White Sox utility infielder Tyler Saladino has been solid since arriving in 2015. Does he have what it takes to become a full-time starter in 2017?
Even though Tyler Saladino was never an elite prospect in the minors, he has exceeded the expectations of many at the major league level with the Chicago White Sox. The next step for Saladino is to become a legit full-time starter in the big leagues, but the question is, will he?
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So far, Saladino has played all over diamond in his first two seasons as a member of the White Sox. He has been placed at every outfield position, not to mention all infield positions. Basically, Saladino does everything but pitch and catch. Most of his work comes at second and short, which is where he profiles best due to his lack of power. Saladino started 77 games last season, and 67 of them were at these two spots.
For the most part, Saladino is an infielder by trade as he has never started a major league game in the outfield. Assuming that he will someday become a full-time starter at the MLB level, he is going to have to make better contact. Over his first two seasons, Saladino has a BB/K of 25/113, which is nearly a strikeout to walk rate of 4 to 1. That will not cut it by any means for a middle infielder, especially one that doesn’t have much power.
The only way a player can get away with that kind of a BB/K rate is simple, hit a lot of home runs. Assuming that Saladino doubled both his at-bat and home run totals from last season (which was 298), he would only have gone deep 16 times. His RBI total would have been solid (76), however 26 walks and 124 strikeouts is an ugly figure to look at.
Here is the way Saladino will stick as a full-time starter, that being his glove. While it is unlikely he will be starting at short anytime soon for the White Sox due to Tim Anderson, he might end up at second base. In 2016, he had a .994 fielding percentage at that position, while only committing one error in 172 total chances. That is remarkable defense, not to mention the fact he had a ZR of 5.669.
Now, with the White Sox currently in the rebuild, it is very possible to for Saladino to be a full-time starter in 2017. This is especially the case if Todd Frazier or Brett Lawrie are dealt, due to the fact two infield spots would open up. The only concern for Saladino would be the promotion of Yoan Moncada, who is an elite prospect that may end up playing second base for the South Siders.
All in all, there is a chance Saladino could someday become a legit full-time starter. As of right now, he is a jack-of-all-trades infielder with the potential to start full time for a good team, but that will be down the road a bit. So White Sox fans, will Saladino become reserve or a starter? Time will tell.