Need for speed: Hanson, Engel bring the jets

Need for speed: Hanson, Engel bring the jets

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria has said he often considers himself and his coaching staff to be teachers during the organization's rebuild. What he can't teach, however, is speed and athleticism.

General manager Rick Hahn has done his part to add those into the roster as of late, adding a pair of speed-driven players to the 25-man roster over the last month and a half to change the dynamic of Renteria's lineup.

"I think it opens it up and how the opposing club looks at you," Renteria said. "They see the speed out there, and they anticipate certain actions at times."

White Sox center fielder Adam Engel, the team's No. 19 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was recalled and made his Major League debut on May 26. A couple weeks later, on June 9, Hahn went and claimed Alen Hanson off waivers from the Pirates to serve as a utility man.

The two now rank as the club's two fastest players, according to the new Statcast™ sprint speed metric, which measures the players' top sprint speed on the basepaths in terms of feet per second. Each also ranks among the game's fastest players, with Engel tied for 12th in the metric at 29.2 ft./sec and Hanson tied for 21st at 28.8 ft./sec.

Statcast: Engel's superb snags

The pair has often found themselves together near the top or bottom of the lineup, giving a burst of speed that's been missing particularly as other speedsters such as Leury Garcia and Charlie Tilson deal with injury. It provides lineup flexibility for Renteria, giving him players who have gotten on base since arriving in Chicago -- each has an on-base percentage near .330 with the White Sox -- and wreaked havoc.

"I've been taught from a young age that there's two types of guys in a lineup: guys who score runs, and guys who drive in runs," Engel said. "I would say both of us fall into the category of guys who score runs, not that we can't drive in runs. Our main job is to get on base and try to score runs and try to set the table for the guys behind us."

The pair's speed on the basepaths has changed the way opponents defend them, they said. Now, each move is magnified with an even smaller margin for error than is usually allowed at the Major League level.

"On our side, when we face teams with a lot of fast runners, we're always trying to be aware of any situation, knowing you can't make any mistakes," Hanson said through interpreter Billy Russo. "You have to be ready for them to take off. That's a lot of pressure for the defense, and for the pitcher, too. Now that we have that advantage, we're trying to use it."

It's been a factor defensively, as well. Hanson ranks second in sprint speed among second basemen, his official position, but has also allowed Renteria even more flexibility with his ability to play multiple positions, including the outfield. Engel has primarily found himself in center field, where he's tied for ninth with those at that position in terms of sprint speed and has made an impact on Renteria.

"Engy, he's a pretty gifted center fielder," Renteria said. "His routes are clean, he's got good foot speed, he's able to track balls down here and everywhere we've been playing."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the White Sox on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.