White Sox 2019 Season Preview: Infielders Analysis

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates with teammate Yonder Alonso #17 after hitting a home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates with teammate Yonder Alonso #17 after hitting a home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – MARCH 19: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates with teammate Yonder Alonso #17 after hitting a home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – MARCH 19: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates with teammate Yonder Alonso #17 after hitting a home run during the third inning of a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

All six White Sox infielders have come a long way in terms of development. The key is if they can capitalize on it and use the chip on their shoulders as an advantage

For a while, White Sox infielders have been subpar. Defensively, the team has had some studs like Juan Uribe, Alexei Ramírez, Joe Crede and Gordon Beckham just to name a few. Offensively, however, things have been difficult.

Not saying those three above and others have been consistently bad offensively, just saying it has been a while since a White Sox infielder has been in the top five for league MVP, excluding José Abreu’s fourth-place MVP run in 2014.

With a revamped youth movement, the infield has nowhere to go but up. Defensively and offensively, the team consists of players with high potential. Even in the farm system, things are looking bright. The team did miss out on signing a top-five-for-league-MVP type player in the offseason, but in the long-run, it may not matter.

In the farm system, the White Sox have players with high potential at almost all four positions. At first base, Matt Skole has surprised many. He struggled with Triple-A Charlotte last season hitting only .237, but he drew 61 walks, a 16.4 percent walk rate. He will start his 2019 with the Charlotte Knights.

Also at first is Gavin Sheets, ranked 18 in the White Sox Top 30 prospects. He is an all-around balanced player given the score 50 for hit, power and field with 55 run, according to the 20/80 scale. He will begin his season with Single-A Winston-Salem.

At second, and maybe the most anticipated (now that Eloy Jiménez made the team), is Nick Madrigal. He is a doubles machine that has some sneaky power and speed. Defensively, he is more developed than most prospects. Offensively, well, the sneaky power and doubles machine speaks for itself. He is expected to make the White Sox in 2020, but at the rate he has been playing at, he could potentially make the team in the September call-ups. He is expected to start his season with the Winston-Salem Dash.

Shortstop is a bit thin with only Laz Rivera, 17th in the Sox Top 30, is the most notable.  He hit .280 and stole 10 bases in 61 games with the Dash last season. Beginning his season with the Dash again, he could very well end his 2019 at Double-A Birmingham.

The White Sox, however, just signed former Milwaukee Brewer and Kansas City Royal Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract. He will start with the Knights. He will be looking to turn around his career low batting average of .231 with a .279 OBP last season with the Royals.

Finally at third base, Jake Burger, 13th in the top 30. He is a pretty balanced player, much like Sheets. He missed his 2018 due to the rupturing of his left Achilles in February. He began rehab, but re-injured it in May. The 11th overall draft pick in 2017 will start at Single-A Kannapolis.

Over the offseason, the White Sox missed out on free agent and now San Diego Padre Manny Machado. At first, it stung. The fanbase was fed hype and were confident in the signing, but he ultimately chose San Diego.

Now, after time to cool off, fans are sort of contempt by not signing Machado. It would have forced some position changes or the departure of some fan favorites. In a year or two, Madrigal will have the job at second. With Machado at third or potentially shortstop, this does not leave room for either Yoán Moncada and/or Tim Anderson. Then down the line, in two or three years, no room for Sheets, Burger or Rivera.

For Opening Day, the White Sox have a defensively improved infield with the ability to drive in runs. Getting on base seems to be the main problem, but, considering where the team is at this point of the rebuild, the infield is in solid shape.

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