White Sox news, Minor Leagues updates and more

October 22, 2010

White Sox organizational All-Stars

MiLB.com:

Right-handed starting pitcher — Terry Doyle, Kannapolis (seven games), Winston-Salem (20 games): Doyle grew up in Red Sox Nation, but he’s made a nice transition to the Pale Hose. The 6-foot-4 righty went 12-10 with a 2.94 ERA and an organizational-best 157 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings between two levels. Only Chicago’s John Danks (162) had more strikeouts in 2010.

“He’s a tremendous competitor, he competes his butt off,” said McEwing. “He wants the ball until the end of the ninth. He’s able to mix four pitches for strikes at any time and able to locate to all four pitches — it’s one of the biggest assets he’s got. He competes at a high level and is able to throw four pitches at any time.”

The Boston College product was especially nasty at Class A, going 4-2 with a 0.96 ERA in seven starts. He features a fastball, curve, change and a cutter-slider, throwing his heater in the 89-91 mph range with good control. He was promoted mid-season and earned Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors June 7.

“He’s very polished,” said McEwing, who helped the Mets reach the World Series in 2000. “He almost had a big league season with about 180 innings, and he did an outstanding job. He wants the ball, he doesn’t want to come out of the game. You wish you had five starters like that every day.”

and Greg Walker on Tyler Flowers:

“He’s a tremendously talented kid that is trying to correct some swing problems and some approach flaws, in my mind,” White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said of Flowers to MLB.com. “I’m still confident he’s on the right track, but this winter is important to him.”

Walker is also tweaking Morel’s swing:

“There are a few things we are tweaking with his swing. He’s still got a few misses that we are looking to iron out this winter, but he can be a productive offensive player. The more efficient he becomes with his legs and swing, the more pop you will see,” Walker said. “Every time I see him, it’s a little better. His swing and offensive game [are] evolving. He’s working on some things, nothing major, just minor things to iron out.”

More players on the link.

October 12, 2010

Greg Walker enthused with Tyler Flowers’ Konerko-esque swing

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ October 12, 2010 6:58 pm
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Merkin @ CWS:

According to Walker, that slump could be indicative of Flowers not staying steady with his swing until later in the season.

“Tyler has had some different ideas about how his swing works than what we did,” Walker said. “In Spring Training, he scuffled and we kind of, at the very end, gave him what we thought he should be doing. He got off to a really good start and when he scuffled, he went back to some of his thoughts. So, when he came up this year, I really didn’t know where he was with his swing.

“But he’s been pretty much a sponge since he got up [to the White Sox]. Paulie [Konerko] and other players in the clubhouse talked to him about how his swing should work, and he bought into it.

“His flips, his batting practices. He’s hitting balls technically correct in batting practice that might be some of the longest. … I’ve never seen anyone consistently hit them that far in this park during batting practice.”

Flowers went to the instructional league to get at-bats with his adjusted swing approach after the regular season’s conclusion. Walker said the catcher was open to going to winter ball if a job opened.

“That tells you something about where he’s at,” said Walker of Flowers, who finished 1-for-11 in eight games with the White Sox. “The first thing you ask is if his swing is technically correct and will hold up in a game with a 95-mph fastball, and I think it does. We have to get his pregame swing incorporated into [his] game swing. He can do it. How quick? I have no idea. It’s case to case.

“He’s a tremendously talented kid that is trying to correct some swing problems and some approach flaws, in my mind. I’m still confident he’s on the right track, but this winter is important to him.

“Sometimes you fail before you succeed. I wouldn’t consider his year a total failure by any means and I really haven’t lost any confidence. If anything, it has grown. Now we are seeing a consistent and correct swing, we are seeing consistency in pregame work we’ve never seen before. I’m excited about where it can go.”

October 2, 2010

Greg Walker: Dayan Viciedo has to improve his strike zone discipline

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ October 2, 2010 12:09 pm
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Gregor @ DH:

“He [Dayan Viciedo] hits a home run to right field that was just phenomenal,” Walker said. “His oppo (opposite field) power is off the charts.”

but

“His next at-bat, he comes back and swings at three pitches,” Walker said. “All three of them were above his helmet. Those are the kinds of things that don’t hold up long haul in the big leagues. This league will exploit stuff like that. If your zone can be expanded, it doesn’t take long for the league to figure that out. So he’s got some areas that he’s got to improve, but he’s a talent, a real talent.”

