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With Danny Mendick freshly injured, Tim Anderson fresh off the injured list and Leury García trying to stiff-arm an IL stint of his own, the White Sox face a pressing need for infield depth for their four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles this weekend.
Sosa opened the season outside of White Sox top-10 prospect lists, but if the minor-league season ended today, it’d be hard to keep him out of the top three. He’s hitting .331/.384/.549 over 62 games at Birmingham in his age-22 season, and it hasn’t completely come out of nowhere.
Sosa signed for $325,000 out of Venezuela in 2016 (he’ll be the first traditional Marco Paddy signing to appear in the majors when he makes his debut), and he has performed respectably at every level despite being years younger than the competition. In the feature I wrote about Sosa in May, I noted that his numbers have been weighed down by that age-for-level adjustment period, as he had to spend multiple months producing to cover up ragged Aprils. Sosa faced that twice over in 2021, opening a season with his Winston-Salem debut, then closing it out with his first taste of Birmingham.
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Now 22 in ’22, Sosa has looked completely at ease in the Southern League. It’s not just that Sosa’s OPS has hovered well above .900 for more than half the season to date, but it’s how he’s doing it. Even though Regions Field isn’t a haven for hitters, he’s already set a career high in homers with 14 thanks to a stronger base, and it’s accompanied by walk and strikeout rates that are superior to anything he’s ever carried at any level.
That improved plate discipline separates Sosa from Romy Gonzalez, who had last year’s meteoric rise with the Barons. Gonzalez hit .267/.355/.502 over 78 games with Birmingham before a brief stop in Charlotte en route to Chicago, but he struck out twice as often as Sosa (28.2 percent), which made his struggles in his big-league debut predictable.
Sosa may have his own problems adjusting to major-league pitching, but that improved contact rate at Double-A gives him a much better starting position, and that’s why Sosa is a valid choice to leap-frog over more prominent infield prospects.
González has been beset by various ailments this season, and it’s going to be a fight to avoid a lost year. Yolbert Sánchez has performed well at Birmingham and Charlotte this season, setting himself up for a Chicago debut at some point in 2022, but since his game relies on contact and quality defense at second base, his best-case scenario is basically what Josh Harrison is already doing.
Sosa offers the potential for a different kind of impact, and because he had been overshadowed by other middle-infield prospects, he’s logged plenty of experience away from his natural position of shortstop. Sharing a roster with Sánchez and José Rodríguez over the last two seasons meant that he had to play plenty second and third. Between the three positions, Sosa has committed just four errors over 57 games in 2022. He’s not an exceptional defender, but he makes the plays he gets to.
Sosa’s time in Chicago could be short-lived, especially if Danny Mendick’s knee bruise is only a bruise, Harrison solidifies his recent gains and Yoán Moncada returns from his hamstring injury as quickly as the White Sox publicly hope. No harm done. The Sox would send Sosa down to Charlotte for his first experience at Triple-A, and maybe the brief looks against MLB pitching make that last minor-league step a little easier.
There’s also a scenario in which Moncada and Tim Anderson struggle to stay on the field, Harrison’s medium contact stops getting results, and Jake Burger‘s progress stalls. In that event, the Sox would need anybody who stands a chance of providing purposeful contact at the MLB level while standing in the infield. It’s better to spend the meantime preparing for that scenario, and despite his relatively brief run of being a prospect of note, Sosa is the best guy for that opportunity until he shows otherwise.