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Phegley proves he belongs in big leagues

Phegley proves he belongs in big leagues

CHICAGO -- Josh Phegley will take one major realization away from his time with the White Sox this season, the knowledge that he can play at the Major League level.

"I believe I have everything I need to play at the Major League level," Phegley said. "Of course you want to get better and continue the process."

Catching stands as a major point of interest for White Sox fans, especially after A.J. Pierzynski's accomplished eight-year run came to an end last offseason. Tyler Flowers struggled with the bat in his 2013 starting role, with his season ending after shoulder surgery on Sept. 5.

Phegley earned his way to the Majors with a stellar performance at Triple-A Charlotte. He also has impressed Minor League catching instructor John Orton, who watched Phegley develop.

"When I compare him to the other guys I see in other organizations that are now in the big leagues that are playing every day, to me, he's as good if not better than some of those guys," Orton said. "He can do everything. He can hit, throw, and block. He's got good hands. He's quick, athletic. He's a decent runner. And again, he cares about the pitching staff, too. That goes a long way.

"They both care tremendously about the pitchers," said Orton, adding Flowers into the mix. "That's one of the things we look at. And they have the ability and just need games. The more games they are going to get at this level, the more they are going to learn and the better they are going to get. It just takes time."

That time concept isn't lost on Phegley, who has gradually adjusted to the nuances of big league responsibilities.

"Catching is kind of like hitting in that you do it so much that you can start to develop some different habits that you didn't have before," Phegley said. "Then you kind of realize you are doing something you didn't notice. It's kind of fine-tuning.

"Definitely with the pitching staff, they present new stuff, different pitches, like a heavy sinker from [Matt] Lindstrom. Maybe we didn't have that at the lower levels. You get here and now you have to make the adjustment. It's just making sure you don't develop any habits that are going to hinder your progress."

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.

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