White Sox minor league report

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White Sox minor league report

The White Sox looked to beef up their minor league system earlier this week in the draft. Lets take a look at how some of the already existing young talent did in this weeks minor league update.

Triple-A catcher Josh Phegley has had a season of peaks and valleys. His cyclical-type success leaves scouts with the question of whether or not Phegley has the capacity to put forth a consistent effort. Last week he did everything in his power to level out his play and disprove some of the naysayers. Phegley went 9-for-20 (.450) with five RBI and a .966 OPS. Hopefully, Phegley can build upon his recent performances and find some type of sustainable success.

Another notable Charlotte Knight last week was Jhan Marinez, who appeared twice in a relief role. Marinez pitched one inning in each outing and allowed no runs on one hit.

Birmingham flame thrower Simon Castro had one start last week. His successful pitch location and above average fastball proved to be too much for the Mobile BayBears. Castro went eight innings allowing three runs on five hits. Two of the runs came unearned due to one throwing and one fielding error by Castros supporting cast. Castro has been producing some quality starts lately and sits at 5-5 on the season. If he can keep hitting his spots, I wouldnt be surprised to see Castro in Charlotte at the Triple-A level sometime soon.

Our weekly analysis of White Sox prospect Jared Mitchell has been all over the map this season. It seems as if Mitchell has alternated between weeks of brilliance and questionable play as of late. Coming off of a stellar week two weeks ago, we assumed Mitchell would once again dip below the .300 mark but the trend has finally been broken. Mitchell went 9-for-29 (.310) last week with two doubles, two triples and four runs scored. Mitchell did deliver at the plate this week, but he still seems to be struggling with his over-anxious plate approach. He fanned 12 times over the course of seven games upping his season total to 72. This boosts his strikeout percentage to 35.1. If Mitchell wants to realize his dreams of becoming a major league ball player this glaring weakness must be addressed and changed.

Winston-Salem center fielder and highly touted prospect Trayce Thompson had an up-and-down week at the plate. Thompson was 4-for-24 (.167) but delivered two homeruns and seven RBI. He also scored five runs for the Dash. Despite his struggles swinging the bat, Thompson is finding his way aboard (five walks) and delivering when his team needs it the most. Most of Thompson's struggles are coming while facing left-handed pitching. He is batting .162 on the season versus southpaws which is one of the main reasons his batting average sits at an undesirable .212.

Dash ace Jake Petricka had another stellar outing this week. He had one start in which he went seven innings allowing no runs on only three hits. Petricka also fanned six and only surrendered one walk. Petricka's latest gem moves his record to an even 4-4 on the season.

Four Kannapolis Intimidators were named to the 2012 South Atlantic League All-Star Team last week, most notably Rangel Ravelo. Ravelo went 9-for-26 on the week with two doubles and his second round-tripper of the year. He also scored three runs and drove in four runs. Representing the Intimidators in the All-Star game along with Ravelo are right fielder Mark Haddow, catcher Kevan Smith, and pitcher Blair Walters.

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.”