James Fegan wrapped up his North Carolina reporting with a dispatch from Kannapolis, where we have our first documentation of the changes implemented by the White Sox’ new swing analysts.
Ryan Johansen, one of two hitting instructors hired by the White Sox over the winter, is attempting to rebuild pregame routines for the Intimidators.
On one hand, it’s good to see the White Sox taking modern methods seriously. But one of the hallmarks of a great James Fegan story is the innocuous presentation of quotes and anecdotes that are varying degrees of damning. In the vein of Leury García’s YouTube habits and Jose Abreu buying Eloy Jiménez an iPad comes this …
“Previous years we didn’t have analytics guys with us, nor did we have stuff before the game,” said first baseman Corey Zangari, who despite being just 22, has experienced parts of three seasons in Kannapolis. “We had like, the pitcher, how hard he threw, his ERA, stuff like that. But we didn’t have hot zones or what he throws in counts, or percentages of what he throws in this count, or percentages of what he throws in that count, what his go-to pitch is, what his best pitch is.”
… and this:
“It’s near the same,” [Alex] Destino said when asked to compare the level of information to that of his college days playing in the SEC. “We were given a lot of things at South Carolina, I was very fortunate playing there. The environments we played in front of were a lot different from here, but the metrics, I mean it’s kind of the same thing.”
One thing James didn’t mention was the general lack of standout performances from the Intimidators, who were shut out by Greensboro on Tuesday. Zangari, for example, is hitting .192 with a .698 OPS.
Charlotte 15, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1
- Nick Madrigal struck out for the first time at Charlotte, but made up for it by going 4-for-6 with a double.
- Luis Robert tripled, doubled, singled twice, struck out once and stole a base.
- Zack Collins went 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
- Yermin Mercedes was 3-for-5 with two doubles.
- Seby Zavala went 2-for-5 with a homer and a strikeout.
- Danny Mendick was 3-for-5.
- Kyle Kubat: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K
*Our Man in Charlotte Jonathan Lee, who asked Eloy Jiménez about Rick Hahn’s box-checking comment last year, asked Robert about any fatigue issues this year.
Birmingham 8, Mississippi 1
- Luis Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with two doubles and a stolen base.
- Gavin Sheets also went 2-for-5 with two doubles, but without the steal.
- Blake Rutherford was 2-for-4 with sac fly and a K.
- Ti’Quan Forbes went 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Laz Rivera went 2-for-4.
- Lincoln Henzman: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
Winston-Salem 7, Carolina 3
- Steele Walker went 1-for-3 with a walk, HBP and strikeout.
- Andrew Vaughn went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two walks.
- Carlos Perez was 0-for-5.
Greensboro 2, Kannapolis 0
- Lenyn Sosa wore the collar and silver sombrero.
- Romy Gonzalez also struck out all three times up.
- Corey Zangari went 0-for-3 with a K.
- Camilo Quinteiro went 0-for-3.
Rocky Mountain 8, Great Falls 1
- Kelvin Maldonado went 0-for-3 with an HBP and a strikeout.
- Harvin Mendoza went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
- Sam Abbott went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Anderson Comas wore the collar and silver sombrero.
AZL Dodgers Mota 5, AZL White Sox 1
- Samil Polanco went 1-for-4.
- Sidney Pimentel was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Bryce Bush restarted his rehab stint, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
- Anthony Coronado replaced him, homering and striking out in his two plate appearances.
- Micker Adolfo went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
- DJ Gladney earned the golden sombrero.
- Bryan Ramos went 0-for-3.
- Same for Josue Guerrero, with two strikeouts.
- Misael Gonzalez singled and struck out twice.
- Andrew Dalquist’s pro debut: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
DSL White Sox 9, DSL Blue Jays 1
- Wilber Sanchez went 0-for-4 with two walks, three strikeouts and a stolen base.
- Yolbert Sanchez went 0-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base.
- Benyamin Bailey was 0-for-5.
- Anthony Espinoza went 1-for-4 with a walk.
Wow, what a day for our prospects! Between Madrigal, Robert, Collins, Gonzalez, Rutherford, Sheets and Vaughn, they were 18-33 with 9 doubles and a triple. Don’t stop now, boys!
It’s just too bad for these kids that the major league roster is overflowing with talent right now so all their promotions are blocked. ?♂️
Yeah, you’d have to be really impressive to be able to replace the likes of Engel, Cordell, Jay, Castillo, Yolmer and Skole. Those would be really big shoes to fill.
You want Gonzalez, Rutherford, Sheets, and Vaughn on the MLB roster right now?
No, but Robert, Collins, Mercedes and Mendick should be up. Then Rutherford or Gonzalez can move up to AAA.
Exactly. And Walker to AA.
The only argument I could see for keeping Mendick down is they want to wait until September to DFA guys like Cordell or Palka because the minor league season will be over and interest in signing a minor league free agent contract would be at its lowest.
Robert makes sense to me. Rutherford and Gonzalez have done nothing to warrant a promotion to AAA.
Collins literally just overhauled his swing, he could probably use more time at AAA to work through the upcoming adjustments to his adjustments.
Mendick is probably just Yolmer 2.0, but we might as well find out sooner rather than later. Call him up! Mercedes is the guy I really want up though. For the pure spectacle of that beautiful, beefy dinger machine.
Imagine what they would hit when they aren’t tired
“We had like, the pitcher, how hard he threw, his ERA, stuff like that.”
ERA? I hope he was just tossing out pitching stats and misspoke, because I have no idea how knowing a pitcher’s ERA helps a hitter.
Typical modern hitter, selling out for power.
Jonathan asked him about the strikeout (skip to 1:21):
“Just one of those things” sighting!
Dude clearly hates striking out. He grimaced when Jonathan brought it up.
After reading about Leury I realized I had a fundamental misunderstanding about how these things work. I thought before a series the team would have an enforced regimen to look at video, discuss pitchers, etc… Instead, it’s just a bunch of guys
Football has always been more formal about “watching tape” together as a team, although even then, some players do more on their own than others.
Football plays a comparative handful of games and not daily. So I understand how that is different. But I would still expect a more formal process and resources for baseball. In effect, setting the bar high. If some guys choose to not to take it seriously, that would hurt them in the long run.
I think the daily grind of baseball is probably why there isn’t a culture of enforced team regimens. Players are already at the park 10+ hours a day, depending on their individual routine. Not saying there aren’t ways to make their prep hours more productive; just saying that’s probably why there’s not a big movement for hours-long team meetings in the film room.
Though that wasn’t really my expectation. In looking at the Fegan writing, I think of it this way: If pro baseball historically hasn’t had a strong culture or process (or whatever you want to call it) of preparation, then it shouldn’t be surprising that as even more data and resources came available, orgs like the Sox were slow to understand how to take advantage and apply it. So maybe less criticism is warranted.
Eh, the Leury thing was about how he prepares independently and in advance of what the team also assigns. Fegan’s followup reporting had Steverson talking in general terms about the team having structured prep.
Even the early-season stories about the Mariners’ new approach highlighted that all teams have meetings to go over the scouting reports though the quality of them varies.
Also, the focus on the advance scouting piece is kind of a distraction. Yeah, it’s dumb that the Sox weren’t putting their players in the best position to win games. But better scouting only offers marginal gains. So it’s more just another place the Sox were leaving value on the table rather than a huge deal.
The bigger returns are available in the actual coaching for talent development rather than game prep and that’s where they really lag behind the leaders.
But needing Abreu to convince Eloy that scouting reports are helpful is an enormous knock on Steverson or RR’s prep abilities when there are stories about the Astros analytics team sitting Verlander and Cole down and convincing them what they’ve been doing is wrong and they have a better way.
Except the Astros sat them down primarily to tell them to throw their better pitches more and their worse pitches less rather than per-start or per-hitter prep.
And Eloy’s story still cuts more against the decision to manipulate his service time than Steverson’s coaching. His talent wasn’t challenged in the minors enough to need sophisticated game prep. That’s also less of an anchor on his ability than the fact he should’ve had the offseason to work on facing Major League breaking pitches.
Which is exactly why Robert needs to be up NOW!
The Astros got buy-in from a future HOFer and the best FA in this year’s class as soon as they landed in Houston. Steverson and Co. let Eloy flail around until a teamate helped him out.
What would be more helpful to Eloy at this stage is the scouting report on HIMSELF.