Carlos Sanchez is a star in the making for the Chicago White Sox and will be on the 25-man roster at some point during the 2013 season. Is Sanchez so good that he should make the White Sox opening day roster, though?
If the White Sox are honest with themselves—then yes, he should.
Sanchez is simply too good a player not to make the team.
Offensively, he is outstanding. During three stops that ended at Triple-A last year, Sanchez combined to hit .323, collect 56 RBI, steal 26 bases and record a .378 OBP.
He continued his run of stellar play in the Arizona Fall League. While there, Sanchez hit .299 with a league-leading 11 stolen bases for the Salt River Rafters.
With the exception of being able to hit for power, he can do everything.
To take the offensive conversation one step further, Sanchez is a switch-hitting middle infielder who produces better from the left side. As evidence, he hit .323 in 32 at-bats off right-handed pitching during a recent stint in the Venezuelan Winter League.
A hitter who can make contact from the left side and has speed is something general manager Rick Hahn has repeatedly stated the White Sox are looking for.
Sanchez is also more experienced that most would think.
Don’t forget that even though he only has 803 minor league at-bats, he did play for parts of two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Although the DSL does not compare to the minor leagues, it needs to be taken into consideration.
All that said—Sanchez should only make the 25-man roster as a starter. Anything less would be doing both him and the White Sox a disservice.
Now, there are two ways he opens the season at the top of the depth chart.
One has the White Sox trading either Alexei Ramirez or Gordon Beckham. During a chat for Baseball America, the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers said that “either one of those guys could be moved to open a spot for Sanchez.”
Hahn could use one of them to acquire a relief pitcher, or to get a prospect at third and/or behind the plate.
Another way Sanchez could open the season on the South Side is by beating Beckham out at second. Given Beckham’s perennial struggles at the plate, that may not be that difficult to imagine.
Is it time for Gordon Beckham to either move over or move out?
FanGraph.com’s Marc Hulet noted that he is already “a huge threat” to take Beckham’s spot at second. Given that Sanchez has a .982 fielding percentage at second base in the minor leagues, the difference in defensive capabilities is not severe enough to give Beckham the nod based on his glove.
If he did win the job—and Beckham is not traded—it stands to reason the current second baseman could assume the role of utility infielder. That would be an instant upgrade over Rule 5 pick Angel Sanchez.
Now, Sanchez does have some areas to improve in as Hulet went on to add in his article—pitch selection being the most glaring—but he has made his case to be an everyday player.
As it stands, the window to win the AL Central is small.
And barring a spring-training meltdown, Sanchez should break camp with the White Sox to begin the 2013 season.
He has too much inherent value to be sent back to Triple-A Charlotte.