The White Sox minor league system was quiet, almost dormant, for several seasons prior to the hiring of one of baseballs best scouts and former players: Buddy Bell. Bell, now director of player development for the White Sox, has seen one prospect after the other make it to the big leagues.
John Danks, Gordon Beckham, and top prospects Tyler Flowers and Daniel Hudson trailing not far behind. In an interview with Buddy Bell, I asked him where the influx of talent stems from.
"It starts with scouting," said Bell, a five-time All-Star in his playing days. "The talent now is better than it was a few years ago. Talent is the biggest difference."
Bell has the beauty of being close to both the major league camp and the minor league one in spring training, considering the new complex is equipped to handle both camps. This way, he can track players at both camps, and work off his coaches to find players that are improving or in need of direction. Manager Ozzie Guillen happens to be one of those coaches.
"Ozzie certainly has an opinion on how young players to need improve."
It isn't just the coaches, but having the professional players close to the minor league ones give the veterans an opportunity to do some coaching as well.
"For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers major league complex is separated from their minor league complex...We had Juan Pierre talk to our younger base stealers and Omar Vizquel talks with the defensive guys."
The advantages that come from that are far reaching. Giving these young players opportunities to learn from some of the best around at their particular skill is invaluable, and most teams (like the Cubs with Greg Maddux) try to do the same. In fact, teams try to fill their organization coaching positions with former players who understand the game better than anyone.
To read more about what Buddy Bell thinks of C.J. Rethorford, Tyler Flowers, John Shelby, and more, click after the break.Buddy Bell sounds off on...
"This kid had a great spring. He can play second, third, first, and the outfield. We see him as a super-utility guy [down the road]."
"[Rethorford's} is in outstanding shape, he worked hard on his quickness. He is very unorthodox. Not a conventional approach at plate or field. He is one of my favorite players...He is an asset to the organization, he gives you a sense of fire."
"We are trying to transition him back to the basics to get back to where he was last season....Too many thoughts, you just can't play [the game that way]."
On his offense
"We think the world of him offensively. Very intelligent kid."
"Great kid, very athletic."
On lessons for hitters...
"We like to keep our hitters centered from start to finish."
On calling up/sending down players...
"We don't like to move them until they are deserving. The numbers don't mean a whole lot to me , but they mean something. [In some cases], [a guy] doesn't need to stay in Winston-Salem to get it fixed in Birmingham.
A guy to look for... Sergio Morales
"He is a kid with tools and talent. He is three drafts ago so he's been pushed out of the way."