By Bruce Levine–
(CBS) As Marcus Semien has become an everyday infielder for the Oakland A’s and grows as a big leaguer, you wonder what the White Sox would look like with him and Trayce Thompson being part of a youth movement on the South Side of Chicago. A year before Thompson was dealt to the Dodgers in the Todd Frazier deal this past December, Semien was traded to the A’s as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal.
Now, the 25-year-old Semien is budding into a star player in the Bay area.
“I owe a lot to coming through the White Sox organization and their belief in me,” the 25-year-old Semien said. “I had some great managers and instructors in the Sox system. Buddy Bell was a terrific man to deal with and work for. I was a 20-year-old kid coming out of college ball. I went right to low-A. Buddy and the outstanding managers and coaches had a plan for me right away. They were respected and extremely respectful and supportive of me.”
Semien has put up some quality power numbers, as he enters Sunday with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs. His .238 batting average and .300 on-base percentage indicate there are areas that need fine tuning and improvement.
Work certainly isn’t something Simeien is afraid of. On Saturday, he was out early with infield instructor Ron Washington working on hand-eye improvement drills. Washington is considered the top infield instructor in the game and had Semien use a flat catcher’s glove to field ground balls. This method is used so that an infielder focuses on using his fingers and hand dexterity to grab a baseball.
Semien saw talent and played on winning clubs as he progressed through the White Sox’s minor league system.
“Starting out at Kannapolis (Single-A), Carlos Sanchez and I played up the middle,” Semien said. “We had Tryace in the outfield. We had talent for sure .When we got to high-A, we had the best record in the minor leagues. After that we won a championship in the Southern League (at Double-A Birmingham). Playing with Trayce all those years watching him grow, I am happy for him. Micah Johnson has a career ahead of him. I see Tyler Saladino and Jason Coats getting playing time here. We were taught to play hard and ou work the next guy to get your playing time.”
Semien has improved greatly at shortstop, where he led all of baseball with 36 errors last season. So far this season he has cut it down to 16 miscues.
“The success you have in the minors through hard work and good coaches helps get you a chance,” Semien said. “That said, unless you are (Mike) Trout or (Bryce) Harper, you are going to have some struggles in the big leagues. I have learned that, both offensively and defensively. I really learned that last year defensively. The pressure of playing a key position and how you come back from failure is how you get better. When you have coaches in your corner and they want to get you better, you are blessed. I have that here in Oakland, and I had that coming through the Sox minor and major leagues too.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.