Chicago White Sox: Where does Gavin Sheets fit in?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox have very few true holes to fill which will make it difficult for any non-elite prospects to make a significant impact in 2020.

Gavin Sheets is the Chicago White Sox’s 12th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline and has had an impressive spring training so far.

In four games (eight plate appearances), Sheets is 2-for-6 with two walks, two runs scored, and three strikeouts.

Obviously, none of that is overly impressive, but it is his third season getting big league plate appearances in camp and he’s recorded his first two hits in that span.

As MLB Pipeline notes, Sheets could be ready to play on the South Side at some point this season after playing 126 games at Double-A Birmingham in 2019.

Last season, the left-handed hitter registered a .267/.345/.414 slash line with 16 home runs and 83 RBI.

The White Sox don’t appear to have an obvious spot to use him in long term or in the near future.

Chicago is set to have Jose Abreu play first base in 2020 with Edwin Encarnacion serving as the team’s designated hitter, who is also capable of playing first base.

Yasmani Grandal could also see some time at first base this season as he played there a little for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. Zack Collins, who is also fighting for a spot on the roster going forward, is capable of playing the position too.

Meanwhile, top prospect Andrew Vaughn (ranked third in the White Sox’s system by MLB Pipeline) is not too far behind as they expect him to also make his debut in 2020.

In my opinion, that prediction is a little too ambitious as the right-handed hitter hasn’t played a day above Single-A Winston-Salem.

However, he is certainly still someone to keep in mind this season as he could join the major league club sooner than most would expect the 21-year-old to.

Where does that leave Sheets then?

It puts him in a very tough spot to really make an impact in Chicago, possibly meaning he will serve as trade bait at the deadline this season or in the offseason.

Strangely enough, though, I think he might actually have more of a role with the team in 2020 than he will any other season.

With Vaughn still behind him, the team will likely want to keep the two first basemen off the same roster at a given time which, if the former reaches Triple-A this season, would mean Sheets would either have to be injured, demoted, promoted, or moved.

On top of it, Sheets’ left-handed bat could actually be of use for a team that currently only has three players in their projected Opening Day lineup (Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times) that can hit left-handed in Nomar Mazara, Yasmani Grandal (switch), and Yoan Moncada (switch).

The 23-year-old could either platoon with one or both of Abreu and Encarnacion or could take the place of one of them if either underperforms or gets injured.

Vaughn’s presence makes it tough to see a long-term fit for Sheets in Chicago unless if he impresses the team significantly, but for now, Sheets actually has more opportunity to make an impact than Vaughn would appear to on the surface.

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It remains to be seen how or if the Chicago White Sox use Gavin Sheets, but it is certainly worth monitoring this season.