Could Viciedo wind up in Charlotte?

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Could Viciedo wind up in Charlotte?

Dayan Viciedo hasn't had a good spring. Through 23 at-bats, the 23-year-old has just a .426 OPS. But perhaps more concerning is that he's struck out 10 times. And he hasn't looked good in the field, either, culminating with him booting a ball in left field today.

That all led Tom Fornelli to wonder if Viciedo may begin the 2012 season with Triple-A Charlotte, with Kosuke Fukudome taking over a starting outfield spot. It's a good read, although I find it hard to believe the Sox would follow through with sending Viciedo to the minors.

First, it would shift the outfield alignment and probably hurt the overall defense of the club. Alex Rios would have to move back to center with Alejandro De Aza sliding over to left to accommodate Fukudome, who hasn't played an inning of left field in his major-league career. Maybe that'd be an overall improvement over having Viciedo in left, but the Sox would probably go from having two above-average defenders (De Aza, Rios) to just one (De Aza).

And of course, it'd be a tough pill to swallow for Viciedo. He doesn't have much left to prove at Triple-A after repeating the level last year -- from 2010 to 2011, Viciedo's plate discipline improved significantly, as did his on-base percentage. Defensively, it may be better for him to work out his kinks away from the spotlight, but offensively there's no reason to ship him back to the minors. Even if his spring training isn't good.

This isn't an absolute, though. If Viciedo's struggles persist into the regular season, perhaps he'll be a candidate to be sent down. But for now, I'd still expect him to be the starting left fielder on Opening Day.

Road Ahead: White Sox face another struggling offense in the Royals

Road Ahead: White Sox face another struggling offense in the Royals

The White Sox have scored the second fewest runs in the American League while the Royals have scored the fewest.

So fans of offense may not find the three-game series between the White Sox and Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Sox have scored 55 runs in 17 games while the Royals have 46 runs in 18 games.

Dan Hayes and Siera Santos talk about what to expect from that series and give updates on Carlos Rodon's injury and timeline for his return and talk about when Yoan Moncada may get promoted from the minors.

Watch the video above to see those topics in the Honda Road Ahead.

Fun and fluid: Drill sharpens White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada's defensive skills

Fun and fluid: Drill sharpens White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada's defensive skills

All the tools Yoan Moncada needs to be a good defensive second baseman are already in place. He just needs to learn how to access them more quickly and effectively.

Tapping into those elite abilities is a critical part of the development plan the White Sox have in place for their super prospect, who is currently the top-ranked minor leaguer in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com.

One way the White Sox have tried to unlock Moncada's gifts is by having him participate in a simple batting practice drill designed to enhance his fun and fluidity. The impact of the exercise could be seen Friday night when Moncada --- who also had two hits --- made a pair of outstanding turns on double plays for Triple-A Charlotte and also threw out another runner from deep in the hole.

"Since Day 1 he's gotten better," White Sox player development director Chris Getz said. "He's just another kid that needs to get the reps. He's into it, he's engaged and plays with energy.

"He's a solid defender and put that together with the offensive package and he's got a chance to be a very impactful player at the major league level."

The offensive potential has consistently been on display since the middle of March when Moncada's bat took off. Moncada has an .899 OPS in 68 plate appearances at Triple-A Charlotte, including four home runs, after he produced a 1.074 OPS this spring. 

"I'm glad he's on our team," Charlotte pitcher Carson Fulmer said.

While the White Sox would love to see a reduction in Moncada's strikeout rate, there's as much of an emphasis on helping him refine his defense. Some analysts and scouts question whether or not Moncada can stick at second base or if he'd eventually need to move to the outfield. But that possibility isn't close to a consideration right now for the White Sox, who think it's simply a matter of repetitions and time needed to clean up Moncada's process.

They've worked with him specifically on being more aggressive to the ball and taking better angles. But to kick his mind into another gear, bench coach Joe McEwing placed Moncada at shortstop during batting practice one day this spring. It's an exercise McEwing has previously used with first and third baseman to keep them more active.

"It was to get his feet moving and have a little fun doing it," McEwing said. "Sometimes at second base our feet can from time to time get stale and we sit back on more balls.

"We wanted to get him off the baseball once it's hit and to be aggressive and using his athletic ability to the maximum potential. He was smiling and jumping around and that's exactly what we want him to feel and do on the other side of the field. It's all the same. Angle may be different, but it's all the same mentally on how we want you to attack a baseball."

Moncada's manager at Charlotte, Mark Grudzielanek, has seen steady improvement from the second baseman. The White Sox like the progress Moncada has made and think more will come with age. Moncada turns 22 next month. Grudzielanek specifically likes how Moncada positioned himself at the bag on a pair of double plays on Friday, which allowed his strong arm to get behind his throws.

"We get him out there on the balls of his feet," Grudzielanek said. "We're tying to get his angles down a little bit. We're tightening him up with his throws. We're keeping him over the base at second base on the turns, which you saw (Friday) were some pretty above average turns even at the big league level. There's not many guys that can make that kind of turn and that do it the right way. He's looking really good out there, he's getting better and he understands what he needs to do and he's getting done."

Moncada said he likes how the BP drill has him more comfortable on the field. He continues to participate in it and feels like he's more fluid.

"(McEwing) just wanted me to have fun at the position, to be more loose with my feet and then because in that way, once I go back to second base, I could be more relaxed and loose with my legs and position my feet in their position when I needed to make a play," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I'm working every day to get better.

"That's something that helps you with your mobility and the moment you go over to second base it makes everything a lot easier."

The enthusiasm with which Moncada has attacked the team's plan has been evident to his coaches and teammates. Grudzielanek noted Moncada's willingness to learn and McEwing said he has seen consistent improvement since the Cuban product arrived at mini-camp in January. Veteran outfielder Jason Bourgeois said late Friday that Moncada also has started to grasp the timing of the game and has begun to figure it out. McEwing agrees that all Moncada needs is time and experience.

"The tools are there," McEwing said. "You see all the God-given athletic ability.

"What you're going to see over time is the process of chipping away at the speed of the game. We can't forget this kid is 21 years old. The speed of the runner, the attention to fundamentals, it takes time to grasp."