Ready or not, Seby gets a shot

Seby Zavala’s first plate appearance probably didn’t go the way he’d hoped. He came to the plate on Saturday with the two outs in the ninth, the bases empty and the White Sox trailing by seven. He struck out.

Likewise, Zavala’s promotion didn’t quite happen the way the White Sox hoped. The White Sox probably would’ve preferred making the decision after Zavala forced their hand with his play, before or after the White Sox traded one of their two veteran catchers for a prospect of mild intrigue. Instead, his first taste of big league action arrives because Welington Castillo got his bell rung by consecutive foul tips, and Zavala had proven healthy enough to resume regular action after a wrist injury.

The good news is that Zavala had a little bit of runway after coming off Charlotte’s injured list. He went 7-for-28 with three homers and a double over seven games, which is the pop he hadn’t even really flashed in April of 2019, or the last two months of the 2018 season. Command of the strike zone was still an issue, as he struck out 10 times against just two walks over 30 plate appearances.

The promotion is probably too soon, but in Zavala’s favor, he doesn’t have big shoes to fill. Castillo hit just .176/.286/.318 with some of the league’s worst framing numbers before landing on the 7-day IL, and Zavala can meet both of those projections. Moreover, James McCann had already proven worthy of first-catcher reps, and now he’ll get them, with the hope that he doesn’t regress under the weight of regular playing time the way he did in Detroit.

There is a chance that Zavala could stick. His defense is close to a finish product, he knows a lot of the White Sox pitching staff, and if Castillo’s absence stretches further into June and Zavala doesn’t look overmatched, the Sox may just be inspired to split Zavala and Zack Collins between two levels for the rest of the year.

More pragmatically, I’m guessing that Zavala’s flaws in Triple-A will be magnified in the majors, and he might need more regular playing time against players his own size to regain control of the strike zone to an acceptable degree. An on-time Castillo return wouldn’t excite anybody paying to watch the Sox, but should Zavala not quite look up to snuff, it’d at least serve the purpose of giving the second cup of coffee more ideal timing.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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