It seems like a foregone conclusion now. Micah Johnson had a hot spring and appears like he won the battle for second base, beating out Gordon Beckham, Emilio Bonafacio, and Carlos Sanchez. Johnson, age 24, put up a solid 321/368/453 (821) slash line over 21 games during spring training.To match his impressive spring, Johnson has an impressive minor league track record (297/366/422 ). Let us not forget that coming into 2015 Johnson was the #4 White Sox prospect.
Johnson has the good pedigree, or so it seems, so was this the right choice?
I do not.
I think Johnson in the future may be a very good player. But I’ll be the first to tell you that spring training numbers don’t really mean anything. As mentioned above, Johnson has had a solid minor league record. However in 2014 Johnson did struggle after he was promoted to AAA.
- 2014 AA stats: 37 games / 329/414/466 (880) / 151 wRC+
- 2014 AAA stats: 65 games / 275/314/370 (684) / 87 wRC+
Johnson struggled in AAA, and it goes without saying that the majors are tougher than AAA. Micah Johnson should most definitely start the season in AAA and learn to adjust and get better. I fear throwing him into the fire that is the majors is only going to destroy his confidence and could potentially end his career.
Like Micah Johnson, Carlos Sanchez has had success at every minor league level. Sanchez, however, has been able to adjust and comeback better whenever he’s struggled. Sanchez struggled at first in low A, but adjusted and had a solid year in high A. Johnson struggled once he got to AAA, but eventually got it together after two seasons. In his short tenure in Chicago Sanchez struggled posting a 250/269/300 (569) with a 54 wRC+. So why should Sanchez be fed to the wolves instead of Johnson?
Firstly Sanchez has nothing left to prove in the minors, its time to show if he is going to be a piece going forward. I do not know the plan for Alexei Ramirez after this season, whether the Sox are going to re-sign him or not. If Sanchez proves he can handle the majors at the plate he can be moved to short to replace Ramirez if the Sox don’t wish to bring him back. Sanchez had a 5.08 range factor in 64 innings of shortstop in AAA last year.
Bonafacio makes a good platoon partner, but not a starter. Gordon Beckham has been a bust in Chicago. Its Sanchez’s time. I get that its fun to have one of your top prospects come up and play, but you have to be smart about it. Let Johnson get some work in at AAA and try to adjust. It isn’t smart to risk our best positional prospect to being over-matched and busting. Let Sanchez have his trail in the major league while potentially being groomed to be moved to short.