Adam Engel

Watch: Adam Engel robbed another homer with a spectacular catch

Watch: Adam Engel robbed another homer with a spectacular catch

Adam Engel has this defense thing down pretty good.

The White Sox center fielder is no stranger to making jaw-dropping catches in center field, and he delivered another in Monday night's game against the New York Yankees.

With two runs already in in the top of the fourth inning, Greg Bird blasted a ball to center that if it left the park could've put the visiting Bronx Bombers up on the White Sox by a 5-0 score. Instead, Engel leaped and came down with the ball, recording a critical out for his pitcher, Dylan Covey, and turning in his latest highlight-reel play.

Take a look:

It might not have been Engel's greatest catch ever — he made this gem almost exactly a year ago — but it says something about his defensive prowess that he can make this kind of grab and it's seen as a somewhat expected outcome.

That's what happens when you're an Engel in the outfield.

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

0710-avi-garcia.jpg
USA TODAY

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

The outfield the White Sox thought they'd have all season long is finally back together.

Avisail Garcia came off the disabled list ahead of Saturday night's game in Seattle, bringing an end to his second DL stint of the campaign, both of which involved hamstring injuries. Garcia's return came a day after the return of Nicky Delmonico, who had been on the DL with a broken hand since mid May.

Here we are 96 games into the season, and Garcia has logged just 35 games, with Delmonico playing in 38. Leury Garcia had his own lengthy DL trip and has played in only 59 games. Daniel Palka, the replacement for any variety of those injured outfielders, has played in 66 games. Adam Engel, the Opening Day center fielder who is once again struggling with the bat (he entered Saturday with a .215 batting average), is the lone outfielder to see action in an overwhelming majority of the team's contests. He's appeared in 86 of them.

At the dawn of the second half, though, everyone's healthy again. But as is the case with most positions on the current big league roster, how long into this rebuilding franchise's future will those players be occupying those spots?

Outfield is one of a couple areas in which the White Sox have incredible depth. Eloy Jimenez is the No. 2 prospect in baseball and gets a deserved amount of attention (he hit two home runs in Friday night's game down at Triple-A Charlotte), with Luis Robert generating plenty of excitement, too, with his high ranking and oft-discussed tool set. But those two headliners are hardly the only guys angling for a spot in the White Sox outfield of the future. There's Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Gonzalez, Joel Booker and more all developing down in the minor leagues.

Will all those names make the current crop of White Sox outfielders, finally healthy, irrelevant? And if so, how quickly?

Garcia came into the season as the White Sox reigning All-Star representative, but health isn't the only area in which he's had bad luck this season. He had a very slow start at the plate, slashing just .233/.250/.315 with one homer in 18 games before hitting the DL for two months in late April. Of course, after returning from that first layoff, he was excellent. Garcia slashed .333/.347/.783 with eight homers in just 17 games between June 22 and July 8 before hitting the DL again.

Garcia still has plenty to prove if he wants to be a part of the White Sox long-term future, chiefly in the form of consistency. Some of his numbers in 2017 were among the best in the American League, but can he do that again? Injuries have wiped out his ability to show he can do it over the course of another full season, but the remaining two months and change of the 2018 campaign will be the perfect opportunity to show the White Sox, not to mention the rest of the league, that he is a dependable long-term piece. If he can do that, the White Sox could find offseason suitors or interested parties at next year's trade deadline to swap Garcia for a rebuild-improving package. Or they could opt to extend him. His team control runs out after the 2019 season. Remember: He's only 27 years old.

Delmonico was another player embarking on a "prove it" campaign when 2018 began, and the broken hand sure didn't help him out in that department. But he managed to impress enough to get into the long-term conversation in only two months of action last season. Perhaps he could do the same over the final 60-plus games of this season.

If he's going to impress enough to do that, though, he'll have to shake off his own not-so-great beginning to the season, when he slashed .224/.333/.302 with only one homer in 37 games. In Friday's second-half opener, he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

Can any other members of this outfield do enough to keep themselves among the possibilities as the wave of prospects starts washing ashore on the South Side? For has hard as he's hit the ball — his nickname maybe should be "Exit Velocity" — Palka's managed just a .234 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage to go along with his 12 homers and 33 RBIs. Engel has still struggled to show he can do much offensively to complement his great defensive abilities. The player with the best case to stay in the conversation, at this point, might be Leury Garcia. The White Sox love his versatility, his ability to play both infield and outfield, and he's been on an offensive tear since returning from his own month-long layoff, slashing .338/.348/.477 in his last 20 games. Maybe he garners some interest as the trade deadline rapidly approaches?

