Alex Call: Under the radar, but not undervalued

Alex Call getting attention from the White Sox, even if the media hasn't noticed.

"It's all about competing. I know this organization believes in me and I am willing to do whatever it takes to become a major league player," says Alex Call, the Chicago White Sox #30 prospect on our most recent Top Prospects list. That's the attitude he's carrying to the field in response to the truckload of minor league outfield prospects that have been added to the organization in the past year. Perhaps it's that mindset that triggered former White Sox outfielder and current minor-league instructor Aaron Rowand to single him out in a podcast with NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien.

Rowand Impressed

"He's a gamer, he's got good tools, he's got good speed, he's a great outfielder, he's got a lot more power than someone would think for his size, great baserunner. There's just a few things he's working on cleaning up as far as his swing goes. If he gets that he's got the ability to be an impact player," Rowand said on the podcast. Combine those comments with the value White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams places on the "gamer" mentality and you've got someone who could arrive on the South Side sooner than later.

A Downturn in 2017

Call had a rough 2017. He started out playing 10 games at High-A Winston-Salem where he put up average numbers. These were something of a disappointment as he delivered a strong 2016 season in Kannapolis, following up on a successful collegiate career at Ball State, but it was just ten games. But then his season was derailed as he lost two and half months to an intercostal rib muscle injury. After the injury, he had a brief rehab in the AZL before returning to Kannapolis where his rust was apparent, posting a slash line of .248/.333/.386. That's far below his 2016 line of .308/.361/.449, but the good news was he finished with a flare, posting a 1.001 OPS in his last 13 contests.

Moving on

"For me to come back and struggle and finally figure it out and finish the year really strong, I was really proud of myself.  I know I'm stronger for it. I had a lot of goals that I didn't accomplish, but I'll be better for it. I've got that to hang my hat on going into next season," said Call.

Alex is working with a trainer and doing Yoga as part of his offseason program. This is unrelated to the injury. He hopes Yoga will help him be healthier next season.  It'll also increase flexibility which may translate into more speed. "The injury was a freak thing. I did it just swinging a bat. It was really crazy and pretty unfortunate, but that's the way it goes," said Call.  "I'm fully recovered. It was extremely frustrating, but I learned a lot from it. I want to come into the season in the best shape and try to maintain it throughout," he added.

As Rowand indicated in his comments on the podcast, Call has a few things he's working on with his swing. "I'm looking to be more consistent. From pitch-to-pitch, from at-bat to at-bat, game-to-game. I'm just making sure, I'm at a balanced point, trying make good contact, there's a lot more things that go into it obviously. But trying to be center balanced, be on time is what we preach in our system and I'm a believer. It's been helping," said Call.

When asked how he's able to implement all of that and still concentrate on the at-bat, Call commented, "If you're thinking about that when you're hitting you're not going to make contact. You try to make your swing the best it can be and then you trust it. At the end of the day you go to battle against a pitcher. It's him vs. you and you love that. And whatever you gotta do to beat him, you're gonna do. You can't be thinking about your elbow or stride or anything else. You take all of your practice reps before the game so it gets to be second nature. When you're at the plate you need to trust your swing and do what you have to do to beat him. At the end of the day if you're looking at your film and you do see something that needs a minor adjustment then you make the adjustment. You've gotta put that stuff to rest before you get into the game and usually before you get into BP, because you want to lock into to the mindset of seeing the ball and putting the best swing on it without having any mental interference. That's when you're at your best."

2018 and beyond

It sounds like Call has already forgotten his taxing 2017 campaign and is looking forward to getting 2018 started, likely ticketed for Winston-Salem. "I'm feeling great right now. I've got big plans for myself in 2018. I'm going to be making some waves, hopefully. My main goal is to be a part of the next White Sox World Series team. That's what I'm working on every day." There doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt that he'll accomplish just that.

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Filed under: Focus, Interviews

Tags: Alex Call

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