Phegley forces way into big leagues with performance

Phegley forces way into big leagues with performance

ST. PETERSBURG -- The promotion of Josh Phegley from Triple-A Charlotte into the White Sox starting lineup Friday does not stand as a direct indictment of Tyler Flowers' play behind the plate over the first three months of the 2013 regular season.

It's more about the 25-year-old Phegley, ranked as the club's No. 15 prospect by, forcing the action with his performance for the Knights and earning his first big league opportunity.

"Yeah, I think that's fair," White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell said. "Two young catchers potentially can be pretty good. It will be interesting to see how it works out."

"He's here to play," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Phegley. "He's earned the right to come up, and that's part of playing well in Triple-A."

Phegley received the good news sometime around 5 p.m. ET on Thursday upon wading through a torrential downpour and reaching the visitors' clubhouse for a game against Gwinnett. Many from the White Sox fan base were pleased with the movement involving Phegley, while others wondered why he wasn't called up earlier.

His Charlotte average stands at a robust .316 with 15 homers, 18 doubles and 41 RBIs. Phegley also is highly confident in his defense and ability to call games, hitting the ground running Friday at Tropicana Field and catching former teammate Dylan Axelrod.

"This has hit me quick. You know, just on the bus ride to Atlanta and then all of the sudden show up at the clubhouse and get called up," Phegley said. "Having to fly over here and trying to get everything situated. It's exciting. I don't think the brunt of it will really hit me until I get in the box or behind the plate. I'm just trying to stay calm. It's the same game, so I'll go out and play hard."

"He puts the ball in play, has good at-bats," said Ventura of Phegley's top attributes. "He was much improved [during Spring Training] from the year before, catching-wise. That's another aspect he's improved on and earned him this promotion."

That promotion means Flowers' starting experience has come to a temporary close, with Flowers moving into a reserve role after Hector Gimenez was designated for assignment to make room for Phegley. Don't look for Flowers to play much at first base or designated hitter to pick up extra at-bats, although Flowers said that he's willing to do whatever needed to get him on the field.

The White Sox could look to trade Flowers, but as of Friday, he was saying all the right things concerning his new work with Phegley.

"I'm happy for him. It makes me think about the first time I came up. I know he's probably really excited," said Flowers, who earned praise from Bell for his game-calling but still is hitting .208 with eight homers and 22 RBIs. "I'm going to try and help him as much as I can, just like Hector and I tried to work together. I'm going to do the same with him. We'll see what happens."

"When I came in to my first big league camp, he was there and helped me along every Spring Training," said Phegley of Flowers. "He has already come up to me and said, 'Anything you need, I'll help you out.' I really appreciate that."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.