After a pretty successful 2005 season with AA Birmingham-he posted a .799 OPS that year-Owens’ production began to decline. He struggled to consistently hit the ball with authority, and in 2008, he picked up just 12 extra-base hits in 351 at-bats with AAA Charlotte, good for a .316 slugging percentage.
The promotion to Birmingham coincided with what appears to be some BABIP luck, as the soon-to-be 24-year-old Leesman’s opponent BABIP sat at .266 with the Barons. That BABIP-along with his 1 percent HR/fly ball rate-should be expected to regress in 2011, so unless he make some improvements as a pitcher, his results won’t be as good as they were in Birmingham. That being said, he’s one of the more intriguing pitchers of this group (given that he at least has a sliver of upside), so if the Sox were to take a chance with him for some April starts I’d personally be more interested than any of the other options.
When Thome left to go to the rival Twins prior to the 2010 season, General Manager Kenny Williams and Manager Ozzie Guillen decided to use the designated hitter slot as a way to get bench players at bats. Many different players hit in the designated hitter slot for Guillen last season but without the power production they were used to.
Simply put, Harrell doesn’t strike out enough opponents while walking too many. He appeared in eight games-three starts-with the 2010 White Sox and hardly looked impressive in those 24 innings, walking 17 and striking out 15. Like Humber, Harrell has been mediocre in triple-A, posting FIPs of 4.34 and 4.46 in 2009 and 2010 with Charlotte. Harrell doesn’t have much-if any-edge over Humber, and that’s not saying a whole lot.
He’s not on the 40-man roster, but Leesman was one of 14 non-roster invitees to spring training. He’s an organizational favorite-also the best pitching prospect in the organization not named sale jerseys, but that’s also not saying much-who posted a nice 3.05 FIP with double-A Birmingham in 2010. Unfortunately, that success has a red flag. Leesman actually had worse results with single-A Winston-Salem before being bumped to Birmingham last season, posting a 5.37 FIP for the Dash in 84.2 innings.
The White Sox took a flier on Humber this offseason, but don’t expect him to be another Don Cooper reclamation success. The 28-year-old right-hander has been nothing but mediocre in the minor leagues from 2007-2010, posting FIPs of 4.58, 4.86, 4.70, and 4.37 across stops with the Mets, Twins and Royals’ triple-A teams. In 51.1 major-league innings, Humber has a 5.05 FIP as well. But, given the competition, Humber may end up being the best option for the Sox come April 1.
Yet even before Rodriguez had his first at-bat to lead off the second, the Yankees were already down by 3-0. It got to 7-0 after just three innings, as Andy Pettitte — another icon of the steroid era — was chased out after getting only eight outs.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, none of these players jumps out as an enticing option to pick up Peavy’s early-season starts. But as long as Peavy doesn’t miss too big a portion of the early part of the season, a few starts from Harrell, Humber, Nunez, etc. probably won’t seriously hurt the team’s chances at making it back to the playoffs.