White Sox

Spring training storylines: Morel, Viciedo and walks

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Spring training storylines: Morel, Viciedo and walks

Through the end of July last season, Brent Morel had walked three times in 241 trips to the plate. His offense continued to lag as he tried to swing his way out of his season-long struggles.

But in August, Morel finally began to exercise more patience. He took four walks in the month, and while the results weren't there -- he posted a .273 OBP -- the pieces began to fall into place for success. When September rolled around, that success came with Morel taking 15 walks and hitting eight home runs.

A walk rate of 14.5 percent probably isn't sustainable for someone who wasn't big on free passes in the minor leagues. But Morel needs to carry that mindset he had in September over to 2012: It's far more important to make good contact than it is harmful not to make contact.

On the flip side, Dayan Viciedo showed a drastic improvement in his plate discipline across the entire 2011 season. His walk rate with Triple-A Charlotte was 8.9 percent (45 in 505 PA), almost three times higher than his 2010 Triple-A walk rate of three percent. And perhaps more encouragingly, Viciedo had an 8 percent walk rate in the majors last year, signaling his pitch recognition improvements did carry over to the majors.

Both players will have a new hitting coach in their respective ears, though, although Jeff Manto has spent time working with both in the minor leagues. For Morel and Viciedo to reach their full offensive ceilings, their pitch recognition and selection abilities can't take a step backward.

And while the small sample size of spring training isn't the best area to make these determinations, it's important for these two free-swingers to start 2012 off right with good plate discipline.

Zack Burdi is pitching off a mound again

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USA TODAY

Zack Burdi is pitching off a mound again

Zack Burdi was thought of as a college pitcher who could make the major leagues quickly after he was drafted in 2016.

The White Sox drafted him 26th overall that year and it appeared his quick rise through the minors was going to come true. Burdi reached Triple-A Charlotte by the end of 2016 and had a 2.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 16 innings with the Knights.

However, he had Tommy John surgery in July and hasn't pitched in more than 11 months. The 23-year-old from Downers Grove is nearing his return and had video proof.

That's Burdi throwing off a mound, which means a rehab stint might not be far behind. Burdi may not getting into the full swing of things before the minor league season ends in early September, but this is a good sign for him being ready to go for spring training in 2019.

Before going on the disabled list, Burdi had a 4.05 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 33 1/3 innings with the Knights in 2017.

Which NL team is the biggest threat to the Cubs, José Abreu (still) consistently playing well

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USA TODAY

Which NL team is the biggest threat to the Cubs, José Abreu (still) consistently playing well

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to discuss what National League team is the biggest threat for the Cubs, possible minor league moves for the White Sox and if Addison Russell should be 'always ready' versus expecting an off day.

Plus, we go pregaming with Siera Santos.

Listen to the full Baseball Night in Chicago podcast here