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Will Carlos Sanchez be better than Gordon Beckham?

New second baseman doesn't have big shoes to fill

Pictures are worth a 1000 words.
Pictures are worth a 1000 words.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get right to the answer: maybe but not by much. Carlos Sanchez comes from what I like to call the Luis Castillo branch of second basemen. Which isn't to say that he's going to be Luis Castillo - after all, Castillo was a very good player.

But the 22-year-old Venezuelan has the general attributes: switch-hitter, minimal power, batting average dependent, good batting eye, good defender, some speed, good makeup. Where Sanchez differs from the paradigm is that he's unlikely to be much more than a .260-.270 hitter at his peak, he's not going to steal many bases, he's not going to leg out as many infield hits, he's not going to walk as much, he's going to strike out more. But he is a better defender.

So, boiling it down, what are we looking at, assuming a full season of play? Something like an offensive line of .265/.315/.345, 15 for 20 in stolen bases and plus defense at second base. Obviously, that offensive line is below the AL average of .255/.315/.390ish and even further below the AL starter's average. How plus his defense is will dictate whether he can grab/maintain a starting job. Beckham was probably just under a 1 WAR player. Sanchez has a decent shot at being more than a 1 WAR player but more than 2 WAR will be a stretch. He's probably best-suited to be a utility player, filling in at third and shortstop in addition to second, and the organization's currently copious middle infield situation suggests that he's going to be under almost immediate pressure to justify playing time.

His line this season with Charlotte: .293/.349/.412, 7.3% walk rate, 17% strikeout rate, 16 for 20 in stolen bases.

What I wrote about him in my midseason ranking:

6. 2B Carlos Sanchez (6)

Another guy who had the bounceback year I expected. As I said previously, the 22-year-old is pretty much the ideal utility infielder. If pressed into a full-time role, second base is his best position. Most ready to replace Beckham should a trade happen.

And in the offseason:

6. Carlos Sanchez

2013 MiLB line: .241/.293/.296 in 479 PA. 6.1% BB%, 15.9% K%. 16 for 23 in stolen bases. Last year's ranking: #2.

Like Hawkins, Sanchez had a forgettable 2013 stateside. And, again like Hawkins, he can blame an aggressive assignment, as he had just 133 plate appearances in Double-A in 2012. The switch-hitter started 2013 as one of the youngest players in AAA and is still just 21-years-old. He righted the ship in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he hit .348/.428/.433 over 58 games and earned the VWL's Rookie of the Year award.

The Venezuelan has always shown good plate discipline and his 6.1% walk rate and 15.9% strikeout rate were in line with his minor league career. What disappeared was the hard contact. While it's possible that he'll develop more power as he fills out his frame, it's unlikely to ever be a major part of his game. That means that when he does make contact, he needs the balls to fall in for hits. If they don't (for whatever reason), he's likely to be an offensive black hole.

His defense remains superior. While he may not have the arm to be an everyday shortstop, it's certainly enough for second base, along with his plus range and hands. He can play third base, as well. His floor is probably the highest among White Sox prospects as his defensive versatility, contact bat from both sides of the plate and baserunning skills make him an ideal utility infielder. I know I'm higher on him than most but I believe in the bat. ETA: 2014. Long-term role: Long career as a utility player.