CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson was known as a prospect on the rise within the White Sox organization prior to his breakout 2013 campaign.
Now, the ninth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft will have his skills challenged even more with a move to Double-A Birmingham for the end of the current campaign and an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Johnson, 22, joins fellow infielder Marcus Semien and pitchers Charlie Leesman, Chris Bassitt, Kevin Vance and Stephen McCray as the White Sox representatives on the Glendale Desert Dogs.
One more position player still needs to be added to the Desert Dogs' roster by the White Sox.
Johnson, ranked 15th on MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects for the White Sox, has a .313 average with 103 runs scored, 24 doubles, 15 triples, six homers, 54 RBIs and an astounding 83 stolen bases to lead the Minor Leagues between stops at Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem. According to White Sox director of player development Nick Capra, Johnson could be a big league contributor by 2015.
"He jumped up on the radar last year with his athleticism and the things he can do," Capra told MLB.com of Johnson during a phone interview. "He reinforced what we were thinking last year with the kind of year this year.
"Obviously, he kind of shot fast through the organization. This kid has a chance to be an impact player at the top of the lineup, and wreak havoc on the bases with his speed. But he still has a lot to learn offensively and defensively."
Leesman, who made one start for the White Sox this year, will be working out of the bullpen in Arizona and picking up lost innings caused by knee surgery at the end of last season. McCray will work as a starter, standing as a talented player the White Sox "need to find about." Bassitt, who is 11-4 with a 3.06 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 144 innings over 25 starts combined for Winston-Salem and Birmingham, will pitch out of the bullpen.
"An interesting kid," said Capra of Bassitt. "With his sink, he profiles for our ballpark."
Semien, ranked No. 8 on the club's Top 20, has scored 105 runs between stops at Triple-A Charlotte and Birmingham and is all but certain to have big league experience through a September callup before he goes to the AFL. But it's Johnson who stands as the most interesting prospect, featuring an immense amount of talent but plenty of the normal prospect improvement to make such as handling the routine plays defensively and getting an even better read of the strike zone.
"You never know what he's going to do," said White Sox top-ranked prospect Courtney Hawkins of Johnson. "He might bunt and steal second and third, or hit a bomb. He's great fun to watch."
L. Garcia starts at second base for White Sox
CHICAGO -- Leury Garcia earned his first start as a member of the White Sox, hitting ninth and playing second on Tuesday night against the Astros. Manager Robin Ventura said that Garcia probably would start at shortstop in place of Alexei Ramirez in Wednesday night's series finale.
Garcia, 22, was the player to be named from Texas in the Alex Rios trade. The switch-hitter has the ability to play second, short, third and the outfield, and is ready to do any or all of them in a given game.
"It's like going from taking ground balls in practice and then going to the outfield to take fly balls," said Garcia, through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz, of playing the infield and outfield.
"He feels comfortable playing in the outfield," Ventura said. "It's valuable to have a guy that versatile to be able to move him around the infield in case something happens."
Speed stands as another important part of Garcia's game. And it's an area where the 5-foot-7, 160-pounder is focused offensively.
"I play the little game. I bunt the ball. I run. I put the ball in play. That's my game," Garcia said. "I want to make contact so I can use my ability to run."
Garcia went 0-for-3 in Tuesday night's 4-3 comeback victory.
Sale wants to channel competitiveness in right way
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale makes no apologies for his intense competitive desire and his overriding will to win. The goal for the White Sox ace is to use that fire to his benefit and not let it get the best of him.
In Friday's loss to Texas, it got the best of him. Sale was shown on the television broadcast slamming his glove down repeatedly in anger on a dugout cooler after he finished his seventh inning, and admitted to yelling at crew chief Jerry Layne during an earlier discussion on Ian Kinsler's inside-the-park homer, when Layne was just trying to calm him down.
"Just like [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] and I always talk about, when the wheels start turning, you want to use that momentum and not 'abuse the geek' we call it," Sale said. "Every time I go out there, I compete with everything that I have.
"Hitters expect to go up there and get a hit every time, just like pitchers, every time they take the ball, they expect to pitch well. When you don't, you get frustrated. Sometimes you end up, for lack of a better term, you make an [idiot] out of yourself. Much like I did."
The good-natured 24-year-old could laugh about the episode Tuesday, adding that friends called him, his mom called him and his dad called "making fun of me" after seeing the replay. He was as upset about not supporting an offense that scored five in defeat as he was about allowing eight runs and four homers.
"Obviously, you don't want to lose that fire," Sale said. "At the end of the day, it's better than just accepting the fact that you just got your rear end kicked around for seven innings. You want to find some middle ground and not do that from here on out, but I can't guarantee that. I will definitely work on controlling that, as it's all learning."
Third to first
• White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell celebrated his 62nd birthday on Tuesday. Jim Thome, the Hall of Fame-bound slugger and special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, turned 43. And former White Sox catcher Ed Herrmann turned 67.
• Jack Harshman, who holds the franchise record for single-game strikeouts, passed away on Aug. 17 in Georgetown, Texas, at the age of 86. Harshman pitched for the White Sox from 1953-56, and fanned 16 on July 25, 1954, at Boston.
• Paul Konerko's ninth-inning double in Monday's 10-8 loss to the Astros was the 400th of his career, making him the 18th active player to reach that milestone. Konerko needs 42 total bases to tie Frank Thomas for the franchise record of 3,949.
• Adam Dunn has hit 116 career homers against left-handed pitching. That mark is the 10th-highest total in Major League history by a left-handed hitter and two behind Thome.