Promoted: Frank Menechino, who was the Charlotte Knights hitting coach in 2019, got promoted to the big leagues before Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. (YouTube)
With the departure of Todd Steverson, the White Sox had to fill the void at hitting coach. Earlier, the team announced that the void will be filled by Frank Menechino, 48, who was the hitting coach for the Charlotte Knights during the 2019 season. This past season was Menechino’s first year as a coach in the White Sox organization.
Though the White Sox had a solid batting average (.261, fifth in the American League), the more complete hitting metrics were lacking. The White Sox on-base percentage of .314 (11th in the A.L.), slugging percentage of .414 (13th in the A.L.), and .728 OPS (12th in the A.L.) all need work. In most seasons, a .414 SLG would be just fine. However, 2019 was a record year in terms of home runs, yet the White Sox did not see the same power gains that the league did as a whole.
On paper, Menechino seems to be the right person to correct the White Sox low walk rate and lack of power. Sure, there was a ton of offense across the board in Triple-A, the Knights offense was better than most. Charlotte’s on-base (.352), slugging (.472), and OPS (.824) all ranked second in the International League.
After getting the job, when discussing player development, Menechino said, “Once these guys have the experience, ups and downs, all the different stuff, little adjustments here, little adjustments there, once you figure out who they are and what they want to do, that’s when you figure out what they will become. Once they have the belief in who they are and what they can become, now it’s my job to be their eyes to keep them where they want to be.”
Manager Rick Renteria expressed his confidence in the way Menechino connects with players. Renteria said, “The way he connects to guys … seems to be a place that we need to go to. And that, coupled with, hopefully, some additions, will continue to improve us overall, give us an opportunity to be on the other side of winning and losing.” Renteria clarified that he is optimistic that Menechino is ready to help the White Sox enter the next stage of the rebuild. “I’m not going to make any bones about it, it’s time to turn the page. It’s time to get us to another level of performance. That goes across the board, it goes with all aspects of our game.”
In seven years as a major league player, Menechino slashed .240/.358/.383 (13.2% walk rate!) with a 101 wRC+ and 5.7 fWAR. Menechino’s final season in the majors was 2005. Between his playing days and his Knights coaching days, Menechino worked as a minor league coach from 2009-13. He was on the Marlins major league staff from 2014-18, and during the last two of those years, Menechino was the Marlins hitting coach.
The credentials are there. Here’s hoping that Menechino is ready to launch the White Sox’s offense to new heights.