On The Farm: Winston-Salem Completes Sweep

On The Farm: Winston-Salem Completes Sweep

Friday Sept. 10, 2010
11:00 PM

By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

WHITE SOXWinston-Salem A
It took a bit longer than the Dash would have liked but Jose Martinez punctuated a riveting affair at Grainger Stadium Friday with the 12th-inning homer, giving Winston-Salem a 10-5 victory and a series sweep of Kinston in the opening round of the Carolina League playoffs.

The Dash will now play for the Mills Cup Championship against the winner of the Potomac-Frederick series which Potomac leads, 2-1. The finals are set to begin Monday.

Jon Gilmores RBI single in the ninth inning tied the score at 5-5, where it stayed until the 12th. Gilmore got the winning rally started with a single and was followed by Seth Loman, who also singled. After Ozzie Lewis popped out to first, Martinez sent a Matt Langwell offering over the wall in left for the three-run blast that would put the Dash in position to win a record 12th Mills Cup crown.

T.J. House came on for the Indians and fared no better. He walked Luis Sierra and then allowed an Andrew Garcia double that put runners on second and third. Greg Paiml followed with a two-run double to cap the inning and complete the sweep. The Tribe went down in order in the bottom of the inning with Bo Greenwell flying out to Martinez to end the game.

Paiml finished with three hits and three RBIs while Gilmore had three hits, drew a pair of walks, drove in a run and scored twice. Brandon Short, who was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, had two hits, including a homer, and two RBIs.

Jacob Rasner allowed one hit over four shutout innings to earn the victory. Nate Jones had started but after walking six was gone after 323 innings. Charlis Burdie pitched two scoreless innings before Taylor Thompson surrendered three eighth-inning runs. Brandon Kloess also allowed a run in the eighth and would have been on the hook for the loss had Gilmore not tied the score in the ninth.

Great Falls Rookie
The Voyagers were among the hottest teams in the minor leagues heading into Fridays Pioneer League playoff opener at Helena. But the Brewers quickly quieted Great Falls, earning a 5-3 victory at Kindrick Legion Field before the best-of-three series shifts back to Cetene Stadium Saturday night.

Great Falls had won six straight and 15 of 17 to close the regular season. It had won Northern Division titles in both halves of the regular season. The Voyagers had even won 10 of the 16 games played between the two clubs this year.

But Stephen McCray, a 16th-round pick out of Tennessee, allowed four runs on five hits in three innings, putting the Voyagers in a hole from which they wouldnt recover. He had a 0.87 ERA in 10 13 innings against the Brewers this season but was in trouble right from the outset.

Great Falls scrapped its way back, scoring single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings but wasnt able to sustain anything against Erc Marzec, the Helena reliever who tossed one-hit ball over three shutout innings in relief of winner Matt Miller.

Mike Blanke had three hits and an RBI for the Voyagers.

CUBSTennessee AA
The Smokies struck back in a big way at visiting West Tenn Friday night, erupting for an 11-1 victory to even their Southern League playoff series at a game apiece. Game Three is slated for Saturday night at West Tenn. It will be the only game that the Diamond Jaxx will host.

Tennessee erupted for 16 hits and scored nine of their runs in the sixth through eighth innings. The fifth through ninth hitters in the Smokies lineup accounted for most of the damage, going 14-for-23 with three homers and nine RBIs. Tennessee hit four homers in the game.

Russ Canzler led the hit parade with four hits and an RBI. Robinson Chirinos had three hits, including a homer, two RBIs and three runs scored. Tony Thomas had three hits, including a homer and three RBIs while Matt Spencer had two hits, including a homer and three RBIs. Brett Jackson added a solo homer.

Chris Carpenter earned the victory, allowing a run on four hits over six innings while the game was still a nail-biter. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts, picking up his first win since Aug. 7.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.” 

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”