If Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn cannot re-sign A.J. Pierzynski, he may be forced to look within the organization for a replacement. While Tyler Flowers, Pierzynski’s backup the past two seasons, stands to inherit the position, he is not the only choice the White Sox have.
See, Josh Phegley is making a name for himself.
Just ask White Sox vice president/assistant general manager Buddy Bell.
Bell told Chris Rongey (Phegley audio after the 47:00 mark) during an interview Saturday on WSCR 670’s “White Sox Weekly” that Phegley has the tools “to be a No. 1 catcher in the big leagues.”
Now, Phegley is anything but a can’t-miss prospect, but he has a fairly complete game.
From an offensive standpoint, his numbers are a mixed bag but are better than what Flowers put up at Triple-A.
In 120 games for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights last season, Phegley only hit .266 with six home runs, but he stroked 22 doubles and drove in 48 runs. Most impressively, he is a gap hitter who has the ability to drive in runs without the long ball.
To put those numbers in perspective, Flowers hit .261 with 15 home runs but only had eight doubles and 32 RBI during his last full season for the Knights.
On the defensive side, Phegley is solid. He won the Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his work behind the plate with the Knights and threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers last year.
Again, his performance at Triple-A trumps what Flowers was able to accomplish his final season.
During his interview with Rongey, Bell noted that Phegley can be a “bull in a china shop” because he is so aggressive but that he is making progress. All told, Phegley's body of work led to a nod on the International League Mid-Season All-Star team.
To be fair, this may all be a bit premature.
Nothing has been decided yet on the future of Pierzynski, and the White Sox would be wise to do everything they can to bring him back. After all, he may be the key for a run at the AL Central next year. He is that important.
If Pierzynski does sign elsewhere, however, and Hahn does not bring another catcher in, there is no reason Phegley can't become the No. 1 catcher during spring training.
Just look at the competition.