“I think the physical ability, the combination of power and quickness, is off the charts,” Walker said. “It’s really, really good. We’re trying to plug a couple of holes. We’re trying to change his swing plane a little bit and get a little more coverage of the whole plate. Obviously, he’s got to learn the strike zone better; he’s got to become more disciplined.

“There’s a great piece of clay there, but it’s got to be molded.”

“We’re looking at (Miguel) Cabrera‘s swing from Detroit a little bit,” Walker said. “A young Cabrera before he made some adjustments. I’m obviously not putting him in that class right now, but body type, power, strength, quickness, there are a lot of similarities.

“But Cabrera made huge adjustments and he’s going to go down as one of the greatest hitters of all-time. Am I saying that’s going to happen with Viciedo? No, I’m not telling you that. I am telling you body type and strength and quickness, there are a lot of similarities there.

“But he needs a lot more refined swing and a lot more refined approach. A lot more.”

September 28, 2010

Joey Cora one of two finalists for the Seattle Mariners’ manager job?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ September 28, 2010 3:12 pm
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Levine:

Doug (Chicago): Do you think everyone from Ozzie’s coaching staff will be back or will someone like Cora get a mgr’s job and Walker potentially resigning?

Bruce Levine: Walker I believe will be back. He and Ozzie occasionaly go back and forth with each other but they have a good understanding these days. Walker is also a close personal friend of Reinsdorf and they have an understanding with each other as well. Joey Cora has a real good shot at the job in Seattle. He interviewed there two years ago before Wakamatsu got the job. I’m hearing it’s between Joey and San Diego bench coach Ted Simmons.

September 21, 2010

Greg Walker opens up

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ September 21, 2010 2:51 am
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Here’s Walk:

“And I think at times, I don’t know if it’s to sell tickets or what, but I think we’ve told people that at times we were a little more talented than what we were on a given year or maybe we just misjudged it. I know last year, you looked up at a given time and we had Chris Getz and Josh Fields hitting one-two a month into the season, and Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise [in the lineup]. Nothing against those guys, but they just weren’t ready to handle those roles.”

Brooks Boyer won’t like that.

August 23, 2010

Did Greg Walker take a shot against the White Sox pitching stuff?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ August 23, 2010 6:14 pm
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Merkin writes an article about the 1983 and the 2010 White Sox:

Starting pitching became a prime cause of the White Sox slow start this season, with a 5.20 ERA weighing the team down in early June. The rotation’s 34-15 record, 3.18 ERA and 50 quality starts in the past 68 games emerged as the backbone of the exciting comeback.

“Pitching turned everything around for both teams,” said Greg Walker, a reserve first baseman with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 1983, and the current team’s hitting coach. “Everybody looked at that 1983 team as really gutty, coming up with clutch hits.

“Well, it’s easy to get those when your pitchers are shutting people out and you are winning games with low scores. Our starting pitching in 1983 was phenomenal, especially in the second half.”

Not that I disagree with him.

July 29, 2010

Ramon Castro credits Greg Walker for his 2010 improvement

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ July 29, 2010 9:39 pm
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Ballantini:

Backup catcher Ramon Castro credits hitting coach Greg Walker with his resurgent season, one that could see him stealing starts from slumping A.J. Pierzynski if the incumbent doesn’t turn his season around soon.

Castro is stroking at an .870 OPS clip [1.021 after 2 HRs today], which dwarfs his career .729. His OPS+ is 129 despite a below-average career figure of 90. He’s boasting a 0.7 WAR, impressive for a player seeing such modest action, and his seven walks/12 Ks is a ratio Castro hasn’t produced since his rookie year in 1999.

“It’s just hard work,” Castro said of his resurgent season at age 34. “’Walk’ helped me with keeping my head still, keeping my hands a little more open.”

