The White Sox still don’t know exactly what they have in Marcus Semien, but they’re moving a little closer to finding out with the decision to promote him from Double-A to Triple-A on Thursday.
Semien, a 2011 sixth-round pick, busted out in the second half of last season after an uninspiring first year as a pro. This season, he had hit .290/.420/.483 with 15 homers, 20 steals in 393 at-bats at-bats in Double-A.
What’s most impressive is the evolution of his strikeout to walk ratio:
2011: 53/22 K/BB in 229 AB
2012: 97/55 K/BB in 418 AB
2013: 66/84 K/BB in 393 AB
Semien, who was projected as a utilityman at the beginning of the season, has appeared in 47 games at short, 41 games at second and 17 at third this year. The White Sox have to decide whether they want to keep rotating him or to hand him a full-time position now that he looks more like a future regular. Gordon Beckham’s impressive rebound could leave the White Sox set at second base for a while longer, and Alexei Ramirez, though a trade candidate just 24 hours ago, is signed to play shortstop through 2015.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.