Adam Engel

Adam Engel's role in White Sox future boils down to one thing

Adam Engel's role in White Sox future boils down to one thing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are few questions about the glove or his ability to run the bases. But whether or not Adam Engel’s role in the White Sox future is a big one or as a reserve will boil down to hitting.

Engel continued one of his best offensive stretches of the season on Wednesday with a two-run double early in a 5-3 White Sox win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Over his last six games, Engel is batting .375/.400/.667 in 25 plate appearances.

It’s a nice respite for the center fielder after a lengthy slump that began in mid-August. But no matter the difficulties he’s facing, Engel — whose overall OPS is .585 this season — said he tries to separate the different aspects of the game and works to stay upbeat when it comes to hitting.

“I’ve had stretches where I hit really well and stretches where I haven’t,” Engel said. “I know every day I come to the yard the consistencies are going to be defense and base running. And then offensively, just get to work every day. Every day is a new day. Try not to let yesterday’s failures or successes dictate what’s going on today. I think that’s been a big part of trying to get back on track is just separating. Just because you have a tough day the day before, it’s not the end of the world.”

Engel has had plenty of success with his glove. He’s viewed as a plus-defender and can handle center field. Whether it’s robbing home runs or snagging hard liners on the run, Engel’s routes are superb.

But he hasn’t been nearly as consistent offensively. Prior to this stretch, Engel produced a .360 OPS over 82 plate appearances with 35 strikeouts. He struck out twice more on Wednesday, which brought his K-rate to 34.6 percent. Among all hitters with more than 200 plate appearances, Engel’s K-rate is the 11th-highest in baseball.

Manager Rick Renteria would love to give Engel a day to rest and work with hitting coach Todd Steverson, but the club doesn’t have that luxury with Leury Garcia and Willy Garcia on the disabled list. That has left Engel in a position to fend for himself on a daily basis and attempt to get positive results. With that in mind, Steverson said his focus with Engel has been simplified.

“The number one key is timing and pitch selection,” Steverson said. “When you’re struggling, that tends to be most of the issue. It’s at the highest level. Guys have good stuff. At the end of the day it comes down to pitch selection. Being on time and swinging at a good pitch. Physically, mechanically, that is what it is. I just want him to be ready for the opportunity of a mistake or something you can handle.”

Engel’s ability to defend has without question kept him in the lineup. Renteria also said he likes how Engel has worked as he tries to establish himself as a big-league hitter.

"He’s just trying to get comfortable with who he is,” Renteria said. “We still see him work extremely hard in trying to maintain an approach and a mechanical balance. As long as he’s here we’re going to give him every opportunity to give him as many at bats as possible.”

Engel has soaked up as much advice as possible from the coaching staff. His biggest takeaway is that everything revolves around confidence. Even though he’s struggled, Engel knew that by separating he has made an impact on the field and base paths. He also continues to believe he can hit and offer the White Sox another dimension that could lead to a larger role in the club’s future plans.

“It’s just staying confident throughout the whole thing,” Engel said. “Believing in yourself is huge, especially if you’re struggling.

“Any time you hit a tough stretch the biggest thing to be able to bounce back is to believe it’s coming around. If you’ve got to make adjustments here and there — but I think the biggest thing is not to lose confidence and keep pushing forward and eventually things will catch up.”

Engel in the outfield: White Sox center fielder makes an incredible catch to rob a home run

Engel in the outfield: White Sox center fielder makes an incredible catch to rob a home run

Adam Engel has made some fantastic catches this season.

This might be the best one yet.

"It’s definitely up there," Engel evaluated after the game. "That was a play that I had to run pretty good just to go get it and it was at all the wall. It was definitely up there."

The White Sox center fielder made a remarkable snag in Monday's matinee against the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field, leaping to take a home run away from former White Sox outfielder Austin Jackson.

Take a look:

What a catch.

"You just get excited for your pitcher, your team," Engel said. "You turn a run into an out, which is a momentum play I think. We were able to come back after that inning and score some runs. A momentum shift is always good."

The fact that it was Jackson who hit that ball adds a fun element to the play. You might remember the jaw-dropping grab he made earlier this season at Fenway Park.

