The White Sox hosted a blogger conference call with director of player development Buddy Bell Wednesday afternoon, and he had some encouraging things to say about Jordan Danks' offense, Dayan Viciedo's defense, and Andre Rienzo's pitching, among other topics. The main contributors to the discussion were Jim and Mark from South Side Sox, along with myself.
- "Jordan Danks looks better than I've ever seen him."
- Bell said Danks tinkered too much with his approach, and finally, about a month ago, just said "the hell with it" and started to be more instinctive at the plate. The results have paid off, as Danks' strikeouts are down and his power numbers up since that change.
- "When I heard they were considering putting Dayan out in right field, I said 'this can't be true, this has to be a typo.'"
- "I saw him this past weekend, and he really looks good in the outfield. I just never thought that was going to happen.
- Bell credited Viciedo's work ethic in getting him in shape to play the outfield. He's slimmer and more cut thanks to eating and working out better.
- "I think he's ready to play right field in the majors."
- The Sox have to careful to not move him too quick, as Brazil's lack of a baseball culture (which Bell said was improving) hasn't afforded him opportunities to throw a lot of innings.
- He'll see a larger workload than the 101 innings he saw last season.
- While Rienzo has had success with Winston-Salen, the Sox are trying to get him to go for outs earlier in the count. The Sox don't want him to try to strike everybody out.
- Bell mentioned Rienzo's good sinker and changeup, which are conducive to getting ground balls. That fits with what the Sox are trying to do with Rienzo, who has induced ground balls on 55 percent of balls in play with Winston-Salem, according to FirstInning.com.
- A promotion to Birmingham may be in the cards for Rienzo, but he's blocked by a few guys who are on a faster track.
On Tyler Flowers:
- Flowers was the victim of too much coaching, noted Bell. "It's not so much they don't get proper coaching coaching, they get too much of it."
- Last year, Flowers changed his approach around the start of May, and it yielded a brutal slump for the next month. The rest of the season didn't go as well as he expected even after trying to change his approach back to driving the ball to the opposite field.
- Bell said he saw Flowers play Tuesday night and he "swung the bat decent." Overall, Bell's tone with Flowers was the least optimistic of any of the prospects discussed, even Mitchell. The Sox still have high expectations for Flowers, Bell said, but from my perspective, it doesn't seem like they think he'll fulfill them.
- Despite Mitchell's struggles, he won't be bumped down from Winston-Salem to Kannapolis. In fact, Bell expected Mitchell to have these struggles after missing nearly all of 2010.
- Here's something interesting: Bell sees a lot of Adam Dunn in Mitchell. Not in player type, but in that both played football in college and didn't get to spend their time exclusively on baseball. For Dunn, who Bell saw in the Reds system, the improvement came overnight. Bell expects the same thing out of Mitchell.
- Bell also noted Mitchell is 100 percent healthy from the ankle injury he suffered last spring training.
On Dan Remenowsky (Jim's question):
- "A kid like Remonowsky who can hit a gnat in the ass on both sides of the plate, to go along with some deception, there is a chance that htis kid could be pitching in Chicago, and that's quite a story from an undrafted kid."
- As a pitcher who tops out at 90 on a good day, the Sox want to move him to a higher level (in this case, Charlotte, as Remenowsky's with Birminghan) to "see if he's for real." He's blocked by a few relievers at Charlotte right now, but Bell seemed insistent on getting him there to find out if he's for real or not.
- For the record, Remenowsky has a 24/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Birmingham. That's good.
On Mark Teahen's defense (Jim's question):
- Bell thinks Teahen's horrific defense last season was due to a lingering back problem. Even if the back wasn't hurting him, Teahen's body could've compensated trying to protect it, leading to his bad defense. "I'm pretty sure it had something to do with an injury."
- Bell noted Teahen just didn't look coordinated last year, which was odd for a guy he described as very athletic from his time in Kansas City.
- "But this year he looks good to me."