BY TONI GINNETTI
For the Sun-Times
September brings new faces as baseball rosters are allowed to expand, but the “new’’ faces might be familiar ones for the White Sox.
Starter Erik Johnson, named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher on Tuesday, will be among the call-ups, getting his third opportunity in the major leagues.
The chance to make a new impression is the goal for a player such as Johnson. Sox officials hope for the same thing from each new arrival.
“I think any guy who comes up, you want to see him do well. You want to see improvement,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “But just command and being able to handle it up here [matters], and how he gets through a game.
“Every guy has the same thing who gets called up here — you want to see how they handle it.’’
For teams in a playoff race, the additional players can add flexibility to the lineup.
For teams such as the Sox, it’s more about next season.
“Some of them already have been here, and if they were, you want to see exactly where they’re at right now,’’ Ventura said. “If you haven’t seen them, you want to see them and where they’re at. September is for that.
“You want some depth, but mostly you want to see these guys up here and playing.
“You’re going to play them in September and then have a whole offseason to see them again. It’s not like you’re making rash judgments or betting the farm on them for next year.
“But again, you get to see them, and you get to see that improvement and then you get to see them again in spring training and see what this [September] has done for them.’’
Some of the team’s better prospects already have been promoted, including infielders Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez, who have become starters. Outfielder Trayce Thompson has made the most of his first two weeks in the majors, hitting .469 in 14 games with two homers and six RBI.
The Sox’ farm system generally has been ranked in the lower third of the major leagues, though recent first-round draft picks such as pitchers Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon have risen up the ranks quickly.
The system is stronger in pitching, with right-handers Carson Fulmer (drafted in June), Frankie Montas (Class AA Birmingham), Spencer Adams (Class A Winston-Salem) and Tyler Danish (Birmingham) regarded among the top 10 prospects in the organization.
Other prospects include shortstop Tim Anderson (Birmingham), who could be the heir to Alexei Ramirez; outfielder Jacob May (Birmingham); and third baseman Trey Michalczewski (Winston-Salem.)
The closest position player ready for the majors could be Anderson, whose play could figure into the Sox’ decision to pick up the 2016 option on Ramirez.
The wait will be longer for players such as Michalczewski, who was drafted out of high school in 2013 and is only 20.
The third baseman ranked among the Carolina League leaders in RBI (second with 71), doubles (tied for second with 32), extra-base hits (fourth with 43) and total bases (fifth with 177.)
Michalczewski is one of five Winston-Salem players who made the Carolina League year-end All-Star team. The others include outfielder Adam Engel, infielder Jake Peter, right-handed pitcher Matt Heidenreich and catcher Omar Narvaez.
Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.