White Sox are set with a starting center fielder for the upcoming season as speedy right-handed hitter beats out versatile outfielder.
The Chicago White Sox named Adam Engel as its Opening Day starting center fielder on Thursday. Engel beat out Ryan Cordell and Leury Garcia for the spot with a solid showing in spring training thus far.
After a dismal first season in the majors at the plate for Engel, the 26-year-old was able to make adjustments to his swing which led to better offensive output at the plate this spring. Last season, Engel hit .166 in 97 games in his rookie season. Although Engel provided stellar defense in center field, his offense wasn’t ideal even for a rebuilding team.
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This year, however, Engel made an adjustment to his mechanics at the plate with better hand positioning and was able to have a solid spring training. Through Friday, Engel is hitting .364 in 17 games and also had a two home run game on Mar. 12 against the Seattle Mariners. This upcoming season will be a good opportunity for Engel to have more success at the plate in the Majors.
It isn’t a guarantee that Engel’s success this spring will carry over into the regular season, but he gives the Sox the best option currently as their starting center fielder. Engel has proven he can cover a lot of ground in center field, but he will have to provide consistent results at the plate if he wants to have longevity with the Sox.
Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday. The 25-year-old was acquired last season in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Anthony Swarzak. This spring, Cordell hit .317 in 41 at-bats for the Sox. Although Cordell won’t be on the Opening Day roster, he could receive a call-up in the near future as he can play all three outfield positions.
Garcia was also battling for the starting center field spot, but he can play some outfield positions for the Sox along with being able to play as an infielder. This gave him an edge over Cordell. Garcia could be used as the Sox super utility player for this upcoming season. This will provide the team with more depth and Garcia could also start some games in center field to give Engel a rest at times.
The Sox start their season on Mar. 29 in Kansas City. With Opening Day quickly approaching, the team is starting to finalize who will be on the 25-man roster with their latest cuts on Thursday. The Sox made four cuts that included Cordell. As of Friday, the Sox have 32 players remaining in camp.