White Sox

White Sox to increase efforts in Latin America with additional scouts

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White Sox to increase efforts in Latin America with additional scouts

The White Sox will hire seven scouts this offseason as the franchise refines and reshuffles its international and amateur departments.

After he spent the last 14 months assessing an international department that has produced one player over the past decade, Marco Paddy, the special assistant to the general manager in international operations, will add five new scouts.

The amateur scouting department will also add two new scouts.

While hes happy for the additional bodies in his department, amateur scouting director Doug Laumann is more pleased with the international hires. Rick Hahn last week described a department, which will add two scouts in the Dominican Republic, one in Mexico, one in Venezuela and another to cover Curacao and other areas, as bare bones.

It will kind of get us up to speed, Laumann said. I dont think its a secret we tried in the amateur department to supplement things werent getting internationally. Its what we need to do.

Over the last season Paddy -- who spent the previous five years as the director of Latin American operations for the Toronto Blue Jays -- determined what were the White Sox international issues and how to fix them.

The department has had recent success in its development of infielders Eduardo Escobar -- who was traded to the Minnesota Twins in July -- and Carlos Sanchez, along with pitcher Andre Rienzo.

But much more production is needed and with restrictions placed on international spending in the most recent collective bargaining agreement, the White Sox felt now is the time to make their move.

(Marco) has a feel for what we need, said Del Matthews, assistant director of player development and scouting. Weve had recent success, but it was definitely needed. With the new rule changes in the basic agreement it kind of made it an even playing field for everybody and it was a great opportunity for us to ramp up our efforts and hopefully well see some fruit in a couple of years.

Laumann believes international production will help the team in the amateur draft in terms of creativity. In years past, because the organization needed to add bodies the international program didnt produce, Laumann was forced to find players to fill holes instead of taking risks on higher potential draftees.

Your hands are tied going to the draft knowing you have to find that shortstop or second baseman, Laumann said. It takes away from your creativity and what you can do.

Laumann still must find one more scout for his own department after he promoted J.J. Lally to a full-time area scout. Formerly an assistant director of player development and scouting, Lally will cover the Northwest as the White Sox reduce Adam Virchis previously large territory -- one that included all of Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Canada.

Weve been spread a little thin, Laumann said. We felt like (Virchis) was spending too much time away from the Bay Area.

The team must also find an area scout for the Northeast as part of the domino effect from the promotion of Nick Hostetler, who became the assistant director of amateur scouting.

Ryan Dorsey, who previously scouted the Northeast, now covers Indiana, Michigan and Chicagoland. His position must be filled.

The two new hires gives Laumanns department 18 area scouts and 25 bodies overall.

The extra personnel can be good as long as your organization has good communication and knows how to weed through the information, Laumann said. We have a pretty good mix now.

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

The White Sox catching depth will soon be put to the test.

Saturday, the White Sox placed catcher Welington Castillo on seven-day concussion list. In a corresponding move, the team promoted catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte, 

In 26 games this season, Castillo holds a .176/.286/.318 slashline with three home runs in 85 at-bats. He exited Friday's game against the Twins in the eighth inning after taking two foul tips off of his catcher's mask. 

While White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday that Castillo didn't go into concussion protocol, the team is likely being precautious due to the nature of the injury. 

Zavala, 25, has yet to appear in the big leagues, though he's played in 360 minor league games since the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He holds a career slashline of .267/.335/.457 across all minor league levels, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. 

Zavala's slashline this season is currently below his career averages (.218/.253/.506 in 21 games), but he's hit six home runs in 87 at-bats. Last season, he hit 13 in a combined 380 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

Although the circumstances of his promotion are not ideal, Zavala is leaving Charlotte on a high-note. In last night's game against the Durham Bulls, he went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.

With Castillo out, the White Sox will likely lean on James McCann more. In 31 games this season, McCann holds a stellar .333/.373/.523 slashline

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White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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