Vizquel sees why Chicago White Sox are fired up about future

Creeping up on the two-year mark in the rebuild, the Chicago White Sox remain bullish on their future despite costly injuries to top prospects Michael Kopech, Jake Burger and Zack Burdi.

Managing high Class A Winston-Salem this season, Omar Vizquel has seen the future.

"It was a very exciting year for us," Vizquel said. "I had a lot of high expectations for the team because we had a lot of top prospects in the organization. It was interesting because sometimes you don't know what to expect from these guys, but as soon as you see them go on the field, you see what kind of talent they have."

Vizquel was voted Carolina League manager of the year after going 84-54 in his first season in the Dash's dugout.

"We communicated a lot and we played the game the right way," said Vizquel, who also heaped credit on hitting coach Charlie Poe, pitching coach and Arlington Heights native Matt Zaleski and bench coach Guillermo Quiroz.

"I think that's the No. 1 thing you have to do with your players. If you know what the plan is and give it to them, and they know what their role is for the team, it makes things easier for everybody."

As a standout major-league player for 24 years, including two seasons (2010-11) with the White Sox, Vizquel let his Hall of Fame-caliber performance do most of the talking.

That changed when he moved into the dugout, but the 51-year-old manager also benefited from a deep roster that featured top prospects Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Dylan Cease, Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo.

After being drafted in the first round (No. 4 overall) out of Oregon State in June, Madrigal played his final 26 games of the season with Winston-Salem and batted .306/.355/.347 while striking out only five times in 98 at-bats.

"What's great is his mindset," Vizquel said. "He has good ability; he has very quick hands; he can turn some good double plays and get to a lot of balls. What separates him from the rest of the young kids is his maturity. He thinks outside the box. He's always asking questions about how to make a play another way, even if can already make it.

"He's thinking ahead of the game; he's always talking to pitchers about different situations. You don't see that in young kids very often, and that's what I really like about this guy."

In addition to managing many of the Sox's top-end prospects, Vizquel also got great production from lesser-known young talents such as Luis Gonzalez, Tanner Banks, Bernando Flores, Laz Rivera and Gavin Sheets.

Rivera, a 28th-round draft pick in 2017, was a huge surprise for the Dash with a .280/.325/.458 slash line. The infielder also had 15 doubles, 7 home runs and 37 RBI in 61 games after being promoted from low Class A Kannapolis.

"He has solid bat-to-ball skills and some sneaky pop," said Chris Getz, the White Sox's director of player development. "Nothing jumps out at you other than he has a really strong understanding of how to play the game and maximize his skill set. We continue to challenge him, and he continues to answer the bell."

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