White Sox promote Phegley, Tekotte
Catching prospect figures to see bulk of playing time behind dish
CHICAGO -- Josh Phegley was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to the White Sox prior to Friday's road series opener against the Rays, along with outfielder Blake Tekotte. Hector Gimenez was designated for assignment.
A 25-year-old catcher, Phegley is ranked as the White Sox No. 15 prospect by MLB.com. The sandwich pick and 38th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft has been the most successful Minor Leaguer from the organization this season. Phegley did not play Thursday night for Charlotte, but carries a .316 average with 15 homers, 18 doubles and 41 RBIs into his Major League debut.
There has been plenty of outside cry for Phegley to get the promotion to help a struggling offense. The higher-ups in the organization have applauded how Tyler Flowers has handled the team's pitching staff, the top priority for any White Sox backstop, but also know that Phegley is capable of making the jump.
"In terms of his performance, it has been outstanding," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com during a late May interview. "He's been one of the best hitters in the International League thus far and he's done a nice job handling the staff."
Phegley has come a long way since playing just 48 games during the 2010 season while battling an illness called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). According to WebMd.com, ITP is a "rare autoimmune bleeding disorder characterized by the abnormally low levels of certain blood cells called platelets."
Platelets help prevent and stop bleeding by inducing clotting, which made collisions or even taking a foul tip dangerous for Phegley when his platelet count was low. The removal of his spleen eventually helped correct the issue, and Phegley played 116 games in 2011 and 102 in 2012.
"He's now able to fully convert on that potential without having to worry about any of the health issues or the side effects from any of the treatments," Hahn said. "It's nice to see, on a personal standpoint, a player who had to fight through some difficult things to achieve at this level."
In a strong Spring Training showing before being sent to Charlotte, the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Phegley flexed his muscles with three doubles and one homer in 25 at-bats.
"You got to pay your dues," the Indiana native said during an interview in Arizona. "This is my fourth camp, and I think it's getting closer to time for me to make an impact on the big league club."
As a fast-rising prospect, Phegley doesn't figure to join the White Sox and play sporadically. Gordon Beckham was called up to the White Sox in 2009 and became the team's starting third baseman. Phegley's arrival could lead to Flowers moving to more of a backup role. Flowers is hitting .208 with eight homers and 22 RBIs.
Tekotte, who was acquired from San Diego on Nov. 7, 2012, in exchange for pitcher Brandon Kloess, hit .249 with 26 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 26 RBIs and 10 steals in 58 games for Charlotte. He played in three games, starting one, during his first callup to the Sox back in April.