Jimenez — slashing .319/.373/.594 with five homers in 18 games since being promoted to Triple-A — is coming. If he keeps this pace up, he'd figure to be a lock to play for the White Sox before the end of this season. But Rick Hahn has talked about the importance of Jimenez getting at-bats in Triple-A, and the 30-games-under-.500 White Sox are in no rush to bring up reinforcements before their development dictates it.

So there might be an increasingly limited window in which this crop of outfielders has the opportunity to prove its worth in the White Sox long-term plans. Injuries that have slowed things down for Robert and Adolfo have increased that opportunity for the current big leaguers, too. But as Basabe showed in last weekend's Futures Game, there's no shortage of outfield prospects knocking on the door. So for the Garcias, Delmonico, Engel and Palka, now's the time to impress.

Who knew? Baseball oddities from Javier Báez, Yolmer Sánchez and more in Chicago baseball

kamka_may_28.jpg
USA TODAY

Who knew? Baseball oddities from Javier Báez, Yolmer Sánchez and more in Chicago baseball

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

While you’re gathered with your families for the holiday, what better to entertain a crowd than a long list of baseball statistics! These outstanding feats in Chicago baseball are perfect to rattle off in between trips to the grill (or refrigerator)! So without further ado…

Catch Him if you Can

There have been 14 triples hit by catchers this season (through Sunday). 28.6 percent of them (four) have come off the bat of Willson Contreras.

Contreras is the first Cubs catcher with four triples before the All-Star break since Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett in 1936.

Triple Threat

When Yolmer Sánchez isn’t dousing the field with Gatorade, he’s running wild on the bases. 

Sánchez hit his fifth triple (which is tied for the Major League lead with Javier Báez) on Sunday, and over the last year’s worth of games, he’s at the top of the list.

Most triples, last 365 days (May 28, 2017 – May 27, 2018):

Yolmer Sánchez    11
Nicholas Castellanos 10
Billy Hamilton  10

Double Up

José Abreu enters Monday tied for the MLB lead with 19 doubles this season.  He hit numbers 18 and 19 on Saturday, the team's 49th game this season. 19 doubles through 49 team games in a season is the best by a White Sox player since the legendary Zeke “Banana Nose” Bonura in 1937 (also 19). 

Triple-Double

Sánchez (five triples) and Abreu (19 doubles) give the White Sox players tied for the MLB lead in each category.

The last time a team had the Major League leader in doubles and triples (or at least a share for the MLB lead) was 2007, when Curtis Granderson (23 triples) and Magglio Ordoñez (54 doubles) led the Majors in those categories for the Detroit Tigers.

A Contrast in Style

The Cubs mixed it up last Friday against the Giants at Wrigley Field. Consider this:

First batter of game: Gorkys Hernández facing Kyle Hendricks: 86.1 MPH 4-seam Fastball, 86.4 MPH Sinker, 87.1 MPH Sinker (three-pitch strikeout)

Last batter of game: Mac Williamson facing Brandon Morrow: 100.1 MPH Sinker, 99.8 MPH Sinker, 99.7 MPH Sinker (three-pitch strikeout)

The 10/10 club

Entering Monday, there are three players with double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases.

Mookie Betts, Mike Trout… and Tim Anderson!

Anderson reached the 10 home run/10 stolen base plateau in team game number 49 this season, the quickest Sox player to do so since Alex Ríos in 2010 (team game 48).

Anderson’s ninth and 10th home runs of the season came Saturday at Detroit. He now has three multi-home run games this season – at three AL Central ballparks (Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City opening day March 29, Guaranteed Rate Field May 5, and Comerica Park in Detroit May 26).

Anderson is one of only two shortstops in White Sox history with multiple multi-home run games in a season. 

Most multi-home run games in a season by a White Sox shortstop:

Tim Anderson 3 2018
José Valentín 3 2003
José Valentín 3 2002
José Valentín 3 2000
12 tied with    1

The 1/1 club

Last Wednesday, José Rondón and Adam Engel both hit a home run and stole a base. It was only the 13th time since 1908 that a pair of White Sox players homered and stole a base in the same game. It was the first time since exactly two years earlier (May 23, 2016) when Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie did it.

The Will to Not Walk

Javier Báez is the first Cubs player to hit five triples and 10 home runs before the All-Star break since Corey Patterson in 2004. 

And through Monday’s game, there are still 43 games to go before we reach the All-Star break.

The last time Báez drew a walk was April 11. 

From April 12 through May 27, 468 players (including Cubs reliever Randy Rosario, who walked in his first Major League plate appearance on Sunday) have drawn at least one walk. But not Báez. 

Mike Trout has drawn 39 walks over that same span.

Báez from April 12 to May 27: .275/.277/.542, no walks, 33 strikeouts

Oh yeah… that walk Báez took on April 11? It was intentional. His last unintentional walk was April 7.

Why walk when you can run, I guess...