Every good major league team seems to have a player like Yolmer Sanchez.
You know the type – versatile, productive, energetic.
“I feel ready for any position,” Sanchez said. “I can play third, I can play second, I can play short. Wherever the team needs me, I’m going to try to do my best.”
There’s an added bonus with a player like Sanchez.
“I make it fun,” he said. “It’s not about the position, it’s about me. That’s it.”
A utility infielder through much of his first four seasons with the White Sox, Sanchez spent most of his time playing second base.
Last year, he moved to third and played 141 games on the corner and a team-high 155 overall.
The heavier workload seemed to wear on Sanchez on the offensive side. Although he tied for the American League lead with 10 triples, the switch-hitter batted .222/.306/.327 in the second half after slashing .256/.306/.403 before the All-Star break.
Defensively, Sanchez handled 404 total chances at third base and made only 13 errors. He had a 1.1 DWAR, second in the American League to Oakland’s Matt Chapman (3.5).
This season, Sanchez is moving back to second base.
Trying to light a fire under Yoan Moncada, the Sox are moving him to third with the hope he’ll play with more focus.
Sanchez is a natural second baseman, and he just wants to be in the starting lineup.
The 26-year-old infielder is going to get his wish this season, but Nick Madrigal is on a fast track to the majors.
The Sox’s first-round draft pick (No. 4 overall) last year, Madrigal slashed a combined .303/.353/.348 in 43 games with the AZL Sox, low Single-A Kannapolis and high A Winston-Salem.
It was a solid pro debut, and Madrigal showed why he is projected to eventually bat leadoff for the Sox after striking out only five times in 173 plate appearances.
“Umpires sometimes are kind of all over the place, so I try not to let them take control, leave it in their hands,” Madrigal said. “These last couple years I’ve really tried to shrink the strike zone and hit more pitches I can handle and not chase. I felt like the first couple years in college (Oregon State), I was getting out mostly because I was chasing and making weak contact. I’ve really tried to stay inside the strike zone and get pitches I can drive.”
Madrigal – who celebrated his 22nd birthday Tuesday – was at Winston-Salem for his final 26 games of the 2018 season, and he learned a lot playing under manager Omar Vizquel.
This season, Vizquel has been bumped up to Double-A Birmingham. He’ll have Madrigal on the roster at some point.
“Obviously, he’s one of the biggest prospects we’ve got,” Vizquel said. “It was a pleasure working with the guy. There’s a lot of knowledge there, for as young as he is. Likes to ask a lot of questions. You can see that he wants to learn every day. The kind of player that you want to have with you all the time.”