GLENDALE, Ariz. — Courtney Hawkins took his spot on the bench at Camelback Ranch for Thursday's Cactus League game between the White Sox and Mariners, looking to soak up as much as he could on the major league side.
The 13th-overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft said the best lesson he's learned from being around a bunch of major leaguers is to take things day by day, which might sound cliche but could be a good lesson for the 20-year-old outfielder.
"That's what you gotta do, take it day by day, at-bat by at-bat instead of thinking ahead of time," Hawkins said.
White Sox director of player development Nick Capra said over the winter that the organization had to slow Hawkins down after he got ahead of himself looking toward Double-A Birmingham last year. Hawkins struggled with Class-A Winston-Salem, striking out 160 times with a .179/.249/.384 slash line in 103 games.
A shoulder injury kept him sidelined for a month, though Hawkins insisted it didn't affect him after he returned. But Capra said Thursday he's seen improvement from Hawkins and remains high on his potential.
"Obviously he's got a lot of work to do offensively, defensively, running the bases — there's a lot of things that need to be tuned up," Capra said. "But offensively more than anything, his direction is starting to get a little bit better, his standing, his legs are getting better, he's not crashing into the ball as much. Just try to get him to understand what his strength is as a hitter and try to advance that as much as we can.
"The ball jumps off his bat. It's unbelievable when he squares the ball up. He's got power to all fields. He's got tremendous power."
Hawkins is set to begin 2014 back at Winston-Salem and seems to understand the task at hand. He feels he'll get better at pitch recognition — and thus cut down on his strikeouts — by playing every day and adding to his knowledge bank.
The goal for Hawkins is to have a more narrow focus this summer, as opposed to thinking big picture. He learned the pitfalls of not taking that approach last summer.
"Everybody knows what the main goal is, but you gotta work to get there and it's not going to be given to you or handed to you," Hawkins said. "You gotta work."