White Sox Call Ups: Marcus Semien and Erik Johnson

Marcus Semien

Marcus Semien has been promoted to the major leagues as a September call up, and he is one of the more interesting prospects I have been following this season. I own Semien in a dynasty league and although I am out of contention, I am eager to see what he can do against major league pitching in the next months’ worth of play.

If Semien is going to play every day, I like him as a late season middle infield option for teams struggling in that area. This season between double and triple-A, Semien has hit 19 home runs and stolen 24 bases in 29 opportunities. Semien also produces a very solid approach at the plate, which is one of the big reasons that I like his chances to sustain solid production at the major league level. In 483 double-A plate appearances he had a 17.4% walk rate and a 13.7% strikeout rate, showing that he was clearly far ahead of the pitchers at this level.

Semien has good size and athleticism on top of the solid approach, which has me even more confident that he can be a regular in the majors. His ISO numbers are not incredible in the minors, but for a middle infielder he packs an interesting combination of power and speed.

Erik Johnson

The 2011 second rounder has been called up and will likely start Wednesday against the Yankees although it has not been announced. Scouting reports peg Johnson with a mid-90’s fastball, a solid slider, and a changeup which essentially works as a show pitch. It should also be noted that Johnson is a big boy, standing 6”3 at 235 lbs.

His results since returning from an early 2012 injury have been incredible across every level. He has stacked impressive strikeout numbers on top of solid walk numbers and exceedingly low ERA’s. In 10 starts at triple-A, Johnson had a 1.57 ERA and 2.59 FIP. He has never posted an ERA higher than 2.74 at any level he has thrown at, aside from his two inning stint in rookie ball the year he was drafted.

Johnson has the stuff to be a solid middle of the rotation starter with the potential to maybe be a number two at some point. I really like him in long term leagues and I am intrigued by him in leagues this season as well. I would be worried to start him in Yankee Stadium this week but I am certainly looking at picking him up in leagues in which it would be advantageous for me to do so.

Both Johnson and Semien do the things you want to see young prospects do at the minors. They do not rely on any one specific attribute to contribute to their success and both have performed very well at a number of different levels. If you are in need of production at shortstop or starting pitcher, these are two guys to keep an eye on.

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Ben Duronio writes for Capitol Avenue Club, FanGraphs, and does the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Follow Ben on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

5 Responses to “White Sox Call Ups: Marcus Semien and Erik Johnson”

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  1. KB says:

    Johnson is in line to start vs. NYY as mentioned, then DET, then CLE, then DET again. (assuming he remains in the rotation). He would have to look phenomenal tomorrow night to start him in any of those upcoming matchups.

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    • Cliff says:

      Actually, given that the Sox could easily go with a 6-man rotation, he would line up to start against the Yankees, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, and Royals. Only the tigers are really scary out of those teams.

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  2. Scotttttttt says:

    For Semien, playing time might be an issue with Leury Garcia also recently being called up. He is intriguing though.

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  3. Buford says:

    This segment of an MiLB article on Johnson indicates that his changeup is not just a show pitch:

    “Johnson’s revamped mechanics added sink to a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and improved an already sharp slider. When he improved his changeup during the instructional league last fall, hitters were really at a disadvantage.”

    “It’s been another weapon for me,” the 23-year-old California native said. “I’ve been able to throw multiple pitches for strikes.”

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  4. max says:

    i want to see Micah Johnson

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