Upon joining the White Sox organization, Alex Destino grabbed attention by posting a wRC+ of 134 with a slash line of .290/.408/.432 in 225 plate appearances in the AZL in 2017. So, folks were a bit surprised when the 14th round draft pick out of South Carolina struggled after being promoted to Great Falls in 2018.
“Last year was a roller coaster ride, looking back on it it was kinda of a year where I never got my feet under me. I’d have a good week, a bad week, a good week, a bad week and I could never find a happy medium,” Destino told FutureSox in a phone interview.
Destino saw his wRC+ plummet to 79 and a steep drop in his walk rate took place while increasing his strikeout figures and slashing .250/.296/.415. About the only positive, Destino could take from 2018 was a jump in his ISO. As a right fielder, in a system loaded with outfielders, hitting for power is an important differentiator.
Despite the tough 2018, the White Sox's player development team saw enough in Alex to upgrade him to Low-A Kannapolis for the 2019 season. Their faith was vindicated as Destino, not only produced but was among the lead league leaders in several key categories.
“It’s been a good year. I have a good average. Power numbers are good. I found that middle point, when I was struggling I know what I can pull back to. Last year, I didn’t really have that. I don’t know if it was a mental thing. It really wasn’t physical. I played the whole year healthy, but this year has been such a big difference. I think last year, just a lot going on for me. It was a down year,” said Destino
Destino’s 2019 numbers look good by any barometer. His wRC+ of 147 is off the charts. He also raised his power profile smacking 17 home runs and continued the upward trend with a .179 ISO. His walks and strikeouts were up (still near league average), and his slash line rebounded to .298/.376/.476. This placed him in the Top Ten, in the SAL league, in every major offensive category including third in slugging percentage and fourth in OPS. White Sox observers were not the only ones who noticed as Alex along with teammate Ian Dawkins(for more on Dawkins click here) was selected to the All-Star team.
Destino caught fire in July. In 27 games, he hit six long balls with an .OPS of 1.044 to go with a slash line of .385/.458/.587. “That month was kind of an unconscious month. I’d kinda blink, and I’ve had a big week and we’d continue that throughout the month. It put me in a good spot going forward,” said Destino.
“I attribute a lot of what I have done this year to my hitting coach, Cole Armstrong. We have a great relationship. He’s been a guy all year if I’m going through a slump or a one-week thing, I can go to him and talk to. He’s a straight shooter, that’s my kind of guy. We’ll bounce ideas off each other of what I need to work on,” said Destino.
At 23-years-old and four years of college ball at South Carolina behind him, no one would fault Destino, if he was frustrated over a lack of advancement opportunities. But he is keeping everything in perspective.
“This is what we signed up for. If there is a logjam, this organization is blessed with outfielders that’s not the most ideal thing, but it doesn’t bug me whatsoever. I know what the scenario is. I want to play as hard as I can and play the game the right way. Eventually, hope that it all pays off,” said Destino.
“That’s (a promotion) completely out of my control that’s something I never worry about. People get paid a lot of money to make those decisions, and I trust those decisions. I’m just going to keep playing baseball. I love playing ball. I don’t’ worry about that stuff this sport it too stressful as it is,” he continued.
Despite a successful season, the former Gamecock understands, he’s still got plenty of work to do if he’s going to continue to move up within the organization.
“I can always get better there’s definitely stuff I can work on. I’d like to reduce the strikeout numbers and keep getting on base as much as I can.”
As for the offseason, Destino has a solid plan in place. “I’ll take two weeks to relax, be around my family. Catch up with friends and don’t think about baseball – stay out of the weight room. Give my body the break it needs then after that doing whatever- get back in shape. I don’t live in the weight room in the offseason, but I get my work in. This offseason, I’ll probably stay at home for the first month. I’ll be in Dallas for a month or two, then I’ll go to Columbia, SC to use their facilities to get myself as ready as I can to get ready for spring training.
“My goal next year is to be as hard of an out as I can. Get on base as much as I can, keep my walks up. Limit strikeouts – hit the ball hard. That’s one thing I’ve been really focusing on this year. If you can get in there be a tough out and hit the baseball really hard- things are going to work out. I keep it really simple,” said Destino.
If there’s one quote that sums up Alex Destino, perhaps it’s this: “You can’t look too negative in baseball, or you’re going to wind up going down a tunnel with it.”
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