Count Castro as yet another White Sox player who applauds Walker for developing batting strategies around a player’s strength vs. forcing a roster to adapt to his beliefs.

July 17, 2010

How Gordon got his groove back

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ July 17, 2010 10:22 pm
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Gregor:

“I think it’s coincidence, but after I was done sitting I got a feel for my swing that I haven’t had all year,” Beckham said. “So that was what helped. It wasn’t necessarily sitting on the bench that helped. But definitely working in the cage, I got a feel with (hitting coach) Greg (Walker) and Gelly (assistant Mike Gellinger), and from them I’ve been able to repeat a swing – and a good swing.”

Chris Sale, Tyler Flowers and Brent Morel put on their acting faces [UPDATE]

SPMag:

Next week the production of the MLB Network reality series The Club will take place at Knights Stadium.  Camera crews will be in town for the Charlotte Knights home stand as they follow the career of several Knights players including 2010 first round pick pitcher Chris Sale, catcher Tyler Flowers and infielder Brent Morel.  White Sox Assistant General Manager Rick Hahn is expected to be at Knights Stadium next week as well.

Award-winning actor, Chicago native and die-hard Chicago White Sox fan Michael Clarke Duncan will provide narration for The Clubhitting coach Greg Walker.

UPDATE: Here’s the latest trailer:

http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=9917167&topic_id=9991168&c_id=cws (2:06)

And two older trailers:

June 15, 2010

In which Greg Walker makes several attempts to find an excuse

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ June 15, 2010 1:16 am
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Cowley:

”The only thing that got this team off to a bad start, and I saw it this winter — when you look at a team, you say, ‘OK, we might be short here, we might be short there, lack some team speed there.’ But this team, the only thing that really stuck out to me is when I started looking at guys, I was, ‘OK, where are they going to be at when they get to spring training mentally? Where are they going to be, where are they at?’

”We just had a lot of stuff going on. You’ve got guys that didn’t play a lot last year because they were hurt or whatever. You had guys coming from a small market to a big market. You’ve got guys that didn’t play every day last year. … I mean, J.P. [Juan Pierre] didn’t play every day last year, and all of a sudden he’s coming to a new league. [Carlos] Quentin was hurt all last year. [Alex] Rios finished terribly. A.J. [Pierzynski is in a] contract year. [Mark] Teahen moving from Kansas City to Chicago. … Back in spring training — you have new guys and you really don’t know them — there was just a lot of stuff mentally going on with this team.” …

Boy, the BS is flying at all directions…

May 31, 2010

Tyler Flowers doesn’t like Greg Walker’s advice

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 31, 2010 6:43 pm
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Tyler Flowers is hitting .207/.313/.429/.742 with 19 BB / 55 K in 140 AB / 163 PA and  a .273 BABIP. Scott Merkin looks at the situation:

When Flowers joined the White Sox, the story was about a Major League-ready hitter who needed work behind the plate. Flash-forward two springs, and Williams told MLB.com how Flowers had progressed nicely in the catching department but needed to make changes in the mechanics of his swing in order to show he was an everyday catcher.

Those changes were implemented by Flowers. But with all due respect to the organization, Flowers wants to somewhat return to a more familiar style that made him previously successful.

“At the point where I’ve tried doing it their way this last month, sadly enough the numbers speak for themselves, and that way doesn’t totally work,” Flowers said. “I have to go back to the old me. I have to go back to my style of hitting, while implementing the little things Walk [White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker] and Kenny talked about.

“I’m about being a little more aggressive. I haven’t been happy with not driving balls anywhere, especially to right field. I’m not driving them like I can and why Kenny traded for me. I’ve lost that since spring. It has even been frustrating in batting practice. But I think I found where that piece was missing. I’m pumped up to get my game going and get my timing back and get rolling.”

Here’s Merkin’s article on the Spring Training changes:

So, what happened to Flowers’ hitting strength? It was no less than general manager Ken Williams who made that claim of Flowers being ready to hit Major League pitching shortly after picking him up from Atlanta, and it was Williams who said Monday that Flowers would have not only hit but hit with some impact in the big leagues if he had maintained the same approach Williams witnessed in the 2008 Arizona Fall League.

