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."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.