Hawkins gets back into swing of things

White Sox prospects homers twice in fourth game off DL

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | June 4, 2013 7:52 PM ET

The month Courtney Hawkins spent on the disabled list was a long time for a young guy eager to make the most of his first full pro season.

It made the 19-year-old antsy, so much so that in his return on Sunday, he struck out four times in five at-bats.

High strikeout totals are the one knock on Hawkins, but after a couple games to settle back into his routine, he flashed the tool that makes his upside tantalizing -- power, in abundance.

The White Sox top prospect hit his ninth and 10th homers, drove in five runs and scored three times on Tuesday night, powering Class A Advanced Winston-Salem to a 12-5 victory over Salem.

"Two home runs is two home runs, that's always a decent day," Hawkins said. "It feels good, but really, I'm just glad to be playing again."

The 13th overall selection in last year's Draft was hitting .177 before suffering a shoulder injury while making a diving catch. He's 5-for-15 in the four games since coming off the DL to bring his average back up to .200. But Hawkins knows he needs to cut down on strikeouts after fanning 51 times in 95 at-bats.

The key is not simply not trying to strike out, but slowly learning how to make more consistent contact, he said.

"Coming up now my biggest focus is putting the bat on the ball. The home runs I know are gonna come," he said. "At the beginning of the season, I was so worried about strikeouts. I'd think, 'Don't strike out, don't strike out, don't strike out,' and I struck out more. So right now, if it happens, it happens; it's baseball. I'm not the first one to have strikeouts. I go up there and the only thing on my mind is to make contact, get a good pitch to hit, and if it doesn't come, take a walk."

Overall, Hawkins sports a .200/.257/.537 slash line in 27 games. Last year, in 59 games, mostly with Rookie-level Bristol and Class A Kannapolis, he hit .284/.324/.480 with eight homers and 33 RBIs.

The teenage center fielder said he tried to use the time off to soak up as much information and insight as possible so he could hit the ground running upon his return.

"Harder than the whole getting back healthy part was the sitting out, seeing your team go out every day and you're sitting on the bench, can't contribute, can't do anything," he said. "So you just learn the game more, different situations, just a couple things a day with how the game was happening or a different situation you could pick up.

"Now I feel a bit more comfortable. Back into it the first day, I got a little anxious to get something started, making something happen and it wasn't a good day. But I'm feeling fine. People might not see it as me developing, because of my strikeout numbers -- I know people are big on that -- but as far as our coaching staff and me, we know it's coming. Got a long way to go, but it's coming."

It started coming in the second game of Monday's doubleheader when Hawkins drilled a leadoff homer in the fourth inning. One night later, he highlighted Winston-Salem's eight-run first with a three-run blast, then hit a two-run shot in the eighth. It was his second two-homer game of the season, while the five RBIs were a career high.

White Sox No. 17 prospect Joey DeMichele went 4-for-5 with a double, a walk and an RBI for the Dash.

Dash starter Bryan Blough (3-4) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on six hits while fanning seven over seven innings to earn the win.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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