White Sox

White Sox: 'Aggressive' Tim Anderson making good progress

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White Sox: 'Aggressive' Tim Anderson making good progress

Maybe Tim Anderson will be the answer to the growing questions the White Sox are confronting at shortstop.

The 22-year-old entered Thursday hitting .308 with a .741 OPS in 69 games for Class-AA Birmingham, his first full season back in his home state of Alabama. He has 25 steals in 31 attempts, 14 doubles and six triples, and his 89 hits lead the Southern League — in which players are, on average, two years older than him.

“I feel like I’ve come a long ways compared to where I was two years ago,” Anderson, the White Sox first-round pick in 2013, said. “Everything’s just starting to click.”

The White Sox are pleased with Anderson’s progress, but recognize he still has a ways to go in his development.

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A hand injury limited Anderson to 84 games and 364 plate appearances in 2014, and he’ll finally reach the 1,000 plate appearance mark sometime in July. He doesn’t have the extensive baseball background of other top prospects, having not played the game competitively until his junior year of high school in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Anderson’s approach at the plate needs the most refinement, despite his solid offensive production. White Sox director of player development Nick Capra said Anderson is “freelancing a little bit too much” with his approach and while the organization likes his aggressiveness, they do want to see it dialed back a bit.

In 304 plate appearances this year, Anderson has walked 10 times against 62 strikeouts. But that’s not necessarily what the White Sox are concerned about.

Capra said Anderson has a tendency to swing at pitcher’s pitches — like a slider diving low and off the plate — early in counts. His quick hands and good plate coverage allow him to make contact with those pitches, but it’s not always good contact.

“We’d rather him maybe be a little bit more patient and look for hitter’s pitches to hit early in the count,” Capra said. “But he’s hitting .300 and leading the league in hits, so we don’t want to take that aggressiveness away from him. We want him to be an aggressive hitter.”

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Still, the White Sox aren’t going to parachute in and make any major adjustments to Anderson’s approach or overall offensive game. The thought is as Anderson continues to get more baseball experience, the pitch recognition and plate discipline will begin to come around.

“That’s the tough part about it — he’s having so much success, we don’t want to get in his way,” Capra said. “We don’t want to give him too much information that may kind of dwarf his experience or his path to development. We gotta be subtle in the way we do things with him.”

Anderson isn’t going to be the patient, sit-on-your-pitch type of hitter. He’s going swing, and swing a lot. That’s who he’s comfortable being as a player.

“I’m still aggressive and I’m always going to be aggressive,” Anderson said. “It’s just my style of hitting and how I hit. I feel like I’ve got a lot better, I’m making a lot of contact and squaring a lot of balls up.”

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The White Sox are nonetheless happy with the strides Anderson has made offensively, but they’re even more pleased with his improvement in two areas that the major league club has struggled with: Baserunning and defense.

Anderson’s baserunning instincts have taken a major step forward, Capra said, as he’s learned how to read pitchers and better time his jumps. He only stole 10 bases in 15 attempts in 2014 but his 81 percent success rate this year is the result of a better feel for that part of his game.

After making 31 errors last year, and booting a few balls during his spring training showcases, plenty of questions were raised if Anderson could stay at shortstop. He’s made 15 errors this year, though he and Capra attributed that still-elevated total to him having better range — especially to his right — and instincts in the field.

The White Sox have a track record of being aggressive in promoting prospects through the minor league ranks, and Alexei Ramirez has the lowest WAR of any qualified player this year (-1.3). The elephant in the room is Ramirez’s $10 million club option for 2016 (with a $1 million buyout) — Anderson may not be ready by the start of the 2016 season, but there a path could be cleared for him to reach the majors as soon as this fall.

Anderson, though, isn’t looking at the big picture. He’s not thinking about moving up to Triple-A, let alone the major leagues, and trusts that process will take care of itself so long as he remains focused on his craft in Birmingham.

“It’s just control what I can control and not get too excited about that,” Anderson said. “It’s gonna happen, it’s just, who knows when it’s gonna happen because I can’t control that, I can’t make that call. It’s just basically doing what I’m doing where I’m at and just staying focused.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list