievers. In fact, Lindstrom's 15 leave him tied with Chris Sale for the team lead, even though Sale has thrown 126 more innings.
"Some years, you just have stupid weird stats like that," Lindstrom said. "I just incorporated a two-seam fastball. The movement on it has been good and I just to try not to throw it down the middle, but use good action on it and pound the zone with it.
"That's the key to it. I just consider it a benefit for me just trying to get those quick outs and hopefully we can flip the inning and create some momentum for our hitters and they can get going on the offensive side as opposed to being out there forever."
Leesman, Anderson to join club on Sunday
BOSTON -- Left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman and catcher Bryan Anderson will be called up from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday when rosters expand, per manager Robin Ventura's comments Saturday.
Anderson, 26, has 25 games of big league experience with the Cardinals and will serve as the team's third catcher behind Josh Phegley and Tyler Flowers. Leesman made a spot start on Aug. 9 for the White Sox and could get another start in September, but he will work in the bullpen.
"If we can find some room for him to work [in the bullpen], that's probably where it's going to happen first before he becomes a starter," said Ventura of Leesman, who will work as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. "But I'm not going to just say he's a reliever."
Ventura expects there to be more callups when the team is in New York starting Monday.
Third to first
• Avisail Garcia is hitting .360 in 20 games with the White Sox and is 9-for-17 in his last four entering Saturday's contest. Garcia has a .403 average in 16 games since Aug. 13, marking the fourth-highest average in the AL during that time.
• Tyler Danish, the club's second-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, has a combined 1-0 mark with a 1.20 ERA and a .162 average against in 15 games (one start) between Class A Kannapolis and Advanced Rookie Great Falls. The 18-year-old has thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings over his last seven games between the two stops.