As we continue our tour of the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this afternoon, we look at the Chicago White Sox #12 prospect, Adam Engel.
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft out of the University of Louisville, Adam Engel is definitely known for his blazing quickness on the bases, so much so that MLB Pipeline gave him a perfect 80 grade for his speed.
But enough about his legs, what can he do with his bat? Unfortunately for the White Sox, not all that much. In 2014, the right-handed outfielder boasted a pedestrian season at the plate, on his way to a .264/.335/.400 slash line. Fast forward to the summer of 2015, where Engel hit slightly worse with a .253 batting average, although he did swipe 64 (!!) bases in 136 contests.
A way-too-generous, best-case-scenario comparison for Engel is Adam Eaton, who shines with his speed and his above average defensive skills. In addition, both do not hit for power, which may surprise some given Engel’s six-foot-two, 210 pound frame. However, Eaton is a much better contact hitter than Engel projects to be.
After the summer of 2015, when it seemed like Engel wasn’t destined for much, Arizona came calling. No one knows if it was the fall season, the warm weather, or the motivating fear of falling into the Grand Canyon, but Engel caught fire in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. Over a stretch of 19 games, Engel performed to a slash line of .403/.523/.642. Although these results were rightly taken with a grain of salt, given the league and the brevity of the span, it was still very encouraging.
Ranked as the number four White Sox prospect prior to 2016, Engel didn’t do much to help or hurt that ranking, finishing with another average campaign. His slash line ended at .259/.344/.406 in 129 games at Single-A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham, where about half of them came, and Triple-A Charlotte. He succeeded the most at A-ball in Winston-Salem, which continued his trend of hitting well with easier competition, but not impressing anyone at the higher levels.
As for 2017, I suspect Engel will remain in the minors, but he should see the majority of his action at Triple-A Charlotte as he develops in what should be his last full minor league campaign. He did receive an invitation to spring training, but only miraculous play would warrant a spot on the White Sox roster for Engel come Opening Day.
Most publications are projecting the 25 year-old to be, as a fourth outfielder at the major-league level, which seems right. He will make a living on the base-paths, nagging opposing teams as a pinch runner or if he gets on base. However, with the White Sox temporarily thin on future outfielders, Engel could very well start for a time in 2018, probably alongside Charlie Tilson.
Of course, it isn’t likely with the rebuild and the high possibility of the White Sox acquiring a better outfield prospect, but for now Engel has a good shot at serious playing time in the future.