Spring Training has officially come to a close as of Sunday. The outfield group for the White Sox featured a glimpse into the future as well as a glimpse into this season. Between a position battle and top prospects making their debuts, the outfielders were one of the most exciting groups to watch this spring. Let’s take a look at how the players in this group performed during Spring Training.
Adam Engel was the topic of conversation in the earlier parts of camp. He arrived to Glendale debuting a new leg kick to go along with his swing and center field was considered to be an open position, creating a battle for the spot throughout Spring Training. Engel is a player who’s known for his glove, but it was his bat that was very impressive this spring.
Aside from being tied for the team lead in home runs with four, Adam Engel finished Spring Training with a .383 avg and an OPS of 1.155. Positional battles can bring out the best and the worst in players and it’s safe to say that this battle brought out the best in him. Best game: March 12 @ Mariners (2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R).
Ryan Cordell was a player who wasn’t expected to crack the big league roster out of camp. After consistent play, he found himself making a great case for a roster spot. Eventually he was sent down to Triple-A, but he might not be there for the entire season.
“His at-bats are quality at-bats,” Renteria said of Cordell. “His swings in hitting counts are very strong. It’s almost (as if) you know he’s putting himself in a position to do damage. The organization already viewed him as somebody who had quality and we’re getting to see it (in) him for the first time, putting our eyes on him, and he’s a pretty impressive young man.”
Cordell doesn’t fit the mold of the stereotypical center fielder, but that’s where he spent the majority of his Spring Training. He managed to do a great job as he only committed one error in the field. Cordell finished with a .317 batting average and really grabbed the attention of the personnel around the clubhouse. Best game: March 8 @ Texas (3-3, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB).
Avisail Garcia entered Spring Training looking to build on his success from last year. He wasted no time picking up where he left off as Avi had a very productive spring season at the plate and in the field.
To pair up with his .364 avg this spring, he picked up an assist and posted a perfect fielding percentage. Garcia arrived to camp later than most positional players, but with the way he played all spring it seemed like he was one of the first one’s there. Best game: March 16 vs. Cubs (3-4, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 R).
Nicky Delmonico entered Spring Training in 2018 in a much different situation than last year. Instead of fighting for a roster spot, this year he was locked into his spot on the team. In the early days of camp he spent a lot of time working out at first-base. However, he would spend the majority of his Spring Training playing left field.
He was a little shaky in the field and struggled with reading the ball at times. A lack of communication between him and Tyler Saladino as they both went for a pop fly caused him to hurt his shoulder and miss a few games. His batting average wasn’t that great (.259), but a lot of his outs came from hard contact and he just missed on hitting a few balls over the fence. Best game: March 1 @ Reds (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI).
Eloy Jimenez dealt with left knee tendinitis that diminished his opportunities this spring. Once he was cleared to play, he made the most out of every opportunity. His first home run this spring came late in a game against his former team. Eloy smacked a go-ahead two-run home run in a pinch hitting role. The game ended in a tie, but it was great to see him succeed in situational hitting.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 11, 2018
Eloy would connect on his second home run of Spring Training in his next at-bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had two hits in this game and both of them were off of Arizona’s Opening Day starter, Patrick Corbin. Seeing him have no trouble against an experienced MLB pitcher like Corbin shows why there is so much buzz surrounding his name. In seven total plate appearances, Eloy Jimenez had four hits and posted a .571 avg. Best game: March 11 vs. Diamondbacks (2-2, HR, 3B, RBI, BB, 2 R).
Luis Robert arrived to Glendale ready for his first taste of baseball in The United States. He made an appearance at the hitters camp earlier this year, but he did not get to see live pitching until Spring Training. From the day he arrived, one thing that stood out besides his bat was his work ethic. In communication drills for the outfielders, Luis took charge on almost every fly ball, even if they were slightly out of his range.
Luis saw 10 plate appearance this spring and posted a .300 avg. In a B game against the Dodgers, he ripped a double against Kenley Jansen. Directly after he stole third-base, showing off the speed he’s known for. His lone home run he hit in Spring Training came in the most climactic fashion as he hit a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth-inning against the Reds. He looked extremely comfortable in center field and it seems like that will be the position he’s destined for when he reaches the majors.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 8, 2018
Unfortunately, Luis Robert was another outfielder that fell victim to the injury bug and his time in Arizona was cut short. A sprained thumb has caused the outfield prospect to be sidelined for up to ten weeks and he was assigned to minor league camp shortly after the official diagnosis was released. Best game: March 7 vs. Reds (1-4, HR, 4 RBI, R).
Charlie Tilson was another player that had the opportunity to win the starting center field spot. His name was quickly taken out of the positional battle as he was assigned to minor league camp just a couple of weeks into Spring Training. The biggest obstacle in Tilson’s way is his health. If he can remain healthy, he will have every opportunity to play in the majors at some point.
Tilson was only able to generate three hits in 18 plate appearances this spring, but he had minimal trouble with hitting the ball in play as he only struck out three times. In a game against the A’s that was decided by one run, Charlie Tilson laid down a nearly perfect squeeze bunt that scored Jose Rondon after he hit a triple. Sending Charlie Tilson to Triple-A was the right move. After missing so much time due to injury, it’s best for him to get consistent at-bat’s and Charlotte is the place where that can happen. Best game: February 26 vs. A’s (0-3, RBI).
Micker Adolfo‘s Spring Training can be compared to a roller coaster ride. Throughout camp he was one of the most impressive hitters and had a lot of people excited about seeing what he could do. He was in the same hitting group as Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez and those three were a group that everyone wanted to stop what they were doing so they could watch them go to work.
Fast forward a few days and he was hit with the news that he suffered a sprained UCL and would miss the rest of Spring Training. He then came to the conclusion (at the direction of team medical personnel) that he would not need surgery to repair his UCL, and that he could serve as a DH. At the plate, his timing was off at first, but he quickly figured things out and went on to have a good spring despite his injury limitations. Best game: March 4 vs. Brewers (1-1, 2B, RBI).
Last, but not least is Luis Alexander Basabe. He was considered a “throw in” piece in the return package for the Chris Sale trade. However, he is shaping up to be an intriguing prospect. Luis is still a raw player, but he definitely made some highlight plays throughout his Cactus League play.
Multiple times throughout Spring Training we saw Luis Alexander Basabe sliding and diving in the outfield on his way to making a highlight reel catch. He showed off his arm in a game against the Mariners when he picked up an assist throwing out Gordon Beckham as he tried to turn a single into a double. Six days later he displayed some pop in his bat as he hit an opposite-field solo home run against the division rival Royals. Best game: February 24 @ Mariners (1-1, 2B, RBI, OF Assist).