The Sept. 1 roster expansion is still a week and a half away, but we know we won't be seeing White Sox prospect Micah Johnson at U.S. Cellular Field next month.
Johnson, who has hit .294 between Double-A and Triple-A this year, has been shut down for the season due to a left hamstring strain that has plagued him for months.
It's unfortunate because Johnson is one of the best position prospects in the White Sox system. He's considered close to major-league ready, and he plays a position of need -- second base.
However, it's impossible to argue with this decision. It's the right move. Johnson's best asset is his speed, and he's been limited in that area for a significant portion of the season. The proof is in his stolen base numbers.
Johnson attracted a good deal of attention during the 2013 season when he stole 84 bases in 110 attempts over 131 games at three different levels. This year, Johnson has just 22 steals in 36 attempts over 102 games at two levels. He's not running as frequently, and he hasn't been as successful in the limited number of attempts he's made. That shows his legs aren't feeling good.
This is a setback for the White Sox, who have to be eager to replace incumbent second baseman Gordon Beckham at this point.
Even if you're a fan of Beckham's defense, his offense has become so poor that it's impossible to ignore. He's having the worst season of his career by any measure. His slash line is a horrible .221/.263/.336. His season OPS of .598 is well below his career mark of .680. Anytime you have an everyday player with an OPS below .600, that player needs to be replaced. I don't care how good his defense is.
Worse yet, Beckham is regressing with the bat, perhaps fading with the knowledge that his days on the South Side are numbered. His brutal July (.138/.158/.213) has been backed up with almost-as-miserable August (.190/.217/.207). Combined, his OPS has slipped below .400 since July 1.
With that knowledge at hand, the Sox should bench Beckham for the final month and put him out of his misery. Ideally, Johnson would be the guy you play in September, but that just can't happen right now.
Opportunity knocks for the Sox' two other middle infield prospects, Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien. Both appear to be candidates for a September recall. Johnson's injury combined with Beckham's ineptness has created an opening for at least one of these two players.