Blake Rutherford Learned The Right Lessons From 2017

Omar Vizquel played in the major leagues for 24 seasons, and the 11-time Gold Glove winner is heading for his second year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Viquel previously spent four seasons as the Tigers’ first-base coach, but he was thrilled to go back to the minor leagues this year—as manager at high Class A Winston-Salem.

“I think the White Sox have one of the best farm systems there is right now,” Vizquel said. “You’ve got to be excited to watch these guys play and have the opportunity to be around them.”

Vizquel is watching a powerhouse Dash team, which is loaded with rising talent such as outfielders Micker Adolfo and Luis Alexander Basabe and righthanders Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease.

As an added bonus, outfielder Luis Robert is on track to join Winston-Salem in May after he recovers from a sprained left thumb.

Outfielder Blake Rutherford also plays for the Dash, and he had plenty to prove after struggling in 2017.

Acquired in the trade that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees last summer, Rutherford hit .213/.289/.254 with no home runs in 30 games at low Class A Kannapolis after the trade.

The White Sox were not at all worried, and they showed it by bumping the 20-year-old lefthanded hitter to Winston-Salem this season.

“It was the first time he was traded, and that can be tough to deal with,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “And he was one of the younger players in the (South Atlantic League). But he fits into that potential mold of a high-impact offensive player who can also help you defensively.”

After spending the offseason adding needed strength and working out with the Brewers’ Christian Yelich, Rutherford came out swinging in the Carolina League by hitting .364/.403/.491 through his first 13 games.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Rutherford was drafted 18th overall in 2016 out of high school in Canoga Park, Calif.

“I think I learned a lot last year,” Rutherford said. “I kind of wore down at the end of the season, but I feel a lot stronger now. I’m playing with a lot of good, young players, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to grow up together.”

>> Outfielder Eloy Jimenez joined Double-A Birmingham after missing the first 13 games of the season with a strained pectoral muscle. Jimenez injured himself lifting weights at the end of spring training.

>> Triple-A Charlotte outfielder Ryan Cordell was expected to be sidelined at least two months after running into the center field wall and fracturing his right clavicle.

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