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Lenyn Sosa lands the seemingly impossible: a South Side debut

Buried on the depth chart entering 2022, this slugging infielder’s timing has lined him up for Chicago

Improbably, Lenyn Sosa is on his way to Chicago.
Tiffany Wintz/South Side Sox

Heading into 2022, Lenyn Sosa — although a heralded enough, young (22) enough prospect, was buried on the infield depth chart.

At best, he would have been ranked third-likeliest to make his major league debut in 2022. The real question would have been which player, slugger José Rodríguez or ace defender Yolbert Sánchez, would make it to the South Side first.

Rodríguez was almost-unequivocally the top hitter in the organization in 2021, starting in Low-A Kannapolis, crushing baseballs all the way to Double-A Birmingham and the Arizona Fall League, poised to see Charlotte by mid-2022 and possibly Chicago by September.

Meanwhile Sánchez continued his ace fielding while disappointing with the bat — at least for half of 2021. Right around midseason, the Cuban import turned his bat on, whomping High-A Winston-Salem and whumping Birmingham. Unlike Rodríguez, Sánchez kept hitting (in admittedly a bigger sample size) and then turned a relative utility role in the AFL on its ear, arguably the only White Sox player on the Glendale Desert Dogs who did anything worthwhile. Couple that with a decent audition at Camelback Ranch during Cactus League play, and the five-years-older Sánchez seemingly leapfrogged Rodríguez in line for Chicago.

The gulf between the two prospects has only grown since, as Rodríguez has had a rough setback of a half-season with the Barons, while Sánchez was quickly promoted to Triple-A and ... performed a bit like you’d expect (.282 average, but weak OBP and slugging numbers pulling down OPS to .682, not too exciting given the lively offensive environs of Charlotte).

If you were to have handicapped more than just MLB debuts, preseason you would also have marked Romy González for matriculation back to the majors — if he didn’t break camp with the White Sox in the first place. But González’s 2022 has perhaps been even more disappointing than Rodríguez’s, in that Romy has failed to even stay on the field healthy for more than handfuls of games at a time.

So, if you were to tab a fourth most-likely infielder to make a South Side debut in 2022, it might have been ... Lenyn Sosa.

And Sosa is the player who is getting the call to the majors, joining the team in Chicago, tomorrow:

Sosa, still extremely young at 22, gave no indication of what was to come in this 2022 breakout. Last year, his second-half call-up to Birmingham played out as you’d imagine it: .214 average, .522 OPS, 14 Ks for every walk. One year later, still two-and-a-half years young for Double-A, Sosa has gone positively bonkers: .331/.384/.549, with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 62 games. As he did in 2021, this year Sosa has juggled his natural shortstop spot along with second and third base, and acquitted himself rather well in the field: just four errors in 498 innings.

It’s been weeks that South Side Sox and the fan base at large has been clamoring for a call-up for Sosa — to Charlotte. Sure, along with that comes the requisite “what if” speculation that Sosa could be such a special talent that he skips Charlotte and comes right to the South Side.

And while you never want to rain on exciting news, the ascension of Sosa over Sánchez seems a peculiar move. Yes, Sosa is killing it in the difficult hitting environment of Regions Field in Birmingham — but so did Sánchez, this year and last (.345/.412/.443 in 55 career games, with 28 BB/33 K). And while Sosa has proven an average-to-plus defender, Sánchez packs a decidedly better glove and should not miss a beat at MLB speed.

Thank goodness one of the strong contenders from the system have been called up, at long last, especially after GM Rick Hahn had made it sound like neither player would stand a chance of sniffing Chicago until late this summer.

There is the matter of who leaves the 40-man roster in order to add Sosa — on the face of it, Yaz health pending, Seby Zavala could get the axe, or newcomer Knights reliever Parker Markel might do the ol’ Grandpa Simpson in-and-out. The Josh Harrison DFA that seemed wishfully foregone just a week or so ago is more in doubt, if not for recent performance than sheer lack of healthy infield bodies.

Still, that Sosa at 22 up in the majors to stay and, presumably, play — a foregone conclusion of bumping a player so young up to MLB — seems extremely curious, especially with a more experienced hand in Sánchez readily available as well.

Thank goodness a move was made to fortify what has been a poor infield in 2022. Whether Sosa is the short- or long-term answer, well, that’s why they play the games.

Congratulations to Lenyn — we are all pulling for you!