White Sox
USA TODAY

Why the White Sox are optimistic about their middle infielders' potential

HOUSTON -- After both started slow, the White Sox middle infield of the future has heated up at the plate. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada have also made steady gains in the field.

It’s the kind of play the White Sox think they’re going to see plenty of from the extremely talented pair over the next few years. Their combined production admittedly has excited the White Sox brain trust, which knows Anderson and Moncada have hardly tapped into their potential and are only now building rapport.

“We should be optimistic,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Those two guys in the middle continue to improve. They’re getting along. They’re becoming understanding of each other, their idiosyncrasies, the things they like and don’t like. When you have a combination in the middle that is over time going to grow together, it can be something special.”

The potential is limitless.

Anderson, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games in a 3-1 win over the Astros on Thursday, was rated as high as the No. 45 prospect by Baseball America ahead of the 2016 season. Moncada -- who’s had an outstanding road trip -- rose to the No. 1 ranking in baseball before he was promoted two months ago.

Bench coach Joe McEwing said he appreciates the raw tools each player brings to the field. Both possess outstanding range and have strong, accurate arms. He also likes how each is accountable when they make mistakes and has seen each improve immensely.

Anderson’s improvement has been more about letting his instincts and talent take over after a rough first half in the field. Meanwhile, Moncada’s has been more about technical adjustments --- footwork, jumps, knowledge of hitters. Moncada has also widened his base, which has led to steadier fielding, McEwing said. And now they’ve begun to learn how to work with each other.

“They’ve developed a bit of chemistry and it started early,” McEwing said. “They gravitated to each other and started working together early.

“You’re seeing them growing together and it’s been fun to watch.”

“We’re extremely excited.”

Anderson thinks the pair works well together because they have similarly easygoing personalities. The shortstop said he and Moncada have liked to joke around with each other since the outset. Prior to Moncada going on the disabled list late last month, Anderson’s Instagram featured a photo of him treating his teammate’s shins in the trainer’s room.

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Anderson also thinks the players’ proximity in age -- he’s 23 months older -- is helpful.

“We’re easy to get along with,” Anderson said. “We’re just having fun. I’m easy to play with. He’s easy to please with. He understands me very well and I understand him very well. It’s just get as many reps as we can get and get comfortable and have fun with it.

“He’s kind of like me. We don’t talk much but there’s some energy in there, some excitement. We’re always joking and playing and laughing.

“Definitely someone I can play up the middle with for a while and going to enjoy every minute of it. Very special kid and very talented.”