According to Williams, Flowers’ approach at the plate had changed when he was called up to the Majors last September and was exaggerated more this spring. The 24-year-old moved his hands behind his right shoulder, creating for a much longer swing, while adding a twist of the upper body and opening up his hips and leading with his hips.

“It was a double combination of bad,” Williams said. “Tyler had them more in a traditional place with a traditional load. Walk has talked to him about it. I talked to him about it. I have the greatest frame of reference to see him.

“I do see signs of him now getting his hands away from his body a little bit. He’s showing a shorter swing. His short swing is still very powerful. He’s better able to handle all the pitches when he does this. I’m encouraged by him at this stage.”

Walker thought Flowers’ previous hitting instructors weren’t up to MLB standards:

“There are some things mechanically he needs to clean up, but that’s what Triple-A is for,” Walker said. “I still believe he’s got a chance. I don’t think he’s that far off, and I love his talent.”

“That happens sometimes when guys go home and they work with their own individual hitting instructors and they aren’t necessarily qualified instructors to teach Major Leaguers how to hit Major League pitchers,” Williams said. “He and Walk talked about it and worked very diligently to try to correct those mistakes.”

All this may be overlooking something. Take a look at Flowers’ BABIP splits at Flowers’ minorleaguesplits.com page or Flowers’ firstinning.com page.

May 26, 2010

Greg Walker: Gordon Beckham is coming out of his slump right now

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 26, 2010 2:24 pm
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Greg Walker on Gordon Beckham:

“Last year [after Beckham was called up], there was a little stumble. Once you come out of one of these, like he’s coming out of it right now as we speak, then you always have that in your back pocket for the rest of your career. The panic level he experienced this year, next year that won’t be there because he will always know that, ‘Hey, I don’t need to panic here because look at me last year.’ ”

Problem solved!

Meanwhile Beckham went 0-4 with 2 K today and is now hitting .196/.294/.243/.524. BABIP was .235 as of yesterday.

May 20, 2010

Gordon Beckham’s struggles

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 20, 2010 3:22 am
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His hitting coach:

Beckham’s problems now are almost certainly mental, hitting coach Greg Walker said. ”It has been all along,” Walker said. ”His swing is pretty simple. It’s a mind thing. He’s put himself in a position where he’s worrying about what he’s doing wrong instead of concentrating on what he does right.”

Walker said he saw Beckham’s problems beginning in spring training. ”He came into spring really hot,” Walker said, ”which shows he’s pretty darn good. Then I saw he started thinking about the pitches he was missing. If you concentrate on the negatives, it’ll eat you up.”

and J.J. Stankenvitz’s analysis:

While Beckham’s plate discipline numbers are roughly in line with the MLB average, he’s not supposed to be an MLB-average hitter. Beckham is swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone and making more contact with those pitches than he did in 2009, which leads to 1) more strikeouts and 2) more weakly-hit balls in play.

The latter is worse given that, if you swing and miss, you aren’t out unless there’s two strikes. No matter the count, if you hit a ball weakly into play, chances are, you’re going to be out.

May 12, 2010

Walker sees the light, wants more singles

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 12, 2010 8:24 pm
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Here’s Greg Walker:

“As a hitting coach, you step back and look at the body of work. But overall we’ve done some good things, some neat things, that trend itself to be a really good offensive team. Nobody thought we would hit with power. We are hitting with power. The only thing we haven’t done is we haven’t got enough singles. We are working on that. … The way I would put it is coming into this year, we had a lot of questions about offense and some have been answered. Some are still out there, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t look at it so much as where we are at. I look at the potential we’ve got. You’ve never heard me one time say this team is not talented enough to be good.”

Greg Walker on offensive statistics

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 12, 2010 1:21 pm
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Gonzales:

The most important stat in offense is winning games,” hitting coach Greg Walker said. “That’s all that matters. If you score seven runs like we did on Sunday and lose, then you look back and say we left this guy on third and there’s always negatives to find on offense.

“I can look at every game we lose and find something we could have done better to win the game.”

Walker’s talent is wasted…

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