In what now seems like forever ago, Chicago White Sox prospect, Will Kincanon was making the most of his first big-league Spring Training invite before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the sporting world.
In three Cactus League appearances, the Chicago-area native allowed no runs on just one base hit, while striking out three and walking none in his abbreviated taste of Major League Baseball down in Glendale.
I was able to get the Riverside-Brookfield alum to spare some time this morning. He shared a glimpse into his journey from the western-suburbs of Chicago, to the Chicago White Sox organization, his experience this spring at big-league camp, his thoughts on the COVID-19 shutdown across baseball, and what he’s doing to stay ready for the eventual return of baseball.
Patrick Flowers, The Chicago Dugout (PF): You originally played your college baseball at Triton College, a local JUCO program that’s produced the likes of Kirby Puckett, among others. What led to that decision out of high school, and what was your experience like there under Coach Torgerson?
Will Kincanon, Chicago White Sox (WK): I actually was originally committed to Middle Tennessee State. They had a coaching change, and I decided it was in my best interest to go to Triton to pursue a different Division-1 or a professional opportunity. I really enjoyed being at Triton with Coach Torg. I learned a lot there, and couldn’t be more thankful.
PF: What was the process of re-entering the recruiting cycle like while at Triton, and how did your opportunity at Indiana State come to fruition?
WK: It was an interesting one eventually when you boiled it down to all the offers and opportunities. Indiana State really stood out. Coach Hannahs, Tiegs, and Smiley were my main reason for choosing ISU. Even though I was only there for one year, I still have a great relationship with all of them.
PF: Before heading to Indiana State, you were drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 29th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, and you elected to stay in school. Tell me a bit about the decision-making process there, and what was ultimately the deciding factor to head back to school and pass up the opportunity to join the Dodgers system?
WK: Well, my decision was based on I thought I was improving, and if I can continue to improve as much as I planned with the help of the guys at ISU, I’d get picked higher. Going to ISU was huge in my development. My first couple outings, I got roughed up and learned how to really prepare and pitch and not just throw.
PF: In 2017 you were taken by the White Sox in the 11th round, a significantly higher slot than the previous year and this time by a hometown team. What was that phone call like, who was it from, and what was the feeling like for you and your family when you found out you were going to be a part of the White Sox system?
WK: The draft process is whirlwind. It’s not always an enjoyable one, but obviously to be picked by the White Sox, a team I grew up rooting for was exciting and I couldn’t wait to get to work.
PF: You spent your entire 2019 season with Advanced-A, Winston-Salem and put up a very strong season. What was working for you in 2019, and what were you looking to change or improve heading into 2020?
WK: In 2019 I just had better pitch selection and realized what works for me, and that I don’t have to be something I’m not. I was looking forward to just continuing to dominate and put up good numbers to get in Chicago as soon as I can.
PF: This Spring you got your first invite to major league camp, and you were quite impressive in your time there before it was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled baseball. What was your mindset as you navigated through your first big league camp?
WK: Being around those big-league guys really shows you how they go about their work, their routines, and things that make them successful. My mindset was to be myself anytime I got in the game, and just compete.
PF: You got to spend quite a bit of time with the current major-leaguers that have some pretty lofty expectations attached to them heading into 2020, what was being a part of that like?
WK: Honestly didn’t think about it much, I was just focused on the task at hand every day.
PF: In an unfortunate turn of events, the COVID-19 pandemic shortened camp and has delayed the start of the 2020 season indefinitely. What were the thoughts, feelings about that as it unfolded throughout the clubhouse?
WK: At the end of the day, human lives are more important than baseball, and I think they made the right decision. I just hope we can get a vaccine and stop this thing soon.
PF: How are you staying prepared for the eventual return of baseball with the restrictions placed upon us all due to this pandemic?
WK: I’ve been lifting every day in my basement, running outside and getting my throwing done outside. I’m doing everything I would be doing every day during the season.
PF: What are your goals for 2020 when baseball resumes, and how do you see yourself fitting into the long-term puzzle in Chicago?
WK: I just want to throw up zeros every time I go out there, and dominate. I plan on seeing myself in the bullpen in Chicago helping us win games for years to come.
In 2019, Kincanon posted a 1.86 ERA in 58 innings of work in Winston-Salem, striking out 71 opposing hitters, good for 11.0 K/9.
While Kincanon is currently is doing the majority of his training at home much like the rest of the baseball world, he’ll be ready to pick up where he left off in 2019 when baseball does resume.