Sanchez, reliable with glove, bat, fits Sox plans
The Chicago White Sox did not transform their roster with massive trades or high-profile free-agent signings this offseason. Rather, senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn has shared his desire to build a club with a nucleus of players from within the organization.
Hahn has emphasized the importance of developing prospects to mix with veterans in forming a club that can consistently compete and contend.
I had the opportunity to scout one of the White Sox promising prospects in this past Arizona Fall League.
In 2009, switch-hitting infielder Carlos Sanchez was signed as an international free agent from Venezuela.
Now only 20 years old, Sanchez displays similar defensive proficiency we have seen from so many Venezuelan middle infielders. He may not be flashy, but he's extremely competent, dependable and versatile.
While his defense is the focal point of his game, Sanchez has a very effective and efficient bat. He makes contact and has the ability to get on base. In fact, Sanchez's offense has improved every year of his professional career.
Sanchez looks a little bit hefty in comparison to many other middle infielders. In reality, he really isn't heavy. He's 5-foot-11, 175 pounds. He has some deceptive speed, and can run enough to steal and make things happen on the bases.
Offensively, Sanchez has enough bat control and makes good enough contact to potentially serve as a top-of-the-order hitter. He has a discerning eye at the plate, and doesn't waste an at-bat by trying to stretch his talent beyond his capabilities.
To his credit, Sanchez supplements his offensive game and increases his value by being able to bunt.
After signing with the White Sox, Sanchez began his career in the Dominican Summer League at age 17. He played in only 22 games and got 42 plate appearances. He finished with a .156 batting average, playing both second base and shortstop.
The following season, Sanchez again played in the Dominican Summer League, where he went to the plate 203 times. He improved to .269 and stole seven bases. Most of his games were played at third base, but he also saw time at second and shortstop. He showed his versatility and value as a sure-handed infielder.
In his age-19 season, Sanchez played at Bristol in the Rookie League and at Class A Kannapolis in the Southern League. He hit a combined .286 in 318 plate appearances. Again, he showed an increased batting average. He drew 20 walks and struck out a very respectable 51 times.
Last year, Sanchez again showed an ability to make contact, get on base and score runs. He played at three White Sox classifications, including Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. At only 20, Sanchez hit a combined .323 in 588 plate appearances.
Sanchez was selected to play on the World Team in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City. That's where I first saw him play. He played third base and got two at-bats. He smacked a double, scored a run and struck out once. Overall, he had a good game.
Following the regular season, Sanchez joined the Salt River Rafters in the AFL, where he really made the numerous scouts in attendance take notice.
Sanchez hit .299 over 87 at-bats. Included were four doubles and a triple. He also stole a league-leading 11 bases, getting caught only three times. He walked 13 times and struck out 18 times.
He hit .276 against right-handed pitching and .345 off lefties.
Sanchez has a short, compact, measured swing. He doesn't have the quickest hands or the fastest bat speed, but his bat is quick enough. He makes contact. He recognizes pitches well and just tries to meet the pitch where it's thrown. The net result is positive. He sprays the ball all over the field, mostly hitting singles or moving runners.
Sanchez should not be viewed as a source of power. If he ever starts hitting fly balls, they will likely fall short of the fence, and he'll become an easy out. His game is hitting line drives or hitting the ball "where they ain't."
Sanchez is very fluid in the field. He has good range to all directions. He played only second base in the Fall League, taking 126 chances and making only two errors in 22 games.
I particularly liked his movements making the double play. His footwork was virtually flawless. He fed the shortstop with throws that were accurate and easy to handle. He has enough arm strength and accuracy to make plays from behind the bag at second, or from anywhere he plays on the infield. His soft hands play well.
I have no doubt Sanchez can play either third base or shortstop. But the club may want more power from their third baseman. As a shortstop, Sanchez would succeed, but he really fits well at second. As noted above, his range is good, but it may be better at second than shortstop.
Projecting Sanchez as a Major League player, I think his skill set plays very well as a second baseman. That's where I feel he is the most complete player and profiles best.
As I look ahead at his future, I see a versatile infielder capable of playing as an everyday regular. In the worst case, Sanchez could come off the bench as a utility player. But I project him beyond that limited role.
While he may be known for his dependable defense, Sanchez will likely surprise with his ability to hit for a high average and move runners along.
MLB.com ranks Sanchez the seventh-best White Sox prospect.
Sanchez is the type of versatile prospect that fits extremely well with the future direction of the White Sox.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.