White Sox prospect Engel's a hit in Arizona Fall League

Updated 11/17/2015 7:21 PM

Heading into the 2015 season, the Chicago White Sox liked prospect Adam Engel's standout speed. They liked the center fielder's strong defensive skills.

Engel's bat was the big question mark.


"He was a little bit stiff when we first got him," said Nick Capra, the Sox' director of player development. "Not a lot of rhythm, not a lot of movement. Just kind of a one-direction, jumping-at-the-ball kind of hitter."

Engel, a 19th-round draft pick out of the University of Louisville in 2013, has made some impressive strides at the plate.

After batting .251 at high Class A Winston-Salem last season, leading the Carolina League with 90 runs scored and 65 stolen bases and ranking second with 133 hits and 9 triples, the 23-year-old Engel was sent to the Arizona Fall League to compete against baseball's top young talent.

Engel is making the most of the opportunity, and the right-handed hitter was leading the AFL with a .397 average heading into Tuesday's play.

"It feels good to have hard work pay off," Engel said. "I'm a big believer that if you get the right information from the people around you and you really work at it, you give yourself a chance to have success. It's been good to see that success while I've been out here.

"It's been a confidence builder and it just confirms that I'm getting the right information. It feels good and hopefully I can carry this out into next year."

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Slated to play at Class AA Birmingham and bat leadoff in 2016, Engel said the biggest difference at the plate is experience.

In addition to hitting nearly .400 for the Glendale Desert Dogs, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder had a .524 on-base percentage and 1.175 OPS.

"I actually had a conversation with our hitting guy (Nelson Prada) out here," Engel said. "I would say the biggest difference is my approach at the plate. We kind of laughed about how in my first year of pro ball, I'd be in the box looking for a fastball to swing at. Now if you asked me what my approach is, I'd have to ask the situation, something along those lines.

"Back then I think no matter what, I was, 'I'm just trying to hit the fastball.' I think that's probably been the biggest change."

After stealing 65 bases with Winston-Salem, Engel had 10 steals in 18 games with Glendale.

"I feel like speed is something that I probably developed the quickest as far as my skill set goes," Engel said. "I learned in college from a really good basestealing mind in coach (Dan) McDonnell. That's kind of where it all started for me basestealing wise and I've been able to carry that on and recognize that it's not always the stolen base that people are worried about but just how you run the bases and the way that translates into defense.

"When people respect your speed, it gets them thinking maybe things they shouldn't be thinking about. Maybe they lose focus. I've come to realize that I don't need to necessarily just steal in order to maximize my speed tools."

• Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor.


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