We'll leave it up to you to determine which catch was better, but we can all agree both snags were top notch.

A standing ovation for the #EngelInTheOutfield.

Late-season winning streak good for rebuilding White Sox: 'We're kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future'

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USA TODAY

Late-season winning streak good for rebuilding White Sox: 'We're kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future'

For fans heavily invested in the White Sox rebuild, an August winning streak is maybe not what they were hoping to see.

Mired in a last-place season and 16 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central standings, the worse the White Sox finish this season, the better their draft pick next summer, which could mean another prized addition to the ongoing rebuild.

But, hey, the White Sox are still allowed to have a little late-summer fun, right?

After sweeping the AL-best Houston Astros and taking the first game of this weekend’s series with the visiting Kansas City Royals, the South Siders have their second-longest winning streak of the season, a stretch bettered only by late April’s six-game streak. You know, back in the days before the trade deadline when the roster looked much, much different.

And while rebuild fans might be getting a little anxious over the potential consequences — the White Sox might be the AL’s worst team, but they still have a better winning percentage than the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies — they should realize that some success now could mean even more success later.

“We’re kind of giving a small sample of, hopefully, the future,” shortstop Tim Anderson said before Saturday’s game. “We’re definitely doing our best and playing hard. Guys are hustling. We’re doing all the small things and what Ricky’s asked of us and just playing real hard.”

“The game has its ups and downs, but any time you can get a stretch like this it just gives your team confidence,” outfielder Adam Engel said. “And you can always build on confidence, especially when you start winning some games, some guys start stepping up and having success. It just helps team chemistry, and hopefully it trends in the right direction.”

The burst of success speaks to the team’s embrace of manager Rick Renteria’s message.

He’s spent the season preaching a certain kind of approach, one that has players showing up to Guaranteed Rate Field every day with sights on the present, something that’s potentially difficult to do considering the franchise’s announced rebuild. The White Sox window of contention has yet to open, with many of the organization’s highest-ranked prospects still developing down in the minor leagues.

We all know that Ricky’s boys don’t quit. And it appears they’ve taken that approach into the latest stages of this last-place season.

“He just wants us to do our best and bring out the best in us, and he’s definitely been doing that and preaching that to us,” Anderson said. “I feel like we’ve been doing what he’s been wanting us to do and just go out and play the game hard. And whatever happens happens. Just really having fun with it and playing hard.”

“We just try and come to the yard every day and focus on what we need to focus on to get better. And I think we’ve been doing that,” Engel said. “We’ve been playing good baseball, and these last four games things have kind of clicked. We’re getting some wins to show for it.”

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No one is under the impression that this is the beginning of some kind of resurgence, one that would miraculously spring the White Sox from last place to playoff contention with just 49 games remaining on the schedule.

But there are positive developments to be made from finally experiencing some winning. The four-game winning streak comes immediately on the heels of a stretch during which the White Sox lost 17 of 20. It’s something that might end up being an important part of this rebuilding process.

“They have an energy about them, a desire to want to be the best. It’s very exciting for them to do what they’re doing and have some positive results, absolutely,” Renteria said. “I think that the way they go about playing the game and preparing, does it help them build on the belief that there’s reason and there’s a process to things moving forward in a particular direction? Yes.

“I think they’re buying into it, I think they’ve been buying in since Day 1. We still have a month and a half left in the regular season, and these guys are trying to take advantage of every moment of it. And they’re still trying to continue to take information in, learn from every experience they have. And they’re still trying to learn how to play together as a team, and I think they’re coming together as a team.”

Anderson talked about the desire to finish strong. And since next year and the years that follow are looking to be the ones that could be a little more important for this team and this franchise, providing some positive momentum could wind up being a big deal.

That’s especially true for guys like Anderson, who’s expected to be a big part of the future, and guys like Engel, fighting to become a big part of the future.

“You can feel the chemistry. We’re going out and playing and having fun and building that brotherhood like it’s supposed to be,” Anderson said. “We’ve got such a great group of guys in the locker room, so we’re just having fun and putting everything on the table and seeing what happens.”