Big Brother





CHICAGO—Paul Konerko sails toward free agency and a possible new destination after 11 seasons as the White Sox's first baseman. His heir apparent, Brandon Allen, was traded to the Diamondbacks last summer but the Sox have other alternatives on the way.

The most intriguing first baseman in the organization might be a guy who has previously been known as the lesser prospect in his family.

Christian Marrero, 23, could change that in 2010. He's two years older than his brother, Chris, a power-hitting first baseman who ranked as the Nationals' No. 1 prospect two years ago.

Both Christian and Chris split last season between high Class A and Double-A. The older Marrero was more productive than the one who gets the most attention, heating up in the second half to help Birmingham win 92 games.

A lefthanded hitter and thrower—unlike his brother, who does both righthanded—Christian hit a combined .308/.348/.501 with 18 home runs in 127 games overall.

Barons manager Ever Magallanes hit him at the bottom of the order when he was promoted from Winston-Salem but had him in the No. 3 spot in the playoffs.

"He's a hitter," Magallanes said. "He can hit. He's got a knack for hitting. He came up and didn't miss a beat . . . Try to sneak a fastball by him and he'll hurt you."

The White Sox landed Marrero as a draft-and-follow after he played for Broward (Fla.) CC in 2005-06. Farm director Buddy Bell lists him among the organization's best hitters, even though he wasn't protected on the 40-man roster last winter.

This could be the season that Marrero steps out of the crowd and generates the big league projections that have come easily for his younger brother.

CHI-LITES

• After ranking third among organizations with a .546 winning percentage throughout the farm system, the White Sox kept their entire minor league coaching staffs in place.

• The White Sox extended non-roster invitations to big league camp to lefthander Charles Leesman, outfielders Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell, infielders C.J. Retherford and Brent Morel, and catchers Miguel Gonzalez, Donny Lucy and Josh Phegley. Catcher Cole Armstrong, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster, will also go.