Spring Training Job Battles: White Sox Second Base
The first in our series of Spring Training Job Battles is the Chicago White Sox second base position.
The White Sox brought in veteran utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and fallen prospect Gordon Beckham to compete with speedster Micah Johnson and youngster Carlos Sanchez.
The player with the highest ceiling for fantasy purposes is Johnson, who totaled 84 stolen bases across three levels in the minors in 2013 before hamstring problems limited him to 22 steals last year. We have Johnson projected for a line of .252 average, 35 runs, 5 homers, 30 RBIs and 15 steals in 325 plate appearances. If he were to become the full-time starter, he could steal at least 30 bases while providing a little pop to go with on-base skills (career .366 OBP in minors).
With a $4 million guaranteed contract, Bonifacio is the best bet for enough playing time to make a difference. We have Bonifacio projected for a line of .251, 44 runs, 2 homers, 28 RBIs, 25 steals in 420 plate appearances. Bonifacio could easily slip into more of a utility role, so between that risk and the lack of a particularly useful ceiling beyond some steals we wouldn’t touch him except in very deep leagues.
Sanchez showed a lot of improvement in his second season in Triple-A, raising his pathetic .589 OPS of 2013 to a respectable .761 OPS last year. He went from no homers and 16 steals in 23 attempts to seven homers and 16 steals in 20 attempts. Sanchez did not impress in a 104-PA trial with the White Sox last year, posting a paltry .569 OPS with terrible plate discipline – 25 strikeouts and three walks. We’re not betting on Sanchez to win the starting job, instead bouncing between Triple-A and Chicago as a utilityman.
Beckham seems ticketed for a utility role at best, as the former first-round pick has never matched his rookie-season production (.270 average, 14 homers), compiling a career .681 OPS with 63 homers in 2,958 PAs.
It would seem the White Sox have three utilitymen competing with a potential game changer for the second base job, so the lottery ticket here is definitely Johnson. His ceiling could resemble last year’s Billy Hamilton but at second base.