For Yolmer Sanchez, trying to carve his niche as a big-league player, the arrival of prized prospect Yoan Moncada with the White Sox isn’t making his place any roomier.
Sanchez is good enough to be an everyday second baseman in the major leagues, Sox coach and former player of development chief Nick Capra said. At the very least, he profiles as a possible super-utility type who can play second, shortstop and third base —where he made a nice backhand play Monday in the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Indians.
“A gamer who plays above his abilities,’’ one scout said Monday. “Offensively, he sometimes struggles with the better fastballs, but he can be a tough out, especially in the clutch.’’
Sanchez, a switch hitter, is batting .264 with nine homers and 46 RBI after going 0-for-2 while getting hit by two pitches Monday. His 2.4 WAR, per Baseball Reference, ranks third on the Sox behind Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu. He also brings life and energy to the clubhouse, on the field and in the dugout, which has value. It’s the kind of zeal Capra would like to see rub off.
Sanchez has produced more than Moncada at the plate and in the field, but he sees the writing on the wall, knowing Moncada will be back from a shin issue any day now and will take a chunk of his playing time during the last month of the season. To his credit, he sees the Sox’ big picture, remains upbeat — you can hear him singing most mornings before day games — and keeps his head down when it comes to going to work.
“I feel I can play every day but you have to understand the situation,’’ Sanchez said. “We got the best minor-league guy, the best prospect in MLB [in Moncada]. When he gets the chance he’s going to play every day. You have to know the situation. We have TA [Tim Anderson] at shortstop, Matty D [Matt Davidson] has 23 homers and Moncada.
“It’s fun to watch Moncada, TA, Davidson. I just wait for my opportunity, I don’t worry about that.’’
Moncada, who is batting .188 with three homers and 11 RBI in 122 plate appearances, hasn’t figured it out at the major-league level.
“He’s still young,’’ Sanchez said. “He has to learn a lot. He can be a superstar. He can hit for power, he can run really fast, and he plays good defense. I’m excited like everybody here, excited to watch him grow and see a lot of things he can do. He’s going to be really good and we’re going to enjoy watching that happen.’’
Just give him time.
“Right now he can do a lot of good things but when he gets more experience he’s going to be really good,’’ Sanchez said. “He’s 22, and he likes to learn, that’s the thing. He wants to be better every day and that’s fun to watch. There is something different about him.’’
Sanchez said he’ll “just try to enjoy it” and continue to try and learn as much as can to improve his own game “because I can learn from everyone here, whether he has one day in the big leagues or 10 years.’’
The Sox fell to 54-82 at the hands of the red-hot Indians despite a two-run homer and RBI double from Rymer Liriano. Trevor Bauer (15-8) pitched 6„ innings of two-run ball for the Indians (81-56), striking out nine and walking one.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.