Being selected in the Major League Baseball Draft is an accomplishment in its own right. Yet, making it to the show is what every baseball player dreams of. However, getting drafted does not guarantee a real shot to play in the MLB, especially if that player is a late-round pick.
That is what White Sox outfielder Adam Engel, 28, had to deal with. Engel was taken in the 19th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Typically, getting drafted that late is not promising for most players’ chances to be called up to the big leagues. However, players sometimes defy the odds.
In Engel’s circumstances, that was quite true, as he is only one of two players from round 19 of the 2013 MLB Draft to play at least one MLB game.
The other guy? Gabe Speier. He has only played in 17 career games, which is substantially fewer than Engel’s 365 career games.
In reality, Engel is an exception, but he hasn’t let that draw a line on how impactful of a player he can be. He has been known for his defense since the start of his career. However, this year has become the year where he managed to break through his offensive struggles and take another step toward being a complete player.
Engel is still not a power hitter and most likely will never become that type of player. However, his batting average spiked up to .295 and his OPS is at a career-high .811 for the 2020 season. To comprehend his development, his career batting average and OPS prior to the 2020 season were .215 and .601, respectively.
Engel is known for his defensive prowess, however, he has also shown up in big moments. Most recently he saved Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter by making a great catch.
He wasn’t an everyday player when outfielder Nomar Mazara was healthy, despite statistically performing better than Mazara both offensively and defensively. Mazara, when healthy, was holding back Engel’s ability to get on the field. Yet, when Engel got his chances, he made the most of them.
Near the end of the regular season, Engel became an everyday player. He continued to be successful offensively and defensively even during the team’s late-season slump.
In addition to the incredible season the outfielder has had, he ignited the White Sox in game one of the MLB Wild Card Round on Tuesday. In the top of the second inning, Engel took LHP Jesús Luzardo deep to spark the White Sox offense en route to a 4–1 win.
Engel’s strength has always been his defense, which is notoriously an underrated element in the MLB. Now, during this 2020 season, he has truly established his abilities as an all-around player. A player like Engel can be an X-factor throughout the playoffs if he can provide a solid offensive presence as he did in game one.