White Sox outfield could see a battle for center field spot to start the season, but no change in right field. Left field could see a change towards end of the year.
With all the hype surrounding the future of the Chicago White Sox pitching rotation, some are forgetting the potential of what will be the outfield of the future. An area that was once arguably the weakest link in the organization, Rick Hahn has bolstered the outfield tremendously in the past year.
With 2017 seeing Melky Cabrera being traded away, there needed to be a resolution. Hahn quickly made his move, acquiring players such as Eloy Jimenez and Blake Rutherford. Both players now reside within the list of top-50 prospects in professional baseball.
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However, time will have to tell whether the two pan out how we are all hoping given they will more than likely start 2018 in the minor leagues. As for the major league outfield, the Sox have a couple hit-or-misses.
Tilson is the biggest hit-or-miss candidate of them all. Sox fans only got to see the young Illinois native play just one game after acquiring him in exchange for reliever Zach Duke back in 2016. After hitting a double in his debut for the White Sox, he suffered a season-ending injury that shelved him for the remainder of the 2016 season. Matters were only made worse when he re-injured himself during the 2017 Spring Training. During what was supposed to be his first full season as a starter, Tilson had to sit out the length of the season.
The hope is that Tilson will stay healthy in 2018 while patrolling center field and hitting leadoff. Though he’s not necessarily a highly regarded prospect, he possesses the potential to be a big part of the team. The speed of Tilson is game-changing, and his defense is even better. As long as he stays off of the disabled list, Tilson will be an everyday fixture for Rick Renteria.
The next question mark is that of one of the more experienced players on the club. Avisail Garcia, who saw a career year in 2017, hopes to produce more of the same in 2018. The 26-year-old sat near the top of the league in hitting with a .330 batting average to go along with 18 home runs. The outburst was great, obviously, but it creates a question. Is Garcia a one-year wonder? The hope for the White Sox and their fans alike is that he isn’t.
Avisail Garcia will undoubtedly be the starting right fielder on Opening Day 2018. The only thing that would change that is a trade. Regardless of a possible trade, Sox fans are excitingly expecting Avisail Garcia to be in right field this upcoming season. He and Jose Abreu will be the veteran presence that will lead the hitting this year for the Sox.
Another question mark in the outfield is the question of left field itself. There is no definite player that we are expecting to see there. However, the options that Renteria has to play with are plentiful. Players such as Leury Garcia, Nicky Delmonico, and Adam Engel are all great candidates to fill the spot. Leury Garcia had himself a career year in 2017, while Delmonico and Engel made their presence felt in their debut years.
Chances are Leury Garcia will end up being the Opening Day left fielder. Since joining the club in 2013 after being acquired for Alex Rios, Garcia never exactly made his presence felt. He changed that in 2017 hitting .270 with a .316 on-base percentage. As always, his defense was solid as well. Once Jimenez arrives, the competition for a starting spot will begin between Leury Garcia and Engel.
Every spot in the outfield will be filled with hope and a little finger-crossing this year. Though all options are reliable, it will take a little luck for each position to excel. With the exception of Tilson, all have at some point proved themselves to be valuable in some way at the major league level. Only time will tell the ultimate real outcome, but for now, the expectations for the outfield are rather high.