For Omar Narvaez, knowledge is power at the major league level

For Omar Narvaez, knowledge is power at the major league level

GLENDALE, Ariz. — One of the challenges for a hitting coach is funneling the right information to a young position player, with the goal to not allow him to be overwhelmed by the reams of scouting reports and hours of video suddenly available to them at the major league level. 

And sometimes that information isn't always a good thing, as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson explained. 

"As it relates to all the statistics I get, I cannot inundate them with all of those," Steverson said. "I have to personally decipher what's relevant to each different guy. It's not all the same for everybody. …  Hypothetically speaking, I could tell a guy every 2-1 count (the pitcher throws) 73 percent fastballs, and that guy gets a curveball. Well, right then and there, he's like ‘Gee, what happened?' Well, 73 percent ain't 100 percent. There's always some gray area there."

Shortstop Tim Anderson described himself as "old school," and said he will only turn to scouting reports and videos when he needs it. Anderson specifically mentioned using video to look at a pitcher's pickoff move. 

For catcher Omar Narvaez, though, the information has been a boon to his burgeoning major league career. He hit .267/.350/.337 in 2016, and with the 25-year-old in line to be the White Sox No. 1 catcher this year, he'll have the opportunity to use video and scouting reports over the course of a full season. 

"I kind of know what the zone is and I try to bring it with me," Narvaez said. "Every time I go to the plate, I'm like okay, this is my zone so I'm going to establish everything that's in my zone so I can hit it."

[Buy Chicago sports tickets]

Narvaez displayed an excellent feel for the major league strike zone last year, drawing the same number of walks as strikeouts (14) in 117 plate appearances last year. He said he looks at scouting reports the night before every game and can adjust his "zone" to a specific area based on where the opposing pitcher frequently works. 

The detailed information Narvaez can look at in the majors wasn't available at the minor league level, which could explain why his on-base percentage was 59 points higher with the White Sox than it was in 205 plate appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Narvaez, though, does have a .353 on-base percentage across all minor league levels. 

"We know what the pitcher has and how they move the ball," Narvaez said. "We don't have that in the minor leagues."

There's no "right" approach to utilizing all the information and statistics available at the major league level. Plenty of players will succeed without diving deep into scouting reports, and plenty of players will stick in the major leagues by pouring over that stuff. 

Count Narvaez in the latter group of players. 

"We can go with a plan into an at-bat," Narvaez said. "That's a huge thing I'm looking for when I see the videos." 

White Sox taking a big picture approach to evaluating Yoan Moncada

White Sox taking a big picture approach to evaluating Yoan Moncada

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yoan Moncada may be a top five prospect in baseball with a gargantuan amount of hype surrounding him, but the White Sox aren't going to rush in developing the 21-year-old second baseman. 

There probably was never a path for Moncada to hit his way to the major leagues out of spring training at Camelback Ranch, given the patience-is-a-virtue mantra put forth by general manager Rick Hahn over the last few months. Little Moncada could do at the plate during spring training would change the team's plan for him or how they view one of the guys for whom they were willing to trade ace left-hander Chris Sale. 

So with that in mind, what does Moncada's .209 batting average, .648 OPS and 13 strikeouts in 30 Cactus League at-bats mean? Not much. 

"The information from Moncada for me right now isn't really a whole lot because I can't evaluate him on eight, nine, 10 at-bats," hitting coach Todd Steverson said. "That's not fair of me. I'd like for him to come out and be comfortable with what he does and throw some tidbits in here and there. We've talked, obviously, no real changes or anything like that. Just some kind of absolutes of hitting that are there. 

"There's nothing that's going to deter him from being a good hitter. But I'd like to see him go out and show what he can show, and it's a little tough in a spring training setting where you don't play every day and you don't get that direct timing or you don't get to see pitches every day. So it's unfair of me to do that. But I work over with him in the cage and talk to him and he's a bright kid." 

