For a long time, the White Sox farm system was really bad. Addison Reed was their No. 1 guy at one point and that was in the era of “All Non-Mariano Relievers Are Fungible.” For a long time, Carlos Sanchez, Trayce Thompson, and Erik Johnson were the top three. I think Scott Snodgress was up there. It was bad.
Thompson always had a high ceiling, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he and Reed look like they could still have many good years ahead of them. Sanchez had a couple of elements in his favor. He was always really young for his level coming up in the minors. Even though it feels like he’s been around for an eternity, his 25th birthday is at the end of next June. And, although FRAA hasn’t agreed to date, the general consensus is that he has a plus glove at second base.
The problem was going to be whether he could hit well enough to justify a major league roster spot. Understandably, he needed time to adjust against much older competition, but given enough time he generally adjusted and made it work with a contact-heavy approach. That’s how he’d have to succeed because he doesn’t have much power, nine major league home runs aside.
And yeah, he’s still 24 and he hasn’t had 750 major league PAs yet…but he’s not progressing at all. His strikeout rate spiked last year, his walk rate did not go up accordingly and he often still looks completely overwhelmed by major league pitching.
Sanchez’ ceiling is low. The odds of him reaching that ceiling are low. A team rebuilding at a 2013 Astros level can afford to see if he shows something more, and maybe that’s the White Sox’ future. A team that is trying to win should only roster him as an emergency fill-in infielder and it’s pretty hard to carry a sub-.600 OPS, especially for a maybe-plus second baseman instead of say, an elite shortstop.
Leury Garcia got rushed to the majors because he was fast and because he could play every position on the diamond. He was in the majors at the age of 22 but didn’t get his 500th PA in Triple-A until his age-24 season. Worse, he was completely getting blown away and stashed as basically a pinch runner, so he wasn’t getting anything close to regular reps. I doubt Leury was ever going to be much of a hitter, but whatever chance he had was totally torched by bad development choices by the Rangers and the White Sox.
After two years of full playing time in Triple-A, however belated, his bat once again looks like it could play a little bit — e.g. in the .650 OPS realm rather than down in the .400s. Given his versatility–he can actually play short and center–he doesn’t need to hit a whole lot and I believe he has earned the opportunity to jump Sanchez on the organizational depth chart.
On a playoff contender he’s a defensive replacement and pinch runner as an expanded roster guy in September, but having a player like this around can give you room to do some clunky roster construction out there, such as a platoon DH. The White Sox might need that flexibility to cover up some kludges for other parts of the lineup.
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