Adrian Nieto has said all along he’s not afraid to make the leap from Class A to the majors.
Apparently the White Sox Rule 5 rookie isn’t afraid to take a walk, either.
Nieto drew a pair of walks in Wednesday night’s 8-2 White Sox victory over the Detroit Tigers, including a nine-pitch free pass against Justin Verlander in the third inning. Nieto’s sixth-inning walk, also against Verlander, was a point of frustration for the Detroit pitcher and one that helped the White Sox to quickly run up his pitch count.
It’s yet another example the 24-year-old catcher is comfortable at the big league level. Nieto has a .271/.327/.333 slash line in 53 plate appearances. Nieto said his work with hitting coach Todd Steverson has allowed him to get comfortable with his approach in limited chances.
“Steverson tells us to go up there and try to get that starter out of the game quick, whether it’s by putting up runs or getting a high pitch count,” Nieto said. “Just grind at-bats. It helps when your big guys are out there hitting home runs off one of the best pitchers in the league. It gets guys more confident.
“Take a walk if you have to. Steverson is big on getting good pitches to hit. If you swing at good pitches then you’re probably going to have good results.”
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The White Sox have been impressed with how Nieto has handled himself since he arrived in spring training. Selected out of the Washington Nationals’ farm system, Nieto brought energy and a willing attitude to camp that quickly won over the coaching staff.
His approach also caught his coaches’ eye, and that’s why Wednesday’s performance doesn’t surprise White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
“Last night you are seeing him going up against a really good pitcher,” Ventura said. “The adjustments he has made without a ton of at-bats to have that experience, I think there’s been gradual stuff that you see of different at-bats in different situations that have been helpful for him. Making that jump is not always easy.”