White Sox

White Sox send Adam Engel to Triple-A with goal of getting his offense to more closely match his defense

White Sox send Adam Engel to Triple-A with goal of getting his offense to more closely match his defense

Adam Engel's hitting has to improve.

That's not news to White Sox fans. Or to Engel, or to the White Sox, it should be noted. But the White Sox finally took the step of sending Engel to Triple-A Charlotte to work on his offense, optioning him there along with reliever Caleb Frare after Sunday's loss to the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Engel has struggled to find much offensive success at the major league level, the owner of a career .207 batting average in 226 big league games. But this is the first time he'll move down a level since coming up to the majors in June of 2017. All but the first eight games of his career have been played since he was called up on June 20, 2017, and while his numbers were certainly better in 2018 than they were in 2017, it's generally been a struggle.

Engel's defense, of course, is elite. He was a Gold Glove finalist last year and has made a habit of robbing would-be home-run balls off the bats of opponents. He's a tremendous center fielder, no one's doubting that.

But a career .262 on-base percentage just isn't going to fly at the major league level, and though this might be another season of waiting for the young stars of the future to develop, the White Sox opted to move Engel off the active roster Sunday.

"He's got to hit. He's got to go play. Bottom line. He's got to go get some more at-bats," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "He hasn't started with us. We've had (Leury Garcia) going out there, and Ryan (Cordell)'s getting his shot in right. We're making this move to get him the at-bats.

"I'll tell you what I told him: I want his dynamic defense to be parallel with some offense. Simple as that. He needs to get on at a .330 clip, he needs to hit maybe .250 so that he can help you both offensively and defensively."

Some frustrated White Sox fans might scream "it's about time" at their screens upon reading the news, and that's not surprising after they watched Engel do what he's done at the plate over the last two years. This is a guy who hit .166 in 2017. To his credit, those numbers were better last season, when he finished with a .235 average. He's off to a .212 start this season, not showing many signs of making another jump to a more respectable level, but also, as Renteria mentioned, not exactly getting a ton of opportunity to do so.

As things stand right this second, Engel doesn't look like someone who will be a big part of the White Sox long-term plans, at least not without some things dramatically changing. Outfield is probably the deepest part of the farm system, and the hope is that of a large group of young players containing Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Blake Rutherford, Luis Gonzalez, Steele Walker and Joel Booker, at least three or four of those guys will be able to hit better at the big league level than Engel has to this point.

If that happens — and obviously the White Sox would like to have the "good problem" of having too many good outfielders — where's the room for Engel? If the White Sox become a contending team, he would perhaps have good value as a defensive replacement. But the White Sox aren't there yet.

Maybe Engel discovers some magic in this trip to Charlotte. Given the churn involving the outfield and the pitching staff so far this season, it wouldn't exactly be surprising to see Engel make another appearance on the South Side before the campaign's over, and Renteria said that he fully expects Engel to play in the big leagues again after Sunday.

But in order to make himself a desirable addition, he's going to need to improve what he can do with the bat. That's not news. But it's the decision the White Sox made Sunday.

"Do I think he's a big league player? Absolutely. Do I think Engel will be back in the big leagues? Absolutely," Renteria said. "Because he believes it and we believe that he has the skill to do it. We're trying to make sure that both sides of the game are running a little more parallel."

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Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.

Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues


Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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