Sox Drawer: Beckham, Morel trying to stay positive

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Sox Drawer: Beckham, Morel trying to stay positive

Take a look at the batting averages in the White Sox starting lineup, and there are two numbers that stand out like a pair of Cubs fans walking down the middle of a street in Bridgeport: .115 & .103.

Those are the current averages, respectively, for Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel, who have been digging themselves in a such a hole at the plate there are fans and critics who wonder if the team should begin a rescue mission -- one that includes a long rope strong enough to pull both of them onto the bench (or even to Triple-A) until they figure out their hitting woes.

In nine games, Morel has 13 strikeouts in 29 at-bats. Beckham has 11 punchouts in 26 at-bats, and has yet to drive in a run.

So whats the problem? How has this gone so wrong so fast? And what can both of them do to get out their rut?

Before Tuesdays game, the struggling infielders spoke openly and honestly about their early battles.

I dont know whats going on with the strikeouts. Its amazing how many strikeouts Ive had because I usually dont do that, said Beckham, sitting at his locker. I hit some balls hard yesterday after the first at-bat to the rest of the at-bats. I made an adjustment and it was the right adjustment. So there was progress last night in an 0-for-4 in a positive way.

What kind of an adjustment did he make?

Its just getting my foot down and let my hands do the work, because the hands are my moneymaker, he explained.

In his rookie year in 2009, we saw what those hands can do. Beckham would often drive the ball to all parts of the field, where the ball found plenty of grass. He batted .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 103 games. But after two consecutive lost seasons, the pressure is on for Beckham to perform. He knows it, but hes not about to panic.

I think that a lot of this has gotten blown up a little bit because its seven or eight games in and averages are fluctuating, Beckham said. I just heard a stat where Miguel Cabrera came in and was hitting .533. Now hes hitting .219 (Actually .222). Early in the season a lot of this is magnified to where maybe in the middle of the season it wouldnt be.

As for talk amongst fans and media about him possibly losing his job, its news to Gordon.

I havent heard anything like that, he said. Whoever that is, is not my problem. People can think what they want to think. Its nine games.

After belting eight homers and driving in 19 runs last September, Morel was hoping to carry that over to the start of this season. However, that hasnt happened yet. Brents struggles are even more magnified because hes batting second. He has three hits -- only one for extra bases -- and at this point, doesnt have an answer to fix whats wrong.

I dont know. If I knew, I wouldnt be in this position, Morel said. Im just trying to battle and not to try to look in the past, and not try to gain it all back too quick. Just trying to take it at short time frames and looking at good at-bats.

Morel believes hell eventually break out of his slump, but walking to the plate with a .103 batting average flashing next to your name is not easy.

Its tough. Nobody wants to go up here and fail, Morel said. Its tough on you. Its a lot easier when were winning. Like last night, you get that loss and it makes it a little bit worse.

Despite their struggles at the plate, Beckham and Morel are not taking their problems to the field, where both have played exceptional defense.

So, when will the hits come?

I know I had a good spring, Beckham said. I know its right there.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."