Now that we've all kind of settled into the fact that the White Sox aren't going to be going to the playoffs, we've calmed down into the "what's next?" phase of this realization. While coaching and front office changes are still heated topics of discussion, many have acquiesced to the idea that the Sox should call up Matt Davidson and Trayce Thompson. Maybe they'll help, but maybe they won't. There is an alternative though.
This player hit .310/.367/.483 at Charlotte last year. In 38 games this season, he's already stolen 19 bases. Did I mention that Rick Hahn said he probably would have been called up last year if it wasn't for an injury? Or that Hahn also said he was the best shortstop in the Sox system after Alexei and Cleuluis Rondon?
Say hello to Tyler Saladino.
Once upon a time, Tyler Saladino was one of the top Sox prospects. In 2011, he hit .270/.363.501 with 16 home runs at Winston-Salem. Like many prospects before, though, he hit a brick wall at Birmingham. In 2012 at Birmingham , he hit .237/.359/.321 at the old Metropolitan Stadium. He followed it up with .224/.296/.265 in 2013 in Regions Field.
When he ended up at Charlotte last season, not much was expected. He was the starting shortstop to start the season and hit .291/.347/.477 in April. In May, Micah Johnson moved to Charlotte and pushed Saladino into a utility role. That role got a little deeper in June when Marcus Semien joined the Knights too. Saladino kept hitting though. He started games all across the infield including some in left field. Unfortunately, Saladino's season ended with an injury in the outfield.
The injury occurred during the Knights’ final game in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre just prior to the Triple-A All-Star break (July 9) in a game Saladino started in left field.
Saladino said that he felt something in his arm in the top of the fifth inning following a play where he threw out Railriders’ outfielder Taylor Dugas at home (off an Austin Romine single) to preserve a 2-1 Charlotte lead.
The "something" he felt in his arm was UCL tear, and Saladino was done for the season after Tommy John surgery.
Coming off of the surgery this spring, Saladino tweaked his shoulder in mid-April and went on the DL for just over a month. He was off to a bit of a slow start, but seems to be coming around. In the 12 games he's played since June 11, he's hit .279/.373/.442 with his first two home runs of the season and 10 stolen bases.
While primarily a shortstop through the minors, Saladino has played a good number of games at second. Unless he's called up to replace Alexei for some reason, I'd expect him to see more time there than any other position. With some experience at first, he'd be a backup there as well in case Conor Gillaspie departed.
Now, this move probably isn't as exciting as the others. His long term role is unlikely to be as a starter. There's little question that he's a good fielder. Except for reticence to put Saladino in the outfield, it doesn't seem there be any falloff from Emilio Bonifacio to Saladino. So if it's time to see what some of the other guys on the 40-man roster can do for 2016, maybe it's time to see what Tyler Saladino can do too.