Coming into June, Hawkins was hitting .177/.247/.456 with seven homers over 79 at-bats ... but also 45 strikeouts, which is nuts.
But he injured his shoulder in the field on May 1, and while it cost him a month of action, it might have ultimately helped him calm down. Since returning to the lineup, Hawkins is hitting .261/.306/.717. That enormous isolated power is the result of 10 of his 12 hits going for extra bases (five homers, one triple, four doubles).
Better yet -- while he still hasn't conquered his contact issues, he's harnessed them somewhat. He's struck out 18 times over his 49 post-injury plate appearances. That's still high, but it does count as legitimate improvement, given his 51 percent strikeout rate before the injury.
I talked to Hawkins during the middle of his struggles back in April, and White Sox bloggers got a chance to follow up on a conference call with Hawkins and Josh Phegley on Tuesday. I posted Phegley's portion yesterday, and below is what Hawkins had to say.
On going from high school to High-A
The biggest difference is the competition, man. You go from playing twice a week to playing every single day. The competition level's a huge difference. As far as me enjoying it, I'm loving it, because this is my dream and this is what I always wanted to do. I'm starting to get used to it every day.
On the rough start.
"At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of strikeouts. I was trying to force hits instead of just getting a good pitch for me to hit. [...] Now, I'm starting to get real comfortable in the box. My approach and everything is kind of staying the same; it's just being able to recognize what I can hit and what I can do something with instead of something I can just put in play."
Were the strikeouts difficult to deal with?
"At first, yeah. I had so many people talking to me about it, and telling me it's a long season, and it's going to happen, but I wasn't used to it. But now I'm starting to figure it out a little bit, and ... it's gonna happen."
On the injury break
"We made little changes. Before I got hurt, I was starting to make contact a lot more. It was little changes -- my approach a little bit, how I got ready, how I took stuff and what I was looking for.
"When I was hurt, it was more of a learning experience for me. Just learning the game more. As far as me coming back and doing a lot better after I got hurt, I think that's just me being eager to get back and paying more attention to the game."
On High-A pitching
"When I came up for a stint last year, when I got to Winston, I felt like that pitching there was great. Guys were spotting up, I saw great sinkerball pitchers. Last year, you could tell the difference in pitching.
"This year, I'm looking at it, and, I mean, it's good pitching, but to me, it's not nothing to the extreme, you know?"