Following a disappointing 2013 season, Courtney Hawkins made a few adjustments to his game -- and the White Sox have taken notice.
Hawkins, the White Sox first-round draft pick in 2012, was hitting .264/.339/.547 with eight home runs, 33 strikeouts and 12 walks in 121 plate appearances with Single-A Winston-Salem this season. While it's still early into 2014, those numbers are encouraging given he hit .178/.249/.384 with 160 strikeouts a year ago.
"He knew he had to make some changes and make some other things better and he’s doing that," White Sox director of player development Nick Capra said. "That’s what we look for in development is a kid that is able to make adjustments and make things better. He’s grasping that and running with it."
What Capra's seen out of Hawkins is better patience and pitch recognition, a welcome improvement from last year when he'd sometimes swing "the bat before it had even left the pitcher’s hand."
More than anything, though, Capra's seen Hawkins mature the way you'd expect out of someone as young as him.
"I think he envisioned himself on kind of a fast track and now he’s more of a day-to-day guy, pitch-to-pitch guy," Capra said. "Offensively he’s given himself a chance to put quality at-bats together."
The White Sox still plan slowly bring 19-year-old right-hander Tyler Danish along, with the goal to limit him to about 100 innings. But even with that innings cap, Danish could see a promotion from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem with the way he's throwing.
Through six starts, Danish has an 0.84 ERA with 22 strikeouts, eight walks and no home runs allowed over 32 innings. He's getting two ground ball outs for every flyout, and is doing everything the White Sox could've hoped for in his first real foray into starting as a professional.
"I don’t know if we really have a timetable for it but it’s being talked about," Capra said of promoting Danish. "We recognize the things he’s doing well at Kannapolis and hopefully sooner or later that warrants a promotion."
Thompson needing consistency
The news hasn't been as positive for outfielder Trayce Thompson, whose power has escaped him at the Double-A level. The 23-year-old has a solid .349 on-base percentage through 34 games this year, but is only slugging .357 -- that after slugging .383 with Birmingham in 2013. He's striking out a lot, too, with a 28 percent strikeout rate in 2014 and a 24 percent strikeout rate in 2013.
The tools are still there, though -- Thompson still has 21 home runs at the Double-A level with 31 steals -- but Capra said a lack of consistency is what's holding him back.
"You’ll see him real good on certain nights and then revert back to old habits," Capra said. "It’s a work in progress and it’s definitely moving in a positive area right now."