With yet another internal hire that may have been made without a lot of outside interviewing, the Chicago White Sox on Thursday installed Frank Menechino as their new hitting coach.
Originally a White Sox draft choice in 1993 (45th round, University of Alabama), Menechino was a seven-year major leaguer with the Oakland A’s (1999-2004) and Toronto Blue Jays (2004-05). For his career, he hit .240 with 58 doubles, 36 home runs, 149 RBIs, 207 runs and a .358 on-base percentage in 450 games. Menechino’s career year came in 2001, when the infielder had 22 doubles, 12 homers, 60 RBIs, 79 walks, 82 runs in 139 games. The A’s won 102 games that year, the season before “Moneyball” took place.
Menechino made his coaching debut in the New York Yankees organization, starting at Double-A Trenton (2009-10) and then advancing to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (2011-13). He then joined the Miami Marlins’ major-league staff, serving as hitting coach from 2014-15 and assistant hitting coach in 2016-18.
The Marlins hit 194 home runs in 2017, the third-highest total in franchise history, and ranked second in the National League in 2016 with a .263 average. Among the players Menechino coached in Miami were Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Stanton was named the NL’s Most Valuable Player in 2017 after leading the majors with a Marlins-record 59 home runs, 132 RBIs and .631 slugging percentage.
In 2019, the 48-year-old Menechino took over as the Charlotte Knights hitting coach, and he guided the club to an International League-leading 792 runs. The Knights also ranked second in on-base percentage (.352), slugging percentage (.472) and OPS (.824), and third in home runs (208).
This is being written as the teleconference with Chicago media is underway, but one guess as to Menechino’s edge for the job with the White Sox will stem from the transformation Zack Collins underwent between his first stint with the White Sox and his return in September. Collins had a solid first half in Charlotte (.250/.374/.482) but exploded after his demotion back to the Knights (.323/.441/.631).
Collins’ adjustments, presumably with strong guidance from Menechino, is the sort of thing that gets you called back up to the bigs — players and coaches alike.
The White Sox press release points out some strong results, incidental or no, of players working under Menechino at Charlotte:
- Collins hit .282/.403/.548 overall with 19 home runs, 74 RBIs, 56 runs and 62 walks in just 88 games and would have ranked third in the IL in on-base percentage and OPS (.951) and sixth in slugging percentage if he’d had the required plate appearances.
- Nick Madrigal hit .331/.398/.424 with 26 runs and just five strikeouts in 29 games after being promoted to Charlotte on August 1.
- Danny Mendick batted .279/.368/.444 with 26 doubles, 17 homers, 64 RBIs, 75 runs and 66 walks in 133 games in 2019, his first full season with the Knights. His offensive work and defensive flexibility earned him a September call-up to the White Sox.
- Luis Robert batted .297/.341/.634 with 16 home runs, 39 RBIs and 44 runs in 47 games after joining Charlotte in July.
Presumably, Menechino will also have some ideas on how to improve Chicago’s woeful walks per K, which clocked in at 2.3 walks per 10.3 Ks in 2019, just one season after setting the all-time major league record for total strikeouts.
Menechino replaces Todd Steverson, who served as White Sox hitting coach for six seasons (2014-19). The White Sox have announced no other coaching changes for 2020.