Time is now for prospect Mitchell to figure it out

Time is now for prospect Mitchell to figure it out

BOSTON -- The regular-season schedule for full-season Minor League teams comes to a close Monday, and some of the White Sox top prospects apparently have work to do for 2014 and beyond based on their '13 statistics.

Courtney Hawkins, rated No. 1 among White Sox Minor Leaguers per MLB.com's rankings, has 19 homers and 62 RBIs for Class A Winston-Salem, but he also has 156 strikeouts in 373 at-bats and a .177 average. Keenyn Walker, another top talent who could be part of the White Sox future outfield, swiped 38 bases for Double-A Birmingham but also hit .204 with 148 strikeouts over 451 at-bats.

Part of these struggles simply fall under the development and growing pains category, with Hawkins in his first full Minor League season and Walker, No. 10 among the club's prospects according to MLB.com, in his second. For a more experienced Minor Leaguer such as Jared Mitchell, the time is now to produce.

Following an outstanding Spring Training showing, there was some talk that Mitchell might be able to help the White Sox later in the season. Instead, he struggled through a .132 performance over 53 at-bats with Triple-A Charlotte and was moved to Double-A Birmingham.

Mitchell, the team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, has a combined .166 average with five homers, 23 RBIs and 119 strikeouts in 290 at-bats.

"Mitch just has to figure out a consistent approach," said White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell of the left-handed-hitting, powerfully-built outfielder. "He changes way too much. He changes on his own, which is fine. We like that in a way.

"But a lot of these kids that are so athletic, they just kind of think that it's, they don't have to deal with the mechanics of things. This game is way too fast to really believe you can do it that way."

A torn ankle ligament cost Mitchell the entire 2010 season and really set him back two years. He also battled an oblique injury this season but hasn't progressed as expected.

"I love Mitch and I think he's going to be good," said Bell, including Mitchell on the list of prospects who have to "pick it up."

"You want to be patient, but there comes a time when you have to say, 'OK, now is the time.' For him, I think that's kind of where we are at right now," Bell said. "Mitch has got to figure it out."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.