GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He was sent to the minors on Friday but Carlos Sanchez will probably focus on how he has reemerged as a potential major leaguer for 2014.
It’s not as if the upbeat White Sox prospect had fallen out of favor with the front office over the last year. His offense might not have matched expectations but his steady defense and good base running didn’t abandon him in 2013.
It’s just that Sanchez’s performance was overshadowed by the standout seasons of Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson.
But after great performances in winter ball and this spring, where his bat has once again shown promise, the White Sox have taken notice.
“Once he sort of took that next step in the winter league it did sort of help open some eyes,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He’s shown now in winter ball, in this camp, that he’s a guy who can come up and help you for 2014.”
Sanchez, who turns 22 in June, came to spring training in 2013 with big expectations after he rose from Single-A to Triple-A during the 2012 season.
He had become one of the organization’s players to watch after his meteoric rise through system.
But Sanchez struggled in his first big league camp and started the season at Triple-A Charlotte. A season after he hit .315 at Single-A, Sanchez had a .241/.293/.296 season at Charlotte.
“I don’t think I had a lot of pressure on me, Sanchez said through a translator. “I was very happy to be here. Things didn’t come out the way I wanted to.”
Despite the offensive struggles, Hahn stressed patience because Sanchez was the youngest player in the International League in 2013. He still was a good glove and could run the bases, Hahn said.
The offense would come.
Sanchez brought the bat sooner than most thought.
In 58 games for La Guaira, he had a .348/.428/.443 slash line with a home run and 31 RBIs. He finished with 77 hits, including 10 doubles and four triples, scored 48 runs and was named the league’s rookie of the year.
He backed it up this spring with seven hits in 13 at-bats and four RBIs. He attributes his performance to everything he endured in 2013.
“I feel like the experience I had last year playing at Triple-A and coming into big league camp last year and then going into winter ball, that really helped my comfort level and confidence level this year,” Sanchez said.
[WHITE SOX: Davidson's impact all about timing]
Trayce Thompson played alongside Sanchez in Venezuela this winter. He has also played with him throughout the minor leagues.
Thompson agrees with Hahn in part because even though Sanchez struggled in 2013
his confidence didn’t seem to waver.
“I know everyone talks about the year he had in Triple-A and how he didn’t perform the way everyone thought, but he’s still the same player,” Thompson said. “He looked like a dynamic defensive player and a sparkplug offensively (in Venezuela). He’s definitely going to be a big leaguer for a long time.”
Manager Robin Ventura sees a difference in Sanchez between this spring and last. He sees the rookie letting his talent take over instead of trying to force the issue. He likes Sanchez’s baseball IQ and thinks he just needs more time to develop.
Part of Friday’s demotion to Triple-A was to give Sanchez an opportunity for more at-bats. The White Sox want to further develop Sanchez to maximize his potential.
But he still could reach the majors in 2014, Hahn said.
“Our feeling is the ceiling is likely higher than just a guy who can come up and help you,” Hahn said. “So another guy who there’s going to be a little more development time for, but ultimately has a real chance to help you in the middle of the diamond.”
Doubts are few and far between in Sanchez’s mind.
He’s not down about 2013 even though he calls it a “so-so” performance. He can build off it and believes a positive frame of mind is necessary to succeed. It has helped him get this far this fast and he isn’t about to change course now.
“I know I can play at this level,” Sanchez said. “I know that. But that experience definitely helped. In baseball you have to be positive in everything you do and you’ve just got to keep working and just knowing you have another day tomorrow. That’s going to be me always. That’s who I am.”