With opening day third baseman Teahan struggling, the Sox turned to another veteran, Omar Vizquel, to try and fill the void. Defensively of course, Vizquel proved to be an upgrade of sorts, though none of the defensive metrics liked him much more than Teahan. At the plate however, Vizquel simply didn't offer anything. A light hitting standout defensive shortstop throughout his career, his bat simply wasn't built to carry the offensive load expected out of a corner infield position.
Enter Brent Morel. With the season winding down the Sox decided to give Morel, who had been pounding AA and AAA pitching, a chance at the every day job. While he struggled to hit after making his second advancement of the year, Morel's calling-card defense was evident. It was that ability which the White Sox will be counting on in 2011. The soon to be 24 year old Morel, who owns a career Minor League OPS of .818will be forgiven if his bat doesn't click immediately provided his defense proves to be as good as expected.
Despite what seem to be diminished offensive expectations for the young Morel though, he can hit some. While his outstanding 2010 Minor League marks were largely the by product of unsustainable BABIP marks, Morel makes solid contact, barreling his share of balls while not striking out any more than average. He also has a little pop that could translate into 10-15 home runs this season in the hitter friendly US Cellular park.
By simply providing a .700 OPS or better - something he's more than capable of doing - while playing his standard sterling defense, the young Morel is likely to prove to be a substantial upgrade to a position the Sox struggled to fill last season. And if he comes anywhere near fulfilling his full potential as a .780 OPS bat with plus defense, he'll do as much as anyone to change the Sox fortunes in 2011.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.