In the top of the third inning, Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox attacked a 92 mph fastball on the first pitch he saw. He tagged the ball 416 feet over the center-field fence for a two-run homer. It marked his seventh home run of the season in just 31 games.
Adam Engel has turned himself into a legit power threat at the plate. This is a far cry from the Adam Engel of a few years ago when many skeptics thought he was destined to be a defensive replacement.
When he burst onto the Major League scene, he was known for his speed and glove. In 2017 he was named the fastest baserunner and the best defensive outfielder in the organization by Baseball America. After getting his feet wet in the Majors in 2017, he quickly showed why his defense was regarded so highly.
In 2018, he robbed three home runs with over-the-wall leaping catches. The first two came in consecutive games against the New York Yankees on August 6th-August 7th. Five days later, he robbed Yonder Alonso of a three-run homer in the ninth inning. His three incredible grabs saved White Sox pitchers a combined seven runs.
Adam Engel has been very good for the Chicago White Sox in 2021 so far.
On top of that, he ranked second on the White Sox with 16 stolen bases. The problem for Engel was that he could not hit. His lack of offense was the reason he bounced around between Triple-A Charlotte and Chicago despite being a Gold Glove candidate. In 2017 he hit .166 and in 2018 he hit just .235.
Engel vowed to improve his offense. With his skill set, the offense was the only thing preventing him from being an everyday Major League player. In 2019, he raised his average to .242 after being called up from Charlotte on July 19th. In 2020, he took his game to another level.
The man nicknamed “Superman” hit .295 with a .886 OPS in the shortened 60 game season. At home, he slashed .348/.363/.565. He also came up with some big hits throughout the season. Engel had the game-winning RBI single as a pinch hitter on September 14th vs the Minnesota Twins. On September 22nd, he hit a go-ahead RBI triple against the Cleveland Indians. Five days later, he hit his third home run of the season during the Crosstown Classic against the Chicago Cubs.
His production carried over into the playoffs. He recorded three hits in the American Wild Card Series including, a double, home run, RBI, and run scored in the three games. In Game 1, he had a 2-4 performance, hitting a home run of Jesus Luzardo in his at-bat of the postseason. He became the first White Sox player in franchise history to homer in his first postseason at-bat.
This season, the 29-year old outfielder has fully transformed into a five-tool player. His speed and defense remain and his ability at the plate continues to improve. After missing the majority of the season with an injury suffered in Spring Training, he returned to the lineup and showcased his newfound power. He homered in his fourth game back against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Engel’s home run against the Twins on Tuesday marked a career-high for the 29-year old outfielder. While seven home runs do not seem like a lot, he would be on pace for 35 bombs if he played all 162 games. His range gives Tony La Russa one of the best outfields in the American League.
Engel’s high flying ability in right field mixed with Luis Roberts Gold Glove ability in center field makes it very difficult for a ball to find a safe landing spot. The fact that he is now driving the ball consistently makes it much easier to pencil him in the lineup every day as well. His development makes him a threat to any opposing team in the postseason.