The White Sox are more focusing on Moncada's defense during their first extended look at him at Camelback Ranch. While he's committed four errors, manager Rick Renteria has been pleased with Moncada's work with bench coach Joe McEwing on honing his skills at second base.

Moncada mostly played second base for Cienfuegos in Cuba and in the Boston Red Sox minor league system, but played six games at third base in the majors last September with former MVP Dustin Pedroia blocking him at second. 

"We like where it's going, he's improving and he's a young man just scratching at the surface of what he can potentially can be," Renteria said. "Time and experience will ultimately (tell) what he is."

The White Sox have liked how Moncada has conducted himself this spring, too. HIs locker is next to Jose Abreu's in the Camelback Ranch clubhouse, and he hasn't overstepped things as a rookie with only a little over 200 plate appearances above the Single-A level. 

"He's a quiet guy, he goes about himself, and as a younger guy I think that's the way he needs to be," third baseman Todd Frazier said. "And when he gets the chance, watch out."

While the overall results haven't been there at the plate, Steverson did point out that Moncada hasn't stopped talking walks this spring. The Abreus, Cuba native came to the United States with refined plate discipline -- he has a 13 percent walk rate since debuting stateside -- and has five walks in Cactus League play. 

The White Sox expect Moncada will eventually make it to and stick at 35th and Shields. Overall, they've been pleased with how he's worked in Glendale -- so don't pay attention to his stats, which are far less important than everything else during spring training. 

"You work with a purpose and my purpose is to play in the big leagues and to play in the big leagues with this team," Moncada said through a translator. "To make the team out of spring training -- that's something that I can't control. I'm just doing what I can control, to work hard and do my preparation and do what the coaches ask me to do. That's the only thing I can do."

White Sox notes: Giolito struggles, Rodon progresses, Quintana returns

White Sox notes: Giolito struggles, Rodon progresses, Quintana returns

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lucas Giolito didn’t make it out of the first inning in his start against the Seattle Mariners Tuesday at Peoria Stadium, allowing four runs on four hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Giolito didn’t get a swinging strike over the 30 pitches he threw, and he didn’t finish off his allotted pitch count by throwing in the bullpen after he was pulled. In his previous start March 9, Giolito lasted four innings and allowed one run. 

While it’s unfair to read too much into spring training results, Giolito did issue back-to-back walks to load the bases and then score a run. Seattle went on to win, 7-6.

"It’s hard to pinpoint one issue," Giolito said. "I didn’t really execute anything I was trying to do today. As a starting pitcher, you want to work efficiently, you want to throw low pitch count innings, work through a game and I threw, what, 30 pitches. Didn’t get out of the first inning. Just didn’t do my job." 

Another "simmy" on tap for Rodon

Carlos Rodon threw 64 pitches over four "innings" of a simulated game on Tuesday, but the White Sox have yet to set a date for when the left-hander will make his first Cactus League start of 2017.

Rodon got up and down four times and threw all of his pitches -- he hadn’t thrown his slider before Tuesday -- from the both stretch and windup. Manager Rick Renteria said the White Sox have one more simulated game lined up for Rodon before he could potentially get into a game. 

"(Pitching coach Don Cooper) was really happy with how he looked," relayed Renteria. 

'Q’ back from WBC

Jose Quintana returned to Camelback Ranch on Tuesday after spending the weekend in Miami with the Colombian National Team for the World Baseball Classic. Despite Quintana’s best efforts -- 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the United States on Friday -- Colombia was eliminated from the tournament. 

The White Sox haven’t formulated a plan for Quintana, but he’ll likely stay on the same schedule he had while ramping up for the World Baseball Classic. Renteria said last week the White Sox could look to have Quintana pitch in 'B’ games to keep his intensity level low after he started that higher stress game at Marlins Park on Friday. 

And as for whether or not Quintana will start Opening Day, Renteria didn’t provide an answer: "We’re still setting it all up right now and I promise you guys will get it as soon as I get it."