Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Still trying to find his niche, White Sox prospect Courtney Hawkins is having a big spring in Glendale, Ariz.
Hawkins, 21, is doing everything within his power this spring to show the organization that drafted him 13th overall in the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft, that he can one day be a viable option in the outfield. In 12-games this spring Hawkins has nine hits, one home run and four driven in while maintaining a .391 average. This was the type of play that Kenny Williams, GM at the time, had in mind when he first laid eyes on the 6-foot-3, 220-pound slugger from Corpus Christi, Texas.
Up until now, it didn’t look good for the slugger who had a dismal 2013 season, his second year in professional baseball. Hawkins hit .178 with Winston-Salem, striking out 160 times in just over 400 at-bats. This wasn’t a season that Hawkins, who was drafted straight out of high school, thought he would never see. I’m sure it humbled him as baseball often does with young prospects but what comes next is important. The thing that will separate him from guys like Dayan Viciedo, Jordan Danks and Gordon Beckham is his ability to learn from his mistakes and make adjustments.
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One of the biggest advantages Hawkins has this spring is the chance to watch and learn from one of the best hitters in the game, Jose Abreu. Abreu is one of the top hitters in the league not just because of his size but because his ability to go to the plate with a plan. This is what the Sox want to see from Hawkins. Adjusting to pitchers while at the plate instead of just hoping to hit the ball a mile can be a sign of a player who is close to making the leap to pro ball.
Now, it may be too early to make comparisons but something that I have seen this spring are the similarities between Hawkins and current Sox outfielder, Melky Cabrera. I am not sure if it was planned this way but if his play stays consistent enough, Hawkins could be the top candidate to take over for Cabrera when his contract is up in three years.
Until then, the young slugger will most likely spend his 2015 season with the Sox Double-A affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. As long as he stays away from performing backflips on live-TV (see video below) and continues to show a will to improve and learn, Hawkins looks to have a promising career on the Southside of Chicago someday soon.