Andy Wilkins’ first day in the bigs didn’t really go the way he wanted, but then again it went exactly the way he wanted.
Starting at first base for the White Sox on the day he was called up from Triple-A Charlotte, Wilkins went 0-for-4. With three strikeouts.
But he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the major leagues.
"It was a good day. It’s one I’ll never forget. (I had) the three strikeouts or whatever, but tomorrow’s another day," Wilkins said after the White Sox beat the Tigers, 6-2. "It was a good day.”
“He got here late last night. I'm sure it's a whirlwind for him, first to be excited to be here and come in here and all of the sudden you're playing first base in a day game, it's a bit overwhelming," manager Robin Ventura said. "We'll see what happens once we go on the road and he's able to settle down. He's going to get some playing time. He has a nice swing, he knows how to hit. You chalk this one up to probably being a little overanxious.”
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But there’s plenty of reason to believe Sunday's results won’t stick. Wilkins has been tearing it up for the Knights this season, with general manager Rick Hahn saying Wilkins should be the International League MVP. And these numbers should back that argument up: a .293/.338/.558 slash line to go along with 30 home runs, 38 doubles and 85 RBIs.
Yeah, that’s all right.
"The kid has had a tremendous year," Hahn said. "He’s a guy that our player development staff has been thrilled with for a long time. He’s just a professional hitter, goes about his business the right way, good kid. Obviously his 30 home runs season put him on the map, and he’ll likely be the International League MVP or at least in the top two or three. It’s good to see his hard work pay off, and now he gets an opportunity in the big leagues."
“It’s just been being more consistent and every day having the same routine, the same actual swing every day has been the difference,” Wilkins said before the game. “In the past, you search for your swing, and if you’re doing good you stay that way, when you mess up you kind of deviate from that. I’ve just stayed consistent, tried to stay the course, and it’s worked out well.”
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Wilkins hasn’t necessarily been considered an elite prospect, the kind we hear about so often on the North Side of town. But that hasn’t dampened his production, and it hasn’t dampened his attitude, either.
“That prospect-status stuff, you can get really wrapped up in that,” he said. “You’ve seen a lot of prospects in the past not pan out, and you’ve seen plenty of guys that get drafted in the 40th round that get to the big leagues. It’s one of those things, everybody gets ranked in some way or another, but I don’t really let it affect me.”
Wilkins said he was surprised to receive a call-up before the rosters expand on Sept. 1. It was only day difference, but there’s a big difference to being an August call-up and being a September call-up.
“Absolutely surprised,” Wilkins said. “I was stretching before (his last game in Triple-A). We were just in Gwinnet playing the Braves. It was like 10 minutes before game time, and our manager came out and just told me I was going up. It was nuts. We weren’t really sure what was going to happen for September, and to get called up Aug. 31, that was pretty shocking. But it was awesome.”
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Despite there being no first big league hit for Wilkins Sunday, he still had a nice collection of baseballs in his locker after the game.
“I guess those must’ve been all the strikeouts," he joked. "No, it was a good day. I got the lineup card and everything. It’s very special, and just looking forward to the next day.”
Scott Snodgress joined Wilkins for his first taste of the majors on Sunday. Though he didn’t get into the game, the reliever was one of a flurry of roster moves made by the White Sox. Saturday night, the team traded outfielder Alejandro De Aza and sent relievers Chris Bassitt and Eric Surkamp to Charlotte. Then Sunday, Adam Dunn was traded, Wilkins and Snodgress were brought up and Moises Sierra was activated from the disabled list.
While Dunn’s departure dominated the headlines, it was a monumental day for Wilkins and Snodgress.
“I’m seriously still waiting to wake up and realize this is all a dream,” Snodgress said. “So I’m super excited looking forward to the opportunity, looking forward to hopefully helping the White Sox win some games.”