The White Sox have recalled catcher Korey Lee from Triple-A Charlotte. He is expected to make his White Sox debut in this evening’s contest against the Athletics, as reported by Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. In a corresponding move, catcher Carlos Perez has been optioned to Triple-A.
The 25-year-old Lee came to Chicago at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Kendall Graveman to Houston. Lee had been one of the Astros’ top prospects since he was selected out of UC Berkeley in the first round of the 2019 draft. He made his MLB debut in July 2022 but was optioned a month later when the Astros acquired Christian Vazquez at the deadline. He has not played in a big league game since, and his rookie status remains intact.
Lee is a glove-first player with power potential in his bat. Baseball America ranked him as the no. 7 prospect in the Astros system this offseason, citing his “variety of average-to-plus skills” behind the dish and his “power-centric approach” at the plate. His best tool is his strong arm, which BA gave an 80 grade (the highest possible evaluation).
Perez was recalled in early August after Seby Zavala suffered an oblique strain. The 26-year-old Perez has been catching in the White Sox organization for nearly a decade, although he has never been a top prospect. He has appeared in 18 games for the White Sox this season, posting a .611 OPS in 30 trips to the plate. He will return to Triple-A, where he has fared slightly better, putting up a .705 OPS in 68 games.
Meanwhile, Zavala began a rehab assignment on Tuesday. There is no clear timetable for his return, but it is possible he won’t be back until September, at which point rosters will have expanded to 28 and the White Sox will have the flexibility to activate Zavala without optioning Lee.
Zavala is a stronger defensive catcher but has contributed very little at the plate this year, slashing .155/.207/.304. Yasmani Grandal, for his part, is hitting somewhat better (.235/.309/.345) but is no longer much of an asset with the glove. Lee has struggled with the bat since his arrival in Charlotte, posting a .255/.309/.275 slash line, but if Chicago views him as part of the future core, it is a good time to get him some more big-league experience. The White Sox’s postseason hopes have long disappeared, and these last 35 games provide an opportunity to get a better look at one of their potential catchers of the future. Grandal will be a free agent at the end of the season, while Lee’s fellow catching prospect Edgar Quero still looks to be a year or two away from making his MLB debut. The White Sox should have plenty of playing time available behind the dish in 2024.