By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (670 The Score) — Hiring Omar Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glover and one of the most well-respected individuals in the game, to train their up-and-coming talent was an ideal move for the rebuilding White Sox.
Vizquel was officially named the manager of Class-A Winston-Salem on Monday. He’ll bring a resume that includes a 24-year big league playing career and the past four seasons as the Tigers’ first-base coach.
At Winston-Salem, Vizquel will be charged with developing some premium young talent that Chicago has acquired in the last two years. Sooner or later, that’s likely to include outfielder Luis Robert, third baseman Jake Burger, outfielder Micker Adolfo and outfielder Blake Rutherford, four prospects who boast big league tools and are ready for the next stage of their development.
Vizquel, 50, was renowned for his defensive prowess as a player but he was also a top baserunner and made himself a quality hitter, finishing his career with 2,877 hits and a .272 batting average. His lone managerial experience was leading his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic this past spring, but that didn’t deter him or the White Sox from believing this opportunity was the right fit.
“This is a perfect opportunity for me because I am going to work with a bunch of young guys that are looking for a journey to get to the big leagues,” Vizquel said Monday. “The White Sox have a great farm system right now, one of the strongest because of trades they have made the last couple of years. (We think) these guys ready to be contending in the big leagues not too far away.”
Vizquel played for six big league teams, including the White Sox in 2010 and 2011 before he retired after the 2012 season. He’s eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this January. He appears to be a borderline candidate for induction.
“It is great to have people talking about your career and being talked about being one of the great shortstops,” Vizquel said of his Hall of Fame chances. “I am really excited about this. It is awesome hearing people talking about you and your game. Hopefully, I will be there to represent Venezuela as one of the guys inducted. That would be an amazing thing to do.”
Vizquel cited a strong work as a reason for his success as a player. He now hopes to impart that on White Sox prospects.
He has an idea of what it will take.
“Communication,” Vizquel said. “That is number one for me. If you know how to communicate with your players, let them know right away what to accomplish with these guys, it makes their job easier and you have more confidence with everybody involved. In the minor leagues, there can be a lot of doubt about the possibility to get there. You need people to encourage you all the time and understand where you are coming from. They need to learn what it takes to get them to the different levels. For a guy who has been there and done that for a very long time, I hope I can be a very positive (example) to get them to higher levels.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.