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White Sox prospect Courtney Hawkins opening eyes, right to plan

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox outfield prospect Courtney Hawkins had a sneaky plan this spring: To open eyes in major league camp by playing it boring.

Mission accomplished.

Hawkins was actually anything but boring Saturday with two home runs, including a game-ending blast in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

But his plan in front of the major league coaching staff, during his first big league camp, was simply to make contact.

"I came into spring training saying I was going to put the bat on the ball," Hawkins said. "I wasn't trying to hit for power. Everybody knows I have power. I was trying to be that all-around player that people knew me as, and I want to be and I am gonna be. It's just trying to stay calm and going through the emotions of staying consistent."

Having never played above the Single-A level since he was selected in the first round (13th overall) in the 2012 draft, Hawkins is likely headed toward Double-A Birmingham to open this season. He was ranked by ESPN.com's Keith Law as the 10th best prospect in the system heading into the year.

In 2013, Hawkins batted just .178 at Winston-Salem with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs, with a .384 slugging percentage. At Winston-Salem again last season, he batted .249 with 19 home runs, 84 RBIs. And a .450 slugging percentage.

And while all spring training numbers always need to be taken with a grain of salt, Hawkins is batting .419 in Cactus League play with four home runs and nine RBIs, and a .871 slugging percentage. He has played in 16 games so far.

"I don't think there's anybody in our camp that has had the strides and improvement that Courtney has," manager Robin Ventura said. "This has been a great spring for him as far as being able to come up here and get at-bats, put some good swings on the ball and get some home runs. We are seeing the kind of power he has, too."

At just 21 there is no rush to get Hawkins to Chicago, so he remains in the future plans. How long his arrival takes depends on how he can continue to take the simple approach while delivering grand results. And it will also depend on how quickly he can reduce numbers like his 160 strikeouts in 2013 and 143 last year.

"You've gotta go back tomorrow and try to get two more hits; today is over with," he said about his mindset moving forward. "Nobody is going to be talking about this next year or a month from now. They're going to be talking about what you did the day before, or that day. It's over with, so get back, stay on track and keep aggressive."

So he won't take a minute to celebrate Saturday's showing?

"It's nice man, it's definitely nice," he said with a giant grin. "When you come to the big league level you definitely want to